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Trying too hard to be perfect?

Why you can find success by keeping it real.

Crisp, clean, curated. There’s no denying the certain pleasure attached to a well-thought-out Instagram feed. After all, brands-and individuals-work to truly develop their own signature look, building trust and followers along the way.

But in a world of highly curated images, imperfections are drawing attention in a good way.

Take, for instance, the work of Lomography, a company that makes vintage-inspired cameras. The collective, which creates equipment that draws on vintage-style lenses as inspiration. While marketing their latest art lens, the Lomography team encouraged photographers to embrace imperfections in their quest to find the perfect shot.

“Most of the lenses on the market now have perfected image quality,” Lomography marketing and PR manager, Birgit Buchart, shared with Kickstarter. “We saw there was an opportunity to bring people back into embracing the aberrations you get in historic lenses.”

Embracing perfections is proven to create a unique visual identity. It has worked for British photographer Richard Learoyd. When The Iris, the behind-the-scenes blog from The Getty museum, asked Learoyd why physical imperfections often appear his work, he replied: “Because people aren’t perfect.”

“I’m not interested in smoothing people out,” Leayroyd continued. “I’ll choose people purposely because of their scars and their imperfections. I like things like that in photographs; it’s human.”

Authenticity is all part of a bigger trend in visual communications-as well as marketing and advertising-that’s taken root in the last few years. In 2017, a post on Forbes’ from digital marketer Lauren Stephens declared, “Imperfect is Perfect: The New Advertising Standard.” She pointed not only to “real” models appearing in advertisements, but also to the push to add platforms like Facebook and Pinterest to advertising strategies, where viewers are already gathering.

“With an increasing number of people shopping online and having a better eye for the disingenuous, trust has become a must-have quality for brands to be successful,” Stephens wrote. “To build trust, brands have to engage with consumers in real, honest and relatable ways – showing an understanding of the individual needs of the customer during the various stages of the shopping journey.”

A dose of “authentic imperfection” can help tell stories and build connections, Ozan Varol, a law professor and author, wrote on his blog. That can already be seen in the work of current artists, YouTubers, and podcasters. Varol, a self-described “recovering perfectionist,” encourages innovation in his writings, and brought in a personal experience to illustrate his point.

“Perfection is for robots. Human beings come with flaws,” Varol wrote. “When we cover up these flaws, we also conceal what makes us human. About a year ago, I gave my weekly newsletter a facelift by adding a fancy headshot, photos, and graphics. My open rates-which track how many of my subscribers open my emails-plummeted. The open rates recovered only after I went back to a simple text format that looks more like a rough email from a friend.”

Even without overhauling your marketing strategy, there are still ways to bring a dose of reality into your feeds. Consider partnering with a micro or nano influencer-someone in your community or company who has a genuine, although smaller, following on social media-to connect with your followers on a personal, local level. Keep storytelling front and center, and remember that more casual or spur-of-the-moment updates delivered through a medium like Instagram Stories can be plenty effective. Share local events and news stories on your Facebook page to encourage community.

Remind your followers there are people behind the content, and remember to stay true to your own mission and style. Simply by being yourself, you can stand out.

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3 Ways to Spring into Creativity and Boost Productivity

Out with the old, and in with the new. As you start to think about clearing out old ideas to make room for new strategies, take time to brainstorm and experiment.

That might be easier said than done. Encourage creativity by looking to others for inspiration, and never underestimate the power of making time for reflection.

  1. Watch a TEDTalk.
    Ever wonder where good ideas comes from? What sort of best practices do successful novelists, tinkerers, and marketing gurus employ? The TEDTalks website has a curated playlist related to creativity. Whether you have a few minutes of a half hour free, press play on one of these motivational videos for inspiration.
  2. Go for a walk.
    If you want your mind to wander, it can’t hurt to do a little wandering yourself. A 2014 study from Stanford researchers found that walking benefited creative brainstorming. Whether walking inside or outside, simply moving around benefits brain function and can lead to powerful reflection. It can also put you on the path to discovery. As Marketing Week points out, taking a different route to work can help you discover local businesses, break patterns, and feel like a tourist in your own area.
  3. Pick a theme.
    Sometimes it can help to think inside the box. You can’t simply decide to be creative and have a brilliant idea appear. It’s not that easy. Think about something you haven’t tried before and ask if it could be part of your marketing strategy. Launch a caption contest for your followers. Play with data visualization. Join in a conversation with weekly hashtag themes. Look for something you haven’t done before, and search for how you can be creative in that area.
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Catch attention with GIFs

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a GIF might be worth two. They can help tell stories in fun, memorable ways, and can keep a conversation going on social media.

via GIPHY

Although they may seem like a new trend, GIFs actually predate the internet. These looped, animated clips were created to share digital images without taking up too much space. They’ve made a comeback in recent years thanks to social media and meme culture.

via GIPHY

It’s possible to incorporate GIFs into your own social media and digital marketing strategies. You can make your own GIFs through software like Adobe Photoshop or Camtasia, and there are also plenty of free or low-cost GIF tools available online. These online tools include Animatron Studio, CloudApp, Gifs.com, GIPHY, and Make a Gif.

Even if you think GIFs are too casual, they are important and can lead to clever communication ideas. That element of movement can catch people off guard and invite people in. Consider adding them to an e-newsletter to break up text, using a GIF as a cover for your Facebook page to stand out from the crowd, or including on social media to help create a unique voice.

GIFs aren’t only for fun, either. Consider adding GIFs to a how-to blog post to better show each step or adding GIFs to show data changes.

via GIPHY

Keep in mind that GIFs, like emojis and other images, can have hidden meanings. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but do a little homework before you post without thinking. Sites like GIPHY will include hashtags associated with existing images, and that can give you some clue as to how that GIF is used.

Oh, and one more thing: GIF was 2012’s Word of the Year, but the debate continues over the correct way to pronounce it. Since GIF stands for “Graphics Interchange Format” many folks prefer to pronounce it with a hard “g.” However, Steve Wilhite, who is credited as the inventor of GIFs, has said he prefers the other way, which sounds more like “jif.”

via GIPHY

Happy GIF-ing!


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Do You Feel Lucky?

Is it possible to be lucky in marketing?

Just your luck! Everything is going your way.

Sometimes it can feel as if higher forces are behind notable events, like a risk paying off or a new client showing interest, and even plans falling apart. But relying on superstitions can simplify what’s actually happening.

What is luck?

The concept of luck came about as a way to make sense of events and tell a story, says statistician Jeff Rosenthal, a professor at the University of Toronto and author of Knock on Wood: Luck, Chance and the Meaning of Everything.

“It goes back to the old days. If there was a big storm, well, that meant the gods were angry. It didn’t just mean that the water molecules were moving in a certain way,” Rosenthal told The Current radio program in December.

Rosenthal studies the workings of randomness and uncertainty, and in his, book says he is often asked if he believes in luck. He explains there are two ways to define luck. There is “random luck” (where events or people come together just right, like two people meeting at a party) and there is “forceful luck” (where special forces are responsible for bringing those people together).

As a statistician, Rosenthal cautions against believing too strongly in the latter, because patterns are not set. Instead, Rosenthal suggests people keep in mind there are things we can control, and there are things we can’t. That mindset can prepare us for better—not necessarily lucky—outcomes.

“I think there are things in life that are in our control and others that are not,” Rosenthal shared with his University of Toronto colleagues. “For example, somebody might t-bone your car, and that’s just bad luck. Wrong time, wrong place. But there are also things you can do to drive safely: wear a seatbelt, drive within the speed limit, and so on.”

Sure, unfortunate events may impact our work. If we properly prepare, do our research and collect the right data, we’ll be able to weather the storm.

Can we make ourselves more lucky?

As with so many things in life, luck can come down to having the right attitude.

That’s what psychologist and author, Richard Wiseman, has suggested could be the answer to more people being lucky. People who define themselves as lucky likely also define themselves as optimists. They stay positive and look for opportunities.

“My research revealed that lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles,” Wiseman wrote in his article The Luck Factor. “They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies [sic] via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.”

In one experiment, Wiseman had lucky and unlucky people count the ads in a newspaper. The people who considered themselves lucky took less time counting, Wiseman reported. That’s because they were more likely to notice an advertisement that announced, “Stop counting—there are 43 photographs in this newspaper.”

Even with a set task, we don’t have to do the expect. Nothing is guaranteed, and that’s not bad! By staying creative and open-minded, we can make our own luck.

How should we talk about luck?

Outside of talking about lottery tickets or weather, when we say someone is “lucky,” we are often ignoring their hard work and talent.

In marketing, it can sometimes seem as if everything is falling into place. Sure, there may be a magic, indefinable ingredient, but there’s also data, strategizing, brainstorming and planning.  There is even a science behind making content go viral.

As lifestyle coach Barbara Sher says, “The amount of good luck coming your way depends on your willingness to act.”

It’s OK to be thankful when events inexplicably line up. But the next time your plan pays off for you or your client, don’t downplay your skills by attributing your success to luck.

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10 Albert Einstein Quotes that will Motivate and Inspire Your Work

To keep experimenting, to stay curious and to connect with others—Einstein reminds us that hard work and information don’t necessarily add up to achieving our goals. Instead of doing what we’ve always done or accepting the status quo, we need to broaden our horizons and make fresh connections.

How can you make your work more relevant? Find direction in these Einstein quotes.

  1. Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.
  2. Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.
  3. The only source of knowledge is experience.
  4. We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
  5. If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
  6. Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
  7. The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
  8. If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
  9. Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.
  10. Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

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4 Little-Known Features to Help you Make the Most of Google Calendar

Ding! That’s the sound of another meeting request coming through. Is your calendar working as hard as you are to keep life running smoothly?

Chances are a digital calendar keeps you mostly on track—you may even depend on one to schedule promotions and social media, as well as remind you when to go to the dentist. The ability to quickly create appointments and receive needed reminders is truly helpful, but you may be totally unaware of other digital calendar features that can push your productivity and make communications easier on your clients and coworkers.

Thanks to PC Mag’s recent post 12 Google Calendar Tricks You’re Probably Not Using, we have a few new tricks for G Suite users. Here are four favorites.

Keep track of holidays

Did you accidentally double-book yourself for the big game? Do major and minor holidays sneak up on you? Google Calendar has several calendars of interest that you can browse and add, without having to plug in the date of every holiday yourself. You can even track the phases of the moon.

Set the agenda

You may already start the day with a glance at your inbox. Thanks to Google Calendar, you can opt in to receiving an email at 5 a.m. each morning with your daily agenda pulled from your existing calendar events.

Find the right time

Instead of asking coworkers when they are free and combing through responses, find a time that works for everyone in Google Calendar. When you click the +Create button to create your event, select “More Options” and then the “Find a Time” tab. Add your guests and Google Calendar will pull up their calendars so you can see when each person is free. If they already have something scheduled, that time will be marked as “Busy.”

Hangout in an events

It’s important to keep meetings running without a hitch—even when everyone isn’t in the same room. If you have colleagues working remotely, invite them to join you for a video conference on Google Hangouts. When creating an event, select the “Add Conferencing” option to generate a video call URL to go in the invite. (Google Calendar is also compatible with other VOIP services.)

For the more details and tips, read the full article at pcmag.com.

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15 Creativity Quotes That Will Boost Your Work

quote

  1. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou
  2. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe
  3. “One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” – Paulo Coelho
  4. “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” – Henry Ford
  5. “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” – Napoleon Hill
  6. “Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” – Steve Jobs
  7. “There is no such thing as a new idea. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope.” – Mark Twain
  8. “The world doesn’t care how many times you fall down, as long as it’s one fewer than the number of times you get back up.” – Aaron Sorkin
  9. “Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.” – Arthur Schopenhaur
  10. “Making the simple complicated is commonplace. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” – Charles Mingus
  11. “Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.” – Pablo Picasso
  12. “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
  13. “Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.” – Austin Kleon
  14. “It’s through mistakes that you actually grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.” – Paula Scher
  15. “But, if you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself.” – Carl Jung

 

 

 

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30 Creative Ideas for Your Holiday Email Marketing

Email marketing can be some of the most effective and least expensive options, especially for a small business at holiday time. Check out the creative ideas for your holiday email marketing from our friends over at Constant Contact.

So, get your list shined up, head over to Constant Contact, and get the email blasts ready! Need some help or want a full service solution? Contact us today. We can help you with anything from lists, templates, copy, imagery, custom coding, or a full service mailing.

Holiday Email

Read the full article at: blogs.constantcontact.com

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5 Inspiring Content Marketing Case Studies with Results from Marketo 

Case Study

In a recent Marketo article, they presented five extremely successful content marketing case studies including the tactics used, results measured, and why it matters to marketers.

  1. Increasing Blog Referral Traffic by 58% with Onsite Marketing: In this case study iSpionage describes how they managed to increase traffic by 58.09% in just one month by using an exit intent popup.
  2. Infographic Creates Over 11K Additional Website Visits in 2 Weeks: SEOTravel created a very clever piece of content that was extremely shareable and caused an increase 11K+ website visits in as little as two weeks.
  3. Quick Wins from Content Built with Publicly Available Data: In this content marketing case study, YesOptimist helped a startup, CollegeRaptor, to get from absolutely no organic traffic to 100K visitors per month in just one year.
  4. Find the Right Content Topics for Less Exciting Industries: LawnStarter created content their audience cares about, even though it did not entirely focused on their product or service.
  5. Scale Marketing with Content Loved by Search Engines: Fieldwire boosted the most high-potential pages with data-driven optimizations such as what keywords were they ranking for in order to gain higher conversion rates.

 

Read the original article at marketo.com.  

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4 Psychology Principles to Incorporate in Your Marketing

Psychology Principles

Marketing involves influencing people’s behavior. Whether you want to drive traffic to your store, increase sales for a specific product, or introduce a new service you want people to buy, visit, and engage with your brand. It is important to keep in mind psychology principles that will help you better reach your target audience.

 

Principle of Reciprocity

The principle of reciprocity is one of the basic laws of social psychology which states that in most situations we pay back what we received from others. So how can you use this in marketing? Try giveaways, free swag or an exclusive gift. For this to work, give away something free before you ask for something in return. This could be especially helpful when introducing your brand to new customers or introducing a new product.

 

Scarcity

Scarcity is the principle that people place a higher value on something that is scarce and a lower value on those that are in abundance. This is why statements like ‘this is rare find’ or ‘this is one of a kind’ immediately give us the perception that the item being described is valuable. This tactic operates on the worth people attach to products or services. This also is related to the principle of supply and demand. If you approach this method as if there ‘used’ to be a lot of a product, and now to due to the high demand there’s only a few left, people will be very receptive.

 

Social Proof

This principle is one many are familiar with, the idea that people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This why reviews and testimonials from current customers are so effective. We trust others reviews because they have experienced the product or service, unlike ourselves. Additionally, this is why anything that experts use is perceived as being great or better products because the experts are more knowledgeable than us in their specific area. Celebrity endorsement is also another great use of social proof. We will buy and use the products and service used by celebrities because we want to look like them.

 

Anchoring

Anchoring, or rather the art behind a sale, is the principle that people base decisions on the first piece of information they receive. When an item used to be $100 is now marked down to $55 we’re more apt to purchase. This is also why stores like T.J. Maxx show the ‘retail price’ next to ‘their price’. Displaying the original price is the anchor, and helps the buyer determine whether or not they determine it to be a ‘great deal’ or not.

 

These are just a few psychology principles that you could incorporate into your marketing. There are many other principles and things to consider when engaging with your target audience. The key is to understand your audience, what motivates them, and what are their driving values.

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