Four Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content

GettyImages-538481794.jpgAndi Bell, the World Memory Champion of 2002, appears to have memory superpowers.

He can memorize the order of several decks of cards and recall them on the spot. How does he do it? Bell uses a location-based memory strategy, like this:

Bell picks a route through London and walks it repeatedly until it is fixed in his mind. As he walks, he associates cards of the deck with a character (like a bear or a pineapple), then connects each character and card with a site along his route: the bear becomes the House of Parliament, the pineapple becomes Buckingham Palace, etc. In this way, the deck transforms from a string of facts to a story to share. Each deck has roles that come to life mentally as Bell “walks the plot” of his route in London.

Make Your Words More Memorable

While you may not have memory superpowers, we all recognize the power of retention and its impact on marketing.

When you share memorable content, it shapes people’s perceptions and positively disposes them toward business with your company.

Do you want to bring your brand story to life and make your marketing messages more memorable?

This is harder than it used to be. In a recent study, Microsoft found our average attention span has decreased from 12 seconds (in 2000) to about eight seconds today, with viewers exposed to up to 5,000 ads daily.

Audiences are bombarded by content, so yours needs to be memorable! Here are four principles to keep your communication as “sticky” as possible:

1. Follow the Rule of Seven

Sales are more than transactions; they involve a journey of decision.

People can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist, and they won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you. Typically, people need to see your message at least seven times before they consider your offer. Don’t expect people to respond immediately. Offer different methods to replicate your story to increase the odds that they’ll respond.

2. Use Powerful Headlines

Advertising guru David Oglivy estimated that, because four out of five people only read the headlines, when you write a good headline, “you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Since we encounter volumes of content each day, we can’t possibly read it all. Great headlines come in many forms. Some are short, others are newsworthy, and many feature a strong product benefit. The best headlines are specific. Which of the following impacts you more?

“How to Improve Production Yields This Season”

OR:

“This Little Mistake Cost One Farmer $3,000 a year”

3. Be Funny

The most memorable messages make you laugh.

When Clutch Media interviewed consumers to find what kind of ads they prefer, people overwhelmingly chose ads that made them want to eat or laugh!

Humor is key to making content memorable, especially when messages are specifically tailored to your audience. Data showed that 53 percent of consumers are likely to remember content that is humorous!

4. Use Detailed, Personalized Stories

Which is more memorable: A stroke response fact sheet or a heart-wrenching brochure about a woman who dismissed her husband’s fatal symptoms when he said he was “just tired?”

Stories share messages in solid, emotionally moving, unforgettable ways. The more people connect with a story, the more they’ll remember it, so use stories that are specific, personal, and relatable to the clients you want to reach.

Package It With Perfection

In the end, HOW you share is just as important as WHAT you share.

Looking to package your content with noteworthy style? From stunning sell sheets to dynamic postcards and brochures, we’ll bring superior craftsmanship that is guaranteed to add impact!

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Use Powerful Visualizations to Make Your Message Clear

GettyImages-905819004.jpgCommunication is the key to human connection.

But adequately sharing information can be more difficult than you may think. George Bernard Shaw said the single biggest challenge in communication is the illusion that it has taken place!

Experts estimate that 65 percent of people are visual learners, so one of the easiest ways to communicate with people is with pictures. A well-structured chart, graph, or data visualization can do wonders for sharing your insights with customers, team members, or your superiors. And with easily accessible tools you can use illustrations to:

  • Get your message across quickly
  • Make complex data accessible to many
  • Make your report or presentation more visually appealing
  • Create a more memorable, lasting impression

Whether you’re reporting the household budget or spicing up slides for a presentation, stretch yourself to try one of these options this month.

Vertical Bar Charts

This is a simple option for comparing data grouped by distinct categories. Vertical bar charts are better when sharing 10 groups of data or less.

Horizontal Bar Charts

Typically, horizontal bar charts are effective when you have more than 10 groups of data or if you have long category labels to share.

This format makes labels easier to read because they are displayed in the proper orientation. Vertical and bar charts are excellent for comparing any sort of numeric value, including group sizes, inventories, ratings, and survey responses.

Pie Charts

Pie charts are fun to look at and helpful for understanding parts of a whole.

Remember to order the pieces of your pie according to size and to ensure the total of your pieces adds up to 100%.

Line Chart

Line charts are used to show data relative to a continuous variable: calendar months, years, budget allocations, etc.

Plotting data variables on line graphs makes it easier for readers to identify useful trends or to evaluate comparable products or challenges.

Bullet Chart

Bullet charts are typically used to display performance data relative to a goal.

A bullet graph reveals progress toward a goal, compares this to another measure, and provides context in the form of a rating or performance.

Flow Charts

Following the proper process is something that can make or break an organization or its employees.

Flow charts are used typically in medical, educational, or manufacturing fields to bring quality control and to ensure procedures are uniformly followed.

Pictographs

Here images and symbols are used to illustrate data.

For example, a basic pictograph might use a frowny face to signify sick days and a happy face to symbolize healthy days. Because images hold more emotional power than raw data, pictograms are often used to present medical data. An illustration that shades five out of 20 people has a much more significant impact in sharing a 20-percent death rate.

Sharpen Your Image

When finalizing your data visualization, here are ways to bring your best to the table:

Less is More.

When creating illustrations, consider which gridlines, borders, or numbers can be removed to make the essential parts speak for themselves.

Let White Space Shout.

Minimalist designs like this Congressional gender chart can highlight areas where a gross imbalance exists.

Interpret Data for Readers.

Viewers can understand data more easily when you offer compelling titles and well-placed labels.

Use a Call to Action.

To move your readers, encourage them to take action and make changes.

A great example of this comes from Sebastian Soto, who built a single-color pictograph about the decline of Zambian malaria. Using quotes from key research and health ministry directors on the poster, he closed the graphic with this phrase: “Let’s Collaborate. againstmalaria.com.”

If you need help creating visualizations for your next print project, give us a call today at 856.429.0715!

How to Use a Clear Call to Action to Convert Customers

Acronym CTA as Call To Action“The maxim ‘Nothing avails but perfection’ may be spelt shorter: ‘Paralysis.'”

(Winston Churchill)

Have you ever wondered how lion tamers keep wild cats nearly three times their size at bay?

While methods have evolved over the years, traditionally lions were subdued by three tools: a whip, a stool, and a handful of tasty snacks. While the whip or snacks make sense, perhaps you wonder why a stool was used (instead of a sword or a flame, for example)?

How can a small piece of furniture intimidate the king of all cats?

The truth is, the lion is not afraid of the chair, he’s confused by the multiple points on its legs. Cats are single-minded creatures, and the bobbing points of the chair legs confuse the lion into a less focused state. When the lion loses its train of thought, it is distracted from the instinct to pounce on a weaker opponent.

Muddled Communication Can Paralyze Your Prospects

Ever try to rush your kids through breakfast and get stuck at the cereal cupboard?

As they browse a shelf of eight boxes, they slump and groan: “There’s nothing to eat!” What started as a hurry-up turns into a traffic jam. You vow that next time, you’ll only offer toast and Cheerios.

When we don’t give customers a simple, singular call to action, they may also fall into decision fatigue.

Does your website or your print materials overwhelm customers with possibilities?

Psychologist Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia Business School, co-authored a study that showed significantly more conversions happened when shoppers had fewer options. In her example, shoppers had to choose from a display with six different flavors of jam versus a display with 24 different flavors of jam. How did they compare? The conversion rate for the six-flavor table was 30%, while the 24-flavor table was only 3%.

Analysis can lead to paralysis!

What about your method for calling prospects to action? Does your advertisement ask them to commit to a 30-day trial AND use a customer discount code DURING a selected 14-day window? Does your podcast ask people to share with a friend, AND subscribe, AND download previous episodes (all in one breath)?

Perhaps you need to take a step back and use these three evaluation tools:

1. Know Your Main Goal

When you ask people to do several tasks at once (like visiting your website and joining your e-mail list), you’ve probably overshadowed your main goal with several smaller goals.

Focus on one main goal for customer conversion, and use customer loyalty programs down the road to call customers to greater steps of engagement or loyalty.

2. Test Action Statements in Advance

If your communication is a mist in the office, it’s probably a fog on the streets. To determine which CTAs are crystal clear, run some A/B tests with sample customers and find out which ones are generating momentum.

3. Pack Some Punch

Start call to action statements with a strong command verb, like buy, shop, order, subscribe, or win.

Use concise phrases that build enthusiasm. Which of these CTA statements excites you more?

“Consider many of our 200 exciting destination possibilities,” or

“Plan your dream vacation today!”

Keep things sweet, simple, and customer-focused. Once they take the bait you can always present them with more!

How to Make Your Idea Stick

IDEAS THAT STICK

Have you ever shared an idea with someone and seen it immediately take flight in their eyes?

Their mind is churning a thousand miles per minute, and you can tell that they grasp the consequence of what you have shared and how it could be implemented to solve their problem.

Alternatively, we have all seen the glazed look that comes over someone when what you are telling them is either common knowledge or has no impact on their daily life.

How is it that some people can share their ideas in a way that resonates so well with their audience, while others can drop a great idea that falls completely flat?

If you want to avoid your print marketing falling flat, there is an excellent communication framework that you can use that will help you relate your ideas to your audience in a way that they can actively understand – and take action!

Creating the Framework

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When you sit down to write content for your next sales flyer, business card or banner, remember these five key steps for communication that will engage and delight your listeners.

For your content to stick, be useful, and long-lasting, run it through these five questions.

Does your content make your audience:

✔ Pay attention?
✔ Understand and remember it?
✔ Agree/Believe?
✔ Care?
✔ Be able to act on it?

No One Cares About Your Ideas

Here’s the reality. Just because you care passionately and deeply about an idea – even one that hits you to your very core – that doesn’t mean that your audience will share your excitement.

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You have to frame your thoughts in such a way that they become personal and relatable to your listeners. This could mean unique messaging for different people in your audience, as it’s unlikely that a young adult will react in the same way to a pitch on health insurance as would someone close to retirement age.

Bringing in Emotion

Emotion is more than a simple feeling: warm, cold, tired, excited. Emotion is empathy, being able to put yourself in the place of someone else and feel their pain or desires. When you’re able to evoke those feelings in individuals, it causes a deeper level of connection and commitment to your ideas.

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You’ll want people to understand and remember the idea – so it’s essential to make it feel more concrete, or specific. If someone cares about your idea, then they are one step closer to buying into your overall concept, and your idea becomes more “sticky.”

Ultimately, the goal of a communications framework is to make an idea actionable, which is the final step and requires telling a story. The story could be about the benefits that you should expect to receive from pursuing the product or idea.

Stories can take a variety of shapes, from written newsletters to marketing collateral to personal conversations and even text messages that reinforce your point and continue to create a credible and emotional bond with your audience.

If you need help sharing your next great idea through print, contact us today at 856-429-0715!

The Dignity of Work – Down But Not Out

ThinkstockPhotos-832112086Albert Serur was just a young man when he passed out cold in his client’s office. Only four months into his job, a previously undiagnosed heart condition might have sidelined him permanently. But Serur didn’t go down without a fight. Rather than recovering from emergency surgery at home, he hired a driver so he could sleep in the car between sales calls.

“Adversity helps you deal with who you are,” he says. “If you can start preparing for things proactively both personally and professionally, you’re going to be ready, and you’re going to be a better leader.”

“Will-Set” that Trumps a Skill Set

At 28, Serur is the youngest state director at American Income Life and chief executive of its Wilmington subsidiary. Serur Agencies brings weekly employee training sessions that focus less on technical abilities and more on workplace camaraderie, helping people develop a “will-set” with emotional tools to handle challenging situations. These offerings are a timely response to a felt need; in a recent Society of Human Resource Management report, “respectful treatment” was a top priority of the workers, even above pay.

“I’ve seen many people who have more God-given talent than I have, but if they have one difficult relationship issue, they just fold,” says Serur.

Valuing the “Dignity of Work”

Workforce prioritization was how Starbucks recently explained the “fairly flat” performance of its stock. While a recent reduction of corporate-tax rates made the company hundreds of millions of dollars, Starbucks chose to re-invest this money in its workforce rather than funneling profits back to shareholders. Priorities included closing gender pay equity gaps worldwide, offering stock grants of $2,000 for managers and $500 for employees, expanded paid parental leave, and even access to critical illness insurance for parents of employees. Executive chairman Howard Schultz says people are an enduring priority:

“We’re trying to make long-term decisions,” Schultz said. “We’re trying to value the dignity of work. We’re trying to do everything we possibly can to demonstrate to the world … that the better way is not a zero-sum game where you leave your people behind.”

Microsoft has also seen a shift toward creating workplace wins. Several of Microsoft’s former employees have returned to the company after CEO Satya Nadella took over. These “boomerangs” say workplace culture has changed significantly under Nadella’s emphasis on “One Microsoft,” a collaborative environment that hasn’t existed in the past. Nadella has shifted reviews toward solidarity and teamwork, where employees are rewarded not just for their own work but how well they’re able to make use of others’ contributions. Boomerangs say this step away from the “smartest person in the room,” intimidation tactic has brought a more conversational, empowering environment. Microsoft has emphasized patience before perfection, incentives for developing others, and teaching staff to diffuse tension after disagreeable meetings.

Bonds that Last

Some companies use humor to grow unity. The Improv Asylum comedy troupe teaches communications skills at organizations like Google and Intel. This troupe’s mantra is that one person must always accept the premise given and then expand on the idea. “The sink is going to start spraying pink paint, you say?” “Well, yes, AND . . . lucky for us, we’re hosting the abstract art seminar this weekend!”

As it turns out, this is also a great workplace communication technique:

(The phrase) “‘Yes, but’ is prevalent in the corporate culture, and that shuts ideas down,” says Bob Melley, director of corporate training at the Boston theater company. “‘Yes, and’ encourages everyone on the team to offer ideas. It creates a bond and establishes trust.”

3 Opportunities for Better Customer Follow-up

ThinkstockPhotos-843169968Have you ever considered an online purchase but been put off by taxes or shipping costs? That’s what a Reddit user (Doug D.) experienced when he fell in love with a sweatshirt from Archrival Clothing. Doug, a UK resident, added the item to his cart, but was disappointed to find he couldn’t get Archrival’s alluringly low shipping prices since the company was based in the US.

Winning Follow-up

Game over? Not quite. Someone from Archrival took note of Doug’s abandoned “Shopping Cart” and realized the shipping prices were probably to blame. This resourceful employee immediately e-mailed Doug, offering several alternatives to ship the order for less, including a FedEx International Economy option, Delayed First Class Overseas Mail (on the company’s dime), or European purchasing options.

Doug’s reaction? Rave online reviews for the company itself:

“Wow. My mind is blown. This is potentially the best customer service I have ever experienced. You definitely deserve a purchase just for this e-mail.” Doug and his girlfriend bought several items, ordering more than originally intended, all due to proactive customer care.

Leaky Buckets Bring Lost Opportunities

Business is all about relationships, and good relationships are built on great communication. In today’s wired world, we communicate constantly, yet connections are frequently missed. Author Dan Kennedy describes these botched follow-ups as the “hole” in our buckets. If business is the bucket where we pour energy, ideas, and money, the “holes” are wasted time, money, or failed follow up. This may include failing to track contact information, not rescuing lost customers, or belated follow-up with prospects.

What impact does correspondence have? According to Harvard Business Review, the most frequent customer complaint is poor follow-up. Fifty-six percent complain that they need to re-explain their issue when calling back. Sixty-two percent need to repeatedly contact the company to get issues resolved. As a result, 65% are likely to speak poorly about the company and 48% go on to tell 10 or more people about their bad experience. Poor communication can influence not only your customer but spill over into the public as well.

Show Them the Love!

Sometimes we fail to communicate because we are forgetful, have full schedules, or we fear looking pushy. But consistent follow-up builds sturdy bridges, and any step toward better communication will bear long-term fruit. Consider these opportunities for better follow up:

  1. Always acknowledge a message from a customer: with gratitude, with further questions, or with a confirmation of the request
  2. Give a brief status update of the issue at hand
  3. Respond via the customer’s preferred method of communication (e-mail, website, phone call). If uncertain, reciprocate with the method the customer initiated with

Use stronger written follow-up communication to:

  • Make a calendar request or recap a meeting
  • Ensure your last message was received or inquire about further questions or concerns
  • Express gratitude for an introduction or appreciation for their business
  • Congratulate clients on a recent accomplishment
  • Wish customers luck on an upcoming project or personal endeavor
  • Solicit feedback on a future project or decision
  • Send helpful information or resources (pertinent to your previous conversations)
  • Make people personally aware of upcoming incentives or promotions

To make good intentions a reality, consider adding correspondence goals to your schedule (placing reminders in your phone or calendar or sending unique printed thank you notes on a bi-annual basis) and chart a new course of consistency to ensure your relationships receive the optimal care they deserve.

The Magic of Dialogue

ThinkstockPhotos-584853270.jpgWho doesn’t love a great conversation? There’s something compelling about swapping stories, sharing hurts, and multiplying joys as we connect together each day. Companies are finding the catalyst to true connection often comes through listening.

Marketing and editorial strategists Michelle Horowitz and Kendall Meade believed so strongly in conversation that they launched an entire online platform called InTELLects to grow real-life interactions that promote conversation, creativity, and community:

“I’m energized by making connections and asking people deeper questions,” says Michelle. “It’s how I learn, and it’s how I grow.”

InTELLects features notable leaders, thinkers, and change agents, building a community of mentors and offering users the chance to ask questions – any questions – to grow the collective conversation. The co-founders believe authentic discussions pave pathways to clarity, grow existing communities, and instigate this new universal truth: “ask, and you shall succeed.” InTELLects is promoting a paradigm shift that’s moving companies away from “shoving a sales pitch” and toward authentic customer engagement.

The Critical Surfing “Slow Down”

 

In today’s complex ecosystem, marketers are realizing that consumer engagement (or return on EXPERIENCE) is a long-term, holistic measure of a customer’s encounter with a brand. Engagement includes any action a customer takes to connect with a company: downloading an app, participating in a forum, or referring products to friends. Engagement brings significantly greater return than website traffic, as researchers report that attention span in “surfing” is typically less than nine seconds per page.

How can we slow people down? Horowitz says asking questions is a wonderful place to start.

“True engagement stems from building a place where people can honestly learn, share, and engage,” she said. InTELLects believes that real conversations transcend the noise and forge emotional connections.

Through digital channels, today’s entrepreneurs have powerful tools to create highly personalized relationships. While community forums have been around for ages, expanding social networks like LinkedIn Groups and Google+ Communities offer a chance to connect with customers and ask questions that can build emotional connections that last. Recent data shows that 68 percent of audiences spent more than 15 percent of their time reading the comments section of a story – revealing the allure of dialogue to build powerful community connection.

Growing the Conversation

 

As you seek to build your own “conversational opportunities,” here are a few questions to consider:

  1. What does your target audience connect with?
  2. What questions do they have about your product?
  3. What is their favorite feature of your business?
  4. Where can you proactively predict what they want to stay ahead of the design curve?
  5. What educational or training gaps could your company offer on their behalf?
  6. What are some practical questions you could pose to gain insights in these areas?

Need ideas to get you started? Grab your team and brainstorm how you might:

  • Host a contest
  • Promote customer achievements on your own social media page
  • Allow your VIP customers to co-create content
  • Host webinars or events
  • Make someone your “brand ambassador” for the month
  • Allow users to have fun, like the Reddit community did in its season-long Fat Tire experience

As technology barrels ahead, one of our own goals is to keep people at the forefront. Whether it’s online forums, beautifully handcrafted printing, or just the face-to-face interactions we have with you every day, we believe nothing trumps relationships. We enjoy hearing about your own questions and ideas, and we look forward to serving you this year. Let’s keep talking!