Concept is a collection of artists, geeks, perfectionists, and strategists working together to make some damn fine advertising.

ADVERTISING IS CREATIVITY.

Not just in the execution, but in the strategy. Compelling creative is that much stronger with an equally creative brand position.

ADVERTISING IS MARKETING.

Branding, SEO, online marketing, logo development, backend web development, positioning, and a whole lot more. But never more than you need.

ADVERTISING IS ALWAYS CHANGING.

New this, new that, and a whole lot of social networking—there sure are a lot of options these days. But what’s trendy isn’t always what’s most effective.

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Facebook Marketing for your Business

Think back to the last time you logged on to Facebook. On your news feed you saw the people and products you have connected with in the past and you may also have seen advertisements for a variety products and websites you have visited in the past. This is the power of online advertising and remarketing, having the ability to place your brand and product in a private world.
 
Many people of all ages use Facebook to connect with friends from around the world. It’s easy today to connect with the person you met at the park or look up your best friend from Junior High. Facebook is the platform for online human interaction. Remember this scenario? You were scrolling through your newsfeed, you might clicked “like” on your friends post, and then you see an advertisement made by your favorite coffee shop offering a coupon to Facebook followers.  This is the power of Facebook, products continuously intermix in a virtual universe.
The numbers associated with Facebook are amazing. An attentive and engaged audience of 1.3 billion users log on each month.  This can help a business’s online reach rapidly grow while tracking emerging trends because they are directly connecting with their target demographic. A business can also reach their consumers while they are on the run with a rapidly growing seven hundred thousand users searching Facebook using their mobile devices.
 
A global reach is now possible for a small business with Facebook. A company in Albany can sell their product to a person in Portland with minimal work. This is how it works:  The Albany Jam Company posts on their Facebook page about new seasonal jams with a link to the website. The Albany Jam Company has 1000 followers and the post is seen by 300 of those followers. Some of these followers like, comment, and share the link. Their friends then see the post originally provided by the Albany Jam Company. Every 20 minutes, one million links are shared via Facebook.  With the average user having 130 friends, the Albany Jam Company now has quite the reach via this inexpensive and popular social media outlet. The post catches the attention of a person who is based in Portland, but is friends with someone who liked the Albany Jam Facebook page. Soon the link is clicked, jam is purchased, and the Albany Jam Company Facebook page has one more follower. This follower will in turn increase the Facebook pages reach and ability to communicate with a broad audience. 
 
Social media is a commitment, but this commitment has the high potential to be rewarding with profits. By posting regularly and interacting with the community not only will a business owner have a new platform for marketing, followers will be loyal to the brand. The Social Marketing team at Concept Marketing can strategize with you on how to best capture and maintain your Facebook audience among other services like managing the page, branding it and helping to build communication outlets.
 

The YouTube Storm Part 2

YouTube videos are not for everyone and a company should not attempt to please everyone. Shotgun marketing has never been a sustainable plan and should not be executed in social media. To better utilize YouTube, it is good practice to simply focus on their respective target market. The site is a powerful tool to deliver a personal message to customers. The customer chose to watch the video. They made a choice that is not available on regular cable or television programming. When someone clicks to watch, they have a high interest in the message and product.

YouTube can be a powerful tool in a company’s marketing plan. Aim it at the target group and produce content to tantalize and sell. Searching the web is a personal experience. Every click is a choice by someone, and searching is not surfing. Surfing is best explained as someone looking for a location to settle on that requires little effort — you may find they just may want the entertainment. Searching the web is a different experience full of rich choices. Searching is for explorers and action takers, surfing is for the passive internet browser.
It is recommended to have a YouTube goal that satisfies that search. Give your web presence the personal touch that your offline presence has. For a company this presence should be in a setting the customer would be comfortable visiting. If a home service is being extended film in a home. If advice extended or a tutorial is being demonstrated a comfortable office with the focus on the person would be appropriate.

Similar to a storm that pushes a front of cold or warm air in, YouTube pushes waves of innovation. People by nature want to create, and YouTube is an accessible platform to create. A company’s video should encourage creation on the part of the customer, either by reacting to the video’s message or offer, or becoming part of the community in the comment section.

Comments are an integral part of a videos. People who leave comments on company’s pages want to be heard. Know this: feedback is a gift. Accepting feedback will help improve the business and content of videos. With the internet information overload, take it with a grain of salt and be able to sift through the commentary and determine what constructive criticism is and what is simply a personal rant.

How would you envision utilizing a unique tool like YouTube?

The YouTube Storm Part 1

Why a storm?

Have you ever watched or been in a storm? Your senses become heightened as the thunder claps, rain pelts, and lightning strikes. The power of a storm is pervasive and tremendous. Storms start small but gain momentum from the elements and grow until they are an unstoppable force.

That's YouTube.

If you are technologically savvy and business-minded you already know how influential YouTube has become. When YouTube started it was viewed as a virtual playground for amateurs and hobbyists. Smart marketers have come to realize it's potential.

YouTube functions completely off the premise of “social currency.” Social currency is the fastest moving form of currency on the planet. It's based off the “cool factor” or “I know something that no one else does” elements. People want to share social currency. It comes in the form of pictures, videos, music, games, apps, etc.

YouTube is unique. It's a trusted name. It's free. It's powerful.

Millions of companies utilize YouTube yet they don’t use it to its fullest capacity. They produce content aimed at the front page and hope for the best. High views should be the goal of every company produced video. There are two ways to get to the top. First, a company can use customers and their social networks to make the video go viral and appear on top pages. If you have a large social media following, this could be an excellent route. The second option is paid placement and is also what many companies tend to lean toward using.  Product placement is an important part of YouTube business. Products can appear as part of the paid search or a company can hire a YouTube cyberstar to recommend the product.

How does a company best utilize YouTube? First, the company must plan best practices for YouTube. Best practices include consistent, current branding and messaging. It is also very important that the voice of the company be in the same tone on YouTube as heard in the real world.  Below is an example of a customer interaction for an emerging tech company utilizing YouTube tutorials as a source for education and the promotion of their products. 

Matt is a father of two who loves to photograph his children’s soccer games. Matt had noticed that the coloring of his photos is a little off and with a little effort his pictures could be a family masterpiece. He ventured on YouTube to learn more about the Photoshop software. As he scrolled the videos, one caught his attention. The video was placed by bluefish.com, Matt liked the length of the video and clicked to start. A pleasant voice greeted Matt and guided him though the steps to create a better photo. As the video ended with the company’s logo and links to more content and the company’s website. Matt went on to look at the company’s products and services on the official company website.

Matt’s stumble is not dumb luck, and the business that is generated by YouTube success is nothing to laugh at. Companies can make a small fortune not only from leads generated from the site, but ad sense from the video can also contribute to the company’s bottom line.

Photoshop Knows No Boundaries

Late 2011. GlobalDemocracy.com launches a YouTube video urging advertisers to run truth-in-advertising notifications along with Photoshopped glamour and fashion images. The original video receives over five million hits and the re-posts get millions more. Among the more interesting re-posts are those that use the original video as evidence of the positive effects of cosmetology and photo retouching—something along the lines of, “Even you can look like a supermodel!”
It’s safe to say that admiring beauty is even older than the world’s oldest profession. As long as there have been two or more women in the world at least one has been singled out for her beauty, leading to several outcomes.
 
First, realism of expectation may suffer. While cosmetology and glamour retouching have been called “unrealistic,” people have a tendency to ignore truly unrealistic images and admire those that are “realistic enough” to maintain the belief that there are real women who resemble the image. Still, the manipulated image is unrealistic for the woman it portrays and for a large sector of the population, leading to extremes in self-alteration in order to resemble the artificial.
Second, a significant number of those who are unable to come close to the ideal in beauty—and even a significant number of those already at the top of the class in looks—are likely to be afflicted with a distorted image of themselves, seeing a reflection in the mirror that is far uglier than objective reality would portray. This distortion can have truly harmful results not only on the psyche of a person, but also through incorrect advertising – making promises that can’t be delivered. 
Third, there may be impacts to human connections, an issue our culture has virtually ignored. Over-idealization of a particular female aesthetic can cripple a man’s ability to engage in healthy long-term relationships. And a woman’s relationships can similarly be hampered by her belief that she will never measure up to the ideal woman in a man’s imagination.
 
Can this problem be solved? In a way, it is already solving itself. Once you start watching time lapse photo retouching videos, you can’t watch just one. You may lose an entire work day to YouTube. And eventually, you’ll find a cache of Photoshop fail reels, highlighting the tragic comedy of poor quality retouching. Once you’re sensitized to these techno disasters, you’ll see them everywhere—billboards, magazine covers, catalogs. At the same time, efforts such as those by GlobalDemocracy.com, Dove soap’s Campaign for Real Beauty and the “stars without makeup” meme are strong but natural information-age reactions to beauty idealism.
 
With all that said, Photoshop can be used for good! Perhaps a shirt color needs to be changed for an ad. Or you need to take a photo shoot at the beach, but live in the mountains. Photoshop can be so much more. The opportunities for positive imagery are endless and fun!
 

Simplicity: The KISS Rule of Branding

Simplicity has value. Yes, it’s a little counterintuitive. We all think we want the car with all the bells and whistles, not the stripped-down model with a no-nonsense engine and some wheels. However, recent surveys are telling us that simple messages, simple products and simple services give consumers a few ideas that surpass the bells and whistles.
 
One idea is that, when a brand’s meaning is easily understood, the public perceives that interacting with that brand will be uncomplicated. Let’s take Amazon, for example, currently the number one simple brand in the U.S.: Everyone knows that Amazon means “hassle-free online marketplace”. Knowing that, the public expects to be able to open Amazon easily, shop for what they want easily, buy an item quickly, and then receive fast shipment without any difficulty. We seem naturally attracted to a respite from ubiquitous information overload and the stress of complicated transactions.
 
Studies show that consumers will spend more on simpler experiences than on the complicated ones. Contrary to the “bells & whistles” idea, consumers seem to understand that the less complicated something is, the less there is that can go wrong. Starbucks is a good example (this year’s number ten simple U.S. brand): You a pay a premium, but you get exactly what you want and you get it right now. Easy. Yes, you can get more than coffee, but the emphasis is on what Starbucks does best and what the public wants the most.
 
Perhaps the more powerful idea is that an easily-understood brand is more trustworthy. Example: McDonald’s (currently America’s number three simple brand). To understand the meaning of the McDonald’s brand is to know exactly what you’re going to get at McDonald’s. Even if you think McDonald’s food is consistently bad, its consistency is comforting. With that kind of identity, consumers are comfortable not only interacting with the brand, but recommending it to friends as well.
 

Today’s latest marketing trends:

Social media has hit the big-time. #duh. Here’s what’s new: From the standpoint of technology and marketing sophistication, social media is maturing, despite its juvenile content on some networks. Social media is quickly becoming a tool for retaining preferred customers in addition to finding new customers. Social media marketing strategies are a necessity for business survival, not a luxury. And to top things off, SEO and social media are becoming progressively more integrated, with highly-shared links translating to highly-ranked searches. Individual networks are still jockeying for position (Foursquare is down, MySpace is back up, LinkedIn is still up, Facebook is down among youth, Twitter is up among youth), but the overall trend continues upward. What you can take from this is recognizing which social media works best with your target demographic.
 
Mobile computing has heated up quickly. Websites that are not currently optimized for mobile use are losing. Businesses that are launching their own mobile apps and services are winning. And, consumers are not just swapping PC’s for iPhones—they continue to use mobile devices for tasks they never asked their PC’s to do, paving the way for new marketing opportunities. These include the digital wallet (with new mobile loyalty programs), location-based point-of-decision communications (such as just-in-time delivery of incentives and coupons) and QR codes—a technology that has matured and raised expectations of creativity.
Content rules; visual content rules even more. The pressures to develop content better and faster have never been greater. And there’s a twist: visual content is killing text-based content. The hottest social media networks are those that focus on images and video, not just words; infographics are killing pure data. On websites, the need for creative, relevant content continues to grow with each Google Search Engine algorithm update.
 
Simpler is better. Overwhelmed by sensory input, consumers are opting for brands with easily-understood, simple messages. Trust, referral of friends and eagerness to engage a brand all increase dramatically as complexity declines.
Reputation Management is becoming a critical factor for businesses of every size. Even the tiniest, most obscure restaurant has numerous online reviews to support it or dump on it. Disgruntled customers’ formerly empty threats to discredit a business are now a serious issue with the strength of the online commentary phenomena. Managing those comments aggressively but diplomatically is today’s marketing first aid kit. In addition, Reputation Management is cross-branding its importance into all facets of online marketing, to include: website optimization, mapping and social networking.