By now, we’ve all seen the statistics on the importance of optimizing content for readers instead of search engines. Content marketing, as the practice is known, is the key to generating increased traffic and potential revenue. Consider a business that regularly produces high quality, custom content is likely to attract 61% more sales from their website. At the same time, content marketing can generate 434% more indexed pages in Google. In other words, content marketing speaks to both your readers and search engine robots.
Even so, recent studies have shown that if you really want to improve the readability of your content and get your brand out there, you can’t rely solely on text-based content; you have to include images in your content if you really want success.
The Statistics Don’t Lie
Online content featuring a rich image generates 40% more traffic than content using only text. Further, web content incorporating imagery is three times more likely to generate an inbound link than content that exclusively employs textual information. Clearly, making an effort to include relevant, rich imagery — relevant being a key word you need to keep in mind — can have a hugely beneficial impact on the way your content is received by your readers and Google’s indexing robots.
It All Comes Down to Our Brains
You can constantly produce high quality blog posts, social media statuses, and other bits of text-based content that make people think and earn their trust in your brand. However, the simple fact is that no matter what you write, it will never be as memorable as a great infographic or other image you supplement your posts with.
Did you know that, on average, we only remember about 20% of what we read? 90% of the information our brains process and retain is visual. Why? It’s just a matter of the way our brains function. Visual content is processed 60,000 times faster than text-based content, regardless of how well written and interesting it may be. In effect, visual content is a lot more memorable and far more likely to be shared with friends and family via Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms, leading directly to increased traffic for your website.
Like Other Content, You Have to Use Images Properly
Like content marketing, social media, and every other marketing method out there, implementing images into your web content has to be done properly if you want to help, not hinder, your online marketing efforts. It’s important that you define your content strategy approach to social media for 2014. Remember when we talked about the relevance of visual content early? Relevant content will earn you the benefits of using imagery, but filling your website with irrelevant, offensive, or useless imagery has the potential to reduce your readership and hurt your revenue potential.
Keep in mind, whenever you add an image to your content it increases your site’s loading time, even if only slightly. Remember that an increased loading time of only 0.4 to 0.9% can decrease your traffic by 20% if your readers feel the extra wait isn’t worth the payoff. Providing interesting infographics or other supplemental imagery will help you avoid this problem, ensuring your business only benefits from the use of images.
With an ever-growing number of businesses heading online to draw-in customers, making your content as interesting as possible is increasingly important. Remember, “content is king,” but only if you compare great written content with related, useful imagery.
Berning Marketing is a New Orleans based communications and production company specializing in crafting marketing campaigns and turnkey productions with clients in retail, government, financial, energy, hospitality, medical, and defense across the Untied States. Berning Marketing also works in all forms of media including television, radio, print, outdoor, and online marketing assuring quality in style and execution.
2014 is poised to be a big year for social media in the web marketing landscape. Since Facebook began its meteoric rise to over 1.4 billion active users, social media platforms have moved from the playgrounds of teenagers and college students to important meeting grounds for all people across the planet, including marketers.
Americans spend an average of 7.6 hours on social networks every month, and 40% of users have made a purchase after seeing a product in their feeds. Realizing that social media is a watering-hole of sorts, industrious business owners have moved into the social sphere as well. In fact, 70% of American businesses maintain a Facebook page, hoping to build a rapport with their customers and improve their reputation and revenue earned online.
Facebook Shouldn’t Be Your Sole Focus
While Facebook is the most popular social media platform out there, that doesn’t mean you should be ignoring Twitter or the often-neglected Google Plus. Over 645 million and 343 million people, respectively, use those services. Google Plus is becoming ever trendier, as Google continues to integrate the service with Gmail, YouTube, Blogger, and other services. If growth continues as it has been, G+ will soon be just as important of a platform as the big two.
That being said, you can’t afford to focus on any one service. Fully 77% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a company that uses social media, but that’s dependent on the services you use. Each platform serves different demographics and requires a different approach. Twitter, for example, is most popular with women ages 18 to 29. Facebook predominantly serves women ages 35-54. Each platform represents a different market that you can reach, but it also brings individual challenges and the need for a unique marketing approach.
A Practical Approach to Social Media in 2014
Even with the differences between social media demographics and functionality, there are rules you need to take with you when building your social campaign on any platform.
Develop a Strategy- Using social media is just like any other form of marketing: you need to have a strategy. Your social marketing strategy should define what kind of content you’re going to share, when you’re going to share it, and how much content you’re going to syndicate on a daily basis. Keep in mind that oversharing or posting content that doesn’t fit your audience will drive them away.
Give Customers Something to Look At- Both Facebook and Google tried to buy Snapchat in 2013 for $3 billion and $4 billion, respectively. The reason is simple: visual content is on an upward trend toward becoming the most commonly shared type of content among social media users. While you can, and should, take advantage of Pinterest, Tumblr, and other visual media services, try sharing more videos, infographics, and photos via traditional social media sites to see similar results.
Take the Time to Respond to Customers- Social media can be a powerful tool in improving customer service and retaining your customers, but missteps can cost you. Responding to concerns or even a friendly comment is not only expected, it’s required. Over half of Twitter users, for example, expect a response within an hour when interacting with your brand. While you may not be able to meet such a demanding expectation, you should make an effort to respond to every customer interaction in as little time as possible.
Strengthening focus on social media will prove to be the most beneficial thing any company can do for its web marketing efforts in 2014. Following the trend of other internet marketing methods, being successful on social media is about redefining your approach to serve customers first.
In an effort to attract business and grow industry in the state of Louisiana, the state passed a unique tax incentive package in 2002 for the film industry. Motion picture production companies who produced nationally or internationally distributed movies and headquartered and domiciled in Louisiana would be eligible for a 30% tax credit.
Since then, the Louisiana film industry has grown considerably, being dubbed “Hollywood South;” and within the last three years, the state ranks third to California and New York in film productions.
These attractive incentives came under attack in 2013 by the Louisiana state legislature, however, in an effort to cut expenditures throughout state programs. The impetus was behind a state legislative auditor’s report that revealed Louisiana had spent $170 million in attracting TV and movie productions to the state.
Fortunately, a subsequent report was released by Louisiana Economic Development, which provided a detailed economic study of the tax program up to 2012. Here are a few of the positive economic impacts of the current incentives package offered by the state:
$1.1 billion in sales at firms within the state
$770 million in household earnings for state citizens
15,184 jobs created
These numbers have stopped legislators from making cuts in a program that is clearly working the way it was intended. But it will not last for long. Another year will go by, and legislators will be looking for a place to cut spending where possible. Fortunately, there are some state legislators that are championing the current program, to make sure that these incentives offered by the state do not get cut.
Legislators are forgetting, however, that the film industry currently in Louisiana is a direct result of these film tax credits. If Louisiana cuts the program or scales back the incentives, the state will most definitely see the film industry leave and go to other states that have adopted similar film tax incentives. The current initiative should be to expand the program, so other states cannot even compete with what Louisiana offers, and to support an industry that is just in its infancy of setting down roots as a permanent source of economic development for the state.
Want to talk about the Louisiana film tax credits? Send us a message!
In what appears to be an increasingly online-centered world, TV advertising remains an oldie but a goodie. As website owners such as AOL, Yahoo, and even Google try to pull advertisers to their sites, good old TV advertising is giving them a run for their money.
And it’s not just the old-fashioned sticklers who are sticking with TV advertising. Online companies such as PopSugar Inc. and TripAdvisor are leaning on TV ads to boost their sales and brand awareness. In fact, Anna Bolgna, the vice president of brand strategy as TripAdvisor says she needs TV advertising to have the reach and to create the brand awareness she desires.
With attitudes like this, it’s no surprise that the US anticipates a total of $66.3 billion in spending on TV advertising this year alone—a 2.8 percent increase from last year. This is in part due to the increase in online companies that are moving to TV advertising to increase brand awareness, but there are also companies that have heavily relied on TV ads since the beginning.
EHarmony has always allocated a large TV advertising budget. After briefly trying to use different online methods, starting in 2003 EHarmony decided to invest the majority of its advertising budget in TV advertising. Now, EHarmony spends 75 percent of its $90 million budget on TV advertising.
So while online advertising seems to be taking over, it’s important to keep the facts straight. TV advertising is still a valuable tool that companies don’t seem to be pushing off to the side anytime soon.
Tom Buckholtz was a man known for many amazing things. He was a founding father of the New Orleans film industry and directed campaigns for local icons like Mignon Faget and Popeyes, as well as nationally acclaimed accounts such as Burger King. Mr. Buckholtz was also instrumental in creating music videos, and could at one point in time be found in the Encyclopedia Britannica’s definition of music videos as an important influencer and creator of music videos in the 1980s.
In addition to coming up with the Popeyes slogan, “There’s a party in my mouth,” he also was the one to suggest that Steve Perry, lead singer of Journey, put a sock in his pants for a music video, for which he received credit for every time it played on VH1 by an arrow pointing to his pants. Mr. Buckholtz was a local icon who gain national attention for his talent and impressive work. Not many men can take credit for casting Sarah Michelle Gellar in a Burger King commercial at age four and pioneering the film industry on a local level.
Although he was originally from New Jersey, Mr. Buckholtz was a true New Orleanian in his eccentricity and passion for life. Even after a car accident that left him a quadriplegic in 2004, he continued to be inspired and come up with brilliant ideas until his death on Nov. 2 at age 66. He is spoken of with admiration and respect by his peers and clients and will certainly be missed in the film community of New Orleans. This take is for you, Mr. Buckholtz.
It is said that radio advertising is the “theater of the mind”, because the images created by radio come from within the person that is listening. Since radio ads rely heavily on the imagination of its listeners, it is important to know how to paint a memorable mental picture in their minds.
While radio production is significantly less costly than other mediums, if you fail to cast the right voice for your radio ads the outcome will likely wasted and money. In order to cast the correct voice talent, you must be very clear on the tone of the spot. The tone should be based on product, target audience, etc. Your ad’s listeners need to believe in the message the voice talent is trying to convey, therefore matching tone and voice is extremely important. Another aspect you must consider is the question of music background. Often, a voice talent is drowned out by music that is too loud or too “busy”. In order to ensure your message is received, take time to consider whether you really need music at all.
When you only have 60 seconds to convey a message to a most likely distracted audience, and you have no visual aids, you are left with the challenge of creating a theater of the mind that not only entertains, but inspires people to take immediate action.
“Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!”.” – Henry James, The Art of Fiction
There was a time when “multi-tasking” was a specialized talent, dominated by mothers, questionable drivers and jugglers.
Slowly, though, multi-tasking has become less a skill and more just a generally-accepted state of life. Staking your claim as a “multi-tasker” is like proudly proclaiming your ability to breathe air.
There are different levels to the multi-tasking, and certainly some are more successful at it than others (also not unlike breathing, where there’s Michael Phelps and the rest of us are just gasping asthmatics). But on the whole, the value has been compromised by a shift from conscious state to default operating mode.
The more rare (and possibly more valuable) trait these days is the ability to focus on a single activity. To shut down everything else, sit still and give your full attention to whatever (or whoever) is in front of you. A call for uni-tasking (formerly just down as “doing something”) is starting to gain ground on several fronts, but nowhere more than among the educational institutions struggling to deal with a generation of Americans who went straight from umbilical cord to firewire– and that was the subject of National Security Council Member and foreign policy expert Samantha Power’s commencement address at Occidental College:
“You’ve got to be all in. This means leaving your technology behind occasionally and listening to a friend without half of your brain being preoccupied by its inner longing for the red light on the Blackberry. In many college classes, laptops depict split screens– notes from a class and then a range of a parallel stimulants: NBA Playoff statistics on ESPN.com, a flight home on Expedia, a new flirtation on Facebook. I know how good you all are at multi-tasking. And I know of what I speak, because I, too, am a culprit. You have never seen a U.S. government official and new mother so dextrous in her ability simultaneously to BlackBerry and breastfeed. But I promise you that over time this doesn’t cut it. Something or someone loses out. No more than a surgeon can operate while tweeting can you reach your potential with one ear in, one ear out. You actually have to reacquaint yourself with concentration. We all do. We should all become, as Henry James prescribed, a person “on whom nothing is lost.”
In marketing, where everyone is on the push for increased connectivity, this is something that rings true. We’re individuals constantly trying to talk to audiences on whom much is lost– our job being to keep our message from falling down that black hole.
It’s a task that’s become more difficult. “Fragmented” is a word that is frequently used to describe younger audiences. “Fractured” is probably a better term, as the demarcations between the different areas are not neat, even divides, but sprawling, ragged cracks.
To combat this, the push has been toward integrated campaigns, stretching smaller ideas across more space and media. For some messages, it’s a tactic that works. The danger, however, is that in trying to create integration, we lose distinction– whatever it is that makes your idea, your message, your campaign stand out from everything else. In time, the marketing professionals start to develop cracks of their own and the work begins to suffer.
Multitasking isn’t a sin or a condition to be cured, but it does need an off switch. The value is in being able to shift between a singular focus and plugged-in master of all domains and then back again, as needed; To take the time to drill into a single task at hand, complete it, and then open up to bring it to the fractured masses and glowing screens of all sizes. And if a you can take the time to create a big, fat idea, it’ll be much less likely to fall through the cracks.
Its Friday, It 4:15, I didn’t have lunch. Why must my favorite package design blog, The Die Line tempt me with a delicious collection of vintage cheese labels.
When looking at vintage design I always appreciate the typography, since it was done the hard way, without computers. I think It might drive us contemporary designers mad if we had to perfectly hand-render all of those sans-serif letterforms. Here are a few of my favorites, The layouts are so simple, yet the small details make them so interesting.
It’s a question that gets asked about practically everything that’s delivered to the studio. Does it have a motor? If not, can we attach one to it? On this day, it was asked regarding the black pedestal for our macro lens shoot of stock footage for Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Mandeville based Boudreaux’s Jewelry. Because while stock footage of rings and necklaces are easy enough to come by, it seems like a good idea to have on hand high-quality footage of the exact items you are actually trying to sell. Madness, I know. But it’s so crazy it just might work.
So a very nervous account exec took temporary possession of an array of precious gems and metals for an afternoon of macro photography with a Cannon 100mm 1:1 ratio lens, lots of lights, a black backdrop and one non-mechanized turntable.
Lights, Camera Setup in Berning Studio
One blog describes shooting with a macro lens as creating the feeling of zen-like calmness and amplified senses. A 1:1 ratio literally means that the size of the object in real like is also the size the object is burned into your digital image. You take a picture of a 1 inch grape with a 1:1 lens, that grape is actually burned into a 1 inch area of the frame of film you’re using. Of course, the film itself has largely gone the way of the 8 track tape deck, but the same principle still applies. It can be useful for shooting jewelry stock footage or checking out the facial expressions of the fleas on your dog’s back.
While not quite on the transcendental level of feeling the shape of light, looking through a professionally lit 1:1 lens is fascinating. It’s not like a microscope, where things are broken down into level that makes them unrecognizable from their naked-eye form. It takes the familiar and just adds a level of detail, and in the case of jewels, magnificence and drama that is engaging. The images are still whatever they were without the lens, just moreso.
The end result is a stockpile of relevant footage that turns a small piece of rock and metal into an object that can dominate a television screen. Boudreaux’s stock footage went into a campaign for Mother’s Day and an engagement ring promotion. Because April showers bring May flowers, carried by June wedding bridesmaids who might start pushing for their turn in primary role when the cycle starts up again next year.
For the better part of recent history, race tracks across the country have faced the same question– how do we sell horse races to people who have no interest in horse racing?
They held the line for decades on the premise that they were the only legal outlet for the collective American gambling addiction. But now that every other state has a casino and every other suburban dad has an online sportsbook account, that hook has been straightened. In the 2000s, tracks have faced financial crisis and re-examined their marketing strategy.
Struggling with bankruptcy and state ownership, Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes, decided to cash in on their urinal-racing YouTube infamy by doing away with their BYOB infield policy, selling their own beer and then reaching out to the people who will drink said beer. They started with “Get Your Preak On” in 2010. They’ve gone plaid with the recently-announced “Kegasus.”
On the early summer morn of “Get Your Preak On,” I joined a small mob of other Washington, DC twentysomethings, struggled to choke down a sub-par bloody mary and boarded a rented bus for the Preakness.
Unlike 90 percent of my busmates, I had actually attended a horse race before. In fact, the better part of my childhood spring breaks were spent with my grandfather patrolling the backside of Oaklawn Race Course in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Multiplication tables were learned in terms of exacta boxes, and we found out I needed glasses when my grandfather complained I couldn’t read the tote board. I can decode the jumble of a racing form and know you always play the Holy Ghost. These are important life skills, none of which would be of any use at the Preakness.
We entered the infield, armed with our pre-paid “Beer Pass” bracelets—the Preaknesses’s effort to transition from free-for-all to profit-for-them beer drinking. For the first time, they would not allow backpacks, coolers or kegs to be rolled into the infield. Instead, attendees got a bracelet and a 6 oz. plastic mug that provided access to four bottlenecked beer tents.
There seems to be a loophole in your 6 oz. of moderation beer policy. From The Baltimore Sun blog
And we wandered the grounds drinking Black-Eyed Susans, eating crabcakes and rubbernecking for drunken, shirtless shenanigans. I heard a rumor there might have been some horses somewhere, but I’m not sure I ever laid eyes on them. Somebody asked me for betting advice, to which I could only suggest they bet on the jockeys with Cajun-sounding names. Between songs by the Zac Brown band, there was a faint whisper of a blowing bugle, but it seemed completely disconnected from what was going on in the infield.
“Get Your Preak On” was largely a financial success for the infield. Infield ticket sales were up and they’d increased concessions by banning outside beverages. The track on the whole, however, continues to bleed money. And so they’ve continued on by essentially splitting their image in two. There’s The Preakness Stakes, the prestigious second leg of the Triple Crown of Racing. And then, there’s Infield Fest where you get your Preak on with unlimited beer and live music for the sunburned masses with the love child of Kenny Powers and Rachel Alexandra leading the way. One has very little to do with the other except that they share a venue and date.
But can you successfully split your image? Can such brand schizophrenia be successfully managed into a sustainable, cohesive campaign?
Hosting concert events at race courses is certainly not new or limited to Pimlico. The New Orleans Fair Grounds has both the Louisiana Derby and Jazzfest, but they’re clearly distinct. They don’t share branding or marketing, and by the time Jazzfest comes around, the Fair Grounds has been stripped down to only the barest resemblance of a horse track.
The image of horse racing, especially at the Triple Crown level, is historically one of floppy hats and sundresses, linen suits and bow ties. Generational aristocracy discussing ancient bloodlines between sips of signature specialty cocktails and puffs on cigars. But even in a time when you could refer to horse racing as the “Sport of Kings” without snark, it was still largely a hard, dirty, unseemly business that relied as much on the exploitation of working-class addictions as upper class entertainment. The white gloves image has always been a bit of a façade…but at least it was a pleasant façade.
The separation of Fair Grounds Race Track and Jazzfest allows the Fair Grounds to still cultivate and tap into the better part of the horse racing façade, and they’ve done so effectively with their Louisiana Derby ads and their post time-come-happy hour Starlight Racing promotion for young professionals. It not only builds attendance for specific events, it also elevates and legitimizes the track as a destination throughout the year. A 30 something CBD lawyer who goes to Starlight might come back for another off day of Saturday racing because of the impression left from the Starlight branding and execution. Sure, the Starlight Racing had bands, but they were inside, toned-down local acts that didn’t start till well into the racing. And yes, they had the midrift, riders crop-wielding jockey girls on their ads. But those are touches, winks to the shared knowledge that this is not really about the horses. Kegasus is a full-on grope, “nice shoes, let’s have sex” approach.
And that’s where Kegasus stumbles. It’s a blunt object gimmick that does nothing to build the brand or the idea of the horse races at Pimlico. In fact, it diminishes it. Even in the mass of the Preakness infield, the lines to the Bud all-you-can-drink beer tent were still largely populated by drunk twentysomethings doing their best imitation of aristocratic chic — what they perceived as the attractive aspects of the high-end horse racing image. Past the once a year hit of Infield Fest, the Kegasus campaign makes it harder for Pimlico to tap into that more positive side of the horse racing image, and at some point will trample it completely.
Another bus rider from that “Get Your Preak On” weekend said it best when shown the new ads, “If I cared about horseracing, I’d be horrified. As I do not, I’m incredibly amused.” He might go back for Infield Fest ’11. He’d never consider a Sunday afternoon at Pimlico as a legitimate entertainment option.
In 1970, the Kentucky Derby had the time period equivalent of a toilet racing viral video in a Hunter S. Thompson article titled “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved.”It includes the following description of the reality of the infield crowd 40 years before the Port-O-John Stakes:
Now, looking down from the press box, I pointed to the huge grassy meadow enclosed by the track. “That whole thing,” I said, “will be jammed with people; fifty thousand or so, and most of them staggering drunk. It’s a fantastic scene — thousands of people fainting, crying, copulating, trampling each other and fighting with broken whiskey bottles. We’ll have to spend some time out there, but it’s hard to move around, too many bodies.”
“Is it safe out there?” Will we ever come back?”
“Sure,” I said. “We’ll just have to be careful not to step on anybody’s stomach and start a fight.” I shrugged. “Hell, this clubhouse scene right below us will be almost as bad as the infield. Thousands of raving, stumbling drunks, getting angrier and angrier as they lose more and more money. By midafternoon they’ll be guzzling mint juleps with both hands and vomiting on each other between races. The whole place will be jammed with bodies, shoulder to shoulder. It’s hard to move around. The aisles will be slick with vomit; people falling down and grabbing at your legs to keep from being stomped. Drunks pissing on themselves in the betting lines. Dropping handfuls of money and fighting to stoop over and pick it up.”
It was hugely popular and has gone down in the annals of America’s greatest sports writing. In the end, it did, in some underground way, build the legend of Kentucky Derby weekend. But it’s not the kind of popularity a brand can openly endorse. Churchill Downs didn’t come out the next year with ads built on The Great Infield Broken Bottle Brawl. It has, however, tacitly posted the full text of the story on their website.
Walking the line between the wink and grope– of reality versus façade– is perilous trick, and it’s one that New Orleans and New Orleans brands must walk almost everyday. How to balance your seedier notoriety without letting it consume your entire brand? How to profit from vice without openly embracing or cultivating it? It’s a battle to split your personalities and appeal to all aspects of your audience — white gloved and bare knuckled. It’s no surprise then that the New Orleans Fair Grounds has performed rather well. Pimlico in Maryland still has some things to figure out.