In my previous occupation, I was a builder. And although the building and digital marketing industries aren’t closely related, I’ve noticed many similarities between building a house and building a website; mainly around customer expectations about the process. Whether you’re constructing a new site or a new addition, the project is always a team effort.
First, you have to find a partner. Choosing your agency should be about finding the right fit for you.
Here are four things to consider:
Portfolio: Does the agency you’re considering make a good product and is it in line with your brand and message?
Stability: How long have they been in business? Are they experienced in your specialty?
Methods: What is their process and is that process in line with your expectations of how the project should be managed?
Attitude: Who are you working with and what are they like as people? Do you like them? You’ll be working closely with them for the next few months and beyond, so make sure they’re the kind of people you want to spend time with.
You’re excited to get going, you can’t wait! You made the decision to go ahead with this investment and now it’s actually happening.
When I was a building project manager, the first week on the job was all smiles; the client would buy us coffee and doughnuts in the morning, demand we use their kitchen table to have lunch, and they’d let stuff slide that bugged them because they didn’t think it was a big deal.
They didn’t think about those offers and impacts over a long period of time. They still have their job to do, not to mention; take care of the kids, walk the dog, cook dinner and the thousand other things people have to do every day. Projects went smoother when I was candid about how we would be working together.
“I want you to start to think about how much this is going to affect your schedule and priorities over the next six months. This will be a team effort involving all of us.”
“There is a lot of pressure on you to make decisions on time. And by the way, not everything is going to be easy, but it will be worth it.”
“Thank you for the doughnuts but please, we really don’t need them as regular part of our diet.”
The same is true for launching a digital marketing project. When I set these types of expectations, my clients’ experience is better and we all recognize their vital role in creating a new website.
Here are a few things that you are responsible for doing:
Facilitating interviews between yourself, your clients and co-workers to provide a deep understanding of your business
Reviewing wire frames and site maps
Creating and deploying content
Learning to use a content management system
It adds time to your regularly scheduled duties. This is why having the right partner to help you stay organized and set your expectations through a detailed schedule is very important. Bumps in the road are normal. But when you have a strong relationship with a team you love working with and trust with your most important asset (whether it’s your home or your brand), you’re setting yourself up for a successful new addition.
This year’s New England Society for Healthcare Communications (NESHCo) Spring Conference is this weekend, and SilverTech is excited to be a part of it. Healthcare isn’t just changing – it’s already transformed into an industry where patients expect to receive marketing content and messages in new ways through new technologies. NESHCo does a great job of bringing all of those trends, ideas (and the people working on them) together.
A changing landscape
We’re seeing two major shifts happening within healthcare marketing right now. The first is that patients are transferring their attention from more traditional marketing vehicles to digital media and mobile platforms. Healthcare marketing dollars are following suit – we’re seeing increased spends in new digital platforms such as integrated social, video and mobile outreach because of how current and potential patients EXPECT to be marketed to.
The second is being driven by healthcare reform and the medical insurance industry. Not only will we need to educate patients about their healthcare service options, but we’ll also need to market to them with their complex insurance, conditions, and payment options in mind. Patient choice will take on a whole new meaning in this vertical. In many ways, our choice in our healthcare will become more and more like deciding between the local Hannaford or Whole Foods in terms of competitive and cost factors. Many insurance carriers are already incentivizing patients to select more affordable solutions to combat the high costs of certain procedures. An MRI can cost $4,800 at one facility while the same test, equipment and team administering the MRI can cost $750 at another facility across the street.
But then again, neither is being a teacher, lawyer, doctor or police officer.
However, every once in a while, you find a job that you are really good at. A job that is perfect for you. A job that you enjoy doing (what a novel concept).
It is really difficult to explain agency life to people that have never experienced it. The drive to stay in front of the latest technologies and trends, long hours, lots of emails and constant industry change make it unique, challenging, and hugely rewarding. There are really big wins and really low lows. So why would anyone sign-up for such a daunting task? Simple. We’re all in this together.
The best way I could think of to articulate the “agency life phenomenon” is through photographic evidence. Over the past month or so, I’ve been (somewhat sneakily) snapping those rare, fleeting scenes and expressions that characterize the quirky, endearing and noteworthy nature of the folks that I work with.
It is these fun moments and pieces of our culture that really make my job worthwhile. I hope you enjoy – I know I enjoyed pulling this blog together.
Every other Friday, the entire agency gets together for a Fireside Chat to catch up and have a little fun.
We’re very proud of our work that we’ve done and our long-term client relationships, but also our company-wide community involvement. This shelf is the mix of all three, Miss America photos, design awards and SEE Science Center game trophies.
Carol is known for her fabulous and witty sense of humor. I love this picture because you can see the gears turning.
Showing the love in the form of new t-shirts for the ST team.
Karina, working to make the ST magic happen.
The SilverTech team is passionate about a lot of different things, but collectively, this picture of the front-end development and design crew brings it all together. And yes, we drink a lot of coffee.
Celebrating the launch of http://www.cirtronics.com with the Cirtronics team, who brought a pizza party to our office (thank you!).
Foosball is a BIG deal. Almost as big as a new Marvel comic release. L to R, Clark, Steve, Matt and AV on an afternoon break.
Raquel, donning her wings, answering emails on a Friday afternoon.
That strategy is not sustainable or reasonable for most businesses.
I spent the afternoon yesterday talking to educators, students and local lawmakers about working together to nurture our community’s future leaders and top talent. We (and yes, I mean all of us) have a responsibility to support education in our community, and encourage our best and brightest to pursue education in highly-sought-after disciplines, like engineering and computer science. Anyone who knows me knows that I am passionate about programs that foster science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM) focused learning and career plans. That’s where the jobs are now, and where they’ll continue to be in years to come. I conveyed that to lawmakers and the business community in Concord yesterday, and hope it will inspire others to support our tech future.
“Support” doesn’t necessarily mean funding. It means volunteering at local programs designed to get students of all ages psyched about science, like the SEE Science Center, the US FIRST robotics program and FIRST LEGO League. It means creating internships at your businesses so students and new graduates can get work experience and learn at a young age about the myriad options out there in these fields. It means creating a learning and working community here that’s more appealing than one elsewhere.
The team at SilverTech works closely with educational programs on multiple levels, and especially with UNH Manchester. We’re a 15 minute walk to the city’s historic Millyard district (or a five-minute Segway ride – that’s where they were invented, after all) that has transformed into one of the region’s most exciting tech centers. Our friends at DEKA, Sitecore, Dyn, and others are all within walking distance, and all spend lots of time helping to create programs that will nurture the careers of people we hope will become our future workforce and leaders. And so far the plan is working. But we – and the other like-minded businesses and organizations that are committed to this effort – can’t do it alone.
As a system, we can do a better job of attracting and keeping skilled students and graduates in New Hampshire. We can encourage young people to pursue tech-focused careers. We can help make education less of a financial burden for students, and give them confidence that the technology-focused jobs will be waiting for them when they graduate. We can mentor and inspire.
I told the group yesterday that SilverTech must sometimes recruit from out of state to fill our open software engineering and development positions. That’s a challenge, and one that will only become more severe if we don’t nurture and retain the best and brightest. The need for technically literate employees is only going to increase as job requirements across all industries become more sophisticated. It’s a large (though fun and exciting) undertaking to make sure the future technology leaders want to work and live in our state. And it’s one we aren’t planning on backing away from any time soon.
So pass this message along, and if you’re a business able to get involved with this important effort, please reach out. If you know a student with even the slightest interest in a STEM career, help them along. And if you’re a parent looking for resources to inspire your young kids to innovate, please give us a call at SilverTech, or connect with me personally on Twitter @nicknh.
Good customer service is hard enough to come by these days. Everyone’s in a rush to check items off their to-do lists and sometimes simple customer service takes a back seat. Recently I experienced such amazing customer service that I needed to share.
Busted. Old. Cracked. Broken. I am not talking about me; I am describing the mangled kitchen drawer that sat on my kitchen counter. Apparently the Gorilla glue that the previous owner had used just couldn’t take another tug. I needed a whole new kitchen drawer.
I assumed a quick call to the local home improvement store would be sufficient. My kitchen cabinets are pretty standard; surely there would be an easy replacement. I took the measurements and made some calls.
First off, as a customer and someone who is not handy at all, I expected to reach someone knowledgeable and willing to help. All the branding and commercials with smiling associates helping folks like me become DIY experts makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But what I encountered wasn’t quite so warm. Or fuzzy. Here’s an excerpt:
Me: “I have a broken kitchen drawer. Here are the measurements. I looked up on the internet and saw that you had one slightly bigger but not the size I need, do you carry this size?”
Home improvement store (after being transferred to two different people): “Nope. That’s not a standard size we carry. Sorry.” (hung up)
Once they knew they didn’t have the size I needed, it wasn’t their problem, and I felt I was being pushed aside so the next call, person, task could be tackled, without any suggestions about how to solve the problem. I was feeling pretty frustrated. So I called a store that specializes in cabinetry.
Me: “I have a broken kitchen drawer. Here are the measurements. Can you help me?”
Local cabinetry place: “We can’t do it if we didn’t install it. Sorry.”
Me: “Do you know of anyone who can do this?”
Local cabinetry place: “I would go to the local lumber yard. They may do custom drawers.”
This was better. I now had some sort of direction. At least the local cabinetry place was helpful enough to present me with an option, but I still felt like I was being pushed off on someone else because my problem didn’t fit a particular mold for them.
Today’s manufacturing industry is comprised of highly educated people. Most of them have degrees in engineering, business or both. Those who don’t have training in computer sciences and other fields, in order to use specialized, highly-sophisticated equipment. Many have high-tech facilities that are automated to optimize efficiency and quality control. They do all this to stay relevant in today’s world of US manufacturing. They also do it to stay competitive in a market that demands multiple certifications from ISO9000 to ISO/CD 13485 and more. Whether you’re manufacturing medical devices, specialized parts for aerospace or anything for the military, certain standards must be met. So why are so many reluctant to embrace (or even see the value in) advancements in digital marketing and web best practices?
I talk with people in this industry almost every day and I know what they think because they’re not afraid to tell me. So here they are; the top five reasons I hear for why manufacturers don’t see the web as something to invest in, and why I don’t think those reasons hold water anymore:
1. It’s an added cost
It doesn’t have to be an added cost, or at least not completely. How many trade shows are you doing a year? What is your spend on traditional advertising? How much are you spending in the phone book? When was the last time you saw a phone book? Why not come up with a plan to reallocate some of your traditional spend to the digital space. And by the way, unlike traditional advertising, digital marketing campaigns have the ability to track your spend and show your ROI.
2.We’re fine without it
A successful business man once told me, “If you’re not growing you’re dying.” If your business is so great that you don’t need to try to drive new clients to you in any way possible, I’d like to buy you lunch and figure out your secret.
3.We built a site awhile back
The web is changing faster than any of us could have imagined. You might have built a site between 2000 and 2005 and maybe then your clients weren’t very savvy about the web. I had a pager in 2000, think about how things have changed since then. A recent Pew Research Center project found 70 percent of people living in cities and 61 percent of people who live in rural areas use social media. They’re using it to learn about products, services, and what others think of those products and services. You may be fine without it but it will be harder and harder for you to grow in today’s marketplace without an updated digital marketing plan.
4.We won’t get any work from it
You will generate work from the web. Even if not directly, a well-executed web design with an accompanied marketing strategy will help you bring in work. From a sales perspective it’s a no brainer. Ask any salesperson who works for a company with a less-than-stellar website what he or she thinks. You’ll hear about how much of a problem it is. In some circumstances sales people may actually try to deter a prospect from visiting their company’s site in fear that it will hurt their chances of closing the deal. Your website is the face of your company and in many cases is the first impression a prospective client has of you.
5.It doesn’t matter in this industry
Not only is this my favorite, it is also the one I hear the most. There is a whole new generation of people out there who are starting businesses and filling positions in existing businesses. They’re the ones who are going to be buying your products. In the cases where they are already in those positions, I would bet that they are buying from your competitor that has a well-designed, search-optimized website, a strong online lead generation strategy (or both) and has a blog that is helping them to be at the forefront of the industry. I know your product and experience is superior but when that generation of CEOs, COOs and whoever is looking for a product, they go to the web first. There is no industry exempt from the digital space anymore. The web has diffused faster and more deeply into our culture than any innovation before and it can no longer be ignored by any industry.
A digital presence is an investment. It takes time, effort and money. Although the initial cost for a new website can be significant, it is not the end-all and be-all to your marketing plan. It is a constant effort, like a piece of equipment that needs to be adjusted and maintained regularly. It should be a part of your business’ day to day operations that brings in leads and makes your company that much more valuable.
One question that constantly comes up in the world of digital marketing is “How do I drive more traffic to my site?” And in ecommerce, it’s “How do I get them to buy once they are there?” The answers to both questions go hand in hand; if you want to increase sales and get more customers, then you need to get people to pay attention to your message.
Recently, Kmart launched a new campaign designed to inspire new and traditional in-store shoppers to try buying online. Using humor (an ever-successful marketing technique) Kmart lauds the convenience of having items – including pants – mailed to consumers’ doorsteps. Nothing revolutionary, except that the catch phrase message may be causing folks who don’t normally consider mail order from Kmart to give it a shot. “Ship my pants,” comes with a prominent hashtag (#shipmypants, naturally) and incentives to share the pun online through social networks. The fun message ties offline efforts with digital techniques, and the risqué play on words gives people a reason to do so.
Clearly, fourth grade humor still makes adults laugh. Kudos for Kmart for taking such a big risk with their pun (and the creative team at the ad agency Draftfcb Chicago for concepting and successfully pitching it). Did Kmart need to go all out for online sales? I think so. Online sales continue to grow year after year, and it is becoming a lot harder to compete with the likes of Amazon and Overstock.com. Companies more than ever must differentiate themselves from their competitors, and whichever approach you take – be it humor or another emotion – make sure it drives those customers to your website. After all, it’s probably the first place they’re looking anyway. Make sure that you tie in your traditional marketing efforts with your modern digital ones to keep brand consistency present. The second part of the equation is what happens when a viewer clicks through to your site?
As of today, more than 15 million people have viewed the ad on YouTube. I have no doubt Kmart is succeeding in getting more people to their site and that their engagement metrics are off the charts. Part of the goal, though, is get customers more engaged while persuading them to shop at Kmart. Its competitors are strong ones, like Target and Wal-Mart, but with Kmart’s updated image, the discount department store may be right in the running to compete on the digital level. So the question is now, do you now recognize Kmart as an online retailer? Has the ad made you more likely to shop at Kmart overall?
You can check out the “hilarious new Kmart commercial that everyone’s talking about” (Kmart’s words, not mine) in this post. It is good-natured fun (but kids hear things differently than adults, so be careful). Good luck to Kmart and good luck to those looking to use a new campaign geared towards driving traffic to your site – we hope they’re checking you out to make a purchase, and not just to giggle at a clever play on words.
This isn’t about branding, crisis management, or social media best practices. It’s about our responsibility as participants in social media to be compassionate, conscionable and helpful.
I was about to post a few tweets for SilverTech when the news about the Boston Marathon broke. Once the disbelief passed and my brain processed that two explosions had happened in Boston, I ran through a mental list of everyone I knew running or working in the city and fired off a few dozen text messages. Then, I just watched.
I just watched multiple feeds from TweetDeck in horror at the incident. Marketers, favorite brands and industry pros from the SilverTech agency account. News, marketing and cultural tweeps from my personal account, and a combination of community, sports and non-profit groups from a few other accounts I manage. I watched in horror as events unfolded 140 characters at a time. I watched in shame at the reckless use of social media; and in admiration at the groundswell of help and support from those who attempted to spread helpful information and quell ghastly rumors.
The disaster was covered in real time. Videos, photos, and eyewitness accounts, were all coming through in rapid succession. Millions were retweeting, with zero ability to know what was accurate. Should we be able to participate like this?
Usually, I’m against contributing to the noise for the sake of saying you participated. What’s the value? My take is that if it’s not helping the situation, informing others, or making anyone feel better, leave the tweetwaves free. Don’t add to the noise, because this isn’t about you, and it’s most certainly not about your brand.
But it is about people. It’s always about people. Social media lets us connect to other people and what they’re encountering simultaneously, and this shared desire to connect and be part of the conversation is what fuels the concept of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and all the rest in the first place. We view it as a chance to help, even if the information we are spreading isn’t verified. As individuals, most of us weren’t in Boston yesterday. But as a social media community, it almost felt like we were.
There are no hard-set rules for how to participate through social media in the midst (or wake) of something this terrible. Common sense needs to be a filter, and we need to understand that not everyone is going to get it. Should I cancel scheduled promotional posts? When should we get back to business as normal? How can we help? Do I need to make a statement about our thoughts being with the victims? A lot of good things happened through social media yesterday, and a lot of disgusting things happened yesterday across the board. We should think about them, use them as a guide for how we want to participate as people, and what good it can do.
Using tragedy as an enterprise to promote an agenda. An unofficial Boston Marathon twitter account solicited donations and follow requests for the owner’s personal twitter account. (The good: the account, and others like it, can be and were quickly suspended). Don’t ever think this is a good idea. Always care; never capitalize.
Using tragedy to sell your stuff. Just don’t. (If by mistake, you do, apologize fast, and don’t make excuses.)
Blindly sharing sensational coverage. Reports of apprehended suspects and an exaggerated (or at least currently unconfirmed) death toll had people reeling. Fast news isn’t always better than correct news. The correct news was bad enough.
The toxic and rapid spread of wrong and harmful information and the social sphere’s need to perpetuate it.
Social media made it easier than ever to know when friends and family were safe. News that both the Red Cross program Safe & Well was activated and that Google created a People Finder tool spread rapidly.
Emergency management instructions and disaster protocols were executed faster than ever before to aid the emergency effort. Details about where to pick up belongings, how to report a tip and requests (such as to text instead of call to free up cell bandwidth) were distributed to the people who needed it.
Officials and responsible on-scene witnesses and news sources updated the masses without the need or delay of the traditional media middleman.
Evacuations, street sweeps, logistical details and transportation closures/cancellations were announced efficiently.
Messages of strength, comfort and support spread quickly.
This blog post is a plea for responsibility and compassion. Through social media – please be thoughtful, be kind, and be mindful that this powerful tool needs to be handled responsibly – or at the very least, with some common sense. Through our offline interactions – be thoughtful, be kind, and be mindful that your messages are just as important. Whether you’re talking to one person in the elevator on the way to your office or your thousands of Twitter followers, you have the ability to help others heal.
Your title tag is a chunk of code nestled in your web pages that helps humans and search engines alike figure out what’s on it. You can see in the title bar of a browser and – more importantly – as the headline for most search result snippets. It’s the entrée into your content, and one of the components that search engines use when evaluating whether you’re a good result or a non-relevant one.
Rule #5: Do Not Keyword Stuff – Google looks for that
‘Stuffing’ keywords, or the practice of force-feeding keywords, often site wide, into the title tag, has fallen out of favor in the past half-decade of search engine optimization.
While keyword rich titles are still important, this ‘stuffing’ is as obvious to visitors as it is to Google –and neither enjoy it much.
Search engines prefer that you don’t attempt to cheat their algorithms, and have adapted accordingly. In a recent search optimization for a client, the sole act of removing extraneous, stuffed keywords from the titles led to a near 20 point increase across their desired keywords.
Not only does keyword stuffing not work, it might even work against you.
We recently hosted a panel on responsive design in partnership with the New Hampshire Creative Club and Southern New Hampshire University. From creative considerations to marketing applications, and tips and tricks for programming a responsive site, we offer something for everyone in this blog post adapted from the presentation. The biggest takeaway, though, is an understanding of the pieces that go into writing content for, designing and developing a responsive website that every marketer should understand before starting the project.
Web development technology and the increasing use of mobile devices implores us to create websites in ways we weren’t only a few years ago. Responsive design is a way of looking at and developing a web experience so it changes based on the size of the device it’s being viewed on. Developers take advantage of technology that can detect the screen resolution a site viewer is using and lets the site layout change based on the sizes. Breakpoints are written using what’s called a media query; basically a descriptor like “screen that is no bigger than 800 pixels wide.” As a browser changes size, different breakpoints are “activated” and the rules associated with them kick in.
Over the last six months the DevOps group within SilverTech completed the complex undertaking of migrating out of our legacy hosting environment located at Savvis in Waltham, MA into an upgraded environment located at two Rackspace data centers in Dallas and Chicago. During this process, all of our clients’ sites were seamlessly migrated onto brand new hardware running the latest Windows and Linux operating systems. The new systems are efficient, customized and environmentally-friendly, requiring less energy and providing more options for our clients.
Spring cleaning is a lot of hard work. Even the people who are organized and tidy year-round find that it’s a time for elbow grease, heavy lifting and lots (lots) of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.
Of course, the hardest part isn’t always the couch moving, refrigerator dragging or wall scrubbing action. The hardest part is knowing where to start. The same is true when it’s time for spring cleaning for your marketing efforts. And it is time to clean up your marketing.
First, I want to acknowledge that I’m not a home cleaning expert. This is, after all, a marketing blog, but this mention is here mostly to keep my wife from putting me in charge of spring cleaning in our home this year.
Light dusting – the easy stuff
Show me one person who starts cleaning the house by moving the refrigerator, and I’ll show you somebody who works out a little too much. The rest of us start with the light work that has the biggest effect. Why? It’s easy work and we can see the results. Here’s how to get started.
Clean your email marketing lists
Most email marketing platforms will remove ‘bad’ emails automatically, but there’s more to list health than removing broken addresses.
If you measure the quality of your email lists by engagement, consider a campaign to separate those who are actively participating and paying attention from those who drag your mail to the trash. If your platform allows, send an email to those not opening emails or clicking, and invite them to re-subscribe to your content. Remind them why then signed up in the first place, and the kind of content they’ll be missing out on if they don’t.
Removing or segregating those users who are emotionally unsubscribed is a great way to see the actual engagement of your email marketing efforts.
Polish your metrics windows
Your social media channels, email marketing program, website, mobile site, microsites and CRM all have at least one form of marketing intelligence or analytics built into them. Have your charts been collecting cobwebs over the past year?
Check the condition of your marketing measurement tools to ensure they’re set up and functioning correctly. Take some time to re-explore the interface and be on the lookout for interesting updates or additions that have been added over the past year.
Did your email provider add social media tools? Or take a look at the new ways you can measure participation on Pinterest. And have you checked out Google’s new(ish) multi-channel reporting?
Just like that drawer in your kitchen (you know the one) you may be the owner of a lot more useful tools and gadgets than you know! Take a moment to inventory what you have.
Move the fridge and get the broom!
Now it’s time to really clean up your marketing efforts. Are you ready?
SilverTech has recently promoted Michael Larrabee to Director of DevOps, Erin Presseau to Director of Account Services, and Paul St. Amand Jr. to Director of Production.
As the Director of DevOps (Development Operations), Mike will head up a team responsible for all client website and hosting support, as well as ensuring our datacenters continue to be first class operations. As we expand our offerings in these areas, Mike’s team will continue to evolve based on our client’s requests. We are excited to have Mike head up such an important part of our overall service offerings.
Erin, an agency veteran of more than seven years, will bring her expertise in strategy and client services to her new position as Director of Account Services. Erin will bring an even greater emphasis on customer service excellence throughout the agency. She will also be responsible for many of our strategic and growth-oriented client services.
Paul has been promoted to Director of Production where he will head up all of our design, web development and software engineering efforts. This will continue to ensure SilverTech’s UI/UX design, development and engineering services are the most usable, sophisticated and integrated marketing solutions for our clients.
“We’re excited to announce these promotions as they will help us strategically grow our agency and continue to align our service offerings with our clients’ needs,” said Nick Soggu, agency CEO. “It is great to see our team grow internally in such rapid manner to expand our services and reach.”
We are incredibly proud of our team and the skills they bring to the agency and to our clients and we are honored that such talented people choose to grow their careers here. It’s hugely rewarding for us to be able to champion the hard work that Erin, Mike and Paul show their teams and clients every day to inspire excellence.
Dial M for Mystery mobile game demonstrates gaming principles to event attendees
Gamification is taking principles and design from games and applying them in a different context – in this case, marketing, to encourage a certain action or behavior.
The practice has existed just about forever (think about the rewards you get when using your loyalty card at the grocery store), but in recent years has exploded in the digital space. In 2012, games accounted for 64 percent of all mobile app downloads, and 53 percent of smartphone owners play games daily. Those figures are expected to double by 2016. So if you aren’t thinking about how to incorporate games into your marketing efforts, it’s time to start.
Take a look at the Dial M for Mystery game SilverTech created for the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s annual Citizen of the Year celebration and award ceremony. Event attendees can log in to the game, which will guide them to a series of clues hidden throughout the event venue. The goal is to solve enough clues to determine who’s being crowned Manchester’s Citizen of the Year. In recent years, it’s been the best kept secret in the city, but this year, digital savvy sleuths might be able to uncover the winner before he or she is announced. Players submit their name, email address and clue answers digitally; an attendee/detective winner is based on number of correct answers. The Chamber wins by adding an engaging element to their already fun event, building buzz about the Citizen of the Year program, and gaining contact information of people playing the game. Players win by having a good time and taking their powers of deduction (and networking) to the next level.
It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated to create a game-based campaign to complement your marketing strategy. Maybe you incentivize your social media followers to spread some love for your brand by assigning points to actions. Starting small lets you test the waters to see how your audience responds to the concept. And if it’s positive, maybe then you think about developing an app that can help you sell products, collect data, or capture customer referrals.
Regardless of the type of game you’re itching to play, there are a few basic principles to keep in mind.
It should have a reward or incentive. Nobody’s going to check in or share information if there isn’t something in it for them. Mayors on FourSquare get special discounts at vendors they frequent, and they also get visible credibility through earning badges. The Climate Reality Project’s Reality Drop game makes it easy for players to “drop” information into social feeds and article comment sections to correct misinformation about climate change. The reward for taking the action is prestige and credibility through the game and its parent site’s leaderboard.
It should be meaningful. Whether you’re trying to combat climate change or beat your colleague’s high score in Words with Friends, games without a purpose rarely succeed. Don’t forget that fun is a totally meaningful reason to play a game. Building in ad space to generate revenue for the game developer is another compelling reason. Win-win.
Pay attention to design One of the hardest things about including a game strategy into your marketing and outreach efforts isn’t the technology, but the strategy and design behind a well functioning campaign. DIY solutions can cause headaches in terms of implementation, data collection and success metrics. With SilverTech’s game for the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, we started with the goal of designing an interactive experience for an offline event and will measure success by usage, usage patterns, and the information we collect. Defining how and when you’re going to use what you learn can avoid a fateful “game over” before you even press start.
Last month, we checked out the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market to see what’s new with some of our favorite brands and how they’re looking at digital marketing in 2013. We’re a huge fan of this industry, and our portfolio includes work with some of the coolest (pun intended) brands out there.
We saw great interactive contest campaigns (one of which SilverTech helped create), and met some of the biggest names in the industry as they supported their own brands and causes (we even met Eric Larsen, the first person to tweet from the North Pole and top of Mt. Everest using a DeLorme Inreach GPS unit).
Check out our video overview and see what happens when two guys whose love for outdoor gear is rivaled only by their love of digital marketing are put in the same place with a thousand of their favorite brands… and maybe have a little fun along the way.
Recognize these guys? Leave a comment if you know who these three are and what the heck they’re doing.
Sometimes we discover that the impossible can be accomplished given an incredible set of circumstances. Take the ancient Chinese tradition of egg balancing.
Tradition declares that on one day, Lichun – which usually falls on February 4 – one can balance a fresh egg on its end (It’s a real thing, we promise). The tradition still stands today, and even began making its way into American culture in the 40’s thanks to an article on the ‘Chinese Egg Balancing Craze’ reported in Life.
Through the 80’s, thousands of Americans would gather for egg balancing ceremonies to help usher in world peace. Lichun marks the beginning of spring and the start of the traditional Eastern calendar (and the sun happens to be at a latitude of 315 degrees). Certainly something as magnificent as the circumstances required to balance an egg, to do the impossible, meant that world peace could also be within our grasp.
The concept appears in other historically-significant instances. After returning from the discovery of the Indies, Christopher Columbus was having a dinner with some Spanish nobility. The nobles didn’t feel that Columbus was all that special for his discovery.
The Spanish nobles exclaimed that “with so many great Spanish men so knowledgeable in cosmology and literature, surely anybody sailing on your adventure would have had the same result.”
Columbus, the legend says, responded with a bet. Taking a fresh egg from a basket on the table, Columbus challenged the nobles to balance the egg, without any assistance.
There is only a 1 in 365 chance that today was Lichun. I’ll estimate that it’s unlikely that anybody at the table knew that there was a situation where they could succeed.
They failed and passed the egg back to Columbus.
Columbus, egg firmly in hand, extended his arm over the table, the bottom of the egg inches away from the table. With a brisk downward tap, he broke the bottom of the egg, leaving a flat surface on the ovoid.
And there it stood. And of course the solution was obvious, once it had been done. And anybody can balance an egg. And anybody can do it without relying on the cosmos.
Avoid thinking inside the ovoid and know the answer won’t be obvious until it is.
Know that once that ‘simple’ answer is discovered, that it’s those answers, the ones so simple that they had to work, but had managed to remain so hidden, that are the things of legends.
It doesn’t take a perfect alignment of the sun to balance an egg. Impossible problems lay in wait for that person or team who dares to disbelieve the extenuating circumstances.
We hate the status quo. If you’re the kind of person who is daring enough to take on a challenge from a new angle, join our team. If your team has been trying to balance the egg and needs a fresh perspective, contact us.
Reassessing goals and direction mid-project is almost always a good thing (we actually encourage it) when it’s guided by data, common sense, and the desire constantly improve your audience’s online experience.
We recently helped Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, NH revamp its web presence with one overarching goal in mind: focus on patient experience. It’s really no different than any other website goal because helping your website visitors find the info they need and take the actions you want them to go hand in hand.
One way we initially thought we could achieve that goal was by providing lots of online forms so people could request everything from prescription refills to information about physicians in their area. Clear calls to action, we assumed, would cut down on the amount of phone calls going into the call center, and help patients quickly and easily connect online.
What happened instead was that while form usage was hugely successful (form completions continue to rise each month), CMC also saw the number calls into their call center increase by 24 percent versus the same time period last year before the new site launched. So why the increase? Websites are supposed to make things more efficient, right? The obvious reason is that more people were finding the hospital online due to improved SEO implementation so more people are visiting the site. Sure, makes sense.
But looking more closely at the data and how people were using the site, we learned that patients ultimately will engage with the hospital in the way they feel most comfortable. Despite the obviously and strategically placed forms, one of the most visited pages on the site is the “Contact Us” page with phone numbers, directions, and yes – a contact form.
What’s really important is making sure we are starting conversations and providing information in the right order and in a way that makes sense logically, so when a site visitor is ready to make the next step, there are no barriers between them and picking up the phone, completing a web form, or using other proactive tools designed make the online discovery process easier.
And that’s the part of digital marketing that we love. We make assumptions, set, goals, and build solutions designed to test and measure the assumptions. From there, we analyze the data to continuously improve online experiences, and set new goals based on what we learn.
I’ll start by saying I was never told to go fetch anyone’s coffee. From day one, it was all projects. Jumping into work so fast allowed me to learn at a rate that rivaled college-level education. In my first week alone, I was taught how to look for prospective clients, create an ad, and differentiate between writing for different media platforms. The hands-on experience was key. Being so involved also introduced me to much of the team.
If I could pick one word to describe my internship experience at SilverTech, it would be “productive.” If I could pick another, it would be “friendly.” And, if I could be so bold as to choose a third, I would say, “recommendable.” Strung into a single sentence? “SilverTech, with its extremely productive environment and unprecedented friendly atmosphere, is a place recommendable to any student seeking an internship.”
Geeky is cool. Batman shirts are both acceptable and appreciated
Humor and creativity is welcome – and encouraged
This is what I enjoyed most about interning at SilverTech. Not only did I gain large quantities of knowledge, but each and every person I encountered was awesome in his or her own way. Outgoing would be an understatement. So would energetic, inspired, and determined. I am ecstatic I had a chance to meet them all.
Ashley is a Communications major at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts. Her concentration is in digital film making, and she is also pursuing a minor in creative writing.
About our internships
Our program is focused around a mutually-beneficial partnership for both our interns and our agency. We fetch our own coffee, but rely on interns for project support, creative contributions and incredible attitudes. In return, we’re friendly, fun, and great teachers who can’t wait to share what we know while working alongside fresh minds… who usually end up teaching us a thing or two, too. More about our internship program.
A SilverTech client of 11 years, MissAmerica.org gets tons of traffic during its high-profile event. Our job was to make sure all aspects of the site, including real-time updates and more – ran smoothly so online audiences could stay connected with the event.
Our team diverted insane amounts of web traffic to six different locations to ensure every single web user had access to the nearly-constant updates. We worked directly with the media and photographers to keep fresh information flowing through MissAmerica.org.
We also got some great backstage shots – in fact I even got to select the front page photo of the newly-crowned Miss America Mallory Hytes-Hagan.
One of our favorite parts about our jobs is that we have our clients’ back no matter what. We’ll go to Las Vegas (or anywhere, really) to make sure they can focus on priority number one – which in this case, meant producing a top-class event. We’re excited we were able to lend a hand by managing all the backend tech concerns – and have a front row seat for one amazing evening.
It’s no secret that the SilverTech team is all about the outdoors. We’ve helped brands like Life is good®, Polartec and Ski NH tell their stories online. And between the 32 of us (though that number is growing quickly) we’re active in everything from archery to ziplining. That’s one of the reasons we’re so excited to be attending the Outdoor Retailer Winter Exhibition in Salt Lake City later this month. Powder aside, we’re also amped to meet new brands who are just as enthusiastic about digital marketing as we are.
And we’re bringing our strategy hats, too
If you’re headed west, keep an eye out for SilverTech team members Jeff McPherson and Griffin LaFleur. They’re pros at integrating digital strategy into new or current marketing campaigns, and love talking marketing almost as much as they like chatting about gear. Make sure to ask them about how SilverTech helped industry leader Polartec develop a taxi cab digital marketing campaign to raise awareness about their brand while helping them connect with new customers at this month’s event. The QR Code powered contest, featured on cabs in Salt Lake City, will be tough to miss. Just scan the code on a taxi, then enter your information into a dynamic form optimized across all mobile platforms for a chance to win a Polartec vest. And that’s just one of the ways we can help our clients tell their stories both on and offline.
Connect with @jmcpherson and @ghlafleur on Twitter if you’re headed to the event. We’ll be sharing ideas, strategy, impressions and photos throughout the show using #orshow. We’ve also armed them with a video camera and charged them with learning about new products, great brands, and how they see digital marketing fitting into their overall customer outreach strategies.
The elves at SilverTech have been busy, and now we get to drop off all these presents to the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester! Each year, our staff members participate in the organization’s annual holiday fundraiser by purchasing gifts for one local family.
This year, local businesses stepped up to help 35 families in and around Manchester by donating gifts. We’re honored to be a part of such a special community that truly understands the true meaning of the holidays. (Though if you happen to be having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit, feel free to check out our holiday countdown calendar for some inspiration).
If you or your company wants to sign up to help make one family’s Christmas a little brighter next year, contact the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester. We’re pretty sure it will become one of your favorite holiday traditions.
While we watch today as America sets out to cast their vote for candidates seeking office for senate, congress, sheriff, governor and President, we reflect back on this year’s race and examples from the past, to compare how the contenders marketed their campaign, platforms and personal brand.
How a politician markets him or herself is an amazing thing to watch. Marketing in politics is a complex topic, but one of its most well-known clichés is ‘spin.’ Not just for politics, how you spin a competitive edge, product or service to the public in an effort to better your brand and offering.
Appropriately, the term was born of ‘America’s past-time’ for the three years between Presidential elections, baseball. It refers to the ‘spin’ a pitcher would put on a curveball to deceive the batter. If you’ve ever swung for a curve, you know what it means to be taken by the illusion.
Used politically, the term ‘spin doctor’ popped up in an article in the New York Times during the Reagan administration, but the history of politicians putting a new twist on information is nothing new.
In 1800, Thomas Jefferson hired a writer to besmirch the good name of incumbent John Adams as “mentally deranged.” Jefferson won the election.
Today, attack ads seem to be more common than self-promotional ads, and there’s no shortage of funding for both sides. Reports indicate that both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have spent upwards of $800M in campaign promotion.
(Editorial note: Counting the entirety of the party, Republicans are reported to have outspent Democrats for the Presidential race.)
Of these huge marketing budgets, about 40% was spent on television ads. Of those television ads, 85% to 91% were reported to be negative/attack ads.
Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on political advertising, the mass public hates the idea. Generally, the public is frustrated and, most importantly, has become confused to the issues. Marketing fails when you continue to hype and make big promises that you simply cannot keep. Then you spin more on how your failed ventures did indeed follow what you said. It is an endless cycle.
Fear-based selling does work in some cases, but ultimately people catch on and get frustrated. Sadly, we live in a time where both sides are focused on fear because they’ve lost touch with marketing their true beliefs. They’ve lost faith in their own personal brand and resorted to a more dire need of capturing the vote.
Maybe someday, a candidate will come out with something incredible. Market their goals and vision. Have solid plans in place and not worry about the other person. Just market who they are. People will listen and make an intelligent choice. Not one based on fear or lies.
Historical Campaign Fun Facts
To take a look back on some fun aspects of political elections you can visit http://www.4president.org/ to see the campaign letters, posters, and buttons from 1960 – today. Some additional fun election facts on spending:
In 1758, George Washington spent approximately $40 on booze to “treat” voters on election day for the Virginia House of Burgesses.
1832 was the first time a third party was entered into the final election. Andrew Jackson vs. Henry Clay vs. William Wirt. It was the Anti-Masons party.
In 1867 the first federal campaign finance reform law goes into effect making it illegal to pressure workers at naval yards for political contributions.
In 1872 Railroader Jay Cooke gave $50,000 to the Republican Party. First major contribution that led Ulysses S. Grant under great obligation to men of wealth.
In 1911 Congress introduced individual spending limits on federal campaigns.
In 1997 the Clinton Administration released a list of over 900 overnight guests at the White House. Many received gifts and meetings with the president while donating over 10 million to the Democratic party.
In 2012 over 50% of donors donated online. 10% donated by sending a text message. Over 57% of online donations were from Democrats.
Some General campaign and presidential facts you might not know:
Twelve of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence were thirty-five years or younger.
Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for President in 1872.
Martin Van Buren was the first natural-born American to become president in 1837. Each of the seven previous presidents were born as British subjects.
Ronald Reagan is the only divorced man to be elected president.
James Buchanan is the only bachelor to be elected president.
The only President and Vice President to never be elected to the office was Gerald Ford. He became vice president when Spiro Agnew resigned and became president when Nixon resigned.
Barack Obama is the nation’s 44th president but in reality there have only been 43 presidents. Grover Cleveland is counted twice as our 22nd and 24th president because he was elected for two nonconsecutive terms.
The first presidential election was held on the first Wednesday of January in 1789. No one contested the election of George Washington.
Facebook’s recently introduced an additional level of targeting to their platform, making it even easier for brands to personalize and tailor their messaging from a channel as with as broad an audience as Facebook.
This new level of targeting, which is accessed by clicking on a small cross-hair icon below the page’s status update entry, can allow the page’s community manager to ‘nudge’ each post to the news feed (stream) of users based on gender, marital status, sexual orientation, education, age, location and language in nearly any combination. Read the rest of this entry »
Before we talk about how to improve your marketing and the conversion rate of your brand’s offer, I need to ask you something.
I know we just met, but I really feel like we should get married. I know what you’re thinking, and I know you don’t know me that well (or at all). This is a huge commitment, but look. I know me, and here I am with a ring box. Just say “yes.”
Here are five reasons you should marry me in a simple to read bullet point list. My best man will be contacting you shortly to complete our marriage arrangements.
What kind of person says ‘yes’ to a huge commitment with little background information? The song was ‘Call Me, Maybe’ not ‘Hi, Let’s Go Marry.’ Even if they did say yes to a huge deal with no information, is that likely to be a solid relationship?
There are, I propose, a lot of landing pages out there doomed to a life of Easy Mac and Ikea bachelordom. No amount of design, the aesthetic beauty of your landing page, can make up for the fact that some decisions simply need more information. Read the rest of this entry »