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Comments Off on Using Mobile to Dominate the B2B Category

Using Mobile to Dominate the B2B Category

Using Mobile to Dominate B2B

Did you know that nearly 70 percent of people in the U.S. have a smart phone? It’s not a huge surprise that the majority of internet access is now done through mobile devices versus desktop computers.  Updating your marketing strategy to incorporate mobile users isn’t a trend that applies solely to B2C companies. Your B2B marketing plan is underperforming if integrating and creating content for mobile users isn’t a major component.

Here are some tips on how to start or expand your reach to mobile users:

Be sure that your emails and newsletters can be easily read by mobile users.  According to Marketing Land, nearly 68 percent of emails were opened on a mobile device, with 52 percent being opened on smartphones.  Make sure that your subject lines fit comfortably across small screens, having 15 or less characters is ideal.  Always send out a test before you contact your customer via email and make sure you can clearly view it on all mobile devices.  Use responsive design templates that make for easy reading and navigation so your readers can resize, pan and scroll across a wide range of devices.

Please, please, please make sure your webpages are visible too!  This goes without saying, but bears repeating because it is so important.  Make sure that all the pages on your B2B website (not just the home page) are easily read on all mobile device screens. Click here to use the Mobile-Friendly Test developed by Google to see how your page ranks in mobile-friendliness. If your website isn’t easily viewed on mobile devices, it’s time to make some changes or even overhaul your entire site.

Become savvier with Google AdWords. Google has announced big changes for 2017 that will have a significant impact on the mobile aspect of your website.  Google AdWords users will be able to make independent bids for mobile, desktop and tablets.  Prior to this change, mobile bids could only be a multiplier based on your base bidding price. Use Google Analytics to figure out what method of access your buyers are using and adjust your Google AdWords bids accordingly.

Utilize Google Maps.  Additionally in 2017, Google Maps will play a larger role in the Google search algorithm.  According to Wordstream, nearly a third of mobile searches are being done through Google Maps and the percent of Google Maps searches have grown 50 percent faster than overall mobile searches in the past year. To stay competitive in your industry, be sure that your company’s listing is up-to-date and you are leveraging Google Maps as strategically as you can.

Consider creating a mobile app for your company. It can be a large investment but for the right company, it can be a marketing godsend. Apps give you the ability to connect with your customers on a more personal level.  When assessing whether to create an app, consider what content and engagement it will provide to its users.

Create great content.  Use amazing content to pull mobile users on to your site. Post blogs, social media posts, testimonials, infographics, case studies, video tutorials and useful information to engage your customers.

Smartphones and mobile devices are here to stay. (Heck, there is a good change you are reading this blog on your smartphone!)  A marketing strategy that addresses the needs of its mobile users will help to grow a B2B’s profits, credibility in the industry and brand.

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Comments Off on Inbound Marketing Video Tips

Inbound Marketing Video Tips

A Screenshot of an Inbound Marketing Video
Inbound marketing is an effective way to connect with potential customers and strategically deliver information. One of the most successful tools is video. According to a recent Hub Spot article, the amount of videos posted to Facebook has grown 75% over the last year. On Twitter, visuals also produce 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets. Although you can’t deny the potential return, there is an investment associated with producing videos. Here are some factors you should consider if you are planning to create original videos.

  1. Viewing Platform
  2. Concept Planning
  3. Length
  4. Look & Sound: Production Values

Platform Where it Will be Viewed

If you are producing your video for television, there are various options associated with airtime to consider. Most inbound marketing efforts are produced for social media. YouTube is the most popular video hosting site. Vine and Snapchat are also gaining popularity. Although these outlets are free, advertising to increase the number of viewers comes with a cost. Facebook adjusted its algorithm to decrease the impressions companies get from their followers, paid advertising will increase your video views. No matter where the video is found, strive for quality in execution and content.

Concept Planning and Execution

Turning an innovative idea into a great video takes planning. Do not make the mistake of not including the value of this time in your cost estimate. Be sure to include the time associated with script writing, story boarding, shooting, any special effects, graphics and multiple sets of edits once the client has access to the video. Many companies do not make proper allowance for the time and costs associated with making a video. A pre-production meeting is recommended.

Video Length

Not all videos are created equal. If you are planning to create 15 one minute videos, or a 15 minute video the costs are different. Add up the number of days you will need to actually be shooting your videos as you are evaluating costs. If you do a more traditional video shoot using actors in a physical setting, remember to calculate the cost associated with staff. You will need a director, camera operator(s), grip, gaffer, and various other hands on deck for the shoot. If this is a longer shoot do not forget to include the cost associated with housing, travel and food. Locations themselves can also be expensive to rent or dress up to make fit your client’s desires.

The Final Look and Sound

Voice talent and music are a very expensive element of video creation. Music royalties or the cost of having original music recorded can easily amount to thousands of dollars. There are ways to get access to royalty free music, but with the reduced cost you may not get the exact sound you were looking for. Voice over talent is also a costly expense. Ensure you get the sound and read you envisioned for your associated cost.

Acting and graphics can make or break a video. Professional actors are another expensive part of video production, but they will come with the professionalism required to get the shots faster, saving you time and money when it comes to other elements of your video. If you decide to not use actors, but instead to use animation, it is also be costly. You again have to weigh the difference between professional and armature and determine where you want to invest your money. Also consider the software required to successfully complete an animated project.

Videos are an Almost Essential Part of Inbound Marketing

Make sure that your production costs don’t break the bank. Don’t forget the most important part of any video is the content. Educate and entertain your audience. That can be done in your office with a smart phone if it is what you have available or you can spend hundreds, of thousands of dollars on a set. When you are planning your videos make sure you know your budget and stick to it. Videos don’t have to break the bank to break you into a new market segment.

Our team can with with your budget to incorporate video into your inbound marketing campaign. Contact David Walker for more information.

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Breaking News: Ed Stevens, APR+M Assumes Three Industry Leadership Roles

Ed Stevens

Ed Stevens, APR +M, has just been named President-Elect of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), the fourth largest group of independent PR firms in the world. He has served PRGN as Marketing Officer for the past four years. “I am honored to be selected by the people who have helped my clients grow their businesses both internationally and domestically. We have some of the world’s best PR minds as members.”

In addition, Ed also holds two high-visibility positions with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). As a member of the executive committee for the PRSA Health Academy, Ed will be heavily involved on the committee charged with bringing the academy’s annual conference to Cleveland in the spring of 2015. “It is estimated that this event will bring over 300 professionals to the city as we place a spotlight on Cleveland as the center of excellence for healthcare in America,” said Ed.

Finally, Ed will be the next president of the PRSA Northwest Pennsylvania Chapter. “I am excited to be a PRSA president. It is my third stint as a president, having served as president twice with Greater Cleveland Chapter.” Stevens Strategic Communications believes it is great to give back to our community, our industry and PR professional people in Erie and Cleveland.

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Comments Off on No Longer Your Typical Graphic Artist/Designer

No Longer Your Typical Graphic Artist/Designer

A ComputerIt’s safe to say that since the advent of desktop computing, business has been changing at a rapid pace. Many jobs have molded and changed to adapt to the latest and greatest technologies available, or they have vanished altogether. Graphic Artists that have been in the industry for the past 20 years know this all too well.

A typical Graphic Artist, Graphic Designer or Art Director must now have the ability to perform many additional tasks that were once additional positions held within several small companies. Such tasks may include being an Interactive/Web Designer, Illustrator, Photographer, Videographer, Video Editor, Computer Technician or even a basic Web Programmer. Modern computers, cameras and software have helped to make this a reality.

This may sound a little overwhelming for people just getting their start in advertising, public relations, design and multimedia productions. Believe me–it is! If you’re looking to get into this field of work, be sure you have vast knowledge and a great skill-set because you’re going to utilize it on a daily basis. In a small business atmosphere you need to be able to wear many hats, not just the one printed on your business cards. This holds true for just about any job at a professional small business today.


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Comments Off on Vine: The Six-Second Video Challenge

Vine: The Six-Second Video Challenge

Vine Logo

Vine is a mobile application owned by Twitter that allows its users to create and post short videos that are a maximum of six-seconds long. Vine is not even a year old and, according to theverge.com, it already has more than 40 million registered users.

Vine seems like it’s going to be the next big thing when it comes to social networks. Vine videos can be simple to create, but they can also be complex. Those making Vine videos as a means for advertising can take a whole day to create a six-second clip. All it takes is a few taps with your finger to create a Vine. When you are ready to record a video, you hold your finger on the screen for as long as you want to record a specific object or action. Then, lift your finger and move around or move objects to get ready for the next segment. In the end, you will have video that could be one object starting as a whole and turning into nothing, or a quick video showing a little of everything.

Creating six-second videos is becoming all the rage across the world! People are getting really creative with it, too. You will find people singing songs, taking videos of events, stop-motion, Claymation, art, wild collaborations and much more.

A blog was posted by Vine offering six tips on how to create the best videos with the app. These tips include using a tripod, using the ghost feature for stop motion, knowing that you don’t need to finish a Vine in one sitting, training your tap, using earphones with a mic, and reviewing your posts. To read the Vine blog, go here.

And, in case you didn’t know, Vine has some new competition. Now that the mobile app Instagram, owned by Twitter’s competitor Facebook, has launched its video creation feature, users are wondering when they should use Vine and when they should use Instagram.

For more great information about Vine and Instagram, read these articles:

–          Digiday: 15 Stats You Need to Know About Vine and Instagram Video

–          Mashable: 10 Ways Startups Can Grow With Vine and Instagram Video

–          TechCrunch: Instagram Video Vs. Vine: What’s The Difference?

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Comments Off on Facebook Ads: A Tool to Get More Likes

Facebook Ads: A Tool to Get More Likes

The Promote Page Window on Facebook

One thing some of our SSC team members learned during a social media seminar at the Erie Club was this:

“The likes don’t come in as fast without Facebook Ads!”

Facebook Ads are a great way to get out the rut your page has reached with its number of likes. These ads will help your page reach more Facebook users. Facebook ads have several other benefits as well:

– Fast and easy to set up

– Inexpensive: To start, $50-$100 is sufficient

– Guaranteed Results

– Increase in Reach, Page Likes, Shares, Post Likes and Website Traffic

According to an article on venturebeat.com, “Performance marketing company Nanigans released a study today (Oct. 16) showcasing that Facebook advertising is alive and well, with retailers seeing a 375 percent explosion in click-through rates from Q3 2012 to Q3 2013 — and healthy 152 percent return on investment.”

One of the great features about Facebook ads is that Facebook now allows you to essentially create six ads for the price of one. You can upload six different pictures to go with your ad description. You can even change the description text that goes along with each photo. This way, you can go back and see which ad did the best and make tweaks to gain a larger reach and more clicks.

Businesses don’t have much to lose since Facebook ads are inexpensive. Test an ad or boost a post only using $15. View the results and decide if you want try it again with an increased budget.

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Comments Off on Public Relations: Well-planned & Executed Product Publicity Programs Generate Valuable Sales Leads

Public Relations: Well-planned & Executed Product Publicity Programs Generate Valuable Sales Leads

Publicity is giving someone a reason to talk about you.

The purpose of product publicity is to support sales. A well-planned and executed product publicity program will generate valuable sales leads. It creates awareness in the marketplace of your company’s name, products, capabilities, personnel and expertise.

For the most part, news releases, feature articles and case studies are read and evaluated by the trade press. Editors rely heavily on publicity material to fill out their issues, especially in today’s new media where an editor must produce a print as well as an online edition.

Few, if any, B2B publications have editorial staffs large enough to cover everything that’s happening in a particular industry. Therefore, editors seek and welcome assistance from competent PR people, whether at the corporate or agency level.

A major benefit of product publicity, as compared to advertising, is believability. A product story that appears in the editorial pages has been evaluated by an editor. It is, in effect, a third party endorsement. Sometimes, an article will generate more sales leads than an ad for the same product.

Another important advantage of product publicity is the range of distribution. Few companies have advertising budgets large enough to permit scheduling a product ad in every trade publication in a particular industry. But the cost of producing a news release and distributing that release to 25, 50 or 200 publications gives you a much better return on investment.

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Comments Off on How to Create Great Display Advertising

How to Create Great Display Advertising


You may have the best product or service in the world, but if you don’t market it effectively, the world may miss out on your great offer. Knowing how to create a great advertising display that captures attention and drives sales is paramount to the success of your product.

No matter how fantastic your product or service is, sales can languish if it’s not promoted well. A great advertising display that’s eye-catching and memorable, and successfully conveys your message at a glance, can transform dismal receipts into sales successes. Here are some quick tips on how to create a great advertising display.

Keep It Brief

Successful companies often use succinct slogans, and for good reason. You have but a moment to capture the attention of your customers; long messages won’t be read, let alone retained, by distributor location, showroom or store visitors. For maximum impact, grab their attention with a hook, keep your advertising display message short and laser in on how your product or service stands out from the others. Although you might want to highlight every positive factor about the item being marketed, that typically results in a display encumbered with input overload that the potential customer will never retain, or even finish reading.

Rather than employing tired and often ignored hooks such as, New and Improved!, use an effective hook that stops customers in their tracks, such as, Today Only! or simply name the unique or greater benefit. Include a call to action that spurs customers to buy your product or service right away. Incorporating an interactive feature into the display helps increase this likelihood. An affixed pad of coupons, attached stand of small informational brochures, even a simple QR code for a discount or other benefit are all examples of encouraging interaction with your display.

Avoid Clutter

Some companies think that putting text starbursts all over their advertising displays makes their ads stand out. Bursts, swipes and other such graphic devices are quite effective, but only when used sparingly, and only when surrounded with sufficient empty space.

Combining disharmonious graphic design and type styles can be effective when used correctly. However, mixing too many styles or juxtaposing styles that fight against each other engenders a sense of chaos, rather than one of clean contrast. Such a display communicates difficulty instead of ease, and shoppers transfer that judgment to the item advertised.

The same caution applies against using discordant color schemes. The goal is to capture people’s attention as long as possible, not cause them to look away from your display.

Don’t! Overuse! Bangs!

Advertisers love exclamation points! They think that putting a bang after every sentence will convince the customer that the product or service is exciting and essential! Like graphic icons, however, exclamation points are most effective when employed sparingly and only where truly merited! Notice how every sentence in this paragraph seems to carry the same sense of urgency! Your customers won’t know where their focus should be!

Be careful with other punctuation and indicators as well. Bullet points are meant to briefly highlight advantages of the product or service that make it stand out from the rest. Save the long laundry list of features for the package insert. Also, be sure to triple-check for spelling and punctuation errors before putting your advertising display out there for the world to see.

Put Your Display in the Best Light

Whether your advertising piece is a flat printed poster, a 3-D stand or an actual product on display, the lighting of the piece will have an impact on its effectiveness. You probably won’t have control of the environmental lighting for your finished piece, so keep that in mind when creating your display. If it’s likely to be placed in a dim corner of a store, add your own lighting to the display, perhaps incorporating inexpensive LED light effects. Remember: light draws attention and darkness escapes attention.

Negotiate for Visibility

You may have the best ad display ever created, but if it’s placed in a low traffic or low visibility area, all your design efforts will be lost. Securing a high visibility placement is paramount for a display’s success. Work with your sales channel contacts to arrange for a favorable placement of your stunning display, advocating how high visibility of your display will improve their business.

Pulling It All Together

Don’t let your valuable ad dollars go to waste. To create a great advertising display, it is imperative to draw the customer’s eye to the display, quickly and clearly convey your main points and make your message memorable with a call to action.

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Comments Off on Running a Public Relations Firm

Running a Public Relations Firm

Stevens Strategic Communications, Inc.

The debate rages on.  Just what is a public relations firm?  Over the years technology and our economy have caused the definition to change.  In many ways, when I think of the words public relations, the word Catholic or universal comes to mind.

In essence the public relations firm is one that deals with our relationships with all of our publics.  That means our customers.  Our employees.  Our communities.  Our world.

We create messages for audiences and determine the best ways to reach that audience.  Is it advertising?  Social media?  Videos?  Media relations?

Yes, we used to have advertising agencies, public relations firms, and specialty shops.  We even had agencies of record.  Now we provide the best we have to our clients.  Timing, messaging, quality and cost are critical.  Now that we have an understanding of what a public relations firm does—just about everything in terms of communications—then how do you staff?

In the military, I was always impressed with our Special Forces.  These were teams of soldiers with more than one refined skill.  They are linguists, mechanics, snipers, medics, demolition experts.  They are people who accomplish their mission.  In fact, in the military we learned the value of being resourceful even when we weren’t green berets.   So many of us were crossed-trained to do more than our primary military specialty.  That’s how I see the public relations firm of today.

We have social media people who are great account executives.  Crisis specialists who know advertising.  Video producers who know how to write.  Engineers who can create speeches.  Art directors with audio engineering expertise.  Research executives who can handle direct marketing.  Wow.  Our guys are talented.

Survival in the business world today requires that we have many skills, stay up to date on trends, and work hard to stay ahead of the pack.  We want to do all of this while we are having a good time helping our clients succeed.

(FLASH) That is my snapshot of running a PR firm today.  It’s providing the right climate for great, talented people—so they can do great things for great clients!

— Ed Stevens, APR
President, Stevens Strategic Communications

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Comments Off on See the Bigger Picture: Social Media is a source for Free Advertising

See the Bigger Picture: Social Media is a source for Free Advertising

Button that Says: Free Online Advertising

In this digital age of information overload, you may look at social media and think “Well, why should I tweet or post on Facebook if there are going to be 1.2 billion other posts pushing mine to the bottom.” That may be true, but you need to see the bigger picture.

Social media is a way to advertise your company, its products and its services for free. There are several blogs that say using social media for self-promotion is wrong, and those blogs are somewhat right. Social media is more than just a way to advertise your company and it should be used to its full advantage. But, don’t put self-promotion to the wayside. There has to be a balance between posting promotional material and quality content. Share links to your website, post news releases, share internal information or what have you, but mix that in with some industry-related content, a few retweets and a couple shares.

If your company is thinking social media isn’t working because they aren’t gaining enough likes or followers, tell them there’s more to it than that. When we conduct social media management for clients, we tell them the main goal is to get that prospective customer back to your website. If you get five prospects to the website and sales are made, there’s the evidence of your ROI. Having 50,000 likes isn’t evidence of anything other than you doing a good job of getting people interested and engaging with your page. Likes and followers don’t necessarily equal revenue.

Use social media for all its worth. It really is a great tool for free advertising and just one more place to post your news releases, products, new ventures, etc. If you can stop worrying about likes and followers for a month, you may realize you didn’t need to worry about that aspect of social media so much in the first place.

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