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Employee-Owner Spotlight: Amy Bernhardt

As an employee-owned agency, what moves one of us moves us all. So each month, we’re turning the spotlight on one of our many awesome owners to find out more about the unique personalities that shape GO2.

This month, Senior Production Artist Amy Bernhardt sheds some light on her love of lighthouses, fresh veggies, dystopian rebellions and more!

What are you most passionate about at work?

I love translating big ideas into workable, accessible components.

The large projects that have complicated technical requirements and moving pieces to bring together are often the most rewarding. There is a lot of problem solving and skill that goes into setting up a document that everyone can easily work with and in coordinating the smooth production of the finished product. People from different departments need to be able to contribute to the jobs I work on and they count on me to provide them the framework to do it. I am always trying to find ways to work smarter.

What are you most passionate about outside of work?

I have a passion for landscape photography, especially involving lighthouses. I love that they are a bit old-fashioned and a little romantic. They remind me of a time before GPS when sailing the seas meant depending on these beacons and their operators to guide you safely home. Also, since they are located on coastlines, lighthouse hunting is an amazing way to explore and photograph some of the most beautiful places in the world.

Gardening is big part of what I do outside of work. I have my pepper plants started already this year! It’s a great way to get fresh produce that tastes better than anything you can buy in the grocery store and it’s a fun challenge to see what I can grow successfully. Gardening is something I learned from my mom, so we like to try and grow new things together. Last year we did sweet potatoes, which may not be something you would usually think about growing in a northeastern Ohio garden, but they turned about great.

I really enjoy traveling and would love to have the opportunity to do it more. I end up traveling around the U.S. a lot to visit my siblings. I have a sister in Milwaukee, a brother who will soon be moving from California to New York and another brother in Boston. As long as they keep moving to interesting places, I’ll keep visiting! My recent vacation to Dublin, Ireland, has been my favorite trip so far. The people were so nice, the pub food was great and seeing a city that was founded over 1,000 years ago really helped me put our own history into perspective. They also have a much better cider culture than we do. There were so many hard ciders available everywhere; I actually didn’t see much fruit juice that wasn’t fermented.

What are some favorites you’d like to share?

TV show: The BBC’s Sherlock

Movies: The Hunt for Red October, A League of Their Own

I really appreciate shows and movies with clever dialogue. My family has a habit of conducting entire conversations in movie quotes and thankfully, Sherlock and The Hunt for Red October give me a lot of witty one-liners to work with.

Books: The Hunger Games, Harry Potter

Young Adult genre books are fun and work well on a lot of levels. The plots can be complex — dealing with issues you don’t get in mainstream bestsellers — while not taking themselves too seriously or being preachy. For example, The Hunger Games had some really interesting questions to ask about rebellions and what happens to the figurehead of a rebellion once it’s over. Though they may have an important message to deliver, good storytelling always comes first.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

The first female professional baseball player (until I realized you needed hand/eye coordination to play baseball) or an astronaut.

What would you like to be famous for?

Landscape photography (particularly lighthouses) or writing novels.

What is something people might be surprised to know about you?

I am going to be running my first 5K at a Harry Potter-themed event in Kent this July.

Employee-Owner Spotlight: Alec Stringer

As an employee-owned agency, what moves one of us moves us all. So each month, we’re turning the spotlight on one of our many awesome owners to find out more about the unique personalities that shape GO2.

This month, we sit down with Front End Developer Alec Stringer to talk about visiting The Shire, eating grasshoppers and ushering in the technological singularity.

What are you most passionate about at work?

My favorite thing to do at work is problem solving. For me, that can be anything from writing a bit of weird code that makes a website work to solving problems in our corporate culture through our culture improvement committee, GO2 DNA. There is something satisfying about being presented with a challenge that doesn’t have an obvious answer and then working for a solution. “Here’s where we need to be. Here are the resources you have. Figure it out.” It forces you to think creatively and sometimes to learn an entirely new skill.

The projects I work on often aren’t as straightforward as they might seem, so I get to solve plenty of problems. Even something simple like an email is not really. It can take a lot of testing, trial and error to make that happen.

My second-favorite thing is getting everyone on board with silly names. We’re following up on our Comcast internal communication project, Nucleus. I’m going for “2cleus.”

What are you most passionate about outside of work?

I am a foodie. In fact, food is one of my favorite things to eat. I think there’s so much more to eating a good meal than sustenance — why just have lunch when you can have a culinary adventure? You can be experimental with unique flavor combinations, share a new experience with someone or get a taste of another culture. Also, we all eat about 76,650 meals in a lifetime, so I figure it might as well be fun.

Of course, being a foodie means I spend some time cooking. One of my favorite kinds of dishes to prepare is taking something that is generally considered a luxury food and making it more accessible. Like crème brûlée. That’s a dish that’s easy to make with just a few simple, cheap ingredients. But, it’s got a fancy presentation and a French name, so restaurants can charge 10 bucks for a few bites. I like to learn how to make that kind of thing for myself and let other people know that they can, too.

I also really enjoy traveling. I’m trying to catch up to Pete, but so far I’ve only been to two continents. I especially love visiting places with rugged natural beauty and friendly, welcoming people. That’s why my dream vacation would be a visit to Iceland. That’s also why I have a trip to New Zealand planned for the beginning of next year. During that vacation, the cruise ship will make a stop at The Shire so we can see one of the most iconic locations from the Lord of the Rings movies and, hopefully, spot some wild Hobbits.

What are some favorites you’d like to share?

My entertainment favorites are in continual flux, but there is one that has remained constant: The West Wing. It has been my favorite TV show since 1999. It’s well written, well acted, funny and educational. It also allows me to believe in an alternate universe where our government is run by people who genuinely want to make our country a better place.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

My recollections in order from earliest to latest: horse, He-Man, teenager, paleontologist, archaeologist, astrologer, astrophysicist, environmental scientist (this is when I realized you have to know math to do science), CIA agent, diplomat, special effects technician, computer animator. I currently want to be Batman when I grow up.

What is the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?

Chapulines in Oaxaca, Mexico. The taste is nothing fancy, but the crunch is what reminds you that you’re eating grasshoppers. Blech.

What would you like to be famous for?

I don’t want to be famous for anything; that sounds terrible. I would want to do something that contributes to humankind, but I wouldn’t want to be famous for it. I’d rather be the power behind the throne. I might like to promote a global agenda of tolerance or help the world’s homeless. I would definitely like to be involved with the advancement of a scientific revolution like practical long-term space travel or bringing about a transhuman or technological singularity.

Is there something people might be surprised to know about you?

Yes.

The Why and How of Writing a Great Tagline

Slogan, motto, tagline — no matter what you call it, it’s more challenging to create than you might think. So if you’re going to take on this challenge, it’s best to give some thought to the “why” before you start working through the “how.”
 
 
 

Why might you want to develop a tagline?
  • To introduce yourself — a new business can make a great first impression with an effective tagline.
  • To clarify your purpose — your brand name may not tell your audience what you do, but your tagline can.
  • To differentiate your brand — the right words can help you stand apart from your competition.
  • To make an emotional connection — a thoughtful turn of phrase can support brand affinity.

While a tagline may not be an absolute necessity, it can be an asset to your brand if it’s executed well. Once you’ve given some thought to your “why” — and you’ve decided you’re brave enough to give tagline writing a shot — the following steps can help.

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1. Answer these essential questions:
  • Do you have a voice?
    If you don’t have a brand voice, it is my sworn duty to advise you to take care of this now. Your voice should serve as the foundation for your entire brand. You need to know your brand’s tone before you can apply it to a tagline — or to any messaging at all.
  • What do you do — and why do you do it?
    Even if your brand provides a long list of products and services, you should be able to succinctly state what it is you do, as well as why you do it. Do you have a mission statement? A brand story? If not, see the previous question. And if so, try boiling these statements down and you may already be halfway to your tagline.
  • What makes you special?
    In other words, what is your Unique Selling Proposition? Your USP is your differentiator — so you definitely don’t want to lose sight of it as you develop a tagline. In fact, you may find that your tagline can come directly from your USP, perhaps in the form of a few words or a key phrase.
  • Why should anyone care?
    How will your audience benefit from choosing your brand over others? Why might your audience feel a connection to your brand, your mission or your point of view? When you’re creating a tagline, you can’t forget who you’re trying to reach, and why they’d want to hear from you.

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2. Just start writing.

Often, the hardest part of writing anything at all is just getting started. Start by writing down some phrases that answer the questions above, keeping your “why” in mind.

  • Try different approaches.
    You might want a short sentence or phrase (like Strategy Empowering Creative) or maybe just a series of words (Seek. Learn. Create.) You might try crafting a mini mission statement or summarizing your brand’s philosophy by starting a phrase with “Because.” By experimenting with different formats and approaches, you’ll find the one that works best for your brand and your message.
  • Keep it simple.
    No matter what format your tagline may take on, you’ll want it to be simple. First of all, you won’t want it taking up a lot of room wherever you use it. And more importantly, you want it to be effective. So keep it short, then see if you can make it any shorter. And if you go with a series of words, a string of three nearly always works best.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
    Writing isn’t as easy as it looks. That’s precisely why some of us are able to make a living doing it. Great taglines aren’t created in an instant; they take strategy and skill. So if you’re not sure you can get the job done on your own (and particularly if you don’t have a brand voice in place), there’s no shame in getting someone with experience to help you out.

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3. Narrow it down.

Once you’ve got a fairly long list of possibilities, make it a short list. Eliminate the weakest lines. Then eliminate some more. You might want to start by categorizing your ideas (taglines that say what you do vs. ones that say what you believe, for instance), so that it’s easier to identify your strongest options.

  • Don’t overthink it.
    You can make quick work of the elimination process. Some taglines might not feel right, and even if you can’t pinpoint exactly why, it’s okay to simply strike those ideas from your list and move on.
  • Get feedback.
    Don’t think you have to develop your tagline all on your own, even if your business is a one-person show. You can of course hire a professional to handle this job, but in any case, asking others for some constructive feedback is never a bad idea.

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4. Walk away for a bit — then make your tagline official.

It’s helpful to let an idea simmer for a while. Leave the project alone for a day, and when you return to it, you’ll be able to eliminate some more options. You might also realize that an idea you’d thought was good is actually great.

When you select your ideal tagline, remember that it’s not permanent. Like any element of a brand, it can shift and evolve along with your business. The key is finding the right words to represent who you are right now.

Our Strategic Partnership with Comcast: Three Years and Counting

Here at GO2, relationship building is one of our core strengths. We know the more we can collaborate and build partnerships with our clients, the more successful we can be in helping them reach their goals.

We’ve recently finished up a Retrospective Portfolio, which highlights that relationship-building element in our work with Comcast. We are at a point in our relationship where a recap is appropriate; we’ve been working with the company for nearly 4 years and have been involved in many different capacities, divisions and efforts. The Retrospective Portfolio encompasses all that we’ve done together and shows each division we work with just how deeply connected we are to the company’s brand and growth initiatives.

So what does a project like this entail? Well, first we had to look back over all the numbers — we’ve been keeping track of everything since the beginning — and we found some pretty interesting statistics to share.

  • The number of people who have worked on the account over the years was equivalent to the number of people involved in a full game of Major League Baseball, of course including the coaches, umpires, etc.
  • We’ve completed enough projects for the account to total the number of cast and crewmembers for two Hollywood blockbusters.
  • The miles we’ve traveled for meetings and presentations totaled almost the circumference of Mars.
  • The number of status meetings was almost up to the total number of songs the Beatles wrote.
  • In the hours we put into all the projects collectively, we could’ve watched the entire Star Wars movie catalog more than 1,500 times.

 


Next up, we included a timeline of major projects, new teams we’ve begun working with and new contacts we’ve met and worked with.

And then it was time for the specific project highlights. In this section we were able to show our ability to do multiple kinds of tactics and different levels of work, from strategic to executional and everything in between. We walked through the highlights of planning, employee engagement and outreach projects and explained how we categorized it.

Lastly, we shared the current team’s bios and highlighted personal accomplishments and events over the course of our relationship with Comcast.

So this is all great, right? But what does it mean? How does this actually strengthen a client-agency relationship?

  1. It shows how invested we are in our client’s brand and objectives.
  2. It highlights our strategic partnership and outlines how we collaborate to make a great team.
  3. It shows our comprehensive experience and our unlimited enthusiasm to continue expanding upon that.
  4. It demonstrates the personal relationships shared by our teams.

Our philosophy at GO2 puts communication and relationship building at the top of the priority list. What would you say are the best ways to enhance client-agency relationships? Tell us by leaving a comment below.

5 SEO copywriting tips

Visual design might reign supreme when creating websites and apps because it impacts usability and functionality.

Yet, words are still the best way to build trust, deliver concepts and drive action. But making those words appealing and optimized for search engines to improve rankings is a challenge every content marketer faces. According to Copyblogger, SEO is the most misunderstood topic online.*

So where do we start? With two words – Content Strategy. The right content strategy creates a great user experience.

Here are some guidelines to follow:

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Content should be user-centric:
Your target audience comes first, long before search algorithms. The best place to start is by understanding your target audience. Then, talk your readers’ language by creating interesting, compelling, useful and visually appealing content that targets specific keywords. This will increase your content’s relevance and improve its ranking in Google. Ideally, you should put your keyword in your headline. The content following the headline should address keyword intent. And keep paragraphs short. Nobody likes to be faced with a sea of type.

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Use long tail keywords:
These three- or four-word phrases are very specific to what you are selling. They’re the phrases that consumers are more likely to use when they’re closer to making a purchase. These specific phrases also rank better than generic single or double word keywords.

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Write great headlines:

Don’t expect high click-through numbers if you have a mediocre headline. Your headline should attract people’s attention, get them to click and read more. According to ConversionXL, headlines with numbers are always winners.** This might not always be possible, but it’s something to consider.

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Don’t overlook meta descriptions:
These take time to write and directly affect traffic to a web page. When people search for keywords that are relevant to your page, Google uses the meta description on your page. Good meta descriptions take time to write and should be 150 to 160 characters and include target keywords. For mobile, keep it to 113 characters.

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Focus on keyword frequency:
How many times do your keywords appear on the page? Don’t go keyword frequency crazy, though. The folks at Google pay attention to keyword stuffing and will penalize you. It’s still a factor in ranking. Plus, overdoing keywords will turn off your readers.

 

Remember, make your content easy to read. Don’t overwhelm your audience, or pack every thought into one paragraph. Well-planned content will work wonders for your writing’s effectiveness. This will create a better user experience.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. What works best for you and your content?

 

* http://www.copyblogger.com/

** http://conversionxl.com/

Introducing Ingrid Preuss

GO2 Advertising has strengthened its strategic planning and branding expertise with the recent addition of Ingrid Preuss as Client Service Director.

With over 20 years’ experience, Ingrid brings proven excellence in brand strategy, brand positioning, advertising, consumer promotions, point of sale and experiential marketing for top global brands including McDonald’s, British American Tobacco and P&G. She has successfully managed multi-million dollar accounts at Ogilvy & Mather, OgilvyAction, Grey London and Jotabequ Grey. With her vast and varied background, she brings tremendous marketing insight to the GO2 Advertising team. Originally from Costa Rica, she graduated from the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica.

Ingrid sees a bright future for GO2 Advertising and is excited to play a key role in the growth and success of the agency. Her goals include helping to further develop the talented client service team and maximize business relationships.

In her spare time, Ingrid enjoys staying active. Yoga and barre are part of her regular regimen. She also devours books from Greek mythology, history to spiritualism. Her favorite novel is the widely acclaimed “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez. She’s married and has two children.

Why Print Still Matters in the Digital Age

True or false: As the world we experience becomes increasingly digitized, print is a dying medium that is no longer relevant.

If you said false, you’re on to something. A whopping 79% of households say they read direct mail ads. Experts argue that the world of print magazines is going strong. Financial Times is quoted as finding that only 29% of consumers believe the Internet meets all their information needs. Though not a traditional advertising medium, print books are still preferred over e-readers by most Americans. And from our own experience, there are a lot of reasons that print is far from dying.

Print makes a statement. It appeals to people at a tactile level and says, “this is important enough to put on paper.” There’s just something credible about tangible text that can’t be replicated digitally.

And digital, with all its benefits of accessibility and interaction, also has its drawbacks. Think about the last time you went online for something specific. How many distractions met you? How many rabbit trails of instant messages and sidebar ads and social notifications did you follow before, after and during the search for your original item? Wait — do you remember why you went online in the first place?

While advertisers have to go where the consumers are, consumers aren’t only to be found in the digital space. In fact, the DMR article linked above says that 39% of customers say they try a business for the first time because of a direct mail ad.

This slideshare nicely summarizes the pros and cons of print versus digital media. We especially appreciate how it demonstrates that the two, so often pitted against each other, can and should complement one another in a comprehensive ad campaign. Digital media can offer in-depth information that may not fit on a physical ad, but the printed word carries a persuasive weight that the online environment often lacks. Consumers are looking for both.

Our conclusion? Print still matters in the digital age — maybe more than ever.

Using print and digital as complementary advertising tactics is a smart strategy that will maximize your ROI, and here at GO2, we’re experts in both. Your campaigns will benefit from the continuity and precision of a one-agency solution, as we build campaigns that move seamlessly between print and digital media. Contact us today!

Augmented Reality in the Real World

Augmented Reality, or AR, is growing fast. We’ve blogged before about the impact this new technology is having in the world of advertising, and now we want to look at one tactical example of where and why it works.

Two words: product packaging.

As a quick review, AR is a relatively new technology that changes a static printed piece into an animated experience via a smartphone or tablet. AR-enabled pieces trigger the launch of a video that makes the printed piece “come alive” with animation, music, narration, and a powerful message that will encourage customer interaction and promote engagement. AR also positions your company as a cutting-edge technology leader. It’s just cool.

So let’s get back to AR in the real world. One of GO2’s clients is launching a new product soon, and we’re recommending the use of AR on the packaging. Our focus group findings indicate that the audience is receptive to the inclusion of AR. So why is AR so impactful in a context like this?

  • AR conveys product benefits effectively. With a new product utilizing technology that is completely unique in the market, there’s a lot to educate consumers about — more than can be covered on the packaging alone. AR ensures that the full message reaches your audience.
  • AR allows for streamlined messaging on the packaging. We’ve all seen packaging designs crammed with text. No one wants to take the time to read all that! And all that copy leaves precious little room for attractive brand visuals. AR solves that dilemma.
  • AR engages the customer to spend more time with the material. Watching a flat printed piece come to life is more fun than reading small print. Your audience is less likely to give up on a video than on a long text description of your product benefits.
  • AR positions our client as an innovator. By leveraging AR’s hot technology, we don’t just tell the audience that our client is innovative — we prove it. And this positive impression will extend beyond the company to the product itself.

Here at GO2, we have the strategy, technology and expertise to make the difference in your customers’ purchase decisions. Talk to us today about adding another dimension to your message with our exciting AR solutions!

Mobile Marketing and Video: Better Together

Advertisers have long known the engaging power of video in reaching their prospects, and now the rising tide of smartphones and other mobile devices is providing another expansive outlet for video marketing. With the average U.S. consumer spending 2 hours and 57 minutes every day on a mobile device, it’s no surprise that mobile marketing videos are becoming increasingly critical to do — and do right.

And if you needed further convincing, Flurry quotes eMarketer’s prediction that the mobile video ad market will hit $2.7B by 2017. With women and Millennials comprising the leading demographics in mobile video engagement, the implications are huge.

Time for your videos to go mobile.

Why are videos so well suited to the mobile marketing platform? They are, quite simply, the most compelling advertising experience that can come from a 3″ x 4″ screen. They’re easy to use; smartphone users can just click the “play” button and relax, rather than having to read through an ad (which may not be mobile optimized, anyway).

The visual and audio components give video ads another advantage in cutting through all the white noise. And of course, smartphone users who spend the majority of their time on apps and entertainment will be drawn to videos over less-engaging traditional text ads.

With GO2, mobile video marketing doesn’t have to be a mystery. We have the expertise to craft your videos and messaging to maximize views and drive profitable ROI. By implementing our e4® Method, we can build a mobile video strategy that will draw on industry best practices as well as your unique marketing needs and target audience preferences. It’s all about the research and strategic insights that make the difference.

If you’re looking to go with your audience, wherever they go, mobile video marketing is a tactic you can’t pass by. Talk to us today about implementing mobile video marketing in your advertising initiatives!

So You Want to Develop an App

So you want to develop an app… Great! In a world where smartphones are now outselling PCs, app development is quickly gaining ground as a key component of campaign advertising. According to Statista.com, 93% of app developers today are targeting smartphones, which isn’t surprising given that 90% of all adults in the U.S. own a cell phone.

So apps aren’t going away anytime soon, but the app development process can be daunting to companies testing the waters for the first time. We understand. And we can help!

Let’s begin by asking three key questions to start defining your vision.

  1. What useful function will my app serve?

It’s not enough to create an app that simply displays your marketing message. Users need a reason to download your app, and that means it has to have a defined function. Whether that function is entertainment (in the case of a game), education, utility, or information, apps must deliver some incentive to the user. Whatever you’re trying to achieve with your app, it has to DO something. What’s yours going to do?

  1. Where’s my budget sweet spot?

This answer is different for everyone. Complicated apps require a higher upfront investment in coding and design, but the payoffs can be significant. On the other hand, simple, table-based apps are relatively inexpensive to build but may not have the pull of their flashier counterparts. It all depends on what you want your app to achieve within the context of your overall marketing strategy. So where’s your sweet spot on the spectrum of functionality and finances?

  1. How does my app connect with my overarching marketing strategy?

It’s not enough to have an app; you have to have a goal for that app… To use a GO2 buzzword, a strategy. This is where our research-driven strategic insights really shine. A lone app, unsupported and unrelated to anything outside itself, probably won’t deliver high ROI. But an app developed as a key tactic within a larger campaign strategy and supported by a targeted launch/update plan has a much greater chance of driving optimum traffic and revenue. So what’s your strategy, and where does your app fit within it?

Here at GO2, our app development process sets us apart from the pack. You can bring a vision already defined and ready for development — or you can simply say, “I need to develop an app. What’s next?” Together, we can determine what your app should do, what functionality will maximize your downloads and dollars, and how your app should tie into your existing and future advertising initiatives.

Our experience in the world of app development can be your advantage. We’ve developed a range of apps for Fortune 500 companies like Sherwin-Williams, and we can deliver the same technological expertise, intelligent strategic insight, flawless project management and client satisfaction to your business.

So you want to develop an app. Let’s do it together!