Um, Actually, YES, It IS Rocket Science

Marketing is the strategic use of visual elements like colour, font styles, and imagery combined with copy/text to communicate a clear and consistent message. The perfect combination of these ingredients will succeed not only in delivering a clear message – it will stimulate a response or reaction in the person on the receiving end.

This is why we stress the importance of any marketing material having a call to action asking the receiver to do something: “buy that”, “read this”, “download here”, “watch now”, “call us”, and so on.

There are many instances in which a great marketing campaign and its effectiveness are a direct result of psychology in collaboration with great design. However, more often than not, sole credit for a great campaign and its success is attributed to the creative. Still, as “marketeers” we know that there is much more to it and this is how we break it down.

There are four key psychology elements that come into play when creating a marketing campaign. Similarly, there are four design elements that are directly related to these elements. Their relationship is interdependent and complimentary in nature.

1. Perception & Visual Imagery

These days it is said that the average person is exposed to approximately 5,000 or more advertising messages each day. Which of those advertisements are remembered and recalled upon when it comes time to make a purchase is largely dependent upon a variety of factors.

a) Is it appealing? – Does the ad demand one’s attention?

b) Is it intriguing? – Does it instigate curiosity?

c) Is it catchy? – Does it use colour or bold design to grab one’s attention?

d) Does it stimulate one, a few, or all of the five senses? – Touch, taste, smell, vision, hearing?

2. Memory & Retention

Did you know that the human mind is like a computer and recalls or retains information in strings? Cognitive psychology refers to this action as chunking. There are many theories on how this works but what’s most important is that the human brain, just like a computer, has a maximum capacity for memory and recall. Chunking or grouping things into sets of 3, 5, or 7 makes it much more likely that the information will be retained. Did you ever wonder why the ten digits in phone numbers (123-456-7890) are grouped into three? Well, now you know!

Still, there are a variety of factors at play when it comes to memory and retention when it comes to marketing.

a) Is it legible? Is there an information overload or is the message legible and clearly displayed?

b) Is the typography capped at two fonts? How many different fonts are being used as display and text font?

c) Is the information grouped and balanced on the page? Is the spacing or leading between the text and even graphics balanced?

d) Is the message prioritized? Is what catches the eye first the most important part of the message?

3. Emotion – Colour

There is a lot of psychology research and reports showing a direct relationship between colours and the emotion they trigger within the receiver. For example, did you know that red doesn’t just represent romance and passion but that it also is known to trigger one’s appetite? How about blue? It’s usually a representation of calmness and tranquility but did you know that it also elicits feelings of trust, dependability, and strength?

a) Is the image properly paired with desired emotional response?

b) Does the colour correctly reflect the desired emotion?

c) Is the colour palette being used proper based on colour wheel theory?

d) Do the text colours compliment the background graphics and colours used?

4. Motivation – Calls to Action

The biggest and most inaccurate assumption made is that people don’t need to be told what to do. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! If there is a desired action you want a target market or receiver to take after seeing an ad, then it must be accompanied by a clear call to action. If the expectation is that people do something after seeing it like call, visit a store, visit the website, or do anything, then this has to be clearly requested within the design and copy.

To expect that one will take any initiative on their own volition to do anything is completely unrealistic. What seems obvious is not always obvious. Great example of this is during election time when it might seem like an obvious action to vote, that was what every campaign pushed for the most.

Because we are “marketeers” we always tend see things in 2D and heavily consider both the psychology and design elements mentioned. Everything we do is deliberate and strategic and that’s the difference you’ll notice right away when working with a firm like ours. These principles aren’t important to everyone, but to those that appreciate strategic marketing they are of the utmost importance.

Great design combined with psychology in order to deliver a clear and effective message is slowly becoming the new norm. But at Karrots Inc. we have the expectation that anything we create observes the basic principles of psychology and laws of design. We actually see ourselves as “marketeers” because the formula we use to create impactful brands and effective marketing campaigns day in and day out is: Great Marketing = Psychology (Science) + Design (Art). So at Karrots Inc. it’s not so much what we do, but it’s who we are and that is not easily duplicated.

6 Reasons To Hire A Marketing Agency or Expert

Often, when people consider the challenges of their business and solutions to a problem that they’re struggling with, they wonder whether or not this is an issue that they should be bringing to a marketing agency. Why should you hire a professional marketer or agency at that?

1. The Difference Between Marketing and Branding

First, let us define the difference between branding and marketing because most people often use them interchangeably but mostly due to a misinterpretation of what each means.

Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product, or service. It is a communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not. Branding is done using a pull strategy, attracting prospects inward. Branding could be in the way someone answers the phone at your company, the quality of your promotional copy, a slogan, or a lifestyle that your products represents. It is should be strategic and planned. However, more often than not, it’s an afterthought and usually determined by the perceptions of those buying.

Marketing on the other hand, is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. Marketing uses a push strategy that involves getting your message out. It is about you promoting your services and telling your target audience how they can engage with you. It is tactical and direct, meaning an action is tied to a specific desirable result. Push tactics are usually education or promotion based where the conversation goes mostly one way. An email marketing campaign telling people about a new product or service, for example, is a push strategy.

Marketing Strategy or Plan is all encompassing and will often employ both push and pull tools and tactics. It’s a detailed plan that includes every marketing tactic and initiative and pairs it up with the overall business goals (revenue goals) of the company from A to Z. It’s the complete marrying of a sales cycle and its various conversion points with the marketing campaigns that drive them. A great marketing strategy will consider the high level revenue goals of the company and how it can engage and move a target audience along to take whatever action is next in the buying cycle, and keep them moving. This is a very important differentiator as far too many agencies have become order takers and do exactly as asked without asking any questions of their own to clients.

2. Marketing for Growth and Scalability

When you are forecasting for growth/expansion you want to make sure your brand, your image, and how you are being seen and perceived can bear it. Having a proper marketing strategy creates a foundation for you to build on with your business. Once the foundation is laid you have a scalable business that you can build on, pass on, or sell. This usually is timed also at the point you reach in your business when you have decided that you no longer want to do business with everyone. You have a target audience or niche in mind and now you have to create a strong brand and message to attract them. You are now at the point where you can choose, and choose powerfully, who you want to work for and who you want to work with. An agency like Karrots can help you be purposeful in that message, and delivering it in such a way that the right people want to do business with you, and the wrong people won’t.

3. A Marketing Agency Saves You Money

Another thing to consider that many people don’t is how valuable paying for a marketer truly is. Most businesses don’t necessarily understand what we do and what goes on behind the scenes (part of a whole other discussion to be had later). But many people think that just because they have their own business and have sold products or services to people that this must make them marketing experts. Why would they pay for someone else to do it when they can save money by either doing it themselves or hire their daughters friend who is a graphic designer, their cousin’s cousin who’s a copywriter, or just use one of those online contests? Sometimes you get lucky and it works out, but more often than not, cheaper doesn’t always mean better.

There’s an old saying that goes something like you can get it “Fast, good or cheap. Pick two.” This is because no matter how hard you try, you could never have all three.

Good Cheap Fast

In fact, more often than not, cheap means wasting more time that you don’t have to get an output you aren’t happy with because the person on the other end isn’t actually as skilled as they should be.  Marketing agencies are skilled at selecting talent and have a wealth of experience so it isn’t a game of Russian Roulette when hiring them. I know here at Karrots Inc. we have tried, tested, and taught our staff over multiple campaigns and had many successes with a team member before we will say “they are someone we can trust.” So you it isn’t a gamble and you aren’t wasting any valuable time.

4. Established Companies Can’t Afford NOT to Hire Professionals

If you are just starting out and cannot afford the rates of a marketing firm, there are different avenues you can try when it comes to design like Fiverr, Design Crowd, and Elance to mention a few. But you must keep in mind that these avenues are not going to help you with your overall marketing strategy and messaging. They will get it done and will do whatever you ask them (as they interpret it) but are not thinking about how your business card ties into your logo and whether or not they’ll help you convert at the conference or trade show you plan on attending next month. This is a very important distinction as many people think that marketing is a fancy term for graphic design but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Think about it, just because I own a pair of scissors and know how to use them, does that make me a hair stylist you would trust to cut your hair? I sure hope not! Likewise, you wouldn’t ask a plumber or electrician to build you a house. Sounds crazy but it happens all the time in our industry.

5. Wasting Your Own Time/Resources? Why, What’s It Worth?

Sometimes when you think you are saving and cutting costs it might actually be costing you potential revenue. Do you want to grow your business? Duplicate your success in other markets? Expand globally? Why not? What’s stopping you from turning your business into a global empire? Most business owners that work with agencies do so because they want to build a business that is successful whether they are involved or not. They want a business that isn’t dependent on them driving it. Or sometimes, they are just simply tired of being complacent and want more from their business. If any of these resonate with you, then it might make be time to consider working with an expert to create a proactive, planned, and purposeful brand and marketing plan for your business. Over time it will not only save you time and money but bring in more revenue as well.

6. Overwhelmed by Project Management 

If you don’t have an internal marketing team, then you have limited resources. You don’t have anyone to follow up on the printer, make sure they’re getting the right files, or manage and oversee projects from beginning to end. You are likely wearing many hats and can’t even manage all of those, let alone the marketing. You find yourself in a panic late at night when your printer sends you a proof and you are completely unhappy with it. Something is wrong but you don’t have the resources or time to fix it.

The entire marketing and production process takes a lot of time. Whether it’s a website or magazine ad, every detail must be reviewed and looked at carefully. Now if you’ve done all that yourself, you might think you saved thousands dollars, but when you run up your own billable hours in terms of how long that took you, you would realize you actually lost money by your efforts. That is where marketing agencies are of most value. At Karrots there have been countless occurrences where we have had to save our clients and take on a project at the eleventh hour to turn it all around (and we do) but we often wonder “why the heck didn’t they just call us in the first place?”.

5 Questions to Determine If You Should Consider Hiring A Marketing Company?

  1. Do you want to grow or expand your business?
  2. Do you have a database (Full Mailing and Email Addresses of Clients)?
  3. Does your business have a brand? Is it clear and consistent?
  4. Does your business have a marketing plan and budget? Is it targeted?
  5. Does your business have a website? Is it being promoted? Is it converting?

If any of these questions aren’t clear with an answer or you think there’s room for improvement, then it’s time you set up a meeting with an agency to discuss your business goals. Remember, it’s just a meeting and doesn’t mean you are committing to anything. It’s just a conversation to explore whether or not there’s value in working together or not.

VIDEO: 4 Reasons Why You Should Use It In Your Marketing Mix!

One Video Is Worth A MILLION Words! 

Video is simply THE medium of choice for marketing your product or service online, but how do you use it effectively?

A Quick Look back

At its inception, the Internet was mostly used as a quick reference or research tool. Due to its limited abilities, websites made during this time – from the mid nineties to mid 2000’s – were very informative, but also very word-heavy, and took a long time to read. Today, we still use the Internet for quick reference, but you’ll notice that there is now a greater emphasis towards images and a shift away from text.

But if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million. That’s why video is the best tool to get positive results in your business.

1. How-To Videos Are The Most Popular

In fact, the most popular video searches online are how-to or instructional videos, such as About.com. Find a way to create a how-to video for your industry: there’s something in everyone’s business that can be the fuel for an online video. For instance, I can create a video on how to set up an HTML signature, create a logo, or other little marketing tips that no one usually gives out for free. By instructing people on how to do something, your video becomes a very popular tool for marketing for your business. There’s a friend of mine that created his own DIY channel on youtube and this is pretty much all he does. He’s created and published how-to videos on just about anything. Check his website or his DIY Channel on Youtube and if you have a how-to video you are thinking of doing you can reach out to him!

Another great thing about videos is that it allows people to put a face to a name we all want to do business with people we like and can relate to so what better way to introduce yourself than through video?!

2. Google Wants Your Video!

Google recently acquired Youtube This means you can have pay-per-click campaigns attached to a video, which is a powerful tool you can leverage. You can also take advantage of keywords and online marketing to exploit a video and increase views. Google likes to see you use their products: the more you use their products, the higher they rank you. They rank sites with video higher than those that have only images and/or text.

3. Video Communicates or Says Things You Can’t Put Into Words

There are those days in your business where you feel like you sound like a broken record. You keep saying the same thing over and over again. No matter which client or prospective client you meet with it just seems like you are always being redundant. Sort of feeling like Bill Murray in that movie Groundhog Day. Video is a great way to turn that redundant message into a video so that instead of repeating yourself you can direct people to watch the video. You can also use video to show your process like that tv show “How It’s Made” to illustrate your behind the scenes and demonstrate exactly how you do what you do. We created one for Karrots, take a peek! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps3K0FNhLtA

4. You Don’t Have to Break the Bank

Videos don’t have to cost a fortune unless their purpose is for a high quality brand essence or promotional video. These types of videos still have their place in marketing. The costs associated run quite high because of the production elements of cinematography and editing that’s required behind the scenes which is a combination of labour and technical equipment. But even if you think about it, a video is a tool and when it’s properly utilized it’s an investment that will bring you returns. It can be packaged, purposed, and published for so many different platforms that you can drive a huge return from just one video.

So if you are considering or planning on using video (or any other marketing tool) as part of your marketing mix sit down and carefully plan them all out as a series. This is also where a marketing strategist can help with figuring out which concept would best suits your goals and then provide you with a high level outline and storyboard for each.

TIP: Batch your videos together so that they can be shot all the same day and/or location to keep production costs down whether you are doing them yourself or have hired help.

Email Signatures: 3 Reasons Why They Are A Brilliant (And Underused) Tool!

As a marketing professional, a frequent question that many people ask me is “What’s the most overlooked marketing tool?” My response is usually surprising by how simple it is, but I usually respond with “Your email signature”. I find it equally surprising how often I receive email correspondence from people who don’t include in it a proper and professional HTML email signature. But this simple item is just as important as your business card. It’s your clients’ best access point, their one-stop-shop, for your entire online presence, and almost no one is getting it right. So here are 3 reasons why if you don’t have a professional HTML email signature, you need to get one pronto!

1. Brand Recognition

An HTML signature has your logo, first and foremost, which means that it also carries your brand. More than that, it constantly reinforces your brand in the minds of the people who already work with you and those who you are contacting for the first time. The signature is evident, and it’s always sending a message about your brand and your business. What’s great about it is that creating one for your staff also ensures that your brand is consistent across the board. Everyone is saying the same thing and the design properties are the same for everyone. I used to work at an organization that used to announce our new signatures every month and make sure we (employees) all installed them. They understood the important of this tool. However, I’ve seen cases where I get emails with varying email signatures with questionable fonts (like Comic Sans…I cringe at the use of this font in any business).

2. Makes It Easy to Contact You

The second thing about an email signature is the convenience factor. Most of us aren’t pinned to a desk, and even if we are, the email address is what you normally pull out when you need to call someone. Most of us unintentionally make getting in touch with us a game of hide-and-seek without even realizing it. But the reality is that people wanting to connect with us have to dig through their existing stacks of business cards or through their contact lists on their phones to do so. We’re making doing business with us hard for no reason. An email signature solves that problem. Now, no one has to go digging and can just refer to the last email we sent them and call us directly.

3. It’s 24/7 Promotion

The third thing about an email signature is that it does your promotion work for you. Think about it: by adding a signature to your email correspondences, you create a tool whereby people can get to know you in your absence. It’s a form of promotion that’s active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Suppose it’s 7 p.m., and my phone buzzes with an email from a new contact with an offer to work together, say, another entrepreneur. I may not be able to reply to the email right away, but I also might click on the email signature’s link to the sender’s website. I may ask “Who is this person” or “What’s he about?” If I’ve already visited their page, I may notice something new that I’ve never seen before. I’ll get to know them better that way. The same goes for sending out emails to prospective clients with our own HTML signature on it. Even if they don’t reply the very moment they receive an email from us, they can visit our website (or any social media channel) and get to know who we are and give us a call when they are free to speak. I’ve had prospective clients say that they chose to hire Karrots Inc. just based on what they read or saw on social media about us after we emailed them and they clicked on our links. There is no denying the power of this very simple tool.

In 2015, if you’re including a great email signature without links to your website and social media pages, you’re potentially losing a lot of new business opportunities. It’s like handing out a business card without any contact information on it. So don’t miss out on potential opportunities and create your professional HTML signature as soon as possible. You won’t regret it.

Karrots Email Signature