4 of BIGEYE’s most creative minds spill favorite design advice

We’re about to let you in on a BIGEYE exclusive. Four of our Orlando marketing agency’s most creative minds dish on their favorite design advice. Whether you’re a designer, a business owner, or a production specialist, their advice speaks to the challenges we all face in our fast-paced, marketing-driven world. So sit back, relax, and soak in the good stuff.

Seth Segura, Creative Director: Solve the right problems.

Our Creative Director Seth brings a lot – and we mean a lot – to the table. His experience ranges from copywriting and design, to thought leadership and brand strategy. But at the end of the day, he always leads with results-first, which is why his favorite design advice hinges on solving customer or business problems. As a designer, it’s always tempting to lean into what is aesthetically pleasing; but as a creative marketer, you need to think about what problems you’re solving for your customers through design. When you look at a print ad or a web page: yes, it should absolutely look visually pleasing. Color balance, line, and composition are always king (unless you’re talking to the content folks on our digital team). But, your design must also enable customers to experience a new emotion or help them accomplish a specific task. For this reason, designers who specialize in user experience (UX) creation and page layout are some of the most highly sought-after talent in the marketplace. In addition to having a strong creative eye, these types of designers are trained to think about how customers will interact with their work. For them, that webpage button isn’t just red because it looks good … It’s red because it draws the customer’s eye to your business call to action and signals how they can complete a task. Fashion, meet function.

Rhett Withey, Lead Designer: Be up for the challenge.

Rhett has amazing intuition about what creative elements will work, and which will fall flat. In addition to having a natural sense of design principles, part of his success stems from tackling challenges head on. When thinking about his favorite design advice, he knows that chasing new design trends and emerging media every time something new comes out can turn a designer into a jack of all trades and a master of none; but that getting stuck in a rut, or resting on your portfolio’s laurels isn’t enough to stay on cutting edge of the design world. Rhett balances his own deep expertise against stretch goals and challenges that cultivate his leadership and design skills. To do this in your role, spend at least 15% of your time experimenting with new design media, raise your hand to lead a challenging new project, add research spikes into your work flow, take a class to explore new techniques, or partner with other creatives on your team. There are literally hundreds of ways to polish your skill set without compromising your current projects once you commit to doing it. While it’s always tempting to stick with the status quo, taking on new challenges fine-tunes your intuition and will make your work even sharper.

Dani Alfonso, Designer: Value your work.

One of the best pieces of design advice we can offer is to be passionate about and value your own work. Dani’s passion for her work shines through in both her professional output and in all areas of her life. Whether she’s traveling, enjoying time with her miniature schnauzer, working at her desk, collaborating with our team, or finding inspiration in the world around her, Dani lives with earnest passion that embraces creativity around her. And that is critical when designing for a living. As Chris Spooner, design blogger and theorist once said, “the clients aren’t always right. It’s okay to disagree with their demands if you can back up your own opinions with professional theory.” There will be times, as a designer, you will need to throw away work that you love, or defend work your clients hate. The trick is recognizing those situations when they arise and handling them with grace and confidence. Designers are one part creative expert and one part translator, charged with interpreting their clients’ business needs against the background noise of opinions, deadlines, and resource constraints to create something beautiful and functional. To do this, a designer needs to be confident in their knowledge and skills — and not afraid to share them.

Matt Hutchens, Video Producer: Manage the madness. 

As a video producer, Matt needs to manage crew members, wrangle environmental factors like lighting and weather, anticipate unexpected snafus, capture the perfect angle, balance timing, and weave together tone and messaging … to just name a few. It makes sense that his design advice is about having a design process that inspires creativity and ensures quality work. To help manage the madness that inevitably arises as business needs change and situations evolve, have a design “Q&A checklist” that covers the basic checks and balances necessary before signing off on a project such as spacing, spelling, contrast, and color in line with your brand guidelines. Designers often bear the brunt of the creative burden, so don’t be afraid to consider time savers such as collaborating, outsourcing, or finding good ways to use stock photography or video (when appropriate). Strategic time saving techniques free you up to do your best, most inspired work. Put some space around your creative process so your ideas stay fresh and your focus on point. Whether that means creating a design den for your creative team or letting people work from home once a week, figure out what your business needs to thrive and don’t be afraid to do something unconventional to enable your most talented minds.

Still want more from our star-studded team? Check out examples of their work here, or give us a call to discuss how we can add a little inspiration to your creative process. We are always eager to share design advice with our customers, but would love to hear what works for your team as well. Shoot us a message or share a comment on how your design team works best. Two heads are more creative than one!

It’s all Roman to me: Understanding CPM campaigns

CPM stands for “cost per thousand.” As in Roman numeral M. And if that sounds like Roman – we mean Greek – to you, you’re not alone. CPM advertising leverages the desire brands have to be seen. In advertising, media vendors charge brands based on every 1,000 impressions, or views, of a given advertisement. For example, a media vendor may charge $50 cost per thousand. Translation: that’s $50 for every 1,000 times your ad appears on a variety of websites, blogs, and digital news sources. But, just when you think you’re becoming fluent in digital ads, a vendor may charge $300 for that same cost per thousand. And you thought all roads led to Rome.
The trick to understanding CPM units is realizing they are priced based on a variety of somewhat ubiquitous factors, including how often viewers tend to click ads, how narrow your ad audience is (i.e., did you choose the “spray and pray” model or hone in on blogs your target market engages with), or the ad placement itself. Even the ebb and flow of your own brand popularity may play a part in your vendor’s media pricing. To help you navigate your strategy, we’ve created a cheat sheet of all the basic information you need to know before launching any digital spend.

BATTLE ROYALE: CPM vs. CPC CAMPAIGNS:

Before we go any further, let’s get one common point of confusion out of the way. CPM is not the same as CPC. CPC stands for “cost per click.” In other words, this represents the actual price you pay each time someone clicks your digital ad and has no bearing whatsoever on CPM exposure. While these two terms may seem similar, they are as different as the Greeks and Romans. When launching digital advertisements, you can choose either a CPM strategy, or a CPC strategy. Not both. On average, CPM units tend to be cheaper than CPC units. For example: $50 CPM vs. $1.05 CPC, which would be $1050 per thousand. The reason is because even though your ad may appear on a page one thousand times, that doesn’t mean every viewer sees, notices, or interacts with your advertisement. In this way, a click is more valuable because it represents higher intention and a more engaged user. Sometimes. The distinction comes from knowing the goal of your media spend. If you simply want brand exposure, CPM may be the perfect, most cost-effective strategy for your organization. If you’re using digital advertisements to close a revenue gap, CPC may be more effective in getting you to your bottom line.

SO WHY CHOOSE CPM CAMPAIGNS:

We love CPM campaigns to help build broad exposure, increase loyalty, or generate interest and excitement. CPM campaigns are great for established brands hoping to keep their products at top of mind and new brands looking to grow their customer base. They are great for all industries and all types of products. Generally, we recommend ads as a complement to any comprehensive end-to-end brand campaign that touches social media, web, and maybe even traditional media such as print or television. What makes CPM campaigns so effective is that you can get hyper-granular about where your ads appear. If you’ve launched a new children’s clothing line, you can feature your ad exclusively on parenting sites and mommy bloggers. If you are a financial advisor, you can introduce your firm on trade sites, bank homepages, and the financial section of the news. Unlike print ads and billboards, you know exactly who is seeing your ads and whether it is aligned with their needs.

HOW TO START YOUR NEXT CPM CAMPAIGN:

We’re excited for you to get started on your next campaign too, which is why our creative team at your local Orlando marketing agency is on call to help you kickstart the work. As you look forward to launching a CPM campaign, make sure you set clear, measurable goals, choose your audience carefully, and time your campaign spend around your natural sales cycle. And remember, your local marketing agency always maintains tight relationships with regional and national media vendors so, when in doubt, call in the experts. We can help you do everything from negotiating fair pricing, to translating marketing jargon, and everything in between.

 

CPM campaigns are the cornerstone of digital advertising; so don’t let confusing terms or uncertainty deter you from taking part in this powerful tool. Click here for more ideas and successful campaign examples.

Use your digital media waste for your market research

The rise (err, fall) of media waste strikes fear into the hearts of most digital marketers. You know the scene: launch day is finally here. Your team created a new advertising campaign, complete with digital banners, a new landing page, blog posts, and an ad spend to prove it. And then, just two weeks later, your analysts tell you that online conversion has dropped, your prospects aren’t signing up via your lead gen funnel, and you’re getting a low click rate on your ads. Cue: panic mode.
Many people make the mistake of looking at media waste as … well … waste; but our team takes at different approach. Leave it to our data-obsessed team of Orlando marketing agency experts to put a new spin on an old problem. The reality is, you can’t avoid all media waste. As multi-device users surf and shop between their mobile phones, tablets, and desktops, some degree of media waste will occur naturally as the wrong customers are retargeted or even targeted in the first place. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to use that data to your advantage. Media waste is a phenomenal source of market research (without spending an additional dime than you planned to spend anyway).

Here are three tips to turn media waste into solid gold data insights:

1. TEST EVERYTHING TO TURN MEDIA WASTE INTO MARKET RESEARCH:

First, by launching any major campaign as an A/B test (either against legacy work that has succeeded in the past, or going live with multiple versions of your proposed work), you completely reduce media waste, while simultaneously reducing risk to your business. Yes, we just said that you could completely reduce media waste. Bear with us. No, that doesn’t mean that every test will be a winner, or that some campaigns won’t fail; but it does mean that you’ll gain insights into what KPIs are impacted which can, in turn, help you answer the pivotal “why.” Comparing one campaign to another helps you refine future creative direction and slowly build an understanding of how your market is behaving.

2. USE MEDIA WASTE TO FAIL FAST AND LEARN BIG:

Sometimes, knowing what doesn’t work is as important as what does work. Even if you don’t have a full-blown testing team, you can use media waste to gain critical insights into what your customers don’t like. Eliminating media waste isn’t about eliminating failure; it’s about shifting your team’s perspective on what you do when you fail. It’s okay to fail fast so you can learn quickly and pivot boldly. If your team is never failing, you’re probably not taking big enough marketing swings to really shake up the business and inspire new trends in your team’s work. Our team believes that failing is just as important as succeeding provided you do it in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your bottom line, which is why we recommend testing or limited launch exposure as you roll out big ideas. Go ahead, launch that crazy campaign idea. If it works: congratulations! If it doesn’t: don’t retire that campaign into a media waste graveyard, instead, mine it for key customer insights to inform your next strategy. 

3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO APPLY DIRECTIONAL LEARNINGS:

Many marketers hesitate when mining media waste for market research because the volume may be low or insights may be murky. We like to call these “directional learnings.” Media waste may not provide conclusive market research, but it does provide granular insight into your audience. Tease out these ideas and then test them to validate your hypotheses. Even simple user testing or a social media survey can add a few more data points to your research base. It may take a little longer to confirm your data than purchasing market research, but it is a lot cheaper and leverages work (and spending) that would be thrown away otherwise.

We’re so proud of the insights, and subsequent business wins, that have come out of our own missed campaigns that we’d be happy to share how our team has used media waste to drive learnings, or help you refine your past waste for future success. Shoot us a line and we’ll help you turn even the smallest failures into highly customized consumer insights.

5 quick trends CPG brands must embrace to win with millennials

If you aren’t sick of hearing about why you need to invest in millennials yet, you probably haven’t been paying close enough attention to their forecasted purchasing potential. Millennials are a unique generation with an emerging purchasing power unlike any generation we’ve seen to date. Their eclectic spending habits make them highly desirable and somewhat elusive. Often cited as “penny wise and dollar foolish,” CPG brands sometimes have a hard time breaking through the clutter to connect with these brand-loyal consumers.
If your brand happens to be lucky enough to resonate with millennials already, you know how fiercely loyal they can be. If you’re a new market entrant or emerging company, however, catching millennials’ attention (and keeping it long enough to make a sale) can be a hurdle. Don’t waste another minute. These five quick and easy marketing trends will help you win with millennials and score for years to come.

1. Don’t try to win with price:

Go ahead, throw out the coveted “Marketing Four P’s” you learned in B-School. As a consumer packaged goods brand, you’re never going to win through price with millennials. Unless you happen to be at the very bottom end of the pricing scale, your best bet is to distinguish yourself by adding unique value or meaning to your products. Millennials will shop for a bargain on goods and sundry items, such as CPGs, but often make an exception for brands that go above and beyond their expectations. Additionally, millennials are one of the least likely demographics to switch brands once they have found a product they like, even when that brand is out priced by competition. Colgate discovered that they could actually increase their prices above competition because millennials were so connected with their unique lifestyle messaging that other toothpaste labels simply didn’t stand a chance. And of course, prices are always going to fluctuate, which is why it’s smarter to invest in what makes your product special.

2. Do something that matters:

Never think of your brand as “just another CPG.” Even the most mundane products can appeal to millennials when they connect with something larger than the product itself. Millennials often invest in products that are aligned with global issues or lifestyle causes they believe in. For example, the (RED) HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, which often lends its stamp of approval to CPG products willing to donate a portion of their profits to the cause, has generated wild success for everything from personal speakers, to food products, and clothing brands simply because it augments the product within the global community. 

3. Invest in digital marketing:

If you’re going to attract millennials, you also need to sell your products where and how they want to shop. Although consumer packaged goods were often considered a brick and mortar staple, the emergence of e-commerce giants such as Amazon have changed how millennials shop. Thanks to services like Amazon Pantry and home-grocery store delivery, these savvy shoppers often save time and money by purchasing CPGs online and having them delivered. To ensure your products don’t get overlooked during their next shopping spree, take time to invest in digital ads and social media that will keep your products top of mind and encourage millennials to go out of their way to purchase your items. 

4. Don’t be afraid to buddy up:

CPG brands can supercharge their image with a boost of edginess, allure, or excitement simply by partnering with endorsers or unrelated brands that already enjoy that reputation. For example, when Redbull partnered with the X-Games (a millennial favorite), they immediately shifted their market from overworked corporate travelers, to adrenaline-junkies and adventure seeking “Gen Y-ers.” Even if your CPG can’t generate (or sell) a certain emotion on its own, chances are, partnering with another organization could. Choose wisely when trying to attract millennials, however, to avoid unintentionally negative brand association with elitist or non-environmentally sound partners that will immediately turn off this audience. 

5. Make your packaging an extension of your brand:

If all else fails, learn from a CPG giant: Apple. Ensure your packaging is an extension of your brand values. Whether you want to attract millennials with quality or a certain emotional vibe, your packaging is your first opportunity to communicate who you are. Apple’s clean, high-quality packaging mirrors its products in many ways and is often photographed and shared on social media as an exciting addition to the product experience. Custom packaging may be a little more expensive, but it’s an opportunity no company can afford to waste.

Although there’s no silver bullet to attract or retain millennials, our team of trend forecasters and cutting edge marketers have our fingers on the pulse of the latest tools and tips that win with the millennial market. For more ideas, or a customized millennial-friendly marketing plan contact us here.

Using user generated content: Let your customers do your work

Advertising evolved from informational sales tactics into carefully curated product representations and experiences in the 40’s and 50’s. Marketing executives a la Mad Men’s Don Draper worked with clients to capture their client’s essence and package it into a perfectly polished campaign. Ads could bend the truth in small doses to create a magical version of reality in which Dawn dish soap has the power to transform the average housewife into a beautiful domestic goddess.
Times have changed. Today, customers have wised up to the alluring temptation of this type of advertising. Instead of looking to their favorite magazine for inspiration on what to buy, they ask their friends or surf their favorite bloggers’ websites. As a result, the emergence of review sites, social media, and peer-sharing has boomed. Now, customers have the power to influence a brand’s success simply by telling the truth. We’d like to think Don Draper needs a martini just thinking about that prospect.

Luckily, we know you understand the value of harnessing your customers feedback as part of a healthy marketing mix. User generated content is one of the simple, most effective ways to channel positive customer feedback into advertising potential. As an added bonus, you get to give your creative team a break and have your customers do the work for you. 

STARTING THE REVOLUTION: A FEW EXAMPLES OF USER GENERATED CONTENT:

Almost every industry can leverage user generated content. Beer producer Miller Lite had customers take short videos of themselves enjoying a beer and Tweet about the experience online. Miller the promoted the winning Tweets as commercials for their product. In addition to increasing their social engagement and reach, the user generated commercial campaigns also invited customers to be authentic, share their stories, and encourage other people like them do the same. Birds of a feather do, indeed, flock together. As consumers saw other individuals like them enjoying a Miller, they realized their own summer wouldn’t be complete without a six pack of this refreshing, light beer.

Avantgarde hospitality brand The Standard Spa and Hotels took a similar approach. Over the Fourth of July, they asked customers to celebrate freedom and love by taking a video of themselves and their significant other kissing. The hotel Instagrammed user stories showing same-sex, multi-racial, and even just your “regular old” couples spreading the love. This campaign clearly expressed the hotel chain’s values, served as an invitation for guests to take part in their belief system, and – you guessed it – share their own stories.

GIVE ME THE BOTTOM LINE, WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS:

In addition to their great entertainment value, this user generated content is highly effective for your business.

  • Increased engagement:

    One of the main benefits of using user-generated content is that it’s highly engaging. Potential customers flock to your website or social media accounts to interact with user-centric campaigns, post their own content, and like other user content they find. This means more people are spending more time on your site or social media accounts learning about and interacting with your brand. And you didn’t have to do a thing.

  • Viral potential:

    Even more enticing is the possibility that some of this content could go viral. As customers engage with other user generated content, they may be inclined to share what they find (or share their own content). There are hundreds of thousands of creative people out there. It only takes one really incredible iPhone video to transform your brand into the next YouTube craze. And more exposure means more sales. 

  • Low cost, high impact:

    User-generated content also costs nearly nothing to produce. Once you think of a campaign that users would want to participate in, you simply have to promote that opportunity and your followers will do the rest. When timed alongside a holiday or dip in your sales cycle, the added bump of exposure can have a great impact on your sales.

  • Authenticity at its finest:

    The best part is, your customers don’t have to take your word about your product. They can do what they do best: listen to their friends. Using user generated content lends an air of authenticity to any claims you make about your brand. It’s one thing for you to think your product is great, but it means a lot more when someone else does. Take advantage of that simple fact.

To kick off a campaign using user generated content, you simply need an idea and an entry point for customers to participate. We have plenty of ideas to get you started, or would love to hear what you have been successful with in the past. Share your thoughts here or reach out to one of our social specialists for ideas.

4 unconventional, creative ways to perform market research

Customer insights are solid gold. They unlock the door to commercial innovation, help you understand the latent needs of your target audience, and spark ideas for future products. It would be hard for any marketer to dispute the value of market research. What we are going to dispute is the misconception that market research has to be expensive.
If you have the budget for it, there is nothing wrong with investing in big data, qualitative customer insights interviews, market reports, and high-powered consultants. All of these tools are very effective at gathering and aggregating customer insights. When an advertising agency harnesses these insights to a creative campaign, they can have a huge impact.

But those aren’t the only ways to perform market research. Entrepreneurs, small- and medium-sized business owners, scrappy startups, and even frugal corporate heavyweights have plenty of options to collect remarkably accurate market research using lean methodology that does more with less. These four unconventional and creative ways to perform market research are as inexpensive as they are efficient. The best part is, they also yield near immediate results so you can go to market faster.

Social media for market research:

Social media isn’t usually considered a market research tool, but don’t let that fool you. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, are mini focus groups that allow you to read (and respond to) customer comments, giving you a real-time view into the cause-and-effects that actually influence customer behavior. You can also introduce questions about possible new features or products into your forum, share surveys and polls, and even reach out to customers for one-on-one feedback about their experience. All for free.

Because many websites also use social media to enable single sign on customer login, social platforms have a wealth of data about where else your customers are shopping and socializing. While you may not be able to see the full picture or harness the full depth of that information without partnering (or paying) those platforms directly, you can conduct your own qualitative research by looking at what your top users and social advocates are doing online. We know it may sound a little old fashioned or labor intensive, so partnering with a digital marketing agency can make your life easier … but go ahead and do a little Facebook stalking, see what you can learn, and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to learn more from time to time.

Research lifestreaming:

If you want to enjoy similar benefits but take some of the legwork out of trolling social media sites for nuggets of information, research firm Harris Interactive’s new platform built for the modern digital marketing agency, Research Lifestreaming, may be just the tool you were looking for. This tool offers a unique view into both your customers’ social media activity and more direct customer feedback. Customers opt in by linking their social media sites to the Research Lifestreaming platform and then participating in surveys, polls, and discussions regarding various experiences and products. Customers are rewarded for their insights with monetary gift certificates or merchandise.

The tool provides a much more holistic picture into the market’s behavior and how social actions correspond to real actions. Because users also choose to participate in the Research Lifestreaming platform, you don’t need to worry about being perceived as pushy or soliciting unwelcome information. The downside is that you can’t completely control the users you get to interact with. Although these individuals are all willing to share information, you aren’t receiving information from customers who had a bad experience or those who may be less inclined to share. In reality, you aren’t receiving customer information at all. There’s no guarantee that participating in Research Lifestreaming is representative of your customer segment. That said, because users choose how and where to participate on the platform, it’s safe to assume that respondents are self-selecting into experiences they would engage with in the wild and your digital marketing agency can help interpret results into actionable strategy. In this way, Research Lifestreaming provides exceptional directional insight into customer behavior and broad market temperature.

User testing:

If you crave more granular information, consider using simple user testing software such as usertesting.com. This is one of our favorite customer research tools to gain insight into task completion and user experience functionality. Your content marketing agency can help you prepare product prototypes, show customers your actual homepage, or ask them to imagine themselves in a situation and complete a task such as purchasing a product or searching for information. Each testing session is recorded, so you’ll be able to watch (and listen to users comment on) their experience every step of the way.

User testing provides a very narrow, but accurate view into market behavior. This can be invaluable when preparing for a product launch or revamping your online presence. Like Research Lifestreaming, you are somewhat limited by who signs up to participate on usertesting.com. It’s important to remember that while lean market research doesn’t give you an infallible look at customer behavior, it’s often faster and easier to collect. Responses from user testing are usually available within hours, rather than months (as is the case with traditional market research). With these tools, you can supercharge your testing and iteration process to meet your customers’ needs faster.

Site surveys:

And don’t forget about adding a customer survey to your homepage. You can ask simple questions like why they came to your site, or more broad questions like what they like or dislike your brand. Give them the option to respond with simple yes/no or radio button answers, or add their own verbatims. Survey creation software such as Qualaroo is easy to implement with a few clicks of a button, so everyone from a seasoned digital marketing agency to the most non-tech savvy companies can take advantage of this tool.
No matter how you choose to collect market research, the most important element is that you are connecting and engaging with your customers. How you do it – is just the details.