Category Archives: Marketing

Quiz Me!


Clever schoolmatesThe first goal of your company’s marketing and online presence is to create customer interaction.  You may want to make sales, get subscribers, and create email lists along the way, but that can only happen once you first convince someone to interact with you and your brand.

Interactions can be achieved through calls to action, asking your customer to go to your store, enter their email address, download your brochure, or pick up that phone.

But there are levels of calls to action, certainly entering an email address or downloading a product guide from your website are smaller demands than physical actions such as going to a store or dialing the phone.  It is often better to start with a smaller request, to ease someone in.

One online request that consumers find difficult to resist is the online quiz.  There is a reason Buzzfeed is incredibly popular, and no, it’s not because of their cutting-edge news coverage.  It’s because their many fun lists and quizzes draw you in until you are addicted.  Which Disney villain are you?  I’m Jafar.

People love being the star of their own story, so make it about them!  Quizzes don’t have to be about Disney characters – for a consultant agency try “What kind of leadership style do you have?  For a bookstore “Which Steven King protagonist are you?”  Or even “How does your manufacturing style compare?” Quizzes can be fun or informative but either way,  people are actively engaging in your site, enjoying a brand-related positive experience, receiving subtle marketing, and possibly feeding you personal information.

Don’t forget to end the quiz by asking for their email address or another stronger call to action.

Getting Started with Social Media Advertising

young french artist with mobile phone


If you are considering dipping your toe into online advertising, social media ads are the perfect place to start – they are relatively inexpensive, easy to set up, and effective.

Most social media ad platforms rely on a PPC model.  PPC means Pay Per Click, essentially, you don’t pay for to display your ad, instead you pay a certain cost every time someone clicks on your ad.  You can set up a budget for your ad, decide, for example, that you want to spend no more than ten dollars a day over the course of ten days.

But how much does every click cost?  It varies – a lot.  A click can cost anywhere from $ 0.02 up to over $2.  Different platforms have different targeting options.

For some social media networks like Facebook the cost is dependent on your targeted demographic audience.  These platforms allow you to pick characteristics of the audience you would like to be viewing the ad–it is extremely customizable.  If you want your ad to appear in front of 50 – 60 year-old women in the Chattanooga, TN region who are interested in knitting, that cost per click will be different than having your ad appear before 18-30 year-old men in the Atlanta area who are interested in sports.  Usually, the more companies competing to advertise to the same target audience, the more expensive it is. (Bonus tip: if this process seems overwhelming try using Facebook’s lookalike audience feature which allows you to target Facebook users that have profiles similar to the profiles of people who already like you Facebook page).

For platforms like Twitter that don’t have as much user information, you can target based off of search terms or hashtag uses.  You may want to advertise your new club to someone who uses the hashtag #singlelife which may or may not be more expensive than advertising your comic book store to someone who uses the hashtag #nerdsforlife.

Once you have played around with different audiences and budgets, you will be ready to create an ad!  Feel free to get creative with your own photos and slogans, but if you need professional help to design your ad or even set it up, Collective Design Works can help with that!


What’s in a word?


People hate the color brown – studies show they think it is boring, ugly, and reminiscent of dirt.  One color that people do like is mocha. They appreciate its warmth and earthiness. Even when shown the exact same color, people prefer the color labeled as mocha over the one labeled as brown.

While we all like to think of ourselves as modern, logical thinkers who are immune to the charms of marketing, the reality is that we are all heavily influenced by subconscious emotional connections. Mocha is not a word, it is an experience – the warmth and contentment of a hot and chocolaty drink on a cold morning.

Your company has a limited amount of space on its website and brochures, and only a limited amount of engagement from your reader. Instead of wasting precious seconds of interaction on overly long and detailed descriptions of products and services, use short and evocative copy that taps into their subconscious. Let your future clients make their decision to work with you based on their emotions and they will proceed with confidence rather than waffling over lists of features that may or may not matter to them.

Sooo, What Exactly is a Landing Page?


You’ve heard the term, you’ve nodded knowingly about them in conversations, but what exactly are landing pages?

A landing page is a website page meant to target a specific audience and obtain their information.  A landing page might be used as a target for people who find your website through an email campaign, an ad, or through specific targeted keywords.

Sending all traffic from many different sources to your generic home page means you are missing a powerful opportunity for your website and your business.

A landing page calls for action catered to your specified audience – it asks for contact information, provides a newsletter sign up, or whatever you want this specific type of visitor to do.  Often an interested person who lands on a website homepage instead of a landing page will get lost, explore the website a little and then leave because no direct action is requested of them once they arrive.

An effective landing page takes immediate advantage of your visitors’ interest.  It has limited navigation, making it less likely that they will move on other internal pages. It is short and to the point as not to bore them, and it offers immediate action.  It also delivers value.  With understanding of what is compelling for you audience, your landing page should provide a valuable offer in exchange for their contact information, whether that is a discount, information, or access.

Plan ahead, what call to action and offer would be effective for your audience?  Is there a strong visual element you can include that will complement the specific call to action? What title should you use that will include the most effective keywords?  Once you can answer these questions, you are ready to create your own revenue-driving landing page for your own business.


goldfish-537832_1920Attention spans are declining, supposedly the average American attention span now sits at a whopping 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. Goldfish ring in at 9 seconds.  Thus the rise of TL;DR.  Too Long; Didn’t Read.  Not even willing to write out “Too Long; Didn’t Read.”

You can either weep for the inevitable decline of society, or you can move on with the times.  Because, really, it’s not all bad news – research shows that the decline in human attention spans is simply responsive adaptation to new environments.

Furthermore, while we have definitely decreased in sustained concentration (focusing on a single task for a long time), we have improved in task switching (switching between tasks while still maintaining concentration) and selective attention (avoiding distractions).

Take a moment to evaluate your marketing content. Look at your brochures, social media posts, your flyers, your website content, blog posts, ad copy, and product descriptions.  Nothing should approach essay length.  If you do have longer copy, a person should be able to get the gist of what is going on in 15 seconds or less (at a maximum).  Break up whatever you can into small attention grabbing sections.  Be brief.  You may find yourself getting more results with less content.

6 Ways to Establish Trust as a New eCommerce Retailer


  1. Flaunt your Compliments

When customers rave about your business, flaunt it!  Posting gushing reviews on your website helps future customers feel more secure.

  1. Activate Your Social Game

Yes you have a Facebook and maybe even an Instagram account, but a post every six months is not enough.  Regular posting of new products, insider content, chatting up confused customers, are all part of the necessary social media game.

  1. FAQ

Answer questions before they are asked! Show customers that you are always one step ahead of tem and think of every possible scenario a buyer could go through.  Create a FAQ page and utilize thorough product descriptions.  Offer clear policies on shipping and returning items.  Customers who have a positive and easy return experience are actually more likely to shop with you again.

  1. Introduce Yourself

It is easier for customers to trust a business with a face, so introduce yourself and your brand.  Spotlight the people working behind the computers and you will create a sense of human connection.

  1. Connect

Make yourself available so your customers can connect with you.  Be available and responsive with email, phone, social media, and online forms.

  1. Compete

If you are willing to put your brand out there in direct competition, consider offering a comparison chart.  You can set up a comparison table breaking down what your products offer and what your competitors offer.  This shows strong confidence in your product.

Pantone Café: Taste the Color


When nutritionist recommend eating colorful foods, this may not be what they are thinking.  From July 14th to September 9th you will be able to eat Pantone-hue colored foods at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.

Founded in 1963, Pantone became the most innovative system of coding exact color hues in the graphic design and printing world. Since then, Pantone has collaborated with makeup brands, fashion houses, technology companies, and many other industries.    Now they have moved on to their latest adventure – food.

The Pantone Café serves eclairs, ice cream, coffee, ice cream, all tinted with precise shades of pantone colors.  Don’t worry, only high-quality all natural ingredients are used to obtain these colors, the food is does not contain artificial dyes.

Check out the Pantone Café website or follow them on Instagram to get regular pictures of their colorful treats!



Best Practices of Promotional Items


Promotional items are surprisingly effective marketing tools. But, you still want the best bang for your buck.

  • The first rule of promotional items is cheaper is not always better. You have already committed to spending money, spend it well. Your goal is to have your product in use long-term to serve as a continual advertisement for your brand. A cheap product (often the cheapest pen, water bottle, or Kozie money can buy) often goes straight into the trash, sometimes it doesn’t even make it to the recipient’s home.
  • If possible, give promotional items your targeted audience will use in the environment where they will be when making decisions about your services. If you are selling lawn care, a water bottle or Frisbee could be an excellent choice.  If your business is targeting executives, you might prefer to hand out office items or golf gear.
  • Differentiate yourself! Ever been to a conference where three separate booths were handing out the exact same pens in different colors?  So have we.   Make a choice to stand out. Go with a high quality item, a clever marketing slogan, or an unusual item that will draw attention.
  • You can never go wrong with a quality re-usable bag.

The Power of Promotion

Promo Items Pic CroppedPromotional products are powerful.  They are some of the most cost-effective advertisement available, they are tangible, useful, and you can perfectly target who receives them.  But they are more than that too.

Psychologically, promotional products play directly into ages old cultural norms.  Essentially, humans rely on the idea of reciprocity, if someone gives you something, you feel a certain sense of personal responsibility to them, you owe them something.

Non-profits play off of this all of the time.  One charity reports that when it sends donation request letters, they get about an 18% response rate, when they add 8 cent personalized address labels, their response rate shoots up to 35%.  People feel guilty over using the address labels without sending something in return.

Data continuously backs up the psychology, people who use promotional products are likely to be return customers, all while their use advertises your services.

Check out these pretty impressive facts:

  • Eight in 10 consumers own between one and 10 promotional products.
  • 53% of these people use a promotional product at least once a week.
  • 81% keep products because they’re useful
  • Before receiving a promotional product, 55% of people had done business with the advertiser. After receiving a promotional product, 85% of people did business with the advertiser.
  • 59% have a more favorable impression of the advertiser after receiving a product.
  • Bags generate more impressions than any other promotional product in the U.S.
  • 48% of consumers would like to receive promotional products more often.
  • 89% of consumers can recall the advertiser of a promotional product they’d received in the last two years.
  • 91% of consumers have at least one promotional product in their kitchen and 74% have at least one in their workspace.
  • Women are more likely to have bags, writing instruments and calendars, whereas men are more likely to own shirts and caps.
  • 57% of people were able to recall the advertiser on a mug, versus 32% of radio and 28% of television.

Contact Collective Design Works at (423) 591-8656 or at to inquire about promotional products for your business.

Are QR codes still a thing?

hands-1167612_1920In 2010 you may have downloaded a QR code reader to your smart phone and determinedly read codes on mailers, coffee shop flyers, and any place you could find one. But was 2010 also the last time you bothered to scan one?

Still, QR codes are more prevalent than ever, even appearing on fast food wrappers, offering direct links to nutritional guides.   The question remains, is anyone actually using them?

Developed in 1994, QR codes began as specialty barcodes for Japanese car manufacturers.  By the early 2010’s they filtered into marketing and everyday life as an easy way to link from the real world to online – long urls, videos, even interactive games.

Today, marketers love to use QR codes, and the vast majority rank QR codes as “very effective” or “effective.” Yet a 2013 study found that only 21% of American smartphone users have EVER scanned a QR code.  So, what does this mean?  Not many people use QR codes, but there is a reason marketers love them – it is really effective for those who do use them, and the majority of marketers feel that the level of engagement is worth the effort.

The majority of those who regularly use QR codes are either tech-obsessed or young adults in the 22-35 age range. Our advice – if neither of these groups are in your primary target audience, don’t ever bother.  If they are, consider trying some simple A/B testing with your next direct mail piece – one piece with a url to a landing page, and one piece with a QR code linking to a separate landing page, and then watch your analytics to see what happens!

If you do choose to experiment with QR codes, do keep some best practices in mind:

  1. Strategically place the code so the customer can easily see it, recognize it, and have no issues scanning it. (This may seem obvious, but do NOT place it on a TV ad, or even a t-shirt where it is impossible to scan)
  2. Ensure the linked content is mobile optimized as it will only be accessed via mobile devices.
  3. Link to content specifically created for and related to the in-progress marketing campaign, not a generic landing page.
  4. Provide motivation for scanning! Do not place a QR code in a vacuum.  Instead offer a reward – a coupon code, a special recipe, an exclusive video, some form of immediate gratification.

Don’t Let Your New Website Go to Waste

So, you have a new website. Or, maybe you have branched out to a new form of social media, you finally got that Instagram account.  Congratulations! A new digital footprint is an accomplishment worth celebrating. quote

Now, you need to promote it.  Creating something wonderful is not enough, you have to let people know it exists.

Start with an official email blast. Add pictures, graphics, and compelling text and send the email to every contact you have. Do not be afraid of self-promotion, you have the perfect excuse to utilize your contact list!

You can recycle that content to your existing social media channels as well, hit Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn with the same content.  For a website launch, you can actually stretch this process out over a week or more.  Drop teasers along with a countdown over the course of days until you reach “launch day” when you utilize your prepared content.

If you are willing to spend money for promotion, consider Facebook ads.  Facebook ads are less expensive than you think, some campaigns can be created on as little as $5 or $6 a day.  Because Facebook contains demographic information on all of its users, you can really target your ads to the appropriate audience.  Internet users spend approximately 4x more time on Facebook than Google, so if you are interested in dipping your toes into internet advertising, start there.

Visual Social Media Strategy

Social Media NetworkYou post on Facebook, but do you do it well?  While having an active Facebook for your small business is a definite step in the right direction, it is important to ensure you are engaging with quality content.

You should not only be curating a collection of interesting and relevant content, but specifically visual content.  Pictures, infographics and illustrations can all be more powerful than a relevant and engaging article.

Research shows that “90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000x faster than plain text.” And social media and marketing statistics reflect this research – Facebook posts that have photos receive 53% more likes and 104% more comments. Going beyond pictures v. text, ads that are in color get read 42% more frequently than the same ads in black and white.

Your audience voraciously processes visual information, so take the time to ensure that the majority of your social media posts are filled with colorful images. You will reap the reward long-term.

Marketing SHOWDOWN: Print v. Digital Advertising

While an online presence is mandatory in modern marketing, it can be presumptive to assume ONLY an online presence is necessary.  Research from the Temple University Center for Neural Decision making shows that print still wins against Internet marketing in many categories.

In the study, participants were shown a mix of 40 email and postcard ads, and monitored using eye tracking, heart rate, respiration, sweating, and MRIs.  End results showed that postcards were superior to digital ads in 5 out of 9 categories, equivalent in 3, and only lost out in one. The MRI scans found that the postcards triggered the ventral striatum of the brain, the center of desirability and value. On that evidence, Temple researchers concluded that physical ads have a deeper and longer-lasting effect than digital ads on instilling desire for products and services.

  1. Attention – A customer’s focused attention for a sustained period of time on key components of the ad. Winner: Email.
  2. Review Time – the amount of time a customer spends with an ad. Winner: Postcard.
  3. Engagement – the amount of information the customer processes or absorbs from an ad. Winner: Tied.
  4. Stimulation – an emotional reaction to an ad. Winner:  Postcard.
  5. Memory Retrieval Accuracy – accurately remembering the advertising source and content. Winner: Tied.
  6. Memory Speed and Confidence – quickly and confidently remember advertising source and content. Winner: Postcard.
  7. Purchase and Willingness to pay – whether and how much the customer is willing to pay for a product. Winner: Tied.
  8. Desirability – a subconscious desire for the product or service. Winner: Postcard.
  9. Valuation – the subconscious value a participant places on the product or service. Winner: Postcard.

People Don’t Read Your Emails during the Holidays

We really wish they did.  However, data shows that people open emails differently during the holidays than they do over the rest of the year.   And these aren’t just promotional emails, if you are trying to establish a client relationship, schedule a meeting, nurture a professional referral, this change in behavior will still affect you.  Accross the board, from November to January, email open rates vary wildly as do response rates.

The evening before Thanksgiving, email open rates drop 6% and that rate does not return to normal until December 1st. The data shows it is absolutely worth it to wait the one week to send your email.  The week before Christmas surprisingly corresponds with a 6% increase in the average email open rate. People are trying to get everything done before Christmas and are more attentive to their emails, you can use this as an opportunity.  But if you wait too long, there is no going back.  Email open rates decline 91% on Christmas Eve, and 260% on Christmas Day.  The trend continues, last year email rates were still down by over 33% on the Monday and Tuesday after Christmas. Almost 60% fewer emails were opened on New Year’s Eve and 160% fewer were opened on New Year’s day than the average.

If you are trying to engage new contacts, then the New Year, as always, brings new opportunity. Email open and response rates are actually notably higher than average the 4 days after New Year’s Day.  People are returning to work and anxious to catch up on everything and take care of responsibilities.  Take advantage of this renewed vigor!

Speaking to Your Audience

A common mistake in marketing pieces and website design is trying to target everyone – creating copy and even an aesthetic that is meant to impress your customers, your investors, the man on the street, retail employees in Anchorage, Alaska, everyone.  But nothing is appealing to everyone.  Writing and design that manage to be acceptable to everyone can be pretty much summarized as bland.

Instead, when creating a marketing piece it is important to stop and really ask yourself, who is this meant for?  Is it meant to increase your business’ exposure?  Are you selling things and speaking to potential customers?  Attracting potential investors?

If you are not sure, then you need to stop before you spend a significant of time and money on dud marketing.   If you ARE sure who you want to target and you quite clearly want to target all of these people at the same time then you also need to stop and reconsider.  There is no way that the result will be useful and effective.  If you absolutely must appeal to several distinct groups of people then it is time to consider how you can split your efforts, using separate marketing for each group.


The Call to Action: A Copywriting Perspective

So, you need a call to action.  That’s a basic marketing requirement – to convert readers of your website and direct mail materials into actual customers, you must first give them a push and ask them to take specific action that will get them started. Whether you want them to make a call, fill out an a form, sign up for a newsletter, or download something free, you MUST ask people to do that specific action or they never will.

A call to action provides specific direction to your users, brings focus to your marketing, and also measures your marketing’s effectiveness.  There are many ways to approach constructing an effective call to action – here are some great tips to consider as you get started.

  1. Active Language

Use active verbs that clearly tell users what you want them to do – Call, Buy, Register, Subscribe, Watch, Donate, Start, Win, Listen, Learn, and Download are all good ones to start with.

  1. Identify a Problem

Identify a problem that your audience can relate to and position your brand as the solution. Even if you don’t include this in your direct call to action you can use it in close proximity. Remember that a call to action is only as strong as its surrounding copy.

  1. Create a Sense of Urgency

You want your users to act now and not simply decide to consider and then move on – losing connection with a potential customer is not good.  Give them an incentive to act right now. Create a deadline (e.g. Offer expires on March 10th, For a short time only) or offer an incentive (e.g. Donate now and receive a free t-shirt, First ten reservations get 20% off, Like our Facebook page and receive a free e-book).

  1. Address Obstacles

Everyone know the line from the Geico commercials – “15 minutes could save you 15% or more!”  What obviously makes this line work is that it sounds good, it’s easy to remember, and they have repeated it enough that any person who has owned a TV in the last ten years could repeat it to you.  What makes the line great though, is that it not only offers an incentive (save 15%) but it also addresses unspoken obstacles that potential consumers may have.  Plenty of people may want to save 15% but really not want to talk to an insurance agency, expecting incredibly extensive questions, upsells, and an hour of wasted time. In promising a 15 minute phone call they are promising callers a relatively stress free and quick process.

  1. Prioritize Clarity

Use clear and concise language – this is not a time aim for complex language or length or perceived cleverness.  “Visit our website” is a thousand times better than “Point your web browser toward our home page.”  Don’t have three different calls to action that confuse people, if you MUST have more than one, turn to graphics to make the most important visually obvious.

  1. Make it easy for users

Don’t require long steps, make forms as short and straight forward, provide any necessary information.  Make sure to include, phone numbers, website addresses, and maps if you expect customers to go your location.

  1. Simplify

While beautifully crafted Calls to Action have their place, the most effective are often the most simple.  On an e-card website, a simple button that says “Start Creating” is straight forward and let’s your customer know that it is just that easy, no unnecessary signups or paywalls required.

Deconstructing the Decoy Effect

Consumers can often become indecisive when faced with two uneven choices, but it is actually possible to push them into making a decision quickly and more decisively by introducing another choice.

Suppose you offer a set of consumers two choices – Option A which is 50 cookies for $25 (they are super delicious cookies) and Option B which is 100 of the same cookies for $40 dollars.  Option B is an obviously better value per cookie, but Option A is cheaper overall and can fulfill the consumers’ basic need for cookies, although not as well as an additional 50 delicious cookies would.  Faced with an uneven choice like this, consumers will struggle and become indecisive for a period of time, before eventually splitting between two groups.

Now, we add a third choice, Option C.  Option C is $50 for 65 cookies with no difference in the cookies (except for a fancy “premium” label).  Option C affects the consumer decision because now consumers are judging better value of Options A and B on the basis of C.  Now, the same set of consumers will not only decide quicker but divide differently, with far more of them choosing Option B than before.

Conversely, we can add a different third choice, Option D.  Option D is $30 for 40 cookies (same flimsy “premium” label).   Consumers will not prefer this option because it is obviously not as good as Options A and B, however the addition of D switches consumer preference to Option A instead of Option B, making it seem like a better value than before.

While you may not be a cookie salesman, the takeaway from the Decoy Effect can be used in many situations, whether sales or negotiating where you plan to eat tonight.  You can use options to your advantage to entice people to make the decision you want them to make.  If someone is indecisive over multiple versions of a sale or contract, you can introduce a decoy to make your preferred option seem to be the perfect “middle of the road compromise” and will help guide the decision making process.