Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017: The Year In Review

At Shamrock, we’re closing out 2017 in much the same way that we embraced the new year: With humility. In a year where politics dominated the headlines—and divided people—we focused on the things that brought us closer together: Doing good.

We are fortunate at Shamrock to have a strong community involvement effort that is led by passionate people who choose to dedicate their time and effort to helping those in need. The result is a very powerful and humbling experience. During the past 12 months, our team at Shamrock has volunteered, raised funds, championed causes, and donated goods and services for a host of organizations, sending a ripple effect of love and strength throughout our communities and well beyond.

A few of the organizations that we’ve supported in 2017 include The Leukemia-Lymphoma Society, Our Lady of the Wayside, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Hospice of Michigan, Goodwill, Contra Costa Food Bank, Essilor Vision Foundation, as well as local families through our annual giving tree.
For more than 30 years, Shamrock has focused on serving our clients first by providing greater value—and always, we’ve led with generosity. As this year comes to a close and we reevaluate our performance over the past 12 months, this is
an area of our company that definitely over-performed. It’s a success that makes us all proud. 

Our year in pictures features highlights from some of those charitable events and campaigns. Thank you to our clients, vendors and colleagues who helped to make these efforts such a fabulous success: We couldn’t do it without you. 

Wishing you and yours all the best for a happy, healthy 2018!

Tim Connor

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Food packaging trends for 2018

Do you read nutritional food labels? I do. And according to a survey by the Food and Drug Administration, I’m not alone: Half of all adults read the nutrition facts label “always” or “most of the time,” according to the latest FDA Health and Diet Survey.

There is a packaging trend that tracks with that push for more accessible nutritional information: Clean food labeling is among the trends we’ll see in the packaging industry in the year ahead. At Shamrock, we watch those indicators closely, as we create labeling for our clients for use in a host of applications—product labels, specialty packaging, displays and shelf signage, to name a few.   

A recent article by David Roberge of Industrial Packaging outlines the top predictions for food packaging in 2018. Here is a summary:

1. Light and Flexible Packaging
The flexible packaging market is growing across the globe due to the many benefits and flexibility it provides including recyclability and lightweight protection for all types of packaged goods: The lighter the package, the lighter the load, which can significantly reduce freight costs.

2. Clean Labeling and Healthy Foods
More consumers today want to understand ingredients on food labels: Roberge quotes Charles D. Yuska, President and CEO of PMMI, who notes that “37% of U.S. consumers find it important to understand ingredients on food labels while 91% of consumers believe that products with recognizable ingredients are healthier; and the rise in demand for organic food has fueled a more than 10% growth in this sector.”

Here’s a great example of that trend in action: RXBAR, a line of clean-label protein bars made with whole food ingredients—and the fastest growing nutrition bar brand in the United States—boldly lists its ingredients on the front of the packaging. Kellogg recently bought the brand for $600 million, with the deal set to close by the end of this month.

3. Understand Labeling Requirements
In addition to clean labeling, 2018 is the year for the transition to new FDA nutritional labeling regulations for foods. Understanding these requirements is a must. Know the nutritional content for the ingredients in your food product, the serving size, expiration dates and the placement requirements for your package. For more information, click on the link below:

4. Creative Package Designs
With the growing demand for customization as the online sales of consumer goods increases, the need for creative packaging is increasing as well. Using customized shapes for packaging to complement a flavor or product; or introducing a re-usable package are great ways to make a lasting brand impression on consumers.

Think about what packaging elements have left an impression on you—and then consider your brand labeling and packaging and how you can enhance its appeal. Our creative design team at Shamrock is here to provide our input and expertise.

Connect with us today if you’re interested in re-thinking your packaging as we look to the new year.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Setting Goals for Business Success in 2018

I’m a big believer in the power of planning. It’s that time of year again when many of us look back at our progress over the past 12 months, reassess our path, and develop a plan for making the most of the year ahead.

A recent article in Inc. magazine by Aha! CEO Brian de Haaff talks about the use of planning to achieve success in business. Here’s what he says: “Successful people take a methodical approach to setting career goals. It starts with defining what ‘success’ means to them, then building a career roadmap to achieve that vision.”

It all starts with a plan that defines where you want to go. de Haaff suggests that you come up with a career sentence—the overarching vision for your professional life. “Your sentence could be specific, such as ‘Help build software that changes the way people interact with their doctors.’” Or it could be more wide-sweeping, like “Provide world-class customer service.” Once you’ve set your destination, you can focus on the goals that will get you there.

Here are de Haaff’s five steps to setting career goals:
1. Make it real. Making measurable career goals and setting success metrics will help ensure that your career roadmap is realistic. With those benchmarks in place, you can track your progress in a meaningful way.
2. Push yourself. Your career roadmap should be a challenge, not a cakewalk. If your goals don’t make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, then it’s time to set your sights higher. Push yourself in your overall vision and in the tasks that will carry you there.

3. Write it down. Research shows that people who write down their goals are significantly more likely to achieve them. One of the many benefits is that it forces you to think through what you want to achieve in a concrete way. If you have a hard time finding the words to explain your goal in a sentence or two, you probably have not thought it through.

4. Share your plan. Another benefit of writing down your goals is that it makes it easier to share them. Once you’ve told your friends and colleagues about your goals, you will feel a sense of disappointment if you do not follow through. Accountability is a great motivator.

Credit: Getty Images
5. Visualize your success. A common practice of high achievers is visualizing success. Sports psychologists teach elite athletes to picture themselves connecting with the fastball, kicking the field goal, sinking the putt. You can do the same with your long-term career goals and the efforts that will get you there. Use positive visualization to motivate yourself to work harder.

Read the Inc. article by clicking the link below:

Take the first step in driving success in 2018 by creating your career sentence and then setting your goals. After that, it is all about commitment and follow-through. Establishing a set schedule to monitor your progress, whether that’s daily, weekly or monthly, will help get you there.

If you’re looking for someone to share your goals with and hold you accountable, connect with me and I’ll do the same.

Good luck!
Bob DeGarmo 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tips to Maximize Social Media During the Holidays

The holiday season is officially upon us: The ideal time to revisit your year-end social media strategy to make sure you’re taking advantage of every opportunity to make memorable brand connections with your audience. This article (reprinted in its entirety) from MarketingProfs Today is a good read that outlines seven tips for reviewing and recalibrating your social media effort during this most wonderful time of the year: 

Seven Ways to Maximize Social Media This Holiday Season
by Paul Herman  | 
November 21, 2017

It's a familiar feeling—retailers are breaking out the Christmas deals and decorations. It's time for the holidays, and that means busy times are ahead for advertisers and marketers launching new sales and promotions.

But, beyond that, advertisers and retailers have a huge opportunity on social media, with holiday campaigns on Twitter alone generating $6.67 for every $1 spent by advertisers last year.

Being prepared to conquer the holiday rush is a huge advantage, but some brands can easily fall behind before the holiday spirit even hits us. Stay ahead of the competition with the following seven key steps.

1. Define your holiday wish list
The first step for launching any successful ad campaign is to define a set of goals. Every holiday campaign should be built around these two simple questions: What actions do you want your customers/prospects to take, and how will your social strategy help?

Goals can be wide-ranging, from lead generation and driving sales, to boosting brand awareness among a specific target audience. Brands that want to generate leads might launch ads that invite customers to submit their emails in exchange for more content or company information. For the goal of increasing sales on a website, ads can be specially designed to include links to holiday catalogs or special offers.

When such goals are in place, being able to measure success or evaluate a campaign's performance is just as important. Key metrics for marketers looking to improve brand awareness may include social shares, likes, comments, and call-to-action clickthroughs.

Successful brands will set specific, measurable goals for improvement. If a retailer has 100,000 Twitter followers, perhaps its goal might be to increase that number to 120,000 by the end of the holiday season. Regardless of the goal, if it is measurable and clear, it gives the brand something to chase and an ultimate purpose for the campaign.

2. Know the people on your Nice list
Understanding the customer journey is crucial to optimizing a campaign. Brands should create a buyer persona for their key consumer base, outlining who the customers are, what matters to them, where they go to make purchase decisions, and who influences them. Being able to document where they spend their time online, which social channels they use most, and what they're reading or watching on those channels is a huge plus. Finding that crucial information is fairly easy to do, thanks to modern-day marketing tools and resources.

By better understanding an audience, marketers can figure out how to reach them, which is often the biggest hurdle in building a successful campaign. After all, content may be king for the holidays, but context is queen—and they work best in tandem.

3. Listen to your audience (not just sleigh bells)
Social media doesn't exist just to spread a brand message, it's also an important medium for listening. Through social listening, marketers can identify major trends and product keywords in their industries. For instance, knowing those keywords can help marketers identify which social platforms are more popular for a target audience. With that information, they can make smarter decisions about where to spend their money and which products or services to promote on each platform.

Once they have made that decision, retailers can use social to monitor the conversation about its product or services, or one of a competitor's. What are they happy about? What makes them frustrated? What types of things are they looking for? The more a marketer knows about his or her audience, the better and more effective a message will ultimately be.

4. Give the gift of relevance
When you're giving a present, you make sure that gift is a match for the recipient's likes or needs. In social advertising, adding geo-targeting to your campaigns is like that: It makes your ad more likely to be relevant. There are also opportunities to target users by age, gender and interests so that your message reaches the people who want to hear it.

For example, if a marketer is looking to target Facebook users age 18-35 who are interested in fashion, a campaign can easily do just that. Targeting not only provides a way to reach specific audiences but also makes the most out of crucial ad dollars.

5. Be a Secret Santa (but don't be creepy about it)
Shoppers take their time before buying a product and will often browse a bit before taking a break and returning to the website later on. That behavior makes remaining top of mind a huge challenge for brands, and it's where retargeting comes into play.

For example, Best Buy launches ads that ask customers whether they're ready to check out the items in their shopping cart. Even after people have made purchases, Best Buy shows ads with complementary products they might be interested in.

This method can be effective, but also has its limits. Marketers need to make sure messages naturally fit into the content consumers are already reading online.

6. Surprise and delight
Surprise-and-delight tactics are used to nurture a customer relationship through unique experiences that will stay with the customer long after the promotion has ended. These types of tactics are so unique that they're most likely to be shared—and what people share drives what people buy. Today, sharing is the new commerce.

For example, last year, during the holiday season, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines surprised and delighted customers in Amsterdam. Realizing that many holiday travelers spend their transfer time at the airport alone, KLM decided to surprise its customers with a "Bonding Buffet." Travelers sat down on stools around a KLM tower in the airport. Once the stools were filled, a literal buffet of food came down from the top of the tower:

That thoughtful gesture, which drove ample positive attention on social, highlighted the spirit of the holidays and brought travelers together for a uniquely memorable time at the airport.

7. Don't be afraid to start new holiday traditions
In the hectic world of social marketing during the holiday season, brands should not limit themselves to just one type of content. Customers can experience fatigue if they receive similar content from the same source; when the volume of messages rapidly increases during the holidays, that type of fatigue needs to be avoided.

One way to change it up is video ads. Often, videos work as an experiment for marketers, and there is no clear strategy or path to success. When that's the case, A/B-testing different options is a great approach to optimize a campaign based on audience response.

Video advertising on social is still a relatively new tactic, and it gives marketers a lot of creative room to develop out-of-the-box concepts.

Use social to make it a happy holiday season

There is no one way to use social media to grow a brand's holiday presence, but keeping these lucky seven approaches in mind can make all the difference between ending the year on a solid note and missing out on a huge opportunity.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Grow Your Business By Marketing To Existing Customers

Do your marketing efforts focus on new customers—or those loyal to your brand?

The answer should be: both. When you consider that acquiring a new customer is “five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one” (Harvard Business Review), it makes sense to focus on keeping the customers you have, happy.

According to an article in Marketing Land, marketing to existing customers drives business growth: In addition to recommending you to others, satisfied customers positively impact your bottom line in many ways:

  • They are more open to upsell and cross-sell opportunities, increasing their lifetime customer value.
  • They’re less price-sensitive because they know you’re worth it.
  • source:
  • They are more resistant to outreach efforts by competitors.

Given these bottom-line benefits, it’s smart to develop concentrated marketing campaigns that connect with and engage existing customers. But where do you start? Consider these four questions:

Are we delivering on our brand promise?
A brand promise is a contract between you and your customers. It sets the stage for the experience they should expect to have. By evaluating your business objectives and comparing them against the customer experience, you’ll get a clear picture of what your customers are experiencing. Is your internal and external messaging consistent? Are you over-delivering in some areas and lacking in others?

By gathering feedback from these prompts, you can fine-tune your messaging and delivery, bringing what you do and what you say you’ll do into closer alignment, which equates to a better customer experience.

Who are our most satisfied customers?
It’s likely that you have a system in place to gather customer feedback. So, use that to you advantage in strengthening your brand story. Consider using customer testimonials, case studies, guest speakers, etc. to build your brand reputation and help you stand out among competitors.

Do we have a strategy for growing ancillary revenue from happy customers?
Are you meeting your customers’ needs? How can you provide greater value? At Shamrock we use Business Reviews: We crunch the data on orders/products/categories, etc. that provide meaningful views for our clients. Then, we ask for feedback and use the opportunity to share our other products/services to cross sell and upsell. Always, you want those suggestions to be relevant to your customers.

What are our competitors doing?
Understanding the reasons why you win or lose business is an important to keeping customers happy and your company primed for growth.

How does your product or service stack up against the competition? What are they doing that you aren’t? What are your salespeople hearing from customers? Answering these questions will help to shape your view of where you stand in the marketplace and can help identify areas that require greater attention.

To read the entire article, click here.

Focusing creative efforts on customer retention benefits your bottom line. Are there other questions that you use to identify ways to provide a better customer experience? I’d like to hear from you.

All the Best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Three Ways to Boost Customer Engagement

It used to be that the quality of goods or services is what created a happy customer. But that was then. And this is the age of customer engagement: Today, customers want to feel appreciated, engaged and connected with their chosen brands. Consider these new statistics:

  • 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience
  • By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (source: Walker)   
Research is also finding that, even in today’s digital era, customers are seeking more authentic, human-centered interaction—but without constant interruption. This is the challenge that we face as marketers: To connect with our customers in ways that are real and relevant, while providing transparency, in a frequency that keeps them engaged at every touchpoint.

Source: Walker

A recent article from Inc. magazine offers three tips for creating happy customers through customer engagement:

Behavioral Marketing  

One way to increase customer interaction is to understand where your customers have been—and where they’re going—based on their behavior. Behavioral marketing is one of the best ways to find engaged brand users. By basing your marketing strategies on behavior (Where are how are consumers interacting with your brand?), you can improve the quality of your leads and identify previously inaccessible customers.   

Influencers and Thought Leaders

Inc. magazine says, “One of the biggest ways to boost credibility for a brand is by developing partnerships with people who already have the trust and confidence of your audience.” Influencer marketing is gaining popularity. Consider the Nationwide campaign with Peyton Manning and Brad Paisley. Together, these celebrities appeal to a broad audience.

If your company doesn’t have the budget to book high-dollar celebrities, you might consider using thought leaders to push your brand. Gaining endorsements from industry experts or existing clients that are thought leaders in their industry is one option.  The other is to create your own content and market your company as the industry thought leader.

Frequency Illusions

Another way to connect with qualified customers is to engage in frequency illusions. According to Inc. magazine, “The basic principle is that after someone encounters a name or brand, they suddenly begin to see it everywhere. For example, after seeing a commercial for the newest Prius, you start to see them more often when you are on the road. In reality, they were around before, which is why it's an illusion.”

Through tools like retargeting, social media, and influencer marketing, companies can intentionally increase the frequency someone encounters their brand.

To read the entire Inc. magazine article about creating greater customer engagement, click here.

I found this article very insightful. It’s a reminder that any successful marketing effort requires a balanced and integrated approach. What tips do you have for creating engaging connections with your customers? I’m interested in hearing from you.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Your Guide To Volunteering

It feels good to do good. Most of us who donate our time to causes or organizations that are meaningful to us would likely agree: Volunteering allows us to give back, while rewarding ourselves in the process. 

There’s research that supports those feel-good benefits: It’s been found that volunteering improves your health. According to a report by Corporation for National & Community Service: “Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health… those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”

It’s also good for your career: Volunteering can broaden your base of experience and offers an excellent opportunity for networking. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have published articles about how volunteering can help you earn your next job.

At Shamrock, we are fortunate to have a group of very committed people who research and organize volunteer opportunities for our team. As often as possible, we try to volunteer as a group which also allows us to enjoy the camaraderie-building benefits.

If you’re looking for opportunities to plug into your community and respond to a need, we’ve compiled some great resources. Starting with national organizations: These websites offer nationwide campaigns/programming as well as connections to local chapters that offer additional volunteer opportunities.

This user-friendly site allows you to search and sign up for nonprofit volunteer opportunities based on your interests, format (group or individual), location and more. Currently, there are 102,554 active opportunities listed on the site.

The American Red Cross
Whether you’d like to help with disaster relief efforts or be a part of a local campaign like Sound the Alarm, which involves volunteers installing smoke detectors in high-risk neighborhoods, there are many ways to get involved.

Habitat for Humanity
A wonderful opportunity for a team of people to work together to build a new home for a family in need or provide disaster relief building services in communities worldwide.

Humane Society of the United States
Providing administrative assistance, fostering pets, working at shelters or as part of wildlife rescue efforts: There are lots of ways to help with essential animal protection programming.

Below is a sampling of local volunteer resources, based in metropolitan areas where Shamrock has a presence:

Cleveland: Greater Cleveland Food Bank. Provides nutritious meals for those in need throughout the NE Ohio community; outreach for underserved; food pantries.

Walnut Creek/Bay Area: Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation saves dogs and cats who have run out of time at public shelters.

Boston: Rosie’s Place. Safe, dignified temporary housing for women; food pantry, classes.

Chicago: Chicago Cares. Inspires positive change through 200 volunteer events every month

Detroit: Arts & Scraps. Recycles 28 tons of material annually to help 275,000 children in low-income neighborhoods think, create and learn.

Dallas: Promise House. Dedicated to ending youth homelessness; emergency shelter, counseling, education.

Pittsburgh: East End Cooperative Ministry. An interfaith coalition of 46 congregations, parishes, and institutions; minister to the frail, elderly, youth, homeless.

I’m hoping these organizations inspire you to check into an opportunity in your area. If you have a volunteer resource you’d like to share with us that’s not listed, please share on our Facebook page.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

5 DIY Gifts You Can Make in a Blender

With gift-giving season upon us, we’re passing along some great ideas from our customer’s playbook: The following DIY gift blog is from Vitamix. While Shamrock has been working with Vitamix for years, we’re also product devotees (we have a Vitamix in our breakroom), so you can bet we’ll be testing some of these creative recipes soon.

By: Shanna Mallon | 06/03/2016

Why not treat the ones you love to do-it-yourself (DIY) gifts they'll be sure to treasure? You can use your blender to whip up thoughtful, creative presents that cater to the recipient's specific tastes. To help get you inspired, here are five great examples of DIY gifts you can make in your blender:

1. Signature Spice Blends
For the cooks in your life, there are few gifts more thoughtful—or useful—than homemade spice blends. There are endless possibilities, ranging from curry mixes to Italian herb blends, so you can customize them as you like. Gather ingredients, place them in your blender, and pulse them together. When you're happy with the texture of your mixture, pour it into attractive three-ounce glass jars, and consider adding decorative details. Attractive labels are the perfect finishing touch and will help you further personalize your gift.

2. Customized Condiments
Nut butters, ketchup, and other DIY condiments offer all the flavor and enjoyment of your favorite foods—without any of the weird preservatives. Even better, homemade condiments open the door to all kinds of personalized touches. Have a friend who loves cardamom? Make her a cardamom-spiked almond butter. Know that your family member can't get enough heat? Blend up a barbecue sauce with a cayenne kick. Custom condiments make great gifts for people who love to barbecue or entertain. You could even take them to the next party as a host/hostess gift.

3. Spa-Treatment Beauty Products
Give the gift of luxury by creating a custom body scrub, body butter, face mask, or even healing hair mask for someone you love. Your DIY beauty product will show that you took the time to make a homemade gift, and it will provide the recipient with a four-star spa treatment. Enhance each gift by using fragrances and oils that your loved one might enjoy, such as lavender for a busy mom.

4. Homemade Playdough
Natural, simple, and endlessly entertaining, homemade playdough is a wonderful gift. It provides hours of fun, and it's safe to play with because it's totally toxin-free when you use natural dyes. Whether you're making playdough for your kids, grandkids, neighbors, or kids' school friends, you can't go wrong with this entertaining gift.

5. Delectable Desserts
Who can resist a freshly baked treat? When you need gifts for your kids' teachers or your favorite coworkers, you can easily use your blender to make baked goods. Try whipping up gluten-free macaroons or cranberry coconut squares for an upcoming birthday celebration or holiday. Desserts are a crowd-pleasing DIY gift, so consider putting your own creative twist on whatever you make.

The next time you're looking for a thoughtful gift, let your creativity flow and put your blender to work. Consider making one of these five DIY gift ideas to show your loved ones you care. They'll end up with a personal gift that's just as unique as it is useful.

Do you have any gift-worthy treats that you whip up in your blender, or mixer, or crockpot? Please share your ideas with us on Facebook.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Make Print Part of Your Marketing Strategy In 2017

With so much emphasis today on digital marketing, businesses might write off print as a viable channel for making solid brand connections with customers—but new statistics suggest otherwise: According to recent data, the tangible power of print still resonates:

• 92% of 18 to 23-year-olds find it easier to read printed content than digital. (Oxford University Press, 2015)
• The response rate to direct-mail marketing was 37% higher than for email.
(Direct Marketing Association, 2015)
• Consumers trust print ads 34% more than search engine ads for making purchasing decisions.
(Marketing Sherpa, 2016)

Times have changed—and so has our connection with print media: Technology has changed the way that print marketing is consumed. To be effective, print must be used as part of a broader, more inclusive integrated marketing effort. People will have a stronger connection to printed media when a campaign is layered with other channels, including social media, mobile marketing, video and others.

The rule of thumb is that marketing content must be relevant and brand-centered. But it also must be trackable. As marketers we need to collect and track the data that helps us define our message and our delivery so that we can redeploy and create connections—and ongoing dialogue—with our audience. Consider using print ads or direct mail to funnel people back to your digital sites using coupon codes or special offers.

There’s also something to be said for changing things up: With all the clamor surrounding the next big digital innovation, print offers a refreshing changeup. According to “The Household Diary” from the United States Postal Service, the USPS saw a 2% decrease in direct mail in 2016. Yet, there is a 3.9% year-to-year increase in the number if postcards read by consumers. Why not consider seizing the opportunity to stand out from the competition by including direct mail in your next campaign?
click to view

Click below to link to an infographic that shows how print can re-energize your marketing strategy.

As with anything, it’s all about balance: Print will continue to be both essential and relevant—but as part of a comprehensive and measurable marketing program. What are your thoughts? Do you use print as part of your marketing effort? We’re always interested in feedback.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Kill It on Social Media with Video Marketing

The engaging power of video is captivating the social media stage. Live video (Facebook Live) and ephemeral (disappearing) content via Instagram Stories are two trends that are pushing video as an essential element of social media marketing. And with good reason—video makes powerful connections and starts a brand-centered conversation with your customers.

When it comes to quickly and effectively delivering a brand message, there is power in video marketing. According to data from Brightcove, social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined; and video drives 157% increase in organic traffic from search engines.

Why is video important?
At Shamrock, we see video as an absolute essential for helping our clients tell their stories: Video provides instant brand gratification. And regardless of industry or budget, it’s a channel easily incorporated into your marketing program.

Above all, video is the trend in marketing: It is estimated that 80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019. (Cisco)

How can you put video to work for your brand?
Creating original, compelling, relevant content that makes a brand connection with your audience—that’s the goal of video marketing. For a great example, click on the link below to watch the short video we posted on our Shamrock YouTube channel about the difference between Vector vs Raster files:

 Click to view
Click to view

There’s a lot of great ideas for videos: Roundup The Team—take a camera around the office and have people briefly speak about the latest product introduction or community service activity; focus on Live Customer Service—create a montage that captures customer service and support in action; develop a simple How-To video that shows a process or innovation; or answer customers’ FAQs.

If you’re at a loss for creative direction, click below to access a list of Video Marketing Ideas from MarketingProfs: 21 Video Marketing Ideas for Small-Business Budgets.

A recent study from Ascend2 found that the most effective video for converting sales leads include these topics:

  • customer testimonials 
  • demo videos
  • explainer/tutorial videos 

What’s great about these video themes is that the scripts practically write themselves: Capturing a testimonial or demonstrating a product or service are stories that authentically speak to your brand and its benefit to your customers. In other words: You know your brand best, so use that information to tell your story through video.

And then share your best videos with us on Facebook—we’ll help continue the brand conversation.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Make Tangible Brand Connections

Harnessing the power of promotional products

We just got our hands on the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) 2017 Consumer Study. The results speak to the pervasive power of promotional products: The study found that 89% of consumers had received a promotional product within the past six months—and 8 in 10 of them researched the brand; with 83% of those consumers noting they are more likely to do business with the brand. Those statistics reinforce the messages in this Shamrock blog post from 2015. So, we’re bringing it back in its entirety, with an updated graphic that summarizes the 2017 PPAI study.

In this digital age, so much of our everyday business is managed online. But as with any other aspect of our lives, balance is essential to success. Promotional products are the ideal source for equilibrium in your marketing program because they make a brand impression offline. Think about it: How many logoed t-shirts do you have in your closet? I’ve got a stack of them—and I’m not alone: The latest statistics show that, on average, Americans keep t-shirts for 6.3 months, tallying 2,450 impressions. It’s a great example of how a promotional item makes a tangible, lasting brand statement.

click to view
At Shamrock, we provide the transactional piece (quality product at a good price) as one component of a strategic approach (integrated marketing) to using promotional products to protect and promote your brand: We see the big picture. Our value is that we understand how online and offline channels can complement each other and work together to perpetuate the message in the most powerful and effective way. The result of that integrated and balanced marketing effort is a memorable brand impression.

With so many new, innovative products on the market and the phenomenal reach that we are seeing with brand awareness, it’s an exciting time to be a part of this industry. 

Are you using promotional products as part of your marketing program? Which premium items will provide you the best return on your investment? Chime in on our Facebook page. Check out the graphic below to see some the latest statistics.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

8 Graphic Design Trends for 2017

If someone picked up your corporate brochure, scrolled through your website and looked at one of your ads, would they be able to readily identify your brand? If you’re not quite sure, then it’s time to rethink your brand’s graphic profile.

Visual imagery is the window to your brand. Strong visual content tells your story and helps create memorable brand connections. It’s also good for your bottom line: According to Adobe, design-driven companies have out-performed the S&P index by 219% over the last 10 years.

With new technology platforms and channels emerging, the role of graphic design is becoming increasingly important in protecting and promoting brand identity. Remember that consistency still counts: It’s important to stay true to your brand’s graphic standards, incorporating the latest creative design trends in a way that refreshes and enhances your visual imagery.

Following is a summary of the top eight graphic design trends identified by Digital Marketing Philippines that are changing the way we view brands:

1. Braver, louder colors. Moving away from neutrals like white, black and gray, more brands are using bold, loud colors to make a statement. This use of color can be used in conjunction with graphics, photo images and even with logos.
2. Bolder typography. More consumers today are accessing content on mobile devices, so mobile-first design drives this trend of bolder, larger type font. Always, it’s important to be sure the font is readable across all digital platforms.
3. Curated and original photos. Many brands use stock photos in their content—but once a photo has been used in more than one campaign, it begins to lose its luster. Creating original, authentic images that represent your brand will feel fresh and help make stronger connections with your audience.
4. Pattern and print design is enjoying a comeback, from florals and paisleys to modern abstracts.
5. Minimalist design—quite opposite of the pattern trend—is also becoming more popular. It has a clean, crisp sophisticated vibe and it pairs well with simple fonts and layouts with subtle graphic elements.
6. Cinemagraphs – Compared to regular GIFs, cinemagraphs are still images with one or more moving elements. These are being used by big brands like IKEA to tell stories and drive engagement—and have been credited with driving more organic traffic to websites.
7. Hand-drawn graphics and icons are also gaining popularity, complementing the rise in the use of authentic images—a move that appeals to consumers by making the brand feel more approachable.
8. Vintage Fonts and Layouts continue to play on the retro and vintage trend—what’s old is cool again.

To check out the full article and infographic, click on the link below:

Have you employed any of these graphic design trends in your visual content? If so, what were the results?  I’m interested in your feedback.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

10 Tips for Building Brand Loyalty

I’ve been with the same mobile provider for 20+ years; and I’ve used the same brand of soap for as long as I can remember. I guess it’s fair to say I’m a brand loyalist.

A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine addressed the issue of whether such brand loyalty is a dying trend. It cited statistics on both sides of the argument: According to a study from Retail Perceptions, millennials expect brands to earn their loyalty—and they rank product quality as more important than a brand name. Yet, a Facebook survey showed that 77% of consumers returned to the same brands over and over again.

Where do you fall between these two camps? How about your customers? Whether your business is selling pizzas or insurance policies, brand loyalty matters. We all want to attract and maintain our customers long term. Ultimately, that loyalty leads to increased profits. So, how do we drive that brand love when immediate access to competitor brand information is just a click away? Here’s a few ideas for attracting and keeping loyal customers:

1. Establish your brand identity. Know who you are—and then stick with it, using consistent messaging across all channels.

2. Make it personal. Develop messages that are tailored specifically to your target audience: That personal connection makes your customers feel like you are speaking directly to them, not to the masses.

According to an Infosys study, 86% of consumers surveyed said personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions—and 73% said they preferred to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant.

3. Listen to your customers. Find out what they want or need—and then dig deeper: Why? How? Answering these important questions can help you better align your products/services/delivery methods to better meet customer needs and expectations. What’s more, we all like to be heard. Asking for feedback sends a clear message to your customers that their opinions matter.

4. Provide Raving Fan customer service. There’s a lot of competition out there touting better, faster, less expensive products/services, so exceed their expectations with standout customer service. Do the unexpected things that let your customers know you care: Make a follow-up phone call, send a personal email, share an article or video that aligns with their industry or interest, or surprise them with breakfast for their next staff meeting.

5. Prompt ongoing brand experiences. Keep your brand front of mind by making connections with your customers at various times during a transaction or program experience using blogs, emails, social media prompts, and more. In this age of immediate access, out of sight means out of mind, so keep your brand relevant with frequent, strategic touches.

6. Create Community. Engage with your customers and ask them to share photos of themselves at your event or using your products on social media—facebook, Instagram, twitter, Pinterest. Shared posts on these channels will start a conversation about your brand, and will also foster an emotional connection—think happy, exciting, motivating, inspirational, etc.

7. Innovate. Quality counts, as does innovative product/service offerings. By continuing to improve, evolve and introduce new products or solutions, your customers will associate your brand with what’s next.

8. Create a consistent experience. Give your customers the quality and the experience they have come to expect from your brand, every time. Example: I know I’m going to get the same bold cup of coffee from a new Starbucks location as I do when I visit my regular store—that consistency is expected.

9. Be transparent and honest. If there is a customer service issue, a product problem or a mistake, own it. Your customers will appreciate hearing directly from you, rather than through another source.

10. Recognize loyal customers.
Whether you offer points for transactions, reward service anniversaries, or simply connect with customers who have been with you for a while, it’s important to show existing customers that you appreciate their business. And, a customer loyalty effort is less expensive than spending marketing dollars on new-customer development.  

Do you have any tips that you’d add to this list for boosting brand loyalty? Please share your thoughts on our Facebook page

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Be a Top 5% Performer: Here’s How

Have you heard the expression, “Everything he/she touches turns to gold?” Has it left you wondering: What is their secret sauce? The truth is, successful people choose to be different: Top 5% performers think differently, act differently, see themselves differently, and spend their time differently than those who don’t achieve at that high level.

The successful outcomes of these top performers require setting goals; establishing a plan to achieve those goals; and holding themselves accountable to execute these strategies. Every success, in every market and industry, reinforces this Goal-Plan-Execute formula—it’s so simple, so basic.

So, why do so many people fall short? It’s their mindset: They are not choosing to focus on the right things, and then to follow the essential next steps.

This mindset ideology is not new thinking—it tracks with a favorite book of mine: The Strangest Secret in the World by Earl Nightingale. The book was written in 1956, so it’s outdated in terms of its view of gender in the workplace and other modern-day cues—but all these years later, Nightingale’s guiding principle remains the same: You are what you think about. And so, he suggests, that thinking in a relaxed and confident manner is the essential first step to enjoying success.

How do you build on that premise? How do you take that positive-thinking prompt and then incorporate the essential
Goal-Plan-Execute into your routine? Here’s a few ideas:

1. Focus your mind. Align your thoughts with positive outcomes: Envision your customer happy. Imagine positive referrals. Focus on your employees realizing a new level of success. When you hit a roadblock or hurdle, find the positive in the situation.
2. Define your brand advantage. Start with why: Ask yourself why you do what you do… What is the biggest value you deliver to your clients? Maybe you save them time or money. Simplify their operations. Provide essential expertise. Make them happy. Incorporate these into your brand messaging to confidently position yourself to succeed.
3. Make yourself indispensable: Elite industry experts understand and include the latest products/tools/trends in the solutions they provide customers. Never stop learning, never stop evolving.
4. Be unwavering: Set specific, attainable goals—write them down! Next, develop an actionable plan that spells out how you will achieve these goals.
5. Be deliberate in how you spend your time: Execute your plan with systems in place that hold yourself accountable.

Your success will largely be determined by how you choose to spend your time. If you allow yourself to get swallowed up with small tasks, such as constantly checking email, you are choosing not to focus your time on the big, higher impact tasks and projects that will help you achieve your goals. Write down the five most important things you need to accomplish this week or month, and do those things first!

Do you have any other ideas about ways to drive and maintain top performance? I’m always looking for feedback.

Bob DeGarmo, President

“One, you will become what you think about. Two, remember the word imagination. Let your mind soar. Three, courage. Concentrate on your goal every day. Four, save 10 percent of what you earn and action. Ideas are worthless unless we act on them.”  –Earl Nightingale, The Strangest Secret in the World

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Helping After Hurricane Harvey

After enjoying a relaxing holiday weekend in NE Ohio, we can’t help but reflect on all that we have to be thankful for—and to think about how we can help the people of Houston who are dealing with aftermath of Harvey. If you haven’t yet donated, or if you’d like to give to a national relief organization as Hurricane Irma is gaining speed and taking aim at Florida, the article below is an excellent resource.

This article from The New York Times, reprinted in its entirety, provides information about various relief organizations, charities—and how you can make donations safely.

Where to Donate to Harvey Victims (and How to Avoid Scams)
By Christina Caron Aug. 28, 2017

A temporary shelter set up at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.
Credit Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

If you have any additional resources that you know of that are not mentioned, please share with us on our Facebook page.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Creative Ideas For Better Brainstorming

We’ve all been there: The brainstorming session that ends with your team staring at words and phrases strewn across a whiteboard—but with no definitive theme, messaging or outcome. This is where creative reinforcement is required.

In a recent blog on MarketingProfs, Sandra Stewart answers the call with five creativity boosters that are pure genius. What’s great about these five tools or exercises is that they can be used to generate greater productivity out of both marketing and business brainstorming sessions—you’ll find yourself using them in other meetings and scenarios where outside-the-box thinking is required. Here is a summary of her ideas for better brainstorming:

1. The Take Away. Less is more when it comes to communicating with authority and clarity. This prompt encourages your team to strip it down and avoid cluttering the message with excessive words and phrases. Her example:

“Say you're developing messaging for a new product, and you have a list of 12 key benefits. Truthfully, they can't all be essential, and you need much more focus to make messages memorable. So, take away a benefit and consider the result: Are you gaining in focus what you lost in comprehensiveness? Keep taking away, stripping away detail until you get to a benefits description that's as simple as it can be while still conveying something meaningful to your audience.”

2. Word Trees. This is opposite of the take away tool: “Start a Word Tree by listing words or terms related to a broad concept. Then, for each word, start a new list of related words. Keep branching out as you go, and continue for several generations.”

Word trees are great for developing brand attributes, product names, campaign themes, positioning statements, and more.

3. Oblique Strategies is a series of written prompts created by musician Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt as a way of breaking through creative blocks.

Prompts include directives such as "work at a different speed" or single words like “water." Sandra advises: “Consider the prompts in light of your process or problem, and use them to guide a new approach. For example, if we were developing messaging for a cleantech company, we might respond to "water" conceptually, by considering how the company's technology flows; or we might respond literally, by listing the ways it affects water use.

4. The 5 Whys is an exercise for getting to the root of a problem (from Andrew Razeghi's The Riddle: Where Ideas Come From and How to Have Better Ones.)

“First, turn your problem into a "why" question—say, "Why doesn't our story resonate with this market?" List your answers. Pick one—say, "We're not talking about the right things"—and ask "why?" Maybe the answer is, "They don't care about what we think they should care about." Then ask "why?" about that answer, and continue until you get to the fifth "why."

5. Blue Sky. “While the previous exercises involve constraints in some way, the Blue Sky exercise is the opposite: It involves envisioning what you would do or create if there were no limits (time, talent, money, laws of physics), and then working out what would have to be true for you to achieve that. Can you make some of those things true? Are there interim goals you can plot a course toward? Can you break the Blue Sky project down into steps? What can you do right now?”

Of course, after you generate the creative ideas, the next step is to develop a plan for executing.

Do you have other brainstorming ideas or tools that work for your team?  Please share your thoughts with us—because there’s no such thing as too much creativity.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Benefits of Routine

If you have kids then you already know: Back-to-school season is upon us. As my family has been busy shopping, organizing, and preparing to get back on a regular everyday schedule, it’s got me thinking about routine and its many benefits.

Many of us have a morning routine that we follow. Whether that includes journaling, packing lunches, exercising, or all the above, it has been scientifically proven that that daily repetition is good for us. Research shows that a daily routine helps develop healthier sleep patterns (which improve cognitive function) and according to the New York Times, “a morning routine reduces decision fatigue and can help you be more productive throughout the day.”

I’ve concluded that mornings really matter. The things that I do first set the tone for the rest of my day. I like to begin my day early, with coffee and a workout—and then I change my voicemail message. I am a big believer in the power of habit; and for as long as I can remember, I have recorded a new message every morning, which stems from the opportunity to make a strong first impression.
Here’s a few morning routines of successful people that I found interesting:

  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson wakes up at 4 AM, drinks coffee, and then starts his workout with cardio
  • Warren Buffet begins every day by reading—he recommends reading 500 pages a day
  • Tony Robbins sets aside 10 minutes to reflect on everything that he’s grateful for. He suggests taking time every morning to focus on things you’re thankful for in/about yourself, your family and friends, your career, etc.
  • Oprah Winfrey wakes up before the sunrise and begins her day with meditation

And this, from Steve Jobs, is a favorite: In a 2005 commencement address he gave at Stanford, Jobs shared the motivational tactic he used to start every day: “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ Whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

What does your morning routine include? Are you doing things every day that you enjoy? If not, there’s no time like the present to make a change. Message us on Facebook about your routines—you just
might inspire us to try something new!

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Getting It Right: Integrated Marketing 2017

In July 2015, we ran this blog about integrated marketing—and now, two years later, the argument for integrating multiple channels as part of a strategic marketing effort still rings strikingly true. As digital media channels continue to become more pervasive, we need to incorporate those touches along with off-line connections, to make solid, memorable brand connections. 
The debate has been raging since the rise of digital media: Which is more effective? Print or electronic? If you want people to understand and retain information, studies consistently show that it’s print. Yet on the other side of the aisle, some e-marketers argue that print is dead. The truth is, in this digital age, there’s room for both in your marketing tool chest.

It’s no different than 20 years ago when we began to use new print applications. Today, we have more channels available, both online and offline. The genius is being able to blend the best of both via an integrated marketing effort.

Print and electronic marketing are not mutually exclusive—each channel has its strengths and limitations. And using them together actually strengthens your brand. Having a consistent, impactful message woven together using different channels (social media, direct mail, promotional products, pay-per-click, etc.) you can ensure that your brand is represented consistently while leveraging the impact of the cross-channel reach.

Using a mix of online and offline channels also allows you to re-connect with your audience throughout a campaign to reinforce your brand message, drive relevancy and prompt action. You might tweet about a new promotion, send an email blast and follow up with a postcard. And because each of these channels can be used to connect with a specific audience segment your message can be tailored just for them. That’s the power of integrated marketing.

An article in Entrepreneur magazine touts the benefits of integrating print and digital touches in your marketing strategy. It notes that print communications can actually leverage your ecommerce site and even strengthen your social media presence. Print engages multiple generations of consumers; can be used to drive social media traffic (via printed calls-to-action on postcards or print ads, for example); and extends your brand reach by sharing your reviews and information offline.

There’s no time like the present to evaluate your marketing effort. Whether you’re operating as a brick-and-mortar business or an online service provider, balance is essential. Print has a tangible, enduring appeal that complements modern digital channels. Using both will get results.

As an instant update to this archived blog, check out the link below: This recent article from Small Business Trends offers 10 great examples of integrated marketing campaigns that work by combining content with PR, print with digital, etc. It’s worth your time to click through.

Do you have any campaign examples you’d add to that list? I’d like to hear from you.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Top Product Packaging Trends for 2017

Do you grab a bottle of wine off the shelf because you like the label? Or does a sleek graphic prompt you to try a new brand of shampoo? If so, you’re not alone. One-third of consumer product choices are based on packaging, according to research by The Paper Worker

There is tremendous power in packaging design: As marketers, it allows us to make an immediate—and ongoing—brand connection with our target audience. So, whether you’re planning a new product launch or sending a specialty promotion to B2B prospects, there’s no time like the present to rethink packaging design. 

In her blog published at the beginning of the year, designer Martis Lupus outlined predictions for the nine top trends for successful product packaging in 2017—and we embrace her view as spot-on. Below is a summary of those design trends:

1. Be simple, bold and clear 
Minimizing the elements used in a package design can elevate a product…as long as it gets the point across. In our fast-paced world, shoppers don’t always have the time to study each and every product detail. Stick to the essentials and make sure they help the buyer make a more informed decision; a clean-cut design can convey information and make a product shine using simplicity.

2. Embrace custom lettering
Almost every designer loves to get crafty and create some of their artwork by hand. We do this to get the organic effect: fluid imperfections—like irregular lines or natural texture fills—can make a product stand out through warmth and set it apart from digital designs. This warmth can create an emotional tie to the product, making it feel handmade and wholesome, or communicating a feeling of nostalgia. 

3. Go wild with color
It’s no secret that colors evoke emotions and affect purchasing decisions. Because of this, color has always been one of the most important choices in packaging design. Lately we’ve seen designers put colors to work in new and exciting ways. Bright colors and vibrant associations are beginning to make a scene on store shelves.

4. Repeat a pattern
Using well-chosen and beautiful patterns can elevate a package design from ordinary to ethereal. Repeating a visual motif that captures the essence of the brand sends a strong message. Whether your pattern is bold or playful, patterning your package can create a strong identity that customers will remember.

5. Use illustration as narrative
Behind every design there is a story. We seek out and cherish the stories that feel closest to our hearts. Packaging design has begun to incorporate narrative illustrations.

6. Put it in the mail
Remember the joy of getting something in the mail? With faster, more efficient ways to communicate, that experience has become more rare. Packaging design is here to save the day with an emerging postal trend.

7. Imagine ingenious die cuts
Traditional packaging tends to hide its contents, but modern designers are experimenting with die cutting to show products to their advantage. Whether it’s encouraging tactile interaction, mimicking a brand’s logo, or forming identifiable or humorous shapes, creating a window in your packaging can show the product in a meaningful or clever way, making a buyer stop and take notice.

8. Find vintage inspiration
Vintage package design is evolving each year (ironically) through the use of new technologies and materials. There’s something about vintage design that resonates through time. It brings back memories for people who lived through the original era and satisfies the curiosity of younger generations eager to explore the past.

9. Explore eco-friendly packaging
Eco-friendly, biodegradable, natural, sustainable… Call it what you will, going green with packaging is a trend that’s here to stay. Beyond its positive impact on the environment, it can also save companies money and attract customers.

Click on link below for the original blog by Lupus, which includes fabulous photos of each of these must-follow trends.

I find these trends inspirational in terms of how we can help our customers tell their brand stories while making memorable connections. Can you think of standout product packaging that prompted a recent purchase? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Print Distributor or Manufacturer? Top 5 Value Statements

I’ve been in sales for more than 30 years, and I’ve found two distinct camps when it comes to a preference for working directly with a manufacturer or through a distributor.

While direct manufacturers argue they have better control over quality and project management (than do distributors) because the job is managed in-house, I beg to differ. Here are a few reasons why print distributors almost always win the battle by providing greater value:

1. Cost – Trade-only sources do not call on end-user clients, and therefore, do not have to absorb the costs associated with a sales team. That means no office space, training programs, HR support, AND salesperson salaries. This is why trade-only sources can sell for much less and allow room for the distributor to mark up the product and still be competitive. In both situations, a salesperson (from the manufacturer or the distributor) will be compensated, so going direct to a manufacturer really doesn’t cut out the so-called “middleman.”

2. Flexibility/Options – Distributors usually have strong relationships with dozens of trade-only facilities; while direct manufacturers usually have one location and are limited by the equipment in their own facility. It is almost impossible for a direct manufacturer to be competitive in a large range of products.

When you think about, it is unreasonable to expect a single location to compete with a network of trade-only sources that specialize in various product segments. Distributors have the huge advantage when it comes to making sure your project is produced by a facility that matches the exact specifications of your project—and, also ensures competitive pricing over a broad range of print products.

3. Quality – Maintaining your brand is critical: This means upholding brand identity, adhering to style guides, and ensuring consistent print quality. Even direct manufacturers have multiple presses and various press operators to manage. What’s most important is providing the brand standard information, samples and following procedures—whether you’re working with a multiple-facility operation through a distributor or with single manufacturer. At the end of the day, the facility most committed to quality is your best bet.

4. Control – Is it really an advantage to be able to walk out onto the shop floor? Perhaps it is, but I question how often this is necessary. An important point to consider is attitude. A sales rep for a direct manufacturer works for and represents the company. Trade-only manufacturers work for distributors, and their livelihood is based on maintaining an impeccable reputation. This often results in a different attitude and perspective that translates to better quality.

5. Time – As a consumer, how much time do you have to devote to building and maintaining a trusted network of partners? How much extra time does it take to manage a stable of vendors, versus working with one trusted partner? A good distributor partner with a solid network will ensure competitive pricing, consistent quality, and customized service. In essence they’ll be an extension of your team.

As a distributor, Shamrock’s formula for success is offering the best products and services, at the best prices, for the best all-around value. It works for us—because it’s been working for our customers for 35 years.

Do agree with my rationale? Always, I welcome your feedback!
Connect with me @

Bob DeGarmo

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

5 Digital Advertising Tips To Maximize Your Next Campaign

Digital advertising has hit its stride—and shows no signs of slowing down. As consumers, it feeds our desire for on-demand information; and as advertisers, digital channels deliver instant gratification through real-time feedback. Unlike the old days of launching campaigns and waiting on outcomes, modern digital advertising provides campaign tracking and results that help us to make stronger and more immediate brand connections.

As with any channel, it’s smart to stay apprised of best-practices. If you’re ready to brush up on your digital advertising skills—rules that also apply to digital marketing—a recent Forbes article offers five tips to help you maximize your next campaign:

1. Use Clear Calls-To-Action. Tell your audience what you want them to do next: Upgrade today. Book now. Get involved. Successful campaigns include a call to action (CTA) that is clear, concise—and brand-driven.

Consider that your message is likely being viewed on a device that’s also displaying pop-up ads and alerts, so make your CTA stand out with clean, crisp graphics: It should funnel the reader to the next step, which is closer to the point of conversion.    

2. Create Compelling Messaging. A study from Microsoft Corp. found that people generally lose concentration after eight seconds. So, keep it simple; and always, make it relevant. Consider that digital advertising doesn’t offer much space to work with: Make every word count by using colorful language, evoking emotion, highlighting value, providing incentive, or making a strong brand connection.

3. Link to Designated Landing Pages. You’ve got your audience knocking at your front door; now, you need to welcome them in: Drive users to a landing page on your site that is relevant to them—this will help with user engagement, strengthen brand identity and boost conversion rates.

4.Imagery Matters: Make It Memorable. Capture the user’s attention by using graphics and images that resonate. Again, your ad is likely competing with other online content, so use images that draw the user in and that tell your brand story.

5.Test, Monitor & Redeploy. Start by paying attention to the finer details: Test your campaign first by deploying and making sure that all links function properly and that messaging is targeted to the correct segment. 

After launching the campaign, track results. If one segment is out-performing another, take a look at the messaging and consider retargeting. The beauty of digital is the real-time tracking and the ability to edit and then quickly redeploy to deliver the right message, to the right audience, at the right time.

The Forbes article offers some great examples of digital ad campaigns done right. To read the entire article, click on the link below:

Do you have digital advertising tips or rules that guide your campaigns? Please share your thoughts at

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Design Hacks: Two DIY Tools For Everyday Marketing

Given the relentless pace of today’s business world, many of us look to ingenious hacks or shortcuts to complete everyday tasks with greater efficiency. This post answers that charge: When you don’t have time to collaborate with your marketing team and need to quickly create a presentation or post a new product promotion on social media, these two apps will help you complete your projects with professional results.

#1. Online-Convert (O-C). This program allows users to take one file format (audio, image, ebook, video, document, or archive) and convert it into a different format (presumably one that is easier to use). 

For example, I often receive graphic files in .eps format. Since I don’t use a professional design program, I can’t view the image natively. However, I can upload the file into Online-Convert and within seconds, convert the image into a pdf, png, jpg, or gif file. 

Since many images are sent back and forth in email as pdf’s, I can easy convert these files into a .png or .jpg format and then upload and use as needed. Online-Convert is free to use.

#2. Clipping Magic. This app allows users to remove the background around an image, or in design speak, create a “transparent” background. 

Wondering when/why you might need to create an image like this? Here is an example: You want to feature a product image in a presentation. The problem is the only version of the image you have is against a white background and your brand standards require you to use a dark background. Instead of featuring a page with white box backdrops, you can clip the image so the white background is removed.  

Normally, it takes the skill of a trained designer and a professional program like InDesign or Photoshop to do the same thing. Now, I can clip the image and then layer it on top of my presentation or other images to create a professional design. 

Clipping Magic charges a small fee per month based on the number of images you clip. For less than $8 a month, you can clip more than 100 images and save yourself countless hours and dollars in the process.

What do you think: Have you tried either of these tools? What do you use on a regular basis and find especially useful? Please share your feedback in the comments below or reach out to me directly at

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

WHO'S WORKING? Tips for Staying Motivated During the Summer

The July 4th holiday is over and we’ve got a few workdays left before the weekend: So, who’s motivated to finish out the week strong? This throwback post by Bob Troop from August 2012 offers some advice for those of us who need some help staying focused during these carefree summer days…

How can employees stay motivated when it's 80-plus degrees, sunny and the pool or the golf course is calling? It's no secret that, for most of us, the temptation of a day at the beach makes it difficult to focus on work in the office in the summer.

But, through the years I've seen employees who work even harder in the summer. These are the same people who are anxious to move ahead and want to be recognized for their hard work. They use summer as the time to shine in the workplace. You can bet, during slow times, an industrious employee will be noticed!

These summer success stories have several things in common. They're self-starters who stay motivated, despite the weather. They diligently make daily "To Do" lists; they take short 15-minute summer breaks from the workday so they don't feel cheated out of summer fun (something as simple as a midday break for ice cream with an office mate); they'll suggest an outdoor meeting with a quick, written agenda to make sure the job gets done, while enjoying the summer air; or they'll take a short break to walk around outdoors, de-stress, and come back rejuvenated.

But honestly, I believe the obligation of employee summer motivation should be firmly in the employers' court. It surprises me when someone will say, "I can't believe productivity fell as low as it did this summer." My guess is they didn't prepare for the inevitable short-hot-summer-with-lots-to-pack-in before... (kids are back in school, Labor Day, leaves fall, you name it). Business leadership consultant and author Randy Harrington nails some employee incentives perfectly right here in a Fox Business News video where he discusses several ways to keep employees motivated in summer.
Shamrock Summer Outing

I also have several favorite management tips to maintain motivation during summer's heat:
A Simple High-Five - We generally recognize individual achievement during our monthly meetings and make a special effort at our annual luncheon. Food always works. If there's a great team effort, reward them with an outdoor lunch or pizza at a local restaurant. Themed lunch menus for employees, like Mexican Month, have really taken off this summer.

Goaltending - Set individual goals for the team, but make sure it's within reach and everyone can participate. It creates an atmosphere of healthy, competitive fun.

Condition the Air - You’d be surprised how hard employees will work when they feel welcome and appreciated. At Shamrock, we create a positive atmosphere of acceptance, camaraderie and unity, so that employees feel motivated to do a great job.

Remember when you were a kid? How much fun it was to get up each summer morning and anticipate the day? Think of some simple ways to help your employees hold on to that anticipation of a fresh, new day. Surprise your crew with a 5PM Happy Hour. Offer the staff a healthy lunch every day the temperature goes above 90. Create some fun! After all, it's a short, sweet summer.

What do you do to motivate yourself and/or your employees during the summer? Please share your ideas with us on Facebook…we’ve got plenty of summer days ahead of us!