You Need A F*****G Vacation.

Are you getting burnt out? Be honest. You wake up; shower gets dressed, commute to work, put the time in, commute back, watch tv, sleep, and repeat four more times. Sound about right?

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Why Your Business Should Use Digital Marketing

Why Your Business Should Use Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is more than just posting on Facebook once or twice a day. It’s having a mobile friendly website for better user experience. It’s optimizing keywords for better SEO performance (and there are different kinds of SEO too!). According to Hubspot, Digital marketing “is an umbrella term for all your online marketing efforts. Businesses leverage digital channels such as Google search, social, media, email, and their websites to connect with their current and prospective customers.” Pretty simple huh?

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Marketing Beyond The Mayo Majority

As the title of this article may suggest, we are not all middle class white people. Shocker, right? So, why does nearly all marketing and advertisement seem to target the mayo “majority”? Actually, using the term majority in terms of white people being the majority is barely true anymore. As of 2013, the five and under age group shows that white children are now the minority, predicting a much more ethnically diverse future for America and thus the marketing industry.

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StrataBlue Employee Spotlight featuring Paige Widener

Q3_A (2)My title at StrataBlue is Social Media Account Manager. I’ve been with StrataBlue since June of 2014, so that makes 8 months!

 

Q4_AMy day-to-day duties vary almost every day, but a typical day will include creating social media content for my clients, working with clients to come up with creative ideas for their social media campaigns, creating email campaigns, writing blogs, building reports and much, much more!

 

Q3What I love most about working at StrataBlue is the fact that I get to be hands on with my client’s campaigns. Any ideas that I have to help improve a client’s digital presence are always welcomed and encouraged. The sky is definitely the limit. We also work with a breadth of industries, so this has given me the ability to be knowledgeable in everything from restaurants to RVs.

 

Q4 (2)An ideal client for me is one that trusts what I do and is there for support. I love clients who are easy to talk to and are open to my creative ideas. I also enjoy clients who aren’t familiar with social and digital media, because this offers me to chance to share my wealth of knowledge with them.

 

Q5 (2)My ultimate dream is to own a small boutique that would sell jewelry, purses, and clothing. I would preferably like to open the boutique up in a major college town, because I remember how hard it was to find unique clothing options while away at school. And this just would just give me another excuse to relive my college days. 🙂 I’ve always enjoyed helping my friends coordinate outfits and I would love to be my own boss.

My mom has really been my inspiration for creating my own business. Throughout my childhood she maintained a full-time job as a dietitian in a nursing home, while also owning her own catering business on the side. Once my sister and I reached middle school, she ditched her job and went to just full-time catering. She has shown me that any dream is possible if you set your mind to it and always, always work hard. This past winter, she opened a storefront for her business, where she serves up lunch and delicious sweet treats.

 

Q6 (2)As a recent Purdue grad, whenever I get the chance I can’t resist driving up to West Lafayette for a basketball game or football game, and then of course hitting up my favorite spot, Harry’s Chocolate Shop, for a post-game celebration. I’m also an avid Pinterester and love making my pins come to life. But most of all, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family doing whatever, wherever!

To put our team of StrataBlue account managers to work for you, contact StrataBlue today.

StrataBlue Employee Spotlight featuring Tyler Moore (and Bron!)

Meet Tyler Moore, StrataBlue’s newest sales and biz dev manager, and learn what he brings to our company. (And despite his digitized appearance in the header graphic above, he really is a human being. You can meet him in the flesh on LinkedIn.)

 

What is your title at StrataBlue and how long have you been with the company?

I’m the Business Development Manager at StrataBlue, and I’ve been with the company for four months.

 

 

What are your day-to-day duties at StrataBlue?

  • Build market position by locating, developing, defining, negotiating, and closing business relationships.
  • Identify trendsetter ideas by researching industry and related events, publications, and announcements; tracking individual contributors and their accomplishments.
  • Propose potential business deals by contacting potential partners; discovering and exploring opportunities.
  • Screen potential business deals by analyzing market strategies, deal requirements, potential, and financials; evaluating options; resolving internal priorities; recommending equity investments.
  • Develop negotiating strategies and positions by studying integration of new venture with company strategies and operations; examining risks and potentials; estimating partners’ needs and goals.
  • Close new business deals by establishing requirements; developing and negotiating contracts; integrating contract requirements.

 

Why are you excited to work at StrataBlue?

Our company is one of the top digital marketing firms in town, if not THE best, but our story hasn’t been told. StrataBlue has been flying under the radar, and I am looking forward to changing that. We will have a new website rolling out in 2015, and a handful of amazing case studies that offer a deep dive into our clients, their needs and what we did to accomplish their goals.

 

 

How do you convince a prospective client that social media marketing is right for them?Right for them?!?! It’s right for everyone! It’s hard to find a prospect that isn’t using social media marketing, but it is very easy to find someone who isn’t using it to its full capability. With that said, if your company hasn’t implemented social media marketing, you are more than likely behind the eight-ball and need to call us when you get done reading this. Actually, don’t finish reading this: call me right now! I inform our prospective clients on how we can amplify what they are already doing to reach a much larger and more targeted audience, while helping them deliver more powerful content.

 


What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I would say I am pretty fortunate to have a tight knit group of friends that get together, every chance we get, for different sporting events, concerts, and beer festivals. If you have seen the TV show Friends, that would come close to summing up our group. I am also a coach for Elliott Quarterback Academy, which is a football skills camp that takes place on most weekends throughout the winter, and if it’s warm, I will be on the golf course.

 

 

Enough about you. Tell us about Bron!

Bron is the man! Bron is my English bulldog who is just over 4 months old, and he was actually named after LeBron James. I grew up attending Butler Basketball Camp as a kid and grew to love the breed, and also have grown into a LeBron fan, so it seemed like a perfect fit. Bron now has his own Instagram account at @bronthebully, which I have a lot of fun with. I guess if you want to know more about Bron, then you should go follow him!

Well, you heard it straight from Tyler above:

If your company hasn’t implemented social media marketing, you are more than likely behind the eight-ball and need to call us when you get done reading this. Actually, don’t finish reading this: call [him] right now! 317-207-0195

 

And then go follow Bron on Instagram. 😉

StrataBlue Employee Spotlight featuring Eric Gaffin

Eric Gaffin - Graphic Designer - StrataBlue

Meet Eric Gaffin, one of StrataBlue’s talented Graphic Designers…

Question: What is your title and how long have you been with StrataBlue?My title is Graphic Designer and I’ve been with the company for 1 year and 1 month.

 

 

What is your title and how long have you been with the company?My day-to-day duties have included everything from logo design, magazine print ad design, social media design and web design. My time usually centers around social media campaign ads.

 

When deciding how to create a graphic, poster, or any other project for a client, what is the brainstorming process you go through?I always start with the deadline. Knowing how much time I have to work on the project helps me allot the appropriate amount of time to brainstorming, sketching, and creating. I then assess what project details and materials I’m provided and I seek more information and materials if necessary. I usually write out a few concepts, sketch a few thumbnails and then I get to work compositing my digital materials together and working with typography to create a first draft. The rest of the process consists of client feedback and minor revisions.

What are some of your favorite pieces you've done for clients at StrataBlue?This is a very hard question! There are projects that have required very technical, detailed work that I’m very proud of and there are others that have simply required perseverance. My favorite projects, though, are the ones that allow me to be clever or playful with the solution.

My two best examples would be the Plow & Anchor Restaurant logo and the seasonal logos I create for StrataBlue. The Plow & Anchor logo solution was nearly an accident and was a simple, elegant solution after many failed attempts to be too clever. The StrataBlue seasonal logos help me embrace the seasons and be clever in reworking our logo. I’ve always loved it when brands to playful things for special events or holidays.

StrataBlue Designs - Eric Gaffin

What are some of your hobbies?I’m a craft beer enthusiast (not a snob!) and I’m a current events junkie. I love reading about politics, design, and technology in my spare time, accompanied by a good beer, or course.

 

 

What is your favorite craft beer?It’s so hard to pick just one! Flat 12’s Pogue’s Run Porter is my go-to, but when it’s available I LOVE Triton’s Midnight Rail!

Office Communication: The Right Thing at the Right Time in the Right Way

How we communicate with clients, contractors and vendors is important — nobody can deny that. Yet how we communicate with our fellow employees and co-workers within the same office space is just as important. Following are various types of intra-office communication in today’s modern office, with a look at how each applies to (or is preferred for) specific types of conversations or purposes.

Electronic

Let’s face it — in most of today’s cutting-edge office spaces, the majority of communication inside the office walls is done electronically, for better or worse. Let’s break this category down further to look separately at chatting / instant messaging, emailing and using a project management tool.

Chat

Chatting via an instant message app such as Lync or Skype is the engine by which things get done fast. That doesn’t mean you should rely on this all the time. With this form of instantly gratifying communication, there’s always a chance that something will be said off the cuff (it’s not like you can save your chat as a draft and think about it before you hit send). This can lead to tension between employees. Furthermore, without the associated tone of something that is communicated aloud, things can be misunderstood and cause confusion. It’s therefore important that intra-office IM and chat be reserved for issues that are non-critical, non-controversial and can be solved quickly.

Email

The volume of emails is insane even in start-up environments. And as you move up the management ladder, it gets even more insane. In fact, in 2013, email traffic coming from business email accounted for over 100 billion messages per day. Email is best used for technical or elaborate discussions where a record of communication needs to be kept. Don’t use email to complain, get angry or start a fight, even between peers. Do use email to communicate confidential information that shouldn’t or can’t be said out loud. Email is also wonderful for exchanging data that’s far too unwieldy for other methods of communication.

Project Management Tool

As mentioned above, email volume can be a nightmare, even with a carefully curated folder and filter system in place. And email is terrible for project management. Version control is an issue, as is keeping the correct people cc’d on an email. And when it comes to keeping track of timelines, associated files and client needs on projects, relying on email alone can be a nightmare. Enter a project management tool. At StrataBlue, we’re a big fan of Basecamp. This tool will allow you to collaborate with co-workers and clients in one place, which includes sharing project tools such as to-do lists and calendars.

Voice

The phone is often used strictly for communication with the outside world. However, depending on the size of your office (especially if you occupy multiple floors, in which case you might even say it is “inter-office” communication), a phone call may be the best way to get things done. If you have something to communicate that depends on tone of voice, if the person you’re calling is a phone person and hates electronic communication (those beasts are rare, but they exist), or if you’d like to set up a conference call that includes people in and outside the office, the old-fashioned phone call is often the only way. Note that some offices run these over the Internet and integrate headsets. Even the best phone doesn’t feel comfortable after holding it to your ear for two hours.

Face-to-Face

And the final form of communication is one that’s the most underrated. Sometimes you just have to walk over and speak in person. Too much has been made of video chat, telepresence, Oculus virtual environments and so on. Trying to handle crucial intra- or inter-office issues via texting can also downplay their importance or lead to confusion. Depending on your office’s policies, you might have to set up a meeting first, but looking someone in the eye and talking things over is often the best way to get issues addressed and tackled fast.

Never knock the face-to-face chat. There’s a reason why it’s so valued when a CEO of a major corporation takes the time to talk to employees in person. It’s considered special and personal, and face-to-face communication is great for conveying ideas that just wouldn’t hold as much meaning any other way.

Efficient and productive communication between and amidst co-workers is crucial to the success of any business. We take communication seriously at StrataBlue, not only amongst ourselves, but also with our clients. Get in touch.

StrataBlue Employee Spotlight featuring Julie Perry

Meet Julie Perry, StrataBlue’s Director of Digital Media Marketing:

Q3_AMy official title is Director of Digital Media Marketing, and I’ve been at StrataBlue since March 2014. Initially, I was hired as Director of Social Media, but that title is misleading, because I don’t think it accurately describes the breadth of services we offer clients within the digital space. Here at StrataBlue, our focus is providing full-scale digital marketing services within paid, owned, and earned channels. Social media is certainly an aspect of that, but for the most part, we take a more holistic approach to our clients’ digital-marketing needs and campaigns.

To explain that a bit further, our team at StrataBlue knows that integrating multiple channels is the best way to deliver results, so we work to incorporate everything from content creation, social advertising, paid search, SEO, mobile, creative, video—and yes, social media marketing plays a big hand in each of those buckets. In the end though, we distinguish our brand of social as being “social media with substance,” or in other words, executing with purpose and intention. We don’t do anything devoid of understanding its impact. Rather, our social campaigns are strategic, deliberate, measurable, and in most all cases, they converge into other trackable digital touch points within owned, earned, and paid channels—blog, search, email, site, video, mobile, and distributed content.

 

 

Q2_AThat is a tough question, because every day can be so different. And because we are growing so quickly while also trying to stay on top of constant industry changes, there are never enough hours in the day. In short, as Director of Digital Media Marketing, I rely on my 13 years of online marketing experience to focus on digital thought-leadership activities and provide expertise in digital strategy to further bolster our digital services offering. (If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working in online and digital marketing, it’s that you must always be innovating.)

I also support major client assignments and serve as a data analyst in order to guide overall client strategy. Meanwhile, I like to stay as active as I can on the execution side of client campaigns—otherwise, it’s too easy to become rusty and unable to follow new trends. So even though I’m managing and directing our team of digital specialists, I’m still all about jumping in to, say, tweet for a client, run a Facebook ad, or write an email drip campaign when needed. In fact, taking time to optimize a YouTube video for a client can often be the highlight of my day. #geek

 

 

Q3I got my start in digital marketing as a copywriter for online-marketing content—email campaigns, website content, digital ad copy and blogging for SEO. Since those aren’t necessarily skills they teach in college (and they certainly didn’t when I was at Indiana University in the mid 90s), I got much of my training by taking courses from über successful copywriters in the Internet Marketing space, such as Michel Fortin (a mentor and personal friend) and John Carlton. During that time (circa 2003-4), SEO / ranking #1 in Google was the holy grail of marketing, so as soon as social media sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter came onto the scene and proved to have an increasing impact on search results, it was a natural transition for me to focus on social content creation.

Handling social networking for two tech start-ups in 2007 led to my first foray into digital video content. YouTube marketing—from both a video SEO and an audience development perspective—really was my main area of practice from 2007 to 2010. So I would say that online video marketing is where a majority of my expertise still lies. But in 2010, I wanted to diversify my digital marketing tactics, so I took a job at BLASTmedia, a media relations agency that was looking to grow its social media services. I was able to combine my years of working in online marketing via direct response copywriting, online video, and blogging to launch the agency’s social media team from scratch. While we started off just executing social media to support PR campaigns and media outreach, over the course of three years and building my team to 11 members total, our campaigns took on more of a marketing approach. This was the heyday of inbound marketing, and we had tons of success — after all, PR was already BLAST’s specialty, so combining it with more owned and paid media allowed us to take clients to the next level. Working at BLAST was a wonderful experience (they continue to kill it for their customers), and it allowed me to diversity my areas of expertise by getting to implement more full-scale digital marketing campaigns on a national and international level.

 

 

Q4Spending time with family and friends is very important to me, but I’m also a self-proclaimed workaholic, so balancing can be tough. I’ve actually gotten a lot better in recent years at achieving that balance; I take more time off, realizing that returning to work rejuvenated makes me more productive, not to mention more fulfilled.

I also spend a lot of my free time working on something else I’m passionate about, which is blogging and running social media for my book, “The Insiders’ Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess.” (Being a megayacht stewardess was something I did after college, many moons ago.) I originally wrote my yachting book in 2006, but I published a 2nd edition in 2013 when Bravo TV’s reality series, Below Deck, came out. It’s opened up a whole new audience for my book, and I’ve been having a ball interacting with my readers online.

The Insiders Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess

Julie’s book about how to get a job on superyachts.

I suppose, technically, my book marketing activities could still be considered work, but I get a lot of fulfillment out of helping guide young people into a fascinating career traveling the world in the superyacht industry. It was a life-altering experience for me when I worked as a yacht stewardess, so promoting my book is also a way for me to stay in touch with that industry and my many friends who still work within it. I still try to get down to Fort Lauderdale at least 3-4 times a year and travel to as many boat shows as I can fit in with my vacation time.

 

Q6_AThe fact that it’s fast-paced and constantly changing. Routine and consistency have always bored me and I crave challenges, so working in digital media is perfect for me. Add in the agency aspect, and it is literally a playground of opportunity to test new platforms and emerging digital tools across a number of different clients and industry verticals all the time. There is always something to learn.

I’m very fond of the quote that’s been attributed to Wayne Gretzky, where, when asked about the key to his success, he said that he doesn’t skate where the puck has been, but rather, he skates where the puck is going. I thrive on being able to stay on that cutting edge of innovative digital marketing tactics and pioneering the use of emerging strategies, especially with regard to targeting and measurement. It’s all about staying on top of how the customer journey is changing, and then trying to figure out how to incorporate those changes as we’re carving a sales and ROI pathway for our clients. To that end, the StrataBlue team prides itself on smart strategy and efficient execution, but we realize we have to be willing to recognize when something isn’t working. Measurement leads to adjusting tactics to meet goals; it’s that constant fine tuning and adapting in order to achieve success for our clients that invigorates me on a daily basis.

 

 

Q6Virginia Woolf. As for where we’d go, I would like to think we’d just stroll around the Bloomsbury district of London and have philosophical and literary discussions over afternoon tea… But, knowing me, I’d probably try to convince her to take a weekend jaunt down to Paris to join F. Scott Fitzgerald and friends for a more Gatsby-esque time… Or, maybe we’d even crash a party at Gertrude Stein’s flat. (What can I say, I was an English Major and am kind of obsessed with modernist literature and writers.)

 

 

Social Media Pain Points: A Q&A with Director of Sales Josh Pyne

StrataBlue’s Director of Sales, Josh Pyne, has a digital-media sales and account executive background, which includes having created strategic, omni-channel programs for some of the most prominent brands and largest advertisers in the world. I sat down with him to ask him about his experience customizing digital and mobile marketing campaigns to address key business objectives. Here below are highlights from our question and answer session.

1) What is the most common pain point small-to-medium sized business marketers struggle with when contemplating social and digital media marketing initiatives?

JP: Most businesses, or brands, are a bit overwhelmed by where to begin. There is a lot of industry talk around social media, various strategies, tactics and focus points to get the most return, but many businesses haven’t even covered the basics. The importance of having a branded profile that reflects the messaging and relevancy of the business to the social user is paramount. Taking the first step to build a cohesive social media presence can be a large undertaking for the typical brand. At StrataBlue, we take the burden of the social media setup off the plate of the already over-extended brand marketer. We help establish the brand’s social voice and produce the visual branding and content to address key business goals, such as raising brand awareness, driving website traffic, or increasing lead generation and sales.

2) What are some of the common misconceptions that small-to-medium sized businesses face when they decide to handle their own social media and community management?

JP: By far the greatest misconception is the amount of time it takes not only to proactively post content multiple times per day across multiple social media channels, but the investment in time to actively respond to the community and consumers’ questions and needs. The days of calling an 800 number with customer service needs and questions are fading. In the digital age, the consumer’s expectation is for near real-time responsiveness from brands and businesses wherever the consumer decides to engage. Our internal team of expert community managers and account strategists are immersed in our client’s brand and have the available resources to monitor brand mentions and help respond to customer questions and needs as quickly as possible.

3) Assuming a brand does establish a strong social media presence and has found the resources to stay active across its social channels, what type of content do they need to be creating and sharing?

JP: Content creation can be daunting, especially if the brand is as active on as many different platforms as they should be. Not only is staying relevant and timely a major factor, the different social networks require different types of content. For example, the type of content that drives the best engagement and associated performance on Facebook is not the same as what will fit the LinkedIn or the Pinterest audience. It is important to keep in mind the audience as well as the medium when creating content for social media. Twitter may be a great platform for engaging in real time and having a two-way conversation with a customer based on some short form content, whereas espousing core competencies and sharing a well-researched whitepaper on a specific industry issues may be a better fit for LinkedIn. The key is understanding the difference in the content needed, leveraging multiple networks for distribution, and being able to cohesively tie it all together for a holistic digital presence. This converged approach is one area that sets StrataBlue apart from most traditional agencies.

4) So all that being said, how do small-to-medium sized business marketers know when they should take the plunge and add the latest and greatest social network to their arsenal of marketing platforms? Do they need to have a presence on all of them?

JP: With the growth in social media popularity and user engagement (not to mention $22B acquisitions like WhatsApp) new properties are going to continue to materialize. Having the expertise and understanding to know which ones to take on (like video platform Vine) or perhaps those the majority of brands should stay away from (like Snapchat) is not only important to the brand image and digital persona but also to the expenditure of limited resources to maintain the growing number of options.

5) This all makes sense, but most businesses and brands require that a solid return on investment be demonstrated before they decide to invest in marketing activities. How can something that seems as nebulous as Social Media Marketing be shown to drive measurable results?

JP: That is THE question. When social media marketing is executed and optimized correctly, the gains in performance are certainly measurable and can be shown to drive any number of key objectives. The crucial element to any marketing strategy is having a cohesive, comprehensive approach; this is especially true in the digital marketing realm. It’s a must for a brand to have a strong destination to drive potential customers to, and this extends beyond the website and/or having a presentable brick and mortar location. In fact, the digital presence of a business will be often be visible to many more potential customers… It will be more scrutinized, engaged with, and commented on more than other brand elements. Today’s consumers are trained to research and evaluate businesses online well before stopping at a location or calling a phone number.

According to a multi-channel shopping survey by Price Waterhouse and Coopers (PwC), “More than 80% of all respondents conduct online research before they buy electronics, computers, books, music, and movies.” Furthermore, “88% percent of US respondents said that they research a product online via their PC before buying.” Aside from the consumer behavior aspect, social media marketing offers tracking and concrete metrics on everything from engagement and website traffic all the way through to purchases and brand evangelism.

So now the real question is: does the person or team researching, developing and optimizing the social media marketing campaigns have the expertise, experience and holistic view of the digital eco-system to properly and effectively target and engage potential customers? For most brands, the potential loss of business and negative impact to the brand aren’t worth the risk of putting such crucial elements of success in the hands of anyone less than experts in the field. This is where the collective 40+ years of digital marketing experience and proven performance of the StrataBlue team come into play, allowing us to truly become an extension of most any businesses’ marketing team.