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Special Note: The following was written by Yan Golovatyy who came to Prime as an intern for the summer of 2015. Yan is a Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) student starting his senior year of high school this fall.

profile_golovatyyAt Prime Advertising & Design, student internships involve much more than brewing coffee and sorting the mail. From optimizing Local Search Profiles to learning more about web design and development, each day my “toolbox” gained new tools and I gained invaluable skills.

Spending the summer at Prime was a perfect match for me. I believe internships are a great idea for students and for local businesses. Here’s why:

A Win for Students

According to a 2012 survey for the Chronicle of Higher Education, employers give twice as much weight to college graduates’ work experience as to their academic credentials. Good grades are important, but potential employers are really looking for candidates with hands-on experience in the workplace.

At Prime, I gained a boatload of hands-on experience. For example, I learned that the online reputation of a business can be dramatically impacted by many different online properties such as Google MyBusiness, Yelp, and many other local listing and review sites. This proved to be a valuable lesson to me, as it permanently changed the way I think about different companies, advertising and the information available about anyone I am considering doing business with.

As I head back to school for the 2015-16 academic year, I am looking forward to applying my new skills and experience to my studies.

A Win for Businesses

While summer internships are extremely beneficial in providing real-world experience, high school and college students can certainly contribute meaningful work to a company.

Having grown up with computers, smart phones and social media, my generation is tech-savvy and quick to learn new programs.

I learned about web design and development and the many elements of a successful website. I was able to help by using my knowledge of building online business profiles to create and enter website content.

Interns can also help by lightening the load. Prime has launched 860 websites in over 22 years of business experience. With so many beta websites being worked on, I was able to help out the account managers by entering content and managing social media.

Many internships turn into job opportunities. Instead of spending a chunk of time searching for good candidates and training new employees, hire an intern who is reliable and already familiar with how your company runs and the programs you use.

Finally, interns are often willing brand advocates. I am very thankful for the kind, considerate and caring group of professionals I spent this summer with. I am excited to tell friends and classmates about my summer internship and look forward to applying Prime’s mission to “spark the energy” in everything I do!

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I love sitting at stoplights and checking out the business-related graphics on vehicles. Whether it’s an image of a mouthwatering dish, a photo of a local realtor or a bouquet of flowers, vehicle graphics can be an important and impactful branding strategy for your company.

According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, a single vehicle wrap—depending on city and population size—can generate between 30,000 and 70,000 daily impressions. Driven 15,000 miles over the course of a year, this vehicle will pass in front of about 9 million other cars and trucks on the road.

Graphics inside Stellar Keys  & Remotes Van

When your vehicle travels consistently within a designated area, the impact can be even greater for local marketing. I was recently talking with a local business owner and I mentioned that I constantly see his company trucks around town. He chuckled for a moment and replied, “Ya know what? I hear that all the time from people, but the funny thing is, I only have one truck!”

There is little doubt vehicle graphics are an effective way to build your brand, gain recognition and achieve the coveted “out of home/on the go” exposure in a very creative and affordable way. With today’s technology and the evolution of the materials used in the process, vehicle graphics can be easily and efficiently applied.

Every business seeks to make a lasting impression, which is perhaps one of the most impactful benefits of vehicle wraps: the colors and design make them eye-catching and memorable. The really great ones often become conversation pieces!

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Are you thinking of wrapping a vehicle? Consider using vibrant color schemes that will attract the attention of your fellow drivers, as well as shapes and images that will stand out in even the busiest rush hour traffic. Let the graphics and images tell the story and simply include the name of your company and a point of contact such as a website or phone number. Less is more. Don’t make the mistake of overloading the vehicle with a bunch of text no one will read.

Already have a cool and creative vehicle wrap? Post a photo!

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Sustainable Blog Tips_SMOur first effort at building a company blog was a very familiar story. It sort of resembled most elementary school kids running the mile on track and field day: the first lap was full of energy and excitement, but right about the time we should have been catching our stride, the excitement and energy fell victim to client priorities and the finish line was nowhere in sight.
As most distance runners will tell you, “you can’t win the race in the first lap, but you sure can lose it.”

Sound familiar?

To avoid the common pitfalls that can quickly derail a blog, here are five tips we learned firsthand to building, and perhaps more importantly, maintaining a successful blog.

Have a Plan & Execute It

This seems obvious, but one of the top reasons blogs fail is because there is no plan in place, or the one that is in place is not executed. Take the time to sit with a team and walk through the various assignments involved with a successful blog including relevant content, frequency, SEO, distribution, etc. And here’s the most important part, once you have the plan, stick to it.

Divide & Conquer

A sustainable blog will require multiple team members. Task staff so that one person is not left creating the editorial menu, tracking down the blog from the writer, proofreading and posting. Keeping multiple people involved is good time management and will help maintain the energy and excitement.

SEO

The importance of creating content that is relevant to your business, and can be found by search engines, should be a high priority. This, however, is an often overlooked piece of the equation. Take time throughout the editing process to make sure your blog body copy and page tags are optimized and can be found by those searching for subject matter experts.

Have a Backup Plan

All content is not equal and creating relevant, compelling content for your audience is a must. Maintaining a high level of content is one of the biggest challenges of a blog, and with busy schedules and client priorities, deadlines are not always met. Therefore, it is important to have a few posts “in the can” that can be used when the dog ate someone’s homework.

Images and Video

Use images and video to help tell your story. Not only will the visuals help reader retention, but they also play a huge role in gaining the attention of users on Facebook, Twitter and other vehicles you use to promote your blog. Humans process images hundreds of thousands of times faster than text so take the time to find the right image to help tell your story.

These tactics really helped us get back on task and eliminate many of the challenges associated with maintaining a regular blog. It also helped us maximize the exposure for our efforts. Do you have a success story and tips to share about resurrecting a blog gone bad? Share it here.

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From stylized text to abstract swirls, does your logo reflect your company and brand? Customers should be able to get a sense of what you do just by looking at your logo. The best corporate logos are unique, easy to read and often include subliminal messages (FedEx, Amazon), while the worst are jumbled, tacky and forgettable.

With campaign season heading into full swing, it’s been more than interesting to watch as candidates unveil their logo. From red, white and blue color schemes to no-frills fonts, presidential candidate logos tend to play it safe. Although many of the 2016 offerings are yawn-inducing, a few bucked the trend with logos that were either surprisingly slick or downright amateurish.

THE GOOD

Hillary_for_America_2016_logosquare.svg Hillary Clinton: Not to be outdone by Hilton or Holiday Inn, Hillary Clinton enters the fray with her take on the solitary “H” logo, incorporating a forward-progress arrow into the design. Too minimal for some, the Democratic Party frontrunner is perhaps the only politician in this election cycle prominent enough to pull off a single letter logo. Clean and efficient, Hillary’s logo looks great on t-shirts, business cards and just about anything else (tattoos?).

Rand_Paul_Presidential_Campaign_logosquare.svg Rand Paul: Although the Kentucky senator is a longshot for the Republican nomination, his logo is shoo-in material. Bold, sans-serif and all-caps, “Rand” grabs attention and distinguishes Paul from his illustrious father. However, the magnum opus of Paul’s logo is the torch design. The flame is tidy, while the italicized “A” and “N” achieve the graphic designer’s holy grail: creating the torch’s base using negative space. Traditionally, the torch symbolizes enlightenment and hope. Here’s to hoping Paul’s logo will enlighten campaign designers in the future.

THE MEDIOCRE

JEB!_2016_Campaign_Logosquare Jeb Bush: The former governor of Florida aims to evoke strong emotion and shouting with his logo’s use of bright red and an exclamation point. Like Clinton and Paul, Bush’s is wise to use his unique first name to escape the shadow of his brother and father. Although the bold “Jeb” contrasts well with the understated “2016,” the offering is uninspiring. Perhaps the Republican should learn from Writing 101: convey excitement through content, not through a tacked-on exclamation point.

Trump_2016 Donald Trump: Not great, not hideous, Trump’s logo is white, brash and uncompromising—much like the billionaire businessman himself. While the all-caps “Trump” really pops and can be read from a mile away, the Republican’s logo loses points for its hackneyed slogan, “Make America Great Again!” Barack Obama’s “Hope and Change” notwithstanding, most campaign slogans are largely forgettable. Not exactly a logo to trump the competition.

THE UGLY

Rick Perry: Although the Texas governor scores a point with his Oakland Athletics-style circular design, the rest of the Republican’s logo is an emphatic strikeout. While the font is fine, the letters spelling out “Perry” are far too spaced out. The worst offense, however, is the tacky clip art star sucking the life out of the red “P.” The star is about five sizes too large, while its trail and the lighter shades of blue are completely unnecessary.

 

While each of these campaigns set out to create a logo that captures the attention of voters, some clearly do a better job than others. Does your logo reflect your company brand and image?

 

 

What is your vote for the best logo among these candidates?

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The choice of colors to use in your marketing is vital. Whether it’s for your logo or a marketing campaign, the colors you choose can have a huge impact on your potential customers. Color can appeal to all of us visually, but a lot more is psychological. Ask “what kind of emotion do I want to convey?” as colors evoke emotions, moods and feelings and knowing the power of color psychology can help you make decisions.

Certain colors can increase the effectiveness of your company’s branding methods. By realizing how colors can psychologically impact others, you can make branding and marketing decisions that will allow you to reach your target audience on a whole new level.

In general, bright and bold colors are attention-grabbing but can appear brash. Muted tones are more sophisticated but can be overlooked.
What colors should you use?

  • Green is a good choice if you want to relax your audience or bring them wealth – think nature, money and tranquility.
  • Blue also relaxes people but creates a sense of security and trust in a brand too. Many social media sites use blue in their logos. This is the color most preferred by men.
  • Red evokes strong emotions and encourages appetite. It is often seen in clearance sales and used for impulsive shoppers. Many restaurants and food products also use this color.
  • Orange is a good call to action because it represents a friendly and confident brand while showing excitement and enthusiasm. It is also very attention-grabbing.
  • Yellow increases cheerfulness and warmth and encourages communication but it can also cause fatigue and eye strain. Best used if your target audience is young.
  • Purple shows wealth, success and wisdom. It is often used in beauty and anti-aging products and used to soothe or calm

color_in_adsWhile perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, color is one of the most powerful forms of non-verbal communication that designers use. Understanding the psychology of color can help better target your audience and rebrand your image to get the best possible results.

Do you have a color for your brand?

 

picture source: Chart from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-honigman/psychology-color-design-infographic_b_2516608.html

 

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Deciding which media outlet(s) to utilize can be overwhelming and much more complicated than it used to be. The previous generation of business owners had only a few options to consider (anyone else remember how tan their Yellow Pages rep got in the summer?). These days, local businesses find themselves inundated with sales calls regarding a seemingly endless list of advertising opportunities. To help fight through the clutter, here are five questions to ask yourself before you consider which media outlet is the best fit to help grow your business.

 Media Buying Tips_Prime Blog

#1: Is it easy to do business with you?

Consumer industry statistics show that more than 80% of consumers research a business online before making a purchase. If you haven’t invested in a website that represents your products, services and makes it easy to do business with you, get this taken care of first. Without a functioning website you’re simply not in the game.
Similarly, most of us use our smart phones to get to where we’re going. Whether it’s a cup of coffee or our next business meeting, our phones navigate us. If the search engines don’t have your correct information (location, phone number, URL) you are making it difficult for potential customers to find you. Get this piece buttoned up as well.

#2: Who are you looking for?

Dig into this question. Be choosy. Get specific. In today’s media world, you can hyper-target potential customers resulting in less waste of your advertising spending.

#3: What’s the goal of your campaign?

Do you want to brand your business so you’re top of mind when your product/service is needed? Do you have excess product you need to move quickly? Maybe you have a community event you need to publicize. Each media outlet has their strengths and weaknesses. By answering this question, you get a step closer to determining which outlet is ideal for you.

#4: What is your expectation and how will you measure your ROI?

It’s nerve-racking spending money without knowing if it will pay off. Campaigns can be stopped short, and money wasted, without a clear measurement of success. Ask yourself what your expectation is. If your goal is to get 25 new clients from this campaign, then how many leads will you need? Do you know how many impressions it takes to get one lead? How will you measure that lead? Will they call you, stop in, or go to your website? Do you have a system internally to track these statistics? Having a solid, consistent structure to measure your results will make you a savvy advertiser.

#5: Are you a patient person?

We all know advertising works but it often takes time to gain momentum and see results. Determine your budget, and the length of time you are comfortable with, and stick with it. Resist the urge to stop the campaign early if you don’t see immediate sales. With time and the right outlet(s), your sales will start to rise!
After considering these five questions, you are now ready to start researching which media outlet is best for you. In an upcoming blog, we will explore a variety of advertising outlets and examine their individual strengths and weaknesses. Stay tuned!

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When it comes to local data, we expect nothing less than precision. But, are we getting it?

Network Globe_SM2In the world today, we all want access to data and we want it fast. Nearly everyone carries at least one smart device, whether it be a smartphone, tablet, connected watch, etc. How helpful are these devices if the data they connect to is incorrect? Likely, not very useful. As a business owner, if your data is incorrect, it could be detrimental to your business.

There are many local search properties out on the internet. Some of the more popular sites include Google+, Yahoo, Mapquest, Yelp, Bing, Dexknows, SuperPages, etc. All of these properties scour the web to curate their data. Often times, if one of them has incorrect data, it is likely that many others do as well.

I find myself relying on local search data and my GPS nearly every week. I also find myself shaking my head in disbelief at how often this data is incorrect. This curated data is doing a disservice to many businesses that are not monitoring it.

You are most definitely losing business if you have incorrect local search data

Incorrect Address:
Do all of the local search networks have your address correct? If you have been in business for many years at the same location, it is more likely to be correct. If your business has EVER moved, the chances of it being correct everywhere is quite low. There is nothing more frustrating than trekking across the city only to realize the business is no longer located there.

Incorrect Hours:
When we want something, we want it now. If your hours are incorrect, you are losing out on business and frustrating customers who may go elsewhere when you ARE actually open, or drive to your store only to find that you are closed.

Incorrect Business Categories:
If you are not listed in the correct business categories you are not coming up as an option for a customer ready to spend money. Time and time again we see many businesses that are incorrectly categorized, including my personal favorite – a veterinarian hospital that was categorized as a campground. We’re still not sure how many people are searching for campgrounds when they are looking for a pet hospital.

There are more elements to local search than the three listed above, but these three are crucial to have correct across the local search networks. It is a very large undertaking for businesses that try to manually update their data. Truthfully, it is quite unrealistic to have someone on your team do this.

There is a better way!

There are companies that can help you solve the local search data problem. Some do just the basics on the most popular local listings sites and some offer services to take advantage of the technology and fully enhance your business listings across a much larger list of sites. With enhanced data you can add things such as:

  • Keyword rich business description
  • Special offer or call to action
  • Photos and videos
  • Products and services
  • Menu
  • Links to your website and social media
  • Methods of payment

The advantages of adding this enhanced data is well worth it. Think of all of these local search sites as mini websites working to direct more qualified customers to your main website, store or office. Who doesn’t want more traffic?

If you would like a complimentary audit of your business listings, simply click here for more information: http://www.primeadvertising.com/capabilities/search-engine-social-media/local-search/

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The 4th of July is the mid-point of the summer, and just beyond the half way point of the year. Winter is in the rearview mirror (where it belongs!) and scorching hot temperatures and weekends at the lake are enjoyed by many. This weekend is no exception.

So, what does the holiday weekend mean for you and your business? It’s a time for reflection, for new, fresh ideas and insight into how you’re going to conduct business for the last half of the year. Here are four tips for your social media plan to take into consideration when heading back to the office on Monday, feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and motivated:

  1. Graphic / Visual updates.
    Make sure your social media and web graphics are updated with a new summer feel (bright colors and fun text are a couple of examples). Consumers enjoy content that is visually appealing and season specific posts and graphics are a nice change of pace from the normal business professional posts.
  2. Set a monthly plan and stick to it.
    Write out the next six months and declare what your focus is going to be. If I was creating a social media plan for an irrigation company, for example, I would focus July’s social media efforts on summer landscaping and lawn care, September would focus on leaf cleanup and December would focus on dethatching. Consumers love posts that are specific to the season. Plus they may feel they’re going to miss out on a product or service if they don’t act during that specific month.
  3. Get involved in the community.
    From parades to festivals to fundraising concerts, summertime is all about community activity and what better way to get recognition for you and your business than making a difference in the community (or communities) you service? Grab a calendar and search for community activities in your area.
  4. Offer incentives.
    Offer followers discounts, freebies, and coupon codes or hold contests that entice users to interact and share your content. People love a deal!

So, while these steps are meant to help you revive your business plan, first take some time to relax and enjoy the weekend with friends and family.

Happy Independence Day from your friends at Prime Advertising & Design!

 

 

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07.02.15

Prime Team

Happy Independence Day from all of your friends at Prime Advertising. Enjoy the festivities with family and friends. In observation of the holiday, we will be closed Friday, July 3rd.

 

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Email marketing continues to evolve as a popular and dynamic digital marketing tool. However, as I continue my time in the marketing space, I’ve noticed that although many clients have invested in email marketing, in most cases they are only scratching the surface when it comes to maximizing the potential. That got me thinking… maybe they don’t understand the full benefits of email marketing? If they did, it would surely be moved to the top of their To-Dos. Right?

If you find yourself simply slapping together an email newsletter, sending it, and then checking off the box for email marketing on your To-Do list, read on. I’ve compiled a short list of tips and benefits of email marketing to get you ‘jazzed’ (a term that is used daily around our office) about your digital marketing efforts.

Benefits of Email Marketing:

 

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Cost Effective: We’ll start with the most important question… how much will it cost? That’s the beauty of email marketing. Not much. Email marketing platforms are very inexpensive and extremely user friendly. Need I say more?

 

 

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Content Planning: This is perhaps my biggest piece of advice, always start with an editorial calendar. The beauty of many email marketing tools is that once you have your editorial calendar created, you have the ability to schedule sends. A phenomenal tool when time is of the essence.

 

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Test – Revise – Re-Use:  It takes precious time to create GREAT content (emphasis on great because good content just won’t do). The good news is that with direct email reporting, you can test with small groups and see how the content is received. Not received well? Revise – Re-Use – Re-Send.

 

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Expand Your Reach: You might be thinking… I’m blogging, tweeting… what more do you want from me? The benefit of email marketing tools is that they can be integrated with your CRM. Distribute that GREAT content to your database of leads!

 

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Real Time Reporting and Tracking: My favorite benefit of email marketing is the reports! With real-time reports at your fingertips, you know exactly how your email campaign performed. Most importantly, you know which customers clicked for more information.

 

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Act on The Reports: This is a big key in taking your email marketing to the next level. Your reports tell you exactly who is interested. And you can keep them interested by following up directly or with more in-depth content.

 

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Visuals: It is important to start with a clean, branded template to work with. In addition to brand recognition, a template makes it very easy to add content and visuals specific to each message or newsletter. Ease… now that’s a benefit I like.

 

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ROI: If I haven’t gotten you ‘jazzed’ up yet to spend a little more time on your email marketing campaigns, I’m confident my last benefit will get your attention: ROI. There’s a term we know and love. Email marketing continues to lead the digital marketing space for return on investment. And if that isn’t enough, not to worry, you have detailed reporting of every campaign to give you the hard numbers

 

Employ these practices with regularity and consistency and your email marketing initiatives will provide those awesome returns that you are looking for.

 

 

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