Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Marketing Question of the Week: Why is logo design such an important part of marketing your brand?

Marketing Question of the Week


Your logo is just one piece of your branding strategy. And though its size and its tendency to tuck itself into a corner may make it seem inconsequential, your logo is no wallflower.

In essence, your logo is a small ad for your company. It’s true.

And once you have well-developed branding strategy, your logo portrays your values and your goals, while conveying the message of your company.

And it does this universally.

“A logo done and standardized for a company service or product provides continuity and consistency across all platforms,” says John LeDuc, founder of LeDuc Creative and designer extraordinaire. “Since digital advertising has become so text driven, the logo serves even more to bring in that continuity.”

A well executed logo design (with the right colors, appropriate font, etc.) creates confidence in your brand. At the same time, this quiet little graphic can speak volumes in differentiating you from your competitors.

Your logo is how consumers recognize and respond to your company. An evergreen design that stands the test of time (think IBM or Shell) reflects not just the strength your brand, but also its growth.

Bottom line?

Your logo will help keep your brand message consistent while establishing and increasing consumer recognition.


University of Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr once said that consistency is the greatest measure of performance. “And that’s what a logo does for a brand,” John adds. “It helps the message of the brand perform.” 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Marketing Question of the Week: If I don’t sell a product, do I need to be doing AdWords?

If I don’t sell a product, do I need to be doing AdWords?

A lot of people aren’t really clear on what Google AdWords is. Or does. As a writer and mere mortal, I cast myself among the clueless. So in my own quest for clarity, I turned to our Google AdWords expert, Kara Grupe.

She gave me this little morsel:

“While you can use Google ads to sell goods and products, it's only one aspect of the AdWords platform. AdWords can be used to capture almost any type of search traffic on the web, extending beyond searches made in Google.com. For example, you can use it to promote an event, boost your brand recognition with image ads, encourage people to sign up for your company newsletter, or capture the attention of people searching for your company's services.”

I nodded, tapping my index finger thoughtfully against my chin. That all sounded good and I knew it would check out. Kara’s no slouch.

And just to prove it, she explained further.

She said that one of the key components of success in Google AdWords is in the Quality Score. Quality Score is basically how well an ad group, keywords, ad and landing page relate to what a person is searching for AND how likely that person is to click on the ad.

See, every time someone does a search on Google, a unique AdWords auction is created.

Every advertiser who has a keyword match to the search query then competes in the auction. The process continues from there. To get a clearer understanding, you can click here. But the word on the street is that Google AdWords is the cat’s pajamas, daddy-o. (And that the street is clearly from the 1920s.)

Why is Google AdWords so effective for marketing your business online? Among other things, it’s completely measurable and cost-effective. It has maximum relevance and is highly targeted.

It should be obvious at this point that Google AdWords is a highly effective tool. But do you need to be doing it? Well, no.

Is it a good idea to be doing it? Absolutely.


A really good idea, in fact. So why not give it a try?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Navigating Wants Vs. Needs In the Client and Ad Agency Relationship


Relationships are challenging.

If they were easy, there wouldn’t be millions of books available on how to survive them.

And the relationship between an ad agency and the client is no exception. Particularly when the client has an opinion about what he or she wants, and the agency has a differing opinion about what they believe the client needs. It’s the whole wants vs. needs debate.

So who’s right?

In terms of marketing and advertising, there’s no definitive answer to the wants vs. needs conundrum.   

Yes, it’s true that most clients seek out ad agencies to provide direction and expertise. And the agencies deliver on those. But there are times when clients hire ad agencies with the sole intent of using that expertise to fulfill their wishes. This is where things get dicey.

Beyond campaign performance, an ad agency is also judged on strategy, customer service and comfort within the working relationship. With all of this on the line, it can be difficult for the agency to offer the client alternative opinions based on what the agency believes the client needs - regardless of how tactfully it’s done.

Especially if the agency follows the ancient tenet of basic customer service - “the customer is always right.”

But when an ad agency works hard to stay current with the marketplace and methods for how to drive success, the resistance to guidance for optimal results feels like a lot of wasted energy and resources.

This is NOT to say, however, that the client is wrong. There is often a legitimate need behind what the client wants. It takes time to unearth it though.

The problem with focusing on wants vs. needs is that if left unchecked, the ad agency and the client become pinned against one another.

The agency is frustrated that their experience and expertise are not being utilized, while the client feels increasingly isolated and stressed about spending money. This is NO environment for creating successful strategies and campaigns.

And it needn’t ever come to this.

When a client is transparent and forthcoming with their goals, it is the job of the ad agency to LISTEN to what the client wants and problem solve from that point rather than bombard the client with their opinion of what the client needs. 

That’s why an ad agency will generally have the most positive influence on a client’s business when they take the time to get to know the client, to truly listen and to be involved with the development of strategy.

The murky waters of wants vs. needs then become much clearer.

So see, it’s not so much that the client doesn’t know what he or she needs. It’s just that solving a need feels a lot more challenging and overwhelming than fulfilling a want.

An ad agency that is attentive to the client and strives to build a strong partnership will be able to enact the process of getting the client what he or she needs, by fulfilling what he or she wants.

And if the ad agency and client can’t get beyond the wants vs. needs conundrum, well, it may just be a sign that it’s not a good fit and it’s time to move on.


Not all relationships work out. Despite all the literature.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Design vs Art | The Real Role of Web Designers



Art and Design Are as Comparable as Apples and Oranges

Have you ever gone to a website and been just blown away by the imagery? Did it wow you in all of its feature rich glory? Were you so taken by it that you destroyed your laptop trying to nail it to the wall? (We hope not.)

So then surely you remember what that website was advertising or promoting, right?

There’s a good chance that you said no. And if you did, then the website designer failed. At least in terms of designing a website.

According to Mark O’Brien at printmag.com, “designing a website with the primary goal of demonstrating creativity is akin to an architect designing a demo house with the sole intent of showing how many different styles she can design.”

We can imagine that end product would be an amazing house - the likes of which would make excellent fodder for a tome on the psychology of Dr. Seuss. But it wouldn’t be a very livable dwelling. A design fail.

Here’s the deal.

Design is not art.

Even if a designer went to an “art school” to get his or her degree - which many of them did. Design is neither better nor worse than art. It simply ISN’T art. So what’s the difference? Graphic designer Alex Trochut put it this way:

    Design is solving a problem. Art is raising a question.
    Design is conclusive. Art is an open debate.
    Design is the mind looking for solutions. Art is the voice of the soul.
    Design needs a collective acceptance. Art only needs an inner approval.
    Design is an act of empathy. Art is an act of freedom.

In a nutshell, design focuses on problem-solving and functionality. This is an important distinction. And it’s one we fully comprehend at LeDuc Creative.

Our designers approach web design with some key questions in mind:

        What problem am I solving for the client?
        How will the typical site user respond to the way I arrange the elements of the design?
        How can I ensure that the viewer will have a positive response?
        Who is the website’s target audience?
        What are the technical parameters and strategic nuances of the assignment?
        How can I make this a highly usable site where people will stick around?
        Will my hands shake too much if I opt for that sixth cup of coffee?

Effective designers are first and foremost problem-solvers.

The 87-year-old graphic design legend Milton Glaser gave the best definition of the practice of design when he said, design is the process of going from an existing condition to a preferred one.” Well said, Milt.

Successful designers have the inherent understanding that to design is to make people’s lives better in ways they don’t necessarily see or appreciate, but without which they would be lost.

Simply put, designers use their mathematical left brains to create work that resembles something from their artistic right brains.

Or they’re sorcerers. That’s a possibility too.

Either way, the fearless designers at LeDuc Creative love to get to the bare bones of what makes a design work well. Long before they get geeked about colors, images and fonts, they start with an overview of the client’s goals.

So if it’s successful website design you want, turn to LeDuc Creative.

Whether your focus is on incentivizing buyers, making checkout easier, having a mobile ready design, up selling users on related products, re-marketing to past visitors who haven’t yet purchased or any other number of goals you envision, the designers at LeDuc Creative can help you realize those goals. (And if you’ve got any luck, they’ll teach you to ballroom dance. Bad luck, that is.)

At LeDuc Creative, we know that the main difference between art and design is that art asks questions, while design answers them.

Our website designers have answers and solutions for you.

So our question is, how can we help?

Monday, January 30, 2017

5 Ways To Think Like A Marketer to Benefit Your Company


Many people don’t want to do the marketing for their business. They REALLY don’t want to. They just plain don’t like it. So they turn to a marketing/ad agency for what they deem to be drudgery.

But when a company with faltering sales and shaky numbers seeks out marketing/ad agencies with the request to “fix it and make it go,” a marketing specialist can start to feel like a doctor trying to help a diabetic who insists on eating fudge during every office visit.

Not to say that marketers are doctors. (I’ll dispense of the spin doctors jokes here.)

Even with the expertise of a marketing firm developing the full-scale broad-based creative strategies for the brand - not to mention all of the blogging, tweeting, YouTubing and whatnot - business owners and salespeople would do well to think like marketers too.

See, these days customers can find out all about a product or service without ever having to talk to a salesperson. Ever. And from the comfort of their home. So if sales reps are to stay relevant, they have to change up their game a bit.

The sales person has to get involved earlier in the buyer’s journey,says Jantsch, author of the book Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer – Sell Like a Superstar. They need to become an authority so they’re looked at as an expert. They’re not going to get invited to the party otherwise, because the buyer is now making a great deal of decisions even before marketing hands the lead over to sales.” As Jantsh says, That’s where the current disconnect is. We’ve got all this information and we’re drowning in it, and we need someone to make it valuable to me and my situation [as a buyer].”

So does that mean salespeople should ditch Willy Loman and strive for Don Draper? Absolutely not.

It simply means that salespeople and business owners would do well to adopt a marketing mindset.

So what does a marketing mindset entail exactly? It starts by simply asking yourself how you can build awareness among customers regarding your products and services. And there are more than a few ways to do this:


This should be obvious, yet how many times have you, as a customer, walked away from a purchase because the person helping couldn’t answer a few basic questions about the product or service?

Though Willy Loman lacked the necessary attributes to be a great salesman, he did the know the product inside and out. The marketing playbook places tremendous value on building reputation as an authority. Salespeople would be wise to learn this play.

2. Know your prospects.

There’s a ton of information out there. And we all have access to it. ALL of us.

“But the person who tells me 10 things I should be reading is the one I’m going to listen to,” Jantsh says. “If you can produce, share, or curate content that will make my life easier and give me a leg up on being more effective or efficient, I’m going to look at you as somebody of value.”

Be sure to do the extra reading on their industry. Check out the trade journals and their community papers. Clip out articles you think would be interesting to a prospect.

3. Show up and start speaking.

This doesn’t mean just chatting up those prospects. We’re talking on a broader scale here. Giving talks at conventions, expos, seminars or being on a panel gives you street cred as an authority in your field. Hone your speaking skills and observe speakers who stand out in your field.

Plus, if you’re given the opportunity to speak alongside someone who is already well known, grab it. There will already be a bigger audience, and you may be able to offer a different perspective on whatever the topic.

4. Know your competition.

Of course you want to see what they’re doing well. That’s valuable information. But what’s equally valuable, if not more, is to observe what the competition is doing poorly. If you can begin to see the competition’s weak spot as the place where a client’s needs are not being met, then you can ask yourself what you can do to step in and meet those needs?

5. Network.

This doesn’t mean you have to go into every client meeting (or even basic human interaction) seething to close the deal Glengarry Glen Ross style. It’s more a reminder that every conversation you have is an effort to build new relationships or strengthen current ones.

The bottom line? In business, pretty much everything is marketing - right down to what pair of shoes you wear. It all affects to the profitability of your company. So why not ensure your company’s longevity by thinking like a marketer?



Thursday, December 15, 2016

Website Design Is So Trendy




Part Two - Website Design

December 25th is almost here and for some of us this means the goose is getting fat and it’s time to put a penny in the old man’s hat. Actually, it probably doesn’t mean that for any of us.

But whatever your reality this early December, the end of the year seems to be a time to reflect. And while we hope you’re reflecting on the good things in life rather than how you behaved at the office holiday party, at LeDuc Creative, we’ve been reflecting lately on areas where we took a different approach in 2016 to better serve our clients. 

The first area was SEO. We covered it in our last riveting post entitled, Let’s Talk Turkey about 2016.

So it only makes sense that the second area would be website design. Because once the SEO gets the visitors to the site, we had to determine what it would take to get them to stay. And we had to not only know what worked, but know what worked specifically in 2016.

There were more than a few trends that needed to be considered in designing websites this past year.

-The Proliferation of User Interface Patterns
Problems with user interface have created responsive web design that has left a lot of sites looking the same. While similarities aren’t a bad thing, we had to find new and challenging ways to make sites stand out while still avoiding difficulties with user interface.

Among some of the patterns and techniques our designers are familiar with are the hamburger menu, account registration, the long scroll, card layouts and the use of hero images.

-Rich Animations
There’s a right way and a not so right way to use animations. They are generally thought of in terms of two groups:

Large scale which include effects like parallax scrolling and pop-up notifications and are used as a primary interaction tool to have more impact on users.  
Small scale which include spinners, hover tools and loading bars, but don’t require any user input.

Our designers consider carefully whether the animation technique they use - from spinners to hovering to background to whatever - enhances the client’s site’s story elements and personality rather than serve as a distraction.

-Micro-interactions
We engage in micro-interactions all day long. It happened the last time you “liked” something on Facebook or set the timer on your phone.

Micro-interactions are an important part of nearly every digital design project in that they add a human element. To design any website these days without some sort of element for user interaction is almost as rare as a log having deep thoughts.

They are also key in helping with communicating a status or bit of feedback, seeing the result of an action and assisting the user manipulate something.

-Material Design
In 2015, Google launched its new style language, Material Design. It was followed by Material Design Lite which was better suited toward web design. Our designers ate it up.

Material Design uses shadow effects and the concepts of movement and depth to create clean and modern designs that appear more realistic to the user.

It doesn’t rely on any particular framework so it allows the designers to use a bunch of front-end tools (not to be confused with front-end loaders) in creating their sites. Another plus - when it comes to code, it’s pretty lightweight.

-Responsive Design

Responsive web is among the most popular because it’s a relatively simple and cost-efficient way for businesses to build a fully-functional mobile-friendly site. If it’s not executed properly though, then performance suffers. Performance is important to the user experience, but also to Google.

Since it’s become necessary to keep page weight down, responsive design is very compatible with minimalism. With all of this in play, responsive web design is becoming less of a trend and more of a regular practice.

-Flat Design

Flat design isn’t new. It’s been around for a while and is compatible with other trends such as minimalism, responsive web design and Material Design.

Some of the techniques designers are incorporating in flat design are long shadows, vibrant color schemes, simply typography, ghost buttons and minimalism.
  
Ultimately, it’s important to know the trends, but to remember that they’re just additional tools for designers. At LeDuc Creative, we are well versed in the latest trends, but know that the biggest rule for website design is not to follow trends just because they’re the thing” at the moment. (Unfortunately, not all of the designers apply this rule to fashion.)

So while making websites more device friendly was a trend relevant to our clients like Lynn Foley Law, What’s Cooking Ann Arbor and J&M Strategic Consulting, on the other side of that coin we produced a Manufacturing Day video for Wenzel. And while that may sound old-school, it turned out to be a great asset for them.

There’s something to be said for old-school and tradition. And we will address that specific topic in the third post on our series 2016-The Year That Was. (It’s not really called that.) It will also be our final post for 2016.


See ya there.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Let’s Talk Turkey about 2016. Part One - SEO.


Thanksgiving is almost here and the December holidays are just around the corner.

The year is drawing to an end and we’re inching ever closer toward the beginning of 2017.

Though this is not a startling realization, it did get us thinking about the year that was 2016 at LeDuc Creative.

Because we always have one foot (or some other singular body part) in advertising, we couldn’t help but think about the changes we experienced this past year. Good changes. Changes that made us a better agency. We also thought about fuzzy things like ducklings, which are cute but ultimately irrelevant to this post.

At any rate, when John LeDuc first ventured into running an ad business over 35 years ago, things were a lot different.

The internet was in its packet switching infancy and a couple of years away from being an actual usable thing. It would be quite some time before it would reach adulthood. (Of course, with all of the infantile behavior on the internet, one could argue it still hasn’t.)

The world of advertising then was of the traditional print/broadcast/billboard ilk. It obviously wasn’t called traditional then. After all, we’re talking about a time when direct mail was considered cutting edge. Which is a little hilarious.

But here we are 35 years later and our battle cry at LeDuc Creative is, “We’re not new to this.”

We call it a battle cry because although we have vast experience in traditional advertising, we know there’s a certain fierceness required to survive in the current and constantly changing landscape of today’s marketing and advertising. And we vow to stay out ahead of it - for our clients and for ourselves.

At LeDuc Creative, we must always consider what tactical moves to make in order to be holistic in our approach to get success for our clients.

So the first move we made in 2016 was focusing on SEO.

SEO is the name of the game these days. And the game is getting our clients results. In case you didn’t already know, SEO stands for search engine optimization and though that may sound like some Star-Trekian acronym for achieving warp speed, it’s really pretty simple. SEO is basically a measurable, repeatable process that is used to signal search engines that certain pages are worthy of being shown in Googles index.

And Google’s where it’s at, y’all.

That’s why this year we added a certified Google AdWords Expert to the team.

We call her our superstar. And not because she’s shaped like a star. (She isn’t.) But because her expertise adds so much to creating powerful and effective SEO.

Google works from an algorithm that gives websites scores based on the quality of the site, how many sites link to it and how trustworthy it is. And our superstar expert helps us create SEO savvy content that is relevant and gives our clients’ sites a higher score. A higher score means higher billing on a search. And higher billing means more visibility.

Some of her other superstar duties include:

        Conducting keyword research to create a list of keyword phrases on which the client bids
        Creating Adwords Ads that will run on Google Search, Google Display Partners sites (if desired) and on mobile devices (if desired)
        Testing different ads using various headlines and ad copy
        Managing bids
        Revealing what keywords were entered into Google Search that resulted in an ad being displayed
        Telling clients how many times visitors clicked on an ad, which ad was clicked on, and which keyword got the ad displayed
        Working with clients to create targeted landing pages for each of their Adwords Ad Groups
        Keeping John LeDuc in line

Okay, that last one isn’t really a part of her AdWords duties, although she does it well. Still, through her tireless efforts with SEO and AdWords, LeDuc Creative was able to generate more leads for our clients. A lot more leads.

And in the case of Feed Lease Corporation, those leads came at an exponential rate, accounting for some pretty happy guys over there. And when they’re happy, we’re happy.

Yep. Getting on board the SEO train was definitely a game changer. But we didn’t stop there.

There were two other areas where making changes really benefitted our clients.  One of them was also forward thinking, but the other one - not so much.  And this is a good thing.

Wanna know how we upped the ante on website design in 2016? Stay tuned.