White Oak Gives Back

Taste the Nations Logo.png

Recently, we were thrilled to be asked by our local United Way office to help with a project they were putting together to promote small, ethnically diverse restaurants in Cleveland.

The project became known as "Taste the Nations of Cleveland, Tennessee." White Oak created a passport for consumers to take to each of the restaurants to be stamped. Our agency also created the Taste the Nations logo.

Eleven businesses are participating in the project, which runs through May 21. You can learn more here, including where you can pick up your own passport. 

We would like to thank the United Way of the Ocoee Region for letting us be a part of the project.

Other sponsors included the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, the Cleveland Daily Banner, Lee University, the Tennessee Small Business Development Centers and VIVE Immigrant and Refugee Services.

Words, Words, What are they Good For?

Digital billboards are the hot thing right now. They're bright, they're eye-catching, they're pretty. We have several clients who use them with great results.

I'm sure our graphic designers would disagree with this, but there's only one rule with it comes to billboards, and that's the good old KISS axiom.

Keep It Short and Simple.

The next time you're sitting at a red light, look at the boards. Do some have tiny type that is unreadable? Do some use an unrecognizable logo and fail to put the company name? (Unless you're Nike or Chevrolet, your logo alone probably isn't sufficient.) Do some have so many words the light turned green before you saw it all?

Digital boards rotate every 7 seconds, which means a consumer must be able to read and process the information in a very short period of time. Our brains can't digest a novella in that time.

When you're thinking about your billboard, ask yourself two questions:

1. Can I identify my business using five words (3-4 if using a phone number).

2. Can I make my pitch in 5-8 words?

If you can't answer yes to those questions, you may want to save your billboard for another project.

Billboards are pretty. They're also pretty expensive, so make every word count.

Don't Lose Your Marketing Credibility

We received an email the other day with the subject line, "Competitively Priced Media."

They lost me right off the bat for not hyphenating competitively-priced, but I clicked anyway to see what they wanted to sell me. This is what I saw:

I hope your week is going well! I’m circling back as I’m sure that this is a busy planning period for you and your team, and I’d like to hear how (company name) might fit into the media buying mix.

For starters, before you can circle back, you have to make an initial contact. Second, this person doesn't know this is a busy planning period for us (whatever that even means). And last, she wants to help us buy media.

We buy media for our clients. It's expensive enough to begin with. Why on earth would an ad agency ever pay more money for a third-party vendor to do that?

The moral of the story: know your customer.

This may be a perfectly legitimate company. They have a nice web site. But I would never trust them to market my business.


When 114 Million Viewers Isn't Enough

I miss the days when Super Bowl ads aired during the Super Bowl.

I get it, though. With all the money spent on creative and on-screen talent, advertisers need to get their coveted spot in front of as many consumers as possible. I mean, who can blame the Budweisers of the world for wanting more bang for their million bucks than the 114 million Super Bowl viewers they'll already be getting Sunday night?

I always try to resist watching ahead of time, and I hope you do too. (If you can't stand it, here they are.) These ads are truly the best Madison Avenue can roll out; and I think they deserve to be watched on Sunday night with a pan of nachos in the oven.

Currently, it's -4 degrees and snowing in Minnesota. I hope the owners of US Bank Stadium didn't skimp on the heating system. Regardless of the weather outside, people in Boston will be cheering for the Bad Guys (It's not just me), while everyone else on the planet will be cheering against them.

I will also be cheering for the ads.

Businesses Can Survive the Facebook Nuclear Bomb

Mark Zuckerberg made small business owners nervous a few days ago when he announced changes to the algorithms that determine what people see in their Facebook News Feed.

Zuckerberg said in part, "We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us... But recently we've gotten feedback from our community that public content -- posts from businesses, brands and media -- is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other."

He continued, "Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years. Since there's more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what's in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do -- help us connect with each other."

He went on with lots more feel-good stuff, then he pushed his big red button to open the bomb bay: "...we're making a major change to how we build Facebook... As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people." 

(Read his whole statement.)

On a personal level, I suppose this means I will see fewer opinions on issues I care about from experts and more opinions penned by Bubba from high school.

On a professional level -- as both an owner of an ad agency and a couple of other small businesses -- this means communicating ours and our clients' messages on social media will now cost more. Incidentally, this isn't the first time Facebook has done this type of thing; but it's the first time to my knowledge it has been addressed so publicly.

Before you jump off your small business ledge, though, here is a summary of ways your business can combat the changes -- from an article published in Entrepreneur.

1. Use the Insights page to determine what types of posts get the most engagement.

2. Post livestream videos whenever possible. Live videos get 6 times more views than regular video posts.

3. Appeal to your customers with interactive and personal posts. Shy away from automated posting apps and canned content. (For example, sharing "Eight Awesome Hacks for your Wedding" on your catering company page isn't going to cut it anymore. I've always thought that was lazy in the first place, but that's beside the point.)

4. Ask your customers to check "See First" for your business page in their News Feed preferences. To be blunt, your followers who will not do this probably aren't interested in your product anyway.

(Read the whole Entrepreneur article.)

I can add a couple more ideas myself.

First, our previous blog talked about taking a holistic approach to marketing. We love to slap up a social media post touting our product or service because it's quick, easy and mostly free. Think outside the box with your marketing. If your entire marketing efforts are dependent on your customers seeing you on their phone -- or any other single medium -- you have all your eggs in one basket, and we know that's not the way to do it.

Second, dust off that old email contact list you struggled so hard to build a few years ago. Send an eNewsletter or an email blast offering a special. That way, you're in control of who sees your message instead of a computer algorithm.

Bottom line: the businesses who have a good product or service and know how to promote it will thrive. The others won't.

A Holistic Approach to Marketing

Potential clients sometimes come to us and say something like, "I need a billboard," or "I want to do a radio spot," or "I need someone to help me do a Facebook ad."

I understand the impulse to do this. I have to resist the urge to say the same thing when trying to market some of my own pursuits.

But then I pause and ask myself what it is I really want. Do I really want to do a Facebook ad? Or, is that merely me effectively saying that I need to reach more customers?

It's obviously the latter.

It's easy to see a billboard or an ad on social media and think that's the way to market your business. You saw it, right? So then everyone else must have seen it, too. That's just human nature.

On the other hand, it's similarly easy to label marketing delivery channels you are unfamiliar with as worthless. People will say things like "who even listens to that radio station?" Or, "I don't read that paper."

You don't, but maybe your customers do.

When we create a marketing plan for a client, we perform extensive research on the best ways possible to market that client's business. Sometimes, it's a conventional approach. Sometimes, it's unconventional.

This holistic approach to marketing ensures your message is coordinated across platforms and you are using the platforms that reach your customers.

"The End of Advertising"

Back in June, a book with a funny title came out -- funny as in haha funny, especially if your new, re-branded advertising agency opened 6 or so weeks earlier.

It is titled "The End of Advertising" by Andrew Essex. 

I devoured every word in record time (for me).

Essex rails against those annoying pop-up ads, pre-roll video ads, and the like. Then he rehashes all the old horror stories like snake oil salesmen, Bayer selling heroin, etc., etc.

Then, he offers a bit of hope for the industry as is suggested by the subtitle, "Why it Had to Die, and the Creative Resurrection to Come." In the final part of the book, Essex (who "isn't from around here," as we like to say), talks about new innovations in marketing. The most noteworthy is Citibank's, Citi Bike program in New York City.

Essex thinks it's brilliant that a bank has its logo plastered on 10,000 bicycles in the Big Apple. Of course it's brilliant. It's brilliant because no one has ever done it before.

I don't agree with all Essex's naysaying about the industry in general. I don't think traditional advertising will ever go away, though the way it is presented and consumed is ever-changing. I mean, a newspaper ad is still a newspaper ad whether it's printed on paper or glowing on a screen. 

But, "The End of Advertising" did impact the way we at White Oak approach the business. (Everyone in our organization has read it). It helped hammer home the importance of looking for new ways to serve our clients to make them stand out in the noisy marketplace.

This new approach to the creative process is fun. We love doing things for clients no one else is doing. And our clients love us for it.