Thinking about how to make life better during a typically stressful time of year, the BLACK+GOLD staff discussed our personal and business holiday tips. We decided to share them in the hopes they might help others.
- Remember to be kind to yourself: We have two schools of thought here, one physical and one emotional.
Physical: Massage. The highly respected Mayo Clinic reports in its Healthy Lifestyle blog under Stress Management about the many benefits of massages. The article states “Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.”
The potential benefits of a massage include treatment of anxiety, headaches, insomnia related to stress, soft-tissue strains and sports injuries.
Massages are now available in places like malls and airports. Xpress Spa and Be Relax are two of the leading airport spa / massage providers. Check out their websites for airport locations nationwide.
Emotional: Meditation Apps. The NY Time recently wrote a review of meditation apps designed for smart phones. The article starts by saying “By now you’ve probably read about how meditation may help you manage anxiety, stress and blood pressure, and help you sleep better, be more creative and improve your relationships.” We couldn’t agree more.
It’s best to start with an app that will teach you the basics of meditation through a guided program. The sessions will introduce you to the concepts of mindful awareness and techniques such as focusing on your breath and body.
2. Outsourcing for Any Occasion: We’re big on outsourcing, and we don’t necessarily mean having your manufacturing done in some third world country.
From a business standpoint we like Intelecall Inc. for lead generation, outbound sales calls, inbound sales support, customer service and tech support. (Check them out. Mention BLACK+GOLD to receive a 10% discount)
For personal convenience we like instant delivery apps. Even living and working in NYC you can’t beat delivery to your door for nearly anything the heart desires. The NY Times rated four leading services recently. Be aware that there is a price mark-up for these services, that’s sometimes not transparently communicated.
And if you live in NYC check out Task Rabbit. They can help with home cleaning, delivery services, assembling IKEA furniture, general handyman services and even wait in line for restaurants, special events or the Department of Motor Vehicles.
3. Remember to Work On Your Business (not just in it). Business can just get crazy during the holidays, especially for eCommerce businesses.
While you’re busy filling orders and providing extra customer service, be sure to take time to look at the data your eCommerce is generating. Then use that information to optimize your website and social media marketing.
Start with Google analytics. Check out “The absolute beginners guide to Google Analytics” from the Moz blog. This article will give the clear reasons why you need Google Analytics, and then a step-by-step guide to installing and using it.
With these handy tips you‘ll get through the holiday in calm and good order, and build your business in the process. What a great way to go into 2016.
Keywords – everyone seems to be talking about them. But what’s the best way to use the art + science of keywords to help build your business?
Keywords are usually thought of as an “index term” to help people and search engines find relevant web content. They can also be the primary gateway to eCommerce or other business engagements.
Let’s take a look at them in a broader way. In this post we’ll look at:
- Using keywords from an artistic / visual branding perspective
- How keywords work, and why you need them
- The different types of keywords
Consider the artistic and creative perspective on keywords. Your brand should have a unique character, and an equally unique aesthetic look and feel.
Here’s a fun marketing exercise:
Pick three keywords to describe the aesthetic character of your brand.
Is your brand fun? Colorful? Intimate? Quirky? Serious? What’s the personality of your brand?
Think in terms of the three words that can immediately describe the way your brand looks and feels. This is a useful exercise – as the key words can lay down a consistent foundation for your images and related marketing content. This process is something an algorithm can’t do for you.
Consider Tiffany, the legendary jewelry brand. If you were to distill the visual character of their brand into three words, they might be elegant, powerful and loving. The company embodies these terms, and they are used as a visual blueprint for every image the company’s creates.
Without using keywords as a road map – you may fall victim to the old adage: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there” and this certainly applies to the visual presentation of your brand and its products.
In terms of the science of key words, a business should create content around relevant topics for their products or services, and these are expressed as keywords, which helps them “rank” well in search engine result listings.
A simple informative video of how search works from Google can help you understand the mechanics.
Why do you need keywords?
- Keywords should be used as the foundation of your website, blog and social media presence. They can also inform offers and e-mails.
- Keywords can help visitors and potential customers understand the purpose of your web page / blog and business.
- When a search engine crawls your web pages to index them – it will parse the keywords on the page to determine the purpose of your pages.
There are two different types of keywords:
Broad Keywords: Are short words or phases that can apply to your own company, as well as every other firm in your industry.
Long-tail Keywords: Tend to be longer words or phrases that are more specific to your company.
When you’re first getting started, you definitely will want to start by targeting long-tail keywords, because these are easier to rank for and they also bring in the most relevant and qualified traffic.
Using a combination of both “art” and “science” driven keywords will help spell success for your eCommerce / online marketing efforts. Be sure to test different keywords to see which yield the best outcomes or results in terms of building site traffic, visitor engagement and eCommerce.
That’s the art + science of keywords in a nutshell.
How do you plan to use keywords to build your business this week?
When it comes to using photographic images to promote your brand and products on an eCommerce website, in advertising, catalogs, with e-mails or on social media, its wise to know that there are distinctly different kinds of images.
Which type of image should you use to get the most from its intended business, marketing or promotional purpose? How much time, energy and most of all money should be invested in conceptualizing and creating the images?
Finally, how will you know which images are working the hardest for your money to help grow your business?
At BLACK + GOLD we look at these challenges from two distinct, but not unrelated perspectives: Art + Science.
Here’s an overview of the various types of commercial photos that are available, what makes them great and how to use them to help build your business.
The most basic type of commercial photographic shot is a product on white.
In this shot the “product is hero.” You will want to portray your product in the most flattering way possible in terms the angle of the shot and lighting. It’s worth working with a reputable commercial photographer or agency, with a good portfolio of work, to help make your product looks the best it can.
Here “professional eyes” on the lighting and styling of the shot can make a world of difference on its ability to sell product for your business online, in advertising or from catalogs.
A similar shot to the product on white image is the creative grouping on white. Here the objective is to portray a line of products in a compelling way, in terms of how the products are arranged and illuminated, such as a line of bracelets or earrings.
Groups of products tend to generate better engagement, and are the most affordable of the “creative” shots, showing products in a stylized way to enhance their impact.
Again, it’s critical to use professional styling and lighting. It will have a big impact on the quality of these types of shots, and their ability to help sell merchandise.
The next type of photographic image to consider is the Creative Campaign shot. Here you’ll want to invest time and money to get both the concept and photography right. With this shot you want to aim to get the best quality (photographer / agency) you can afford, that will deliver a polished brand image.
Selecting the right props, casting the right talent, selecting the right location, time of day, lighting, wardrobe, hair, and make-up are key. These can be still life product shots as well.
The combination of the art direction, styling, lighting and photographer’s creativity along with some help from retouching will deliver a sophisticated, glamorous and larger-than-life image for your brand / products.
In the end you simply want to make people linger over the image, and make the product “an object of desire” that they will want to buy.
Last but not least are social media / eCommerce shots. Many companies simply don’t pay much attention to these shots, and they suffer from inadequate art direction and general poor quality.
But consider the explosive growth of smart phones / tablet devices along with visually driven social media venues like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook; and online shopping – all these venues have made images a key point of consumer engagement.
With this category of images having more shots is always better, where you may want to opt for the quantity of images over super-high production value – to help manage costs, and keep things fresh for your audience. These shots are typically more casual, in order to be more fun and accessible.
Think of these types of shots as Chanel off-the-rack ready to wear, versus Chanel haute couture (campaign type shots). Both have great style and branding, you can simply afford to buy more off-the-rack merchandise, and happily live with a little less production value.
Today’s eCommerce landscape is ruled by data and analytics. In simple terms it’s using data to help you figure out which marketing activities are working and which are not. Knowledge is power here, which can lead to a more profitable operation.
When it comes to managing your image library, you will want to identify and use more images that generate the most “audience engagement.” That includes which are being shared most on social media, and those that can be tied to actual eCommerce orders. These actions will help build awareness of your brand and grow your bottom line.
A great place to start is Google Analytics. Using Google Analytics can help you better understand the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, better understand your visitors, and optimize your eCommerce efforts in term of more conversions and increased sales.
Google Analytics can be intimidating. Just the thought of a bunch of data, graphs and charts can easily scare a lot of people off. However, understanding the fundamental metrics of your site and your visitors is absolutely crucial to growing and scaling your business.
In the end, effective marketing and eCommerce is a function of creating and delivering engaging images (art) and using analytic data (science) to measure which products / images work and which don’t work in term of driving business results.
This learning can guide your marketing content development and investments for the best business results possible.
Welcome to the new BLACK + GOLD blog “The Art + Science of Modern Marketing.” We’ve created this blog to talk about how we view the current order of marketing and creativity.
Much has been said and written about how much marketing has become a science, with all the advancements in technology and the web impacting eCommerce. As famed consulting firm McKinsey Company wrote recently in their white paper The dawn of marketing’s new golden age:
“Advances in data, modeling, and automated analysis are creating ever more refined ways of targeting and measuring the returns on marketing investments, while generating powerful new clues about why consumers behave as they do.”
While we respect and practice the science of modern marketing, at BLACK + GOLD we are firmly committed to the art of visual story telling with great photography, creating images that reflect and celebrate the authenticity of a brand and its products, in a way that no algorithm can define.
BLACK + GOLD is made up of artists, writers and creatively inspired people first and foremost, and we use that lens for everything we do. And we then combine our artistic sensibilities with proven business acumen.
Is freely mixing art + science in business, marketing and eCommerce like trying to mix oil and water?
We think not.
On this blog we’ll be sharing ways that will help you understand and then put into practice both the art + science of modern marketing.
We invite you to comment on and share our posts on social media, and let us know if there is anything you’d like us to write about going forward.