Shop Talk

Cut Your Marketing Slack

Sommer Grogan Article

As professionals, we all have to “take inventory” from time to time and evaluate the areas of our company that may need a little streamlining. We have found, that all too often, marketing is definitely one of those areas. 

Here at BARK, we define “marketing slack” as any marketing effort that absorbs time and resources but creates little to no value for your company.

For example, maybe you find yourself right smack dab in the middle of lots of marketing efforts, but you have no idea which ones are actually working. You may be asking yourself: Which efforts are producing real value for my company? Which ones are a waste of time and effort? And for heaven’s sake… how many social platforms do I have to maintain in order to have a presence that works? And Google. Seriously. Ain’t nobody got time to try and figure that out. Figure out what the SLACK IS, and cut it!

Another form of slack? How about the giant missed opportunities between when you have a good idea to make something happen, and the time it takes to revisit it 5 times and actually execute it. Ever happen to you? CUT THE SLACK.

And how about the cost of all these efforts and knowing what’s necessary and what’s not. CUT THE SLACK.

What about the marketing meetings that go nowhere? The efforts that have no tracking associated with them? All the little, seemingly insignificant decisions (that really do add up and cost you time) on whether or not to do this one thing over here, or that other thing over there to generate some business? CUT THE SLACK.

Here’s the thing. There’s no secret behind successful marketing. Just approach. And the truth is it all matters. All the stuff. Most of it has a place somewhere. And if it doesn’t, you need to know why it doesn’t fit. It’s knowing where, when, and why you need “all the stuff” that most business owners struggle with. That part is what we refer to as “strategy,” and that’s the most crucial part of any marketing effort. 

The most important ingredient to successful marketing is a CONSISTENT APPROACH. You have to market when business is good (which we usually forget to do) and you also market when things aren’t so great, and this is usually when we get real reactive, forget the vision behind what we’re doing and make the kinds of decisions that have lost perspective and aren’t sustainable for the long term. 

So, our suggestion? Take a little time to evaluate where you are at on your marketing approach. We aim to be helpful, and we like to give out some free advice that steers you in the right direction. If you need more than that, give us a call. The strategy is our strong suit, and branding is what we do best. We love helping businesses streamline their marketing efforts and finding a way to creatively tell your story is what gives us purpose. We’d love to help. 

Humor Me! Why being funny works in marketing.

Corin Knowles Article

Can you remember your favorite commercials of all time? Or maybe a billboard that made you say “HaHA! That was clever!” Well humor has been used in advertising for a long time, and it’s not changing anytime soon. 

 

We buy from people we like, and humor is the easiest and fastest way to get there. Using humor makes you more likable, approachable, and more human. According to a 1993 Journal of Marketing study that examined multinational effects of humor on advertising concluded that ‘humor is more likely to enhance recall, evaluation, and purchase intention when the humorous message coincides with ad objectives, is well-integrated with those objectives, and is viewed as appropriate for the product category. Under such circumstances, humorous advertising is more likely to secure audience attention, increase memorability, overcome sales resistance, and enhance message persuasiveness.’

 

It’s true that humorous advertisements helps you stand out. But is there a downside? So you have a winning idea, and you launch your campaign with roaring success (and laughter). Let’s talk about the aptly, though weirdly named “vampire effect”. The term was coined after a study conducted by MediaAnalyzer Software & Research, which results concluded that “titillating content was sucking attention away from what the ad was actually trying to say”. So while distracting people with hilarious one-liners might be side-splitting, your audience might not remember what you’re selling. Now for a fun recall knowledge test, can you guess which companies were represented in these famous Super Bowl commercials? Answers below.

 

  1. “Wassup”
  2. “The Talking Baby”
  3. “Where’s the Beef”
  4. “Happier than a Camel on Hump Day”

 

So how do you overcome this vampire effect? This and more things to consider when creating your campaign:

 

  • Is your product/brand present but not too present? Let’s go back to grade school, you want to raise your hand during roll call and answer a reasonable amount of questions so you get your participation points, but no one likes the kid who always is raising their hand. Don’t be that guy. Research of failed campaigns s hows that having your product or brand in there too much will drive some people away. So make sure it’s sprinkled-in, but don’t go heavy-handed with the logos and product placement.
  • Different things are funny to different people. Try going through a list of favorite funny movies with your spouse, and you’ll likely see what I mean. The target market should always be considered, and receiving feedback from focus groups can be beneficial.
  • Variety is key. You’re going to get a lot more out of any campaign if you have variety. People may respond well to your first idea, but if they see it again in a slightly different way they may like it even more. Take for example the 100’s of iterations with the gecko from Geico Insurance.
  • Size doesn’t matter. Whether you’re a big company, or a small one with a modest budget, you can get noticed. Your audience doesn’t necessarily care about how many employees you have, or how much money you spent, if you made them laugh–that’s what matters.
  • Make it relevant, or not. Though funny ads may not have anything to do with what their selling (which is the whole point of the joke in some cases) it can be helpful to make it relevant to what your selling. Say for example, Misheard Lyrics campaign for Wyoming Otolaryngology, the campaign itself is based on what people were able to hear when listening to popular songs. This ties in perfectly with the company’s mission to help people with hearing impairments. 
  • Go ahead, take a risk.  You’re going to have people who love it, others who hate it, and then a group of people that just don’t get it at all. If you are safe, your results will be average. It pays off to be a bit edgy. So go ahead, take a chance and see what happens.

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Real Advice On Social Media Strategy From The BARK Firm (And It’s Free)

Sarah Carper Article

Ahhh, the world of social media. The ever-evolving, ever-addicting, ever-confusing world of best selves, algorithms, and love-hate relationships intermixed with strategy and great content. 

It’s also an endless bank of consumers that want to know you, and your product, directly. 

There are a lot of factors to a good social strategy between all the hashtags, social contests, and paid advertising, but there is one thing that all brands can do as a baseline–and it’s free: consistency. 

Just as we all would want a good friend to be, consumers rely on their favorite brands to remain intriguing, transparent, engaging, and consistent to keep their attention. Here are a few tips to maintain a consistent brand presence on social media that will help to keep your audience hooked and growing organically:

Create High-Quality Content

No, this doesn’t mean you need to rent out a studio to shoot a trendy pic of your morning coffee. Do, however, stay away from your boss’s old flip phone and the bad office or warehouse lighting. Cell phone cameras have improved a lot over the years, and flat-lays on a modern background with soft lighting can go a long way. Plus, they can be done in the office or in your kitchen–work with what you’ve got, and create beautiful, large images that will resonate with your audience. 

Establish a Look and Feel

Speaking of that old warehouse lighting… if you must use it, then USE it. Whatever your brand’s tone, own it from the beginning with intentional styling and stick with it. The best brands on social media create an aesthetic that matches their brand, which can be done with lighting, filters, intentional personality, and even color palettes to edit your photos to match your logo, brand elements, etc. Curate a look and feel for each and every post that makes your home feed look like one gorgeous, cohesive unit–then watch the followers build.

Maintain a Posting Schedule

Imagine having someone in your life who claimed they wanted to be your best friend calling you every day for two weeks, then dropping off the map for a month only to pick up calling you every day again like nothing ever happened. It would be hard to know when to plan on them being around, right? Or it would be annoying to not hear from them at all, then to have them open up on you like a firehouse, no? Same goes for your followers. 

Keep a cadence going, whether that’s one post a week, three posts a week, or once a day (but please, please don’t overshare with your audience by posting 4-5 times per day. There is such a thing as too much content–see firehose comment made above…) Protip: establish a calendar with which posts you’ll share on which days to keep everything in check and organized.  

Be Transparent

In a past blog post, we emphasized the importance of finding your WHY. Hold onto that throughout your social media journey, and let your brand’s personality and honest consideration of your customers shine through. If you make mistakes, own up and apologize instead of ignoring negative comments. If you earn praise from your followers, jump in and thank them for their support and stewardship. A little extra effort to build that relationship doesn’t go unnoticed–your followers are real people, after all, and your brand is also run by real people who probably can relate to them.

Never before have brands had the opportunity to directly communicate with consumers all across the spectrum, from those who are potentially interested to those who have purchased product and are now loyal ambassadors. 

Never before have they had direct, free marketing opportunities at their fingertips through word of mouth that actually results in amazing, high-quality content created by their very own clients and customers. 

But to build these quality and valuable relationships, you have to get into the hearts and minds of your followers and create a relationship-worthy brand. A great start is to establish a beautiful, friendly brand that people will love to follow and engage with, then to share it with the world in an honest, consistent, and well thought-out way.

Need some help creating a brand people will love to follow on social media? We’d be happy to show you how we’ve helped some of our clients and give you a consultation.

You’re Not An Artist; You Solve Problems

Nick Perkins Article

“If we were making a movie or a play, we’d be embarrassed to do this,” Peggy Olson complains to her boss, Don Draper in an episode of Mad Men. Peggy is a copywriter for an ad agency, and she’s hesitant to work on a campaign for a client because, in her mind, it leaves very little room for ‘artistic creativity.’

Perpetually annoyed with just about everybody, Draper doesn’t hesitate to let Peggy know, in no uncertain terms, what her job actually is.

“You’re not an artist…you solve problems.”

And therein lies some of the best advice that a client-focused, brand-forward marketing firm could ever apply to their own agency.

At The BARK Firm, we’re not (just) artists; we’re problem solvers. 

Make no mistake, our team is made up of some of the most creative people in Wyoming and beyond. We are musicians and writers and designers and painters and photographers. But, for you and your company, we don’t just want to make ‘art.’ We want to solve your marketing problems.

Companies face a myriad of challenges every week, every day, every minute. Determining those challenges, addressing them, and solving them is the most important aspect of any business, at least according to Forbes.

“We believe, to do well in the future, companies must resolve that problem solving is the key to business, then develop a robust problem-solving capability at all levels,” a Forbes article once stated.

Those problems or challenges are vast and varied. They range from personal and corporate integrity, hiring the right staff, cash flow, competition and more. Keeping the customers that you have while simultaneously gaining new ones is, arguably, the biggest challenge that businesses face.

The best way to get new customers while maintaining current ones is to have a strong marketing brand, and that’s where we come in. 

 

We’re interested in telling your story, in developing your brand and in helping you stand out amongst your competition. We do that in a variety of ways, with some simple, and some not-so-simple techniques, all of which are effective in producing real, tangible results.

If we are able to tell the story of your business in a creative way, we will be thrilled. But our main priority is not to show Wyoming and beyond that we’re the best at what we do (even though we totally are). Our priority is showing them that you are the best at what you do.

 

So our challenge to you is this: think of the brand challenges that your business is facing, and let us help you find the solutions. Hopefully, you’ve already asked yourself WHY it is you do what you do. Now ask yourself the rest.

Who is your brand marketed to?

What is your purpose?

Where are you now and where do you want to be in 5 years?

When do you want to create ‘art with a purpose’ and take your company brand to the next level?

How can we help?

We want to tell your story, market your brand and make your customers feel.

The BARK Firm develops creative communication that sends a message and solves a problem and that, well, that is the art of advertising.

An Idea Alone is Not Enough

Dustin Neal Article

We may like the notion that our business, brand, product, service, or idea is so great that it can stand alone, but the truth is that none of these things can develop, grow, or be successful by themselves.

You need people. Partners, collaborators, builders, relationships, and connections. Every successful brand/business rallies behind their people. It takes designers to make your product or service come to life. It takes workers to make sure it is delivered to the market and that it lives up to its promise. It takes customers to buy it and give their feedback to you so you can further improve upon it. It takes a team of passionate people who are committed to the project to make an idea happen. No one man can execute an idea to its fullest potential solely.

Welcome to the ocean. We’re all in it. Big fish, small fish, all together in one eco-system. In an ocean where collaboration and creation co-function, who we work with and rely on can determine how far our ideas can go.

So what have we learned?
Well, being a Wyoming marketing firm, we can tell you working closely and partnering with businesses has taught us much about developing successful brands. Here’s some insight into what we know.

We know you have to clearly and simply communicate your brand’s values both in words and in vision.
Your team must define your idea, it’s values, its goals, and its story together before it sees the light of day. How does your product/service impact peoples lives? Does it enrich their lives out of necessity or is it a luxury? And why should people care? With so many options in today’s market, you must be authentic and cut through the noise about who you are, and how you fit into peoples lives. It takes more than one man to accomplish this.

We know that good design sells.
In 2005 a group called The Design Council studied 63 portfolios of companies that traded Financial Times Stock Exchange over the course of a decade. What they learned is that the companies that put their focus on great design did better than the ones that didn’t. The companies that brought on staff for design or hired that part out as a collaboration increased their team and saw direct benefits from it. It takes more than the product/service itself to push the idea.

We know you must appeal to the right market.
In some cases, you may have started a business that reaches out to a demographic that you are not. How could you possibly know anything about the Millennials when you are yourself not one? You couldn’t possibly understand their need for co-op workspaces, beanbag chairs, and an insatiable need to consume products that not only define them but make a difference in the world while also being low impact on the environment. I’m teasing of course, but seriously if your business is going to flourish you better get yourself a team of collaborators to help you develop your idea for this demographic. By enlisting the help of good people who also understand the market you want to be in and are able to further develop your idea and help you grow.

We know that the go-it-alone strategy will only produce a very narrow vision of what the initial idea could have been. Reaching out to other businesses and forming partnerships fosters growth and development for everyone involved. If ideas have the power to change us, shape our societies, and the way we live, then any idea that goes unfulfilled or unexecuted at it’s highest potential is a loss to us all.

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Ask Yourself Why

Sommer Grogan Article

Very few companies can clearly tell people WHY they do WHAT they do. And when we’re talking about WHY that doesn’t mean “for money.” That’s a result. By WHY we mean what is the PURPOSE of your company? WHY do you exist? What drives you? What is it that makes you tirelessly work for your company each and every day? You must believe in something. What is it? And WHY should anyone care?

Good questions, right? We think so. And most of that we stole like an artist from our friend, Simon. But, we believe in the WHY. And at BARK, our WHY is helping you tell the story of yours. If you’re like most companies, you know the heart behind your WHY but the words are hard to come by. It‘s hard telling your story in a clear, concise, and impactful way.

The good news is we’re pretty good at that. We love finding the great stories behind WHY our clients do what they do. And, more importantly, we love TELLING them.

If you need help crafting the words and the story behind your WHY, reach out to us. We’d love to help. But to get you started on your own reason WHY here’s some food for thought.

  • How does your company help people or make an impact?
  • How do you measure your success (aside from money)?
  • What about your business keeps you up at night?
  • And, if you could tell someone one thing that sets your company apart, what would it be?

GET A FREE EVALUATION