<![CDATA[Dixon Schwabl | Blog]]> http://dixonschwabl.com/ Dixon Schwabl Blog en Copyright 2017 2017-08-18T10:25:53-04:00 <![CDATA[DS Digital High Five: Ad-vantage Digital]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/ds-digital-high-five-ad-vantage-digital https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/ds-digital-high-five-ad-vantage-digital
Scott Hs

It’s been a busy few weeks in the wide world of digital marketing. Here are a few of the things that have folks talking at Dixon Schwabl:

Google and Facebook now make more from ads than every newspaper, magazine and radio network in the world combined. 

That stat takes a minute to sink in. At first, it seems only natural. These tech giants have been on a marketing tear, while traditional media like print and broadcast have been in steady decline. Then you start to think about what that really means. This is two companies in a relatively new space now grossing more ad revenue than three major media categories that have been around for decades. Keep in mind that there are more than 15,000 radio stations, 7,300 magazines and 1,300 daily newspapers in the US alone. Google will make nearly $81 billion selling ads this year. That’s more than the GDP of most countries. Facebook will bring in more than $36 billion, and these two together are getting roughly 83% of all new ad dollars worldwide. Their growth is far from over.

Amazon buys Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.
This one is a big deal for a lot of reasons. First off, unlike some of its peers, Amazon isn’t known for massive acquisitions (Zappos.com was its second-largest at $1.2 billion). That tells us that Amazon sees a really big play here. Will it incorporate Amazon Go technology in these stores? Will it use Amazon Fresh to deliver Whole Foods goods to your doorstep? In any case, it’s clear that your groceries will come with a healthy side of data in the not-too-distant future. Amazon evidently sees the grocery business as ripe for disruption, and it’s probably a safe bet that the way we buy food is about to change forever.

Facebook now has 2 billion monthly users.
This really speaks for itself. Roughly 28% of all people on the planet use Facebook at least once a month. Nearly 80% of these users live outside of the US. This may be the global village Marshall McLuhan never could have imagined.

Google got an unprecedented fine in the EU.
Adding to its ongoing problems in Europe, Google just got slapped with a record-shattering $2.7 billion fine for favoring its own shopping services in search results over those of rivals. That is not a typo: billion with a b. How Google responds to this will say much about its future posture with government bodies around the world who seem to be increasingly uncomfortable with its market dominance.

Snapchat has dramatically expanded its advertising capabilities, joining the likes of Google and Facebook in rolling out a self-serve ad platform.
Like those larger players, Snapchat will no longer require a minimum buy, and you can pay with a credit card, making it instantly accessible to tens of thousands of small businesses. The social app is also rolling out a publisher platform to help marketers convert existing brand assets into Snapchat formats and a certified partners program that will allow ad tech companies to buy tools for optimizing Snapchat ads. These platform investments seem to be a reaction to disappointing ad revenue since Snapchat went public earlier this year. It will be very interesting to see how this impacts advertiser adoption.

Note: The DS Digital High Five is a periodic distillation of digital marketing news and trends that are impacting our industry and shaping the way we Make It Happen here at Dixon Schwabl.

The Answer: This VP of digital media and Jeopardy aficionado uses digital media tools and tactics to help companies get the word out about what they do to the people who are most likely to act. The Question: Who is Scott Ensign?

<![CDATA[Proof is in the Proofing]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/proof-is-in-the-proofing https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/proof-is-in-the-proofing
Jen M

Things aren’t going so well inside The Gray Lady right now. More than 100 newsroom staffers recently walked out of The New York Times to protest massive cuts to the paper’s copy editing staff. They came from every floor, making their way to the street and chanting pro-editor slogans. (So if those are a thing now, sign me up?)

Why the very public show of solidarity? Because editing still matters, and they know it.

They carried some awesome signs:

“Copy editors save our buts.”

“Without us, it’s the New Yrok Times.”

“This sign wsa not edited.”

They’re right, of course. Editors are part human spellcheckers, walking encyclopedias and real-life Google. We wear those badges with pride and no shame. But the things you see—the spelling, grammar and punctuation—are ultimately the smallest part of what editors do. It’s the things you don’t see that matter most.

One sign at the Times walkout said it perfectly: “Who do you think makes sure it’s fit to print?”

At its core, an editor’s job is to make your work even better. We’re here to help. And sure, that often means adding commas and fixing spelling—those are, after all, the first things readers and customers will catch if we miss them. But day in and day out, we also compile style guides to make sure every piece is consistent from front to back and across campaigns. We make mental lists of even the smallest details for future reference. We make sentences easier to read, help tell stories in the right order, pull the most important information to the top, flag things that might confuse readers, dismantle and rebuild copy, and reach back through years of editing to remind people of obscure requests.

Even the tiniest edits often come from one of those mental lists. About two years ago, a client asked that we change “stop in” to “stop into” on an ad. To this day, that tiny phrase gets automatically checked on every piece we do for them, making sure they never had to ask twice. Think of us as little detail-oriented mental personal assistants.

Copy editors (hopefully) don’t come to a job with delusions of being better than their writers, PR pros, designers or account executives. We definitely don’t think we know a client’s business or industry better than they do. And against all stereotypes, we actually kind of hate having to tell people their copy needs some work or their layout is hard to follow. Because it turns out, the best work happens in a place of mutual value and trust between editors and the people who get the copy into their hands.

When asked about his paper’s cuts, Times staffer Bill Baker said, “We are hoping management sees that what they are doing from the structural perspective is detrimental to the integrity of the newspaper.” The Times pushback came because employees know a company’s integrity and credibility lie in its quality. And those things come from the resources you have in place.

At Dixon Schwabl, we’re lucky to have a management team that chose to make an investment in editing not once, but three times over, recognizing the importance of accuracy, clean copy, years of mental notes and even mad Google skills. And that investment is passed directly to our clients, whose work never makes it out the door without someone hitting the pause button and making sure it’s good to go. Every single day, that step catches something that would have been embarrassing or costly. And that’s the hidden value of copy editors.

Jen Moritz is a Senior Copy Editor. Translation: Jen Moritz is an expert butt-saver who makes good work great and great work special. 

<![CDATA[Information is Power(ful)]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/information-is-powerful https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/information-is-powerful

It’s a daunting feeling when you walk into a store and know what you need but have no idea where it is. This is as true for big-box warehouses as it is for websites, only with websites you can click to the next store in a matter of seconds. Customers aren’t stuck there, and they know it. So if they can’t find the right virtual aisle in the first 30 seconds—regardless of whether exactly what they’re looking for is three clicks away—they’re checking out, and not in the good way.

Adding marketing automation technology to your website is like giving your prospective customers a loyal and tireless butler. Think Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s caretaker. Alfred knows what Bruce Wayne wants and needs, and he uses that knowledge to keep Batman in superhero form. Likewise, marketing automation technology dramatically improves your customers’ experience with your brand and makes it easier for you to build long-lasting, meaningful relationships with them.

Take a moment to think about how new customers decide to reach out to a business for the first time. Maybe they hear about a company from a colleague or they click on an ad or they do an internet search. Without marketing automation, they need to search through your content and try to find the information that is most useful and relevant. If it takes more than a few moments, they’ll abandon their search and look elsewhere.

With marketing automation, businesses can plan their unique customer journey in advance and welcome them at the door. And as the customer interacts with your site, you collect information—name, email address, phone number, job title, etc.—that allows you to cater to them even more. Based on their profile, you can serve them useful content to prompt more engagement and you can continue to build out their profiles as they interact.

All of this information adds up to measurable potential of that person becoming a customer —a lead score you assign them based on their behavior. As the behavior increases, the score improves. You can test which information they find most useful and in what format—video, interactive media, articles, infographics, etc. After they leave, you can serve them ads, text messages and emails to entice them to come back and learn more.

When their lead score is high enough, your sales reps can make warm calls rather than cold calls armed with information that can dramatically increase the chances of closing a sale. The entire system gets better and more personalized over time, continuously and automatically filling the sales pipeline with qualified leads.

The goal of marketing automation is simple—make it as easy as possible for your prospective customers to feel confident about choosing your product or service over your competitor’s. And the results can make you look like a superhero. There’s no way Batman could act quickly to save the day without Alfred sending him information from the Batcave.

Director of Marketing Technologies and Systems Cathleen Wells has a wealth of experience in digital strategy, Web development and online marketing. Have a question for her? Send an email to cathleen_wells@dixonschwabl.com.

<![CDATA[An Event Producer’s Guide to Putting Out Fires (Literally)]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/an-event-producers-guide-to-putting-out-fires-literally-1 https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/an-event-producers-guide-to-putting-out-fires-literally-1

Last October, I was working at an event where the main entertainment went up in flames minutes before it was scheduled to venture out into the crowd. I’m talking full-on, “turn the sprinkler system off quick before the exhibitor booths, activity stations and high-end sponsors get soaked” flames.

Did I mention the entertainment was a 9-foot robot and the event was an international conference?

After we extinguished the flames and lugged the large piece of metal outside through the dock doors (and pulled out all the industrial-sized fans we could find), I apologized to our client and assured her she would not be charged, thanked the venue profusely for not kicking me out, canceled our payment to the vendor and prepared for the onslaught of incoming conference attendees that would be none the wiser, all with an external smile.

Our team has also experienced floral centerpieces dying minutes after they were placed on tables the afternoon of an event, WiFi crashing while registering 800 guests, and not gaining access to the ballroom until two hours prior to doors opening. And if we, as event producers, are doing our jobs correctly, our guests (and often our clients) will never know the difference. Event planners are notorious for their attention to detail, perfected timelines, relationships with vendors, venues and clients, and overall not-messing-around standards of excellence. They’re also known for their ability to adapt and flawlessly execute their Plan B, C or even D as naturally as if it were Plan A.

Here are the DS Events team’s top five ways to keep your cool when things beyond your control are taking an unanticipated turn:

1) Stop, breathe, grab a Diet Coke (or water or coffee, whatever your beverage of choice happens to be) and embrace your new event reality with enthusiasm. If you’re confident about your new direction, your clients, coworkers, volunteers and guests will be, too. —Shannon

2) Remember you’re the pro. This is what you live for. You solve problems like it’s your job—because it is your job. Course correct, come up with a plan, and ask for help from anyone and everyone who can make your new plan come to fruition (and fast). If all else fails, lather on the Peace & Calming and Stress Away essential oils! —Kathy Phelps

3) Surround yourself with fantastic people who know you and your business well. Not every event planner has the luxury of a full team, but you can develop a solid support system by initiating and nurturing relationships with key vendors in AV, rentals, food and beverage, and décor. Take them out to lunch to learn more about what they do and what their specialties are. Compare event industry trends and upcoming event ideas and challenges. And always send thank-you notes when they show up at your event with 40 additional chairs and extra linens or two wireless mics you had to add an hour prior to doors opening. (Cookies work well, too.) —Jenna Van Thof

4) Assess the situation objectively and respond with flexibility—especially when it comes to the small stuff. You may have had your heart set on crisp white linens and be crushed when they arrive in ivory. However, the success of the event does not hinge on the slight change in color. So don’t give up your sanity for the change, either. And in the mood-lit ballroom, chances are none will be the wiser. —Erin O’Donnell

5) Always look for the lesson. You can always learn something from challenging situations. —Collective Advice

Relax. You got this.

Associate Vice President of Special Events Shannon E. Struzik has 20 years of experience putting out fires. I mean, putting on events. Have a question for her? Send an email to shannon_struzik@dixonschwabl.com.

<![CDATA[The Language Gardener]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/the-language-gardener https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/the-language-gardener
Jen M

I’ve been called a lot of things in my 15 years as an editor: gatekeeper, defender, style guru, person you should avoid if you want to use a serial comma, nerd, expert, has-to-be-right-all-the-timer …

I mean, they aren’t all wrong. But earlier this year, I had the chance to spend a few days with 600 other editors at The Society for Editing’s annual conference. And there, I was called something new: a gardener.

James Harbeck, “a professional word taster and sentence sommelier”—things I will never be called, but wow, I want to be—had a lot to say about editors’ roles. Not just how they study the language of today, but how they help shape it going forward. And that’s key: forward motion. Editors as gardeners, not defenders.

It’s true that part of our job will always be pulling language into existing rules, but much more so, our job is to help English—and copy—get where it’s going. To watch as it evolves, decide what to let through the gate, and help build a body of work that lexicographers will use when choosing what to record to reflect usage. It’s how things like face-palm and side-eye made their way into Merriam-Webster. Over time, editors saw value in those words and phrases, leaving them in edited copy and marking their place in English’s history. So when it came time for the dictionary to roll out a new batch of definitions, those words made the cut—editors had given them the OK to make their mark on the language.

It was inspiring to see how many hands shot up when Harbeck asked a room full of editors whether they’d allow some unconventional uses into copy. Things like singular they, impact, nauseous, hopefully and other old-school editing taboos overwhelmingly passed the 2017 editing test. (But sorry, irregardless, “my head literally exploded” and “very unique” are still right out.)

Does that mean editors can’t have their rules and pet-peeves? Of course not. I hold rigidly tight to the differences between last and past, which and that, awhile and a while, because all editing leans on a degree of personal style. Those preferences are how I’m choosing to tend to my little plot of the English language. They’re how I’m influencing and tending to an ever-growing body of work.

English evolves, it changes, it expands, and someone has to help it get where it’s going. For me to dig in my heels, stick to a set of rules that were set decades ago and neglect my role as a gardener would be a disservice to my gatekeeper, defender, style guru, person you should avoid if you want to use a serial comma, nerd, expert, has-to-be-right-all-the-timer reputation—and to this mess of a language I love so much.

Plus, it’s always fun to go along for a good ride. As Harbeck so rightly said, “The entire English language is a slippery slope. We are all tumbling down it faster than we realize.”

Senior Copy Editor Jen Moritz pulls the weeds out of our writing on an e’ry day basis, and somehow does it without making you feel like dirt. 

<![CDATA[When In Doubt, Take The Slide]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/when-in-doubt-take-the-slide https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/when-in-doubt-take-the-slide

We’ve all heard it. Some of us have even said it before coming to work here. Because when someone mentions Dixon Schwabl to someone who doesn’t know anything about it, they somehow know at least one thing:

“Oh, yeah … that place with the slide!”

If our reputation at Dixon Schwabl precedes us, The Slide precedes our reputation. It’s a symbol that says infinitely more about who we are than what we do, and that is so us. It’s our crest, our flag, our Bat Signal and our jersey all at once. It tells someone a LOT, yet entices them to learn more. And once that person digs deeper and sees the three decades of innovation, success and growth, they realize that not only does Dixon Schwabl have a slide—we do some stellar work.

The Slide is the ultimate conversation piece. Legend has it that the architects didn’t take the fiercely fun-loving Lauren Dixon seriously when she said to put a slide in the lobby. After three versions of blueprints that featured no slide, she had to call the builder and insist it was no joke. She didn’t see it as a gimmick or a lame attempt to look cool. This was pre-Google. Dixon Schwabl did it before it was cool.

Recently, it was decided that our blog needed a name (something more creative than Blog), and we spent days throwing ideas around. Pages were devoted to brainstorm sessions, resulting in the recurring question of “How does this place have a slide but not a single giant whiteboard?”

Maybe something with the initials D-S: Do Stuff? Doing Stuff? Don’t Stop? No, just stop.

Something with Brand: Raisin’ Brand? Brand [New], Wry & Brandy? To be honest, all three of those were Top 10 material, but a bit too punny.

What if we repurpose an industry term: Reach? Impressions? The High Level? Not bad, but these can come from anyone. How would anyone know it’s us?

Something ridiculous: The DS BS? Dixon Bloggl? Really let it get away from us for a bit there.

We stressed over it, held extremely unscientific polls and returned to the metaphorical drawing board frustrated, asking, yet again, “How does this place have a slide but not a single giant whiteboard?!”

And that’s when we realized we didn’t need the whiteboard, because we already had The Slide.

Now, The Slide is how we tell our story. As a blog, it’s how we let people in to see not just who we are, but what we do. It can be traditional and innovative, consistent and spontaneous, strategic and creative, buttoned up and untucked all at the same time. Most of all, it’s a reminder to ourselves and to anyone who reads it: If you’re not having fun, all you’re doing is work. 

Paul Gangarossa and Pete Wayner are curators of and regular contributors to The Slide. That said, the bright, talented members of the DS team across all departments are the stars of this space.

<![CDATA[@realDonaldTrump or @POTUS?]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/realdonaldtrump-or-potus https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/realdonaldtrump-or-potus

Below is an intra-office conversation via Slack between Andrew Knoblauch, social and digital supervisor; Adam Sisson, social media account executive; Jake Ziegler, social media manager; and Paul Gangarossa, PR Executive. 

andrew [9:05 AM]
Alright guys, it’s Inauguration Day and President-elect Donald Trump will become America’s 45th Commander-in-Chief. Fox News is reporting that Trump will not change his Twitter handle to @POTUS opting instead to keep @realDonaldTrump. What do you all think of the move?

adam_sisson [9:07 AM] 
As far as personal branding is concerned, I think it's a smart move. Part of the "Donald" brand is just what his Twitter handle says - being real. He prides himself on not being like other presidents before him, and a big part of his campaign was to knock the "shady" decisions of classic politicians. But at what point does he have to put his personal brand aside and change it to being the leader of our country?

paulgangarossa [9:08 AM] 
Sounds about right. Any chance he can make something his own, he's going to take it. It's been his MO so far and it's not about to change. Agreed, it's another slap in the face of presidential precedents, one that's specific to Obama.

And it's hard to argue with it in this case. His following dwarfs the @potus account, and he's not one to use a smaller megaphone.

andrew [9:11 AM] 
Just to illustrate your point, Paul, here are some numbers. Trump’s following: 20.5 million; POTUS: 13.7 million. Roughly 7 million more people follow our future president.  I think one thing to think about is “who” those people are. We can assume many are American citizens, but to your point, is most of Trump’s following just his base?

Trump Twitter 2

paulgangarossa [9:13 AM]  I'm sure most is his base, but not by a ton. He's probably got a "Howard Stern Effect" where people who oppose him are some of his most engaged followers.

jake [9:16 AM]  I think the question real question is: does it actually matter? Twitter has been stagnant in growth. With just over 300 million users, it has almost 1 BILLION less active users than Facebook. Why should Donald Trump surrender millions of followers for a handle? It doesn’t make sense.

[9:17]   To build up such a large following on a channel that’s stagnant in growth is impressive. Surrendering those followers means that you lose a major amount of your voice.

adam_sisson [9:20 AM]  Trump's current followers may be mostly made up of his base, but as his presidency continues it should grow to include those on both sides. @BarackObama has 80.8M followers, which probably wasn't the case before he took over the office. No matter what the handle says, it's just a source for people to get the information they need about our country. And Jake I think you're right - it doesn't seem to make much sense to abandon such a strong account with a massive following.

paulgangarossa [9:21 AM]  He could just go and change his handle to something like @POTUSTrump or @realPOTUSTrump or @PresidentTrump or something like that. That would set a new precedent and keep his followers at the same time.

andrew [9:22 AM]  Caleb Gardner joined our podcast, he was part of Obama For America and helped orchestrate the president’s various social accounts during his tenure. My guess is he sent out more tweets than President Obama ever did. If I’m Trump, I’m letting my staff handle the @POTUS account.

adam_sisson [9:24 AM]  I think that's the big worry with Trump's personal account - no one is going to be monitoring what he's blasting off to the entire world. It's a little scary to think about.

andrew [9:25 AM]  And no one ever has … or will … *insert scary music*

adam_sisson [9:26 AM]  Let's prepare for 4 years of many cringe-worthy tweets

paulgangarossa [9:27 AM]  The bonus is that whenever his term is up, the next POTUS won't be saddled with his account. 

andrew [9:28 AM]  But, to play devil’s advocate, Trump effectively used social to help him win the election. He’d say whatever was on his mind to gain free media coverage and spent way less on traditional advertising than Hillary Clinton. There’s a NYT piece from October that outlines this pretty well. So, maybe he just wants to stick with that game plan?

paulgangarossa [9:31 AM]  As only he can, because there are plenty of politicians who have Twitter accounts that can't do what he did. This was a situation where his message outweighed the medium, causing it to spill over into traditional news. The tactic doesn't work without a message worth retweeting, liking or hating.

andrew [9:31 AM]  As Skip Bayless would say, “That’s deep and that’s true."

paulgangarossa [9:32 AM]  Bayless/Sharpe in 2020??

andrew [9:35 AM]  If presidential campaigns were decided by hot takes, they would definitely win. Alright, let’s wrap this up … fill in the blank: “If I was Donald Trump, in regards to the @POTUS handle I would ___________."

jake [9:36 AM]  “tweet until my fingers fall off"

andrew [9:37 AM]  Yeah, that’s how we should end it. Nice work, Jake.

adam_sisson [9:39 AM]  *slow claps while eating hot dog with American Flag waving in the background*

<![CDATA[Top 5 Social Media Trends in 2017]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/top-5-social-media-trends-in-2017 https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/top-5-social-media-trends-in-2017
Jon A

Social media is always changing. And, 2017 will be no different.  Certain trends—like Facebook’s continued algorithm changes, the rise of virtual reality, live video and the continued rapid growth of Snapchat—are expected for 2017. However, what are five social media trends you might not be expecting in the new year?

1) Twitter Nears Death: It’s almost time for Twitter to say bye bye. Stock is down 29% year to date. Top executives, like CTO Adam Messinger, are leaving. And users of the platform are not growing. Pew Research Center reports 24% of online adults use Twitter, up a whopping 1% from one year ago. When you combine these factors with the fact that Facebook ad buys perform substantially better than Twitter ad buys in terms of ROI, you can see why Twitter might not be around much longer. Twitter—at its best—is a real-time conversation platform. When tied to trending events, it’s an engaging platform. However, it simply doesn’t work well for what a lot of brands do—planned content.

2) The Rise of Messaging Apps: Facebook Messenger now allows brands to advertise within it. More than 50% of new Snapchat users are over the age of 25. 29% of smartphone owners use general-purpose messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Kik. More and more, customers will want to engage with companies in one-to-one ways—not publicly on their Facebook wall—but within messaging platforms. More companies will utilize bots to automatically respond to customers. And, more apps like Venmo will up the social commerce game, allowing friends to exchange money through social messaging. The content on your Facebook page will be as important as the responses you’re providing in platforms like Messenger.

3) Measuring Offline Sales: Thanks to advancements in Facebook's software, you can now link sales in your store to your Facebook ads. Through partnerships with point-of-sale systems like Square and Marketo, Facebook will be able to provide analytics of how views of Facebook content and ads lead to purchases and store visits. Basically, Facebook gets right into cash registers to pull real-time, in-person results. This ties nicely into the SoLoMo—Social, Local, Mobile—trend. Hyperlocal is a perfect match for social media success.

4) The Continued Rise of Paid Social: I’m still shocked more companies are not taking advantage of the power of paid social. For every $1 you spend on creating content, no one will see that content unless you spend $2 promoting it. You can target customers and new business leads in your customer relationship management (CRM) tool, people who have visited specific pages on your website, and even a lookalike audience of your current email database. The targeting is precise and makes it easy to reach the right people with the right message at the right time. Why not utilize it more? According to Advertising Age, social media spending grew 55% in 2016 to $10.9 billion, up from the previous year's $7 billion. That number could hit $15 billion in 2017.

Pew Research 2016

5) One Channel May Be Enough: When social media burst on to the marketing scene, brands were like “we gotta have a Facebook page!” Pinterest came out— “we gotta be on Pinterest!” Instagram was unveiled— “we absolutely, positively must be on Instagram!” Snapchat— “we’re afraid of Snapchat but…well…should we be on there?” 2017 will be the year more brands finally incorporate social media into their overall business plans and marketing plans, which will lead them to ask the question, “which social media platforms will actually help us generate ROI?” They will be selective in the channels they are delivering content and advertising from, maximizing impact on those channels instead of having average to poor content spread across six different social media platforms. Please…please, get rid of your Google+ page. It doesn’t help with search engine optimization as much as you think it does.

One thing we can all agree on? Social media will continue to grow in 2017. It isn’t going anywhere—it’s just maturing a bit.

Jon Alhart is Vice President of Social and Digital Media and a recovering Buffalo Bills fan. He has the best laugh in the agency, capable of making everyone who hears it think they missed out on the funniest joke of the year.

<![CDATA[Tokens of Appreciation]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/tokens-of-appreciation https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/tokens-of-appreciation

In any given desk at Dixon Schwabl, you’ll find thumb drives, forgotten Tim Horton’s Roll-Up-the-Rim pieces ... maybe the occasional Rolodex. There’s something in common in most of them, too—a stack of white and red poker chips, with various initials Sharpied on their faces. We know what you’re thinking. And no, once the lights go out, DS employees don’t perform their own mashup of Fight Club and Rounders. (Oh, Ed Norton, take me away.) The impetus behind the chips is actually way cooler than the various cash denominations they represent.

We talk about collaboration a lot, about breaking down silos and bringing more people to the table. We practice it, and each time we do, we learn how much more room there is to improve. Whether it’s collaborating more with teammates in the same department, distant DS cousins who live on different floors, clients or even community partners, it’s a conversation. It’s an initiative. It’s a buzzword and it’s not altogether unique to Dixon Schwabl. Everybody’s talking about it. Some are doing it. Others are doing it well.

Whenever one DSer goes out of their way to help out another, a chip is typically given as a physical representation of gratitude. Sure, a simple “thank you” would suffice for anyone under this roof, but the idea (cooked up by the Workplace Wow Committee) is for everyone to have a cache of gratitude at their desk, in the form of these chips. The simple fact that they’re there reminds us to use them—to go a little out of our way to appreciate someone who went way out of theirs.

Chips are periodically turned in in exchange for beautifully designed DS swag, like growlers, scarves, patches and messenger bags. And that’s cool. But really, the value of the chips is in that tangible representation of something we often internally express, but sometimes struggle to put out there where it’s actually useful—gratitude.

And yes, of course it took roughly 20 seconds for plans of a chip black market to be laid out—I’ll give you all my chips for all of yours, then we can corner the market on fashionable accessories, eventually taking over the Greater Rochester scarf racket. But after that died down and chips actually started to be shared sincerely, an overwhelming spirit of appreciation took over.

What we’ve found is that chip giving isn’t limited to an obvious above-and-beyond scenario from an unexpected source. Random acts of collaboration or the simple acknowledgement of a job well done are now chip worthy. And while this may seem to devalue the chip, it hasn’t. Because the chip isn’t what’s valued—it’s the gesture.It’s nice to be thanked. It’s nice to thank others. When you have a reason to do so sitting in your drawer, it can make someone’s day (because they made yours). Then you both end up feeling like all that ... and a bag of chips.

Pete Wayner is the Content Manager, Paul Gangarossa is a PR Executive/Brand Journalist and both agree that drawing on walls is the key to creative thinking. 

<![CDATA[Quasimodo and Copywriting]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/quasimodo-and-copywriting https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/quasimodo-and-copywriting
James Hs Final

I know—huh?

Stick with me. I recently attended a copywriting conference. I’m a relative newbie in the biz and the extra professional development was invaluable. It was fantastic. Many stories, anecdotes, pieces of advice and stale batches of convention center cookies were shared. Out of all the incredible insight I gained from writers who’d been at their craft far longer than I have, there was one powerful message that had a lasting impression. Let’s meet the main character.

Quasimodo, our friendly hunchback of Notre Dame, wanted to retire from bell-ringing. He put up a help-wanted ad in town and the next day was approached by an armless man. “I’m the guy for the job!” he said. “And don’t worry, I don’t need arms. When my head hits the bell, it’ll make the most beautiful sound you’ll ever hear!” Quasimodo decided to give the man a chance.

When the two of them reached the top of the bell tower, the man with no arms wasted no time. He rammed his head straight into the bell. He was right, Quasimodo thought, it was the most beautiful sound he’d ever heard. The man turned around and said, “See! I told you I was perfect for the—” but before he could finish, the bell swung back and knocked him out of the tower. Two policemen quickly ran over to the body. Yeah. Things happen fast in this story.

“Do you know this man?” asked the first cop.

“Not his name,” replied the second cop. “But his face rings a bell.”

Huzzah! You’ve made it this far. Let’s keep going.

The next day, Quasimodo was approached by another armless man who promised he’d be a perfect fit for the job. He told Quasimodo that it was his brother who failed because he didn’t have a plan and forgot to dodge the bell on its backswing. He assured Quasimodo he knew the trick. Quasimodo told the man he’d give him a chance the next day.

To celebrate, the armless man went out and partied with friends, staying out very late. One of his friends suggested he go home and rest. “Nonsense!” said the armless man. “I could ring that bell in my sleep!”

The next morning, Quasimodo met the armless man at the top of the bell tower. The man with no arms was very tired, but he wasted no time. He rammed his head straight into the bell. It was the most beautiful sound Quasimodo ever heard. “Piece of cake!” yelled the armless man. “Now watch me move out of the—” but before he could finish, he tripped over his own tired legs. When the bell swung back, it knocked him out of the tower. Two policemen quickly ran over to the body.

“Do you know this man?” the first cop asked.

“Not his name,” said the second cop. “But he’s a dead ringer for his brother.”

Huzzah again!

OK. You’re asking yourself, How is this related to copywriting? The first man went in for the bell-ringing job eager and ready to go. As eager as he was, he didn’t have a plan and wasn’t ready for the backswing. No bueno. The second man said he had a plan for the backswing, but hubris got the best of him. No plan and too much pride aren’t the best strategies. Just ask Oedipus Rex.

Jobs can quickly pile up as a copywriter. If you take each job without taking the time to review the brief, ask questions or put thought into what you’re writing, it’s not going to impress anyone. Sure, you might get away with running head-first into a project sometimes, and you might feel so confident about a project that you put your head down and take it on alone. But chances are, the job will coming swinging back and knock you out of the tower.

What I learned from this story and all of the presenters at the conference is that success isn’t given. It’s earned. With careful planning, lots of collaboration with exceptionally talented people and a humble student-of-the-business attitude, you could be on your way to being a big can full of awesomeness. Follow these steps, knock the socks off a client, earn someone’s business, wow a creative director and totally be ready for the bell’s backswing.

I know I said this was about copywriting, but I should’ve said this is about life, business, sports, Black Friday Christmas shopping, you name it. And if you know any good bell-ringers, Quasimodo’s still looking.

James is a rising member of our copywriting team. Cash in on more of his musings on Twitter @JamesAshbery.

<![CDATA[Behind the Scenes at the Riesling Fest]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/behind-the-scenes-at-the-riesling-fest https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/behind-the-scenes-at-the-riesling-fest
Img 6382

My first day at Dixon Schwabl was August 10, 2015—just about a year ago now. It was the Monday after the seventh annual Riesling & Craft Beer Festival, and I had no idea at the time how significant that was. Amid the haze of first-day nerves and paperwork, new faces and forgetting names, I remember the tone of the events team members.

Exhausted, but proud in their exhaustion, they told story after story of the past three days and the frantic pace they kept from start to finish. Above-average-sized coffees and Diet Cokes in their hands, sneakers on their weary feet, they had earned a casual Monday. Really, they’d earned the day off, but they were there. Back at it.

Over the past year, the reasons for their exhaustion have been on display. This event doesn’t just happen. It’s not a copy/paste or a rinse-and-repeat. It’s brand new every time, because that’s how they treat it. Even after the most successful year in the event’s history, it’s all about making it better. 


“We are always looking for ways to enhance the festival each year, whether it be adding more kids’ activities, more breweries or more wineries,” Dixon Schwabl Vice President of Events Kathy Phelps says. “The first priority is to make sure we’re going to make enough for a donation, because that’s why this event exists. That’s Priority No. 1.”

And “Priority No. 1” started months ago, prompting the first spreadsheet needed to keep it all organized as this team of Type-A’s began calling, emailing and following up with businesses and other organizations to sponsor the event. Proceeds from the Riesling Fest go to the YMCA of Canandaigua, as well as the host venue, the New York Wine & Culinary Center.

Even more unique is that Dixon Schwabl is its own client as the presenter of the festival.

“We never wanna fail our clients, but in this case especially, everybody’s looking at us—internally, externally, our vendors and the community,” Special Events Supervisor Jenna Van Thof says. “We wanna make it as smooth as we can.”

That includes a ridiculous attention to detail when it comes to vendors. More spreadsheets, color-coded, updated and shared among the team over the months leading up to now, and constant contact to make sure they know where to go at what time to stay on track. 


“It’s so important for us to go down the list and say, ‘OK, we need you there at 9, we need you there at 9:15, when he gets out of there, you come at 10,’ ” Jenna says. “They know what to do when they get there, but if one person is off the timeline then it screws up the next person. They rely on us for that level of organization and coordination.” And it that’s only half of it. “We have numerous community partners: we have electric, garbage, entertainment, sound, water—there are so many moving parts to the festival and you have to make sure it’s all on time.”

The more than 100 volunteers for the two-day event present another logistical challenge. Even more spreadsheets. Spreadsheets for days. Volunteers from the YMCA, Dixon Schwabl and Rochester Young Professionals help pour beer, check IDs, run ice and water, and other event-day activities. They’re signed up, assigned a time and a task, trained and given T-shirts.

“Securing volunteers can be a struggle,” Jenna says. “It’s summertime, they have something going on, but when you work that weekend and you see the number of people who have rallied from Dixon Schwabl, it’s energizing. It’s such an adrenaline rush.”

Kathy says she also gets a boost from watching attendees enjoy everything without a care, without even a thought of the symphony of activity going on around them.

“The community really appreciates it,” Kathy says. “If you look on social media and see the engagement going on, they’re tagging their friends and sharing their stories. Even after it’s over, they’re asking about dates for next year, so it’s nice to know the community looks forward to it.”

Although Kathy and Jenna run point this year, the team is much bigger, with integral support from Erin O’Donnell and Shannon Struzik. Bob Charboneau is the team’s Swiss army knife, doer of all things that need doing. The PR team developed media strategy. The social media team developed ways to leverage Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Some guy wrote a blog. It all adds up to a ridiculous level of meticulous.

This will be the eighth year of the Finger Lakes Riesling & Craft Beer Festival and, without fail, something unexpected will happen that will threaten to derail the whole thing. Lack of sleep, midnight emails and troubleshooting are part of the job. The struggle is real, but so are the results. To date, more than $230,000 has been donated to benefit the Canandaigua region, and the festival also puts a well-deserved spotlight on the region’s booming home-grown wine, beer and food industries.

“It’s a nerve-wracking experience from start to finish, but through some level of insanity, we thrive on it,” Kathy says. “There’s not much better than that moment when you realize you actually have a moment—just that moment to appreciate what you and your team built. It’s going to be hectic again this year, and next year, and every year. Sign us up.”

<![CDATA[Shhh … Consumers Demand Quiet in a Noisy World]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/shhh-consumers-demand-quiet-in-a-noisy-world https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/shhh-consumers-demand-quiet-in-a-noisy-world

Is the world getting noisier?

The journal Environmental Health Perspectives writes that noise is defined by some experts as simply “unwanted sound.” Others describe the effects of noise pollution as a “civil rights issue,” as many modern sounds—car alarms, mobile phones—are totally unregulated.


Even perennial party boy and country music superstar Kenny Chesney notes on his song “Noise” that the constant strain of ordinary sounds interrupting everyday life, lamenting that “we can’t turn it off” and it is “drowning out all the dreams of this Tennessee boy.”

People are seeking out ways to quiet the din of beeps, rings, alarms and ads. There is the Calm app with simple, guided meditations, tranquil imagery and a selection of relaxing sounds, including “passing clouds” and “suspended droplets,” all to help consumers find peaceful moments in busy lives.

With increasingly intrusive personal technology in public spaces, examples abound of consumer pushback on noisy environments. On the job less than a year, AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron sat down with Varietymagazine for a seemingly innocuous interview at CinemaCon in April. When asked if he would allow texting in AMC theaters in the future, he said he might “take specific auditoriums and make them more texting friendly.” Thanks to social media awareness of the interview, public outcry was swift—within 48 hours, AMC sent an email with the subject line “AMC listens to our audience: yes to theatre enhancements, no to texting.”

Noting that they “heard loud and clear” from audiences, “when the lights dim, we’ll remember your advice that your fellow moviegoers should turn off their phones.” There is even a new “quiet snacks menu” introduced by the Toronto International Film Festival to be sold at concessions at its TIFF Bell Lightbox headquarters, featuring “more variety and less noisy packaging.”

From everyday moviegoers to Kenny Chesney … consumers have spoken. Shhh!

Karen Sims, Vice President of People and Development, holds the record for most laughs received during Power Point presentations. She’s also a huge fan of the band KISS. 

<![CDATA[6 Ways Microsoft Can Make LinkedIn Better]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/6-ways-microsoft-can-make-linkedin-better https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/6-ways-microsoft-can-make-linkedin-better

If you had $26.2 billion lying around this weekend, you could’ve purchased LinkedIn. Too late. The deal is done and Microsoft made its largest acquisition in company history.

In a memo to Microsoft employees, CEO Satya Nadella said, “The deal brings together the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network. It’s clear to me that the LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business and an impressive network of more than 433 million professionals.”

And while Nadella hasn’t reached out to us personally, we’ve got a few ideas for how LinkedIn can take the next steps toward the Iron Throne. Sure, that reference was a bit dramatic, but the ideas below are all pragmatic.

“Filtered updates. Instead of one general feed with job postings, industry news, blog posts, promotions/job updates, miscellaneous non-professional updates, etc., make it more user-friendly and give an option at the top of the feed to filter by either all content or different types of posts. That way, people can easily find what they are looking for instead sorting through a jumbled mess of content. Plus, this would rid the platform of memes and inspirational quotes that too often clutter the feed.”
—Jess DiLuglio, social and digital account executive

I’d redesign it entirely. When I’m on LinkedIn, it feels clunky, out of date and not user-friendly. I think Microsoft needs to redesign LinkedIn, reinventing the entire user experience. The newsfeed appears to be old technology. Videos can’t autoplay, links appear in an odd format and overall, it doesn’t look very attractive. LinkedIn is behind the times and could use a new, creative touch. There’s a lot of opportunity for improvement.”
—Jake Ziegler, social and digital media manager

Building on ‘sister’ apps might be a logical next step. We’ve seen Instagram create sister apps in Boomerang, Hyperlapse and Layout—all ways to take your Instagram presence to another level. For LinkedIn, they have a job-search sister app already, but it could be an area to expand for publishing, groups and more.”
—Alex Camp, social media intern

A library to house all of these articles would be a great addition to turn LinkedIn into a hub for educational content. Being a platform for professionals, LinkedIn has thought leadership content published by industry experts every day. Each article could then be categorized by industry, title or skill, allowing you to find the information you need for the job you have or the one you’re looking for.”
—Adam Sisson, social and digital media account executive

A better mobile experience. While announcing 2015 Q1 results, LinkedIn touted to investors that it achieved its ’mobile moment’ when 50% of unique members accessed the site on a mobile device. A year has gone by and that number will have increased by now—but LinkedIn hasn’t changed its mobile experience for a while. If LinkedIn wants to compete for professionals, especially younger ones, to grow the base of its network, it needs to make mobile a priority.”
—Andrew Knoblauch, social and digital media supervisor

“For me, it’s not so much the platform but the way people act on the platform. That’s right, ‘Chris,’ you didn’t hear back from me about scheduling a briefing to discuss current trends in digital media because I have no idea who you are. I’m sure you do have ‘some fresh ideas and insights,’ but I’ll pass on booking a time with you to ‘discuss’ those ideas so you can really just sell to me when I have no idea who you are. LinkedIn has many strengths—my favorite is it’s now our online resume. However, my least favorite part is people seem to forget you need to build a relationship with someone in a more traditional way before you jump to a hard sell on LinkedIn.” —Jon Alhart, vice president of social and digital

Read more about the entire Nadella memo here—and for even more Dixon Schwabl jargon, return to Incite here.

<![CDATA[What We Can Learn From ‘The Greatest’]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/what-we-can-learn-from-the-greatest https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/what-we-can-learn-from-the-greatest

He was The Greatest, The People’s Champion and so much more. I never saw Muhammad Ali in his prime, only the man silenced by a ruthless disease. Since his passing, I’ve taken a deep dive into the life of Muhammad Ali to find the traits that made him the man he was. After all, he was The Greatest, and I think that’s something we should all strive to be.


You have to believe in something and stand by it. You may be wrong, but if it’s something you believe, it’s worth fighting for—literally and figuratively, in Ali’s case. He didn’t believe in the Vietnam War, so he ignored his Army draft notice. He believed African-Americans were treated as inferiors, so he fought back. Right or wrong, he held on to his beliefs and spoke his mind.


Whether it was banter with Howard Cosell or trash talk in the ring, Ali’s personality always shined through. He once said, “I know I look good.” He often described upcoming bouts in long soliloquies, rhyming at every turn. Do yourself a favor, watch old Ali interviews and soak it all in. We’ll never see another personality quite like him.


A $60 bike was stolen from Ali—then Cassius Clay—when he was 12 years old. The bike was never found, but Ali promised that if he ever found the kid who stole his bike, he’d “whup him.” I’ll just say, that kid really got away with something—because he would have been in a world of hurt had Ali ever made good on his promise. Ali used that tiny chip on his shoulder to become the world’s greatest boxer. Through rigorous training, he became a monster in the ring. It was that, among many other things, that served as motivation every day.


Perhaps the No. 1 thing you need to be The Greatest is a large, strong heart. Ali’s heart fit the bill, beating for half an hour after all other organs had shut down. More impressive was his approach to those around him. When asked how he’d like to be remembered, he said: 

We’ll all remember, Champ. 

Andrew Knoblauch is a Social and Digital Media Supervisor at DS. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow on Twitter, or listen on the 'One More Thing' podcast.

<![CDATA[Know your limits. Then leverage them.]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/know-your-limits-then-leverage-them https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/know-your-limits-then-leverage-them

So you have this project that has potential for being something really great. The only problem is [fill in the blank]. A miniscule budget? Impossibly rigid guidelines? Little or no resources? How about all of the above (and more), you say? Perfect.

Mark Barden is a partner at strategic brand consultant eatbigfish. He spoke at Planning-ness 2016, and before I listened to him talk about his approach to the pretty darn common challenge of working with constraints, I admittedly would question the realistic ability to do more with less. He of the glass-mostly-full camp asserted that limitations invite teams to think differently, offer the chance for inventiveness and are “the impetus for a better outcome.” Right on.

It’s all in the way you frame it—setting a bold ambition, getting into a transformer mindset and looking for novel solutions by asking propelling questions that force us off the tried-and-true path. Barden spins it this way, encouraging implementation of any one or a combination of multiple “We can if we ...” ideas:

Think of it as ___

Remove X to allow for Y

Access the knowledge of ___

INtroduce a ___

Substitute X with Y

Fund it by ___

Use Other people to ___

Resource it by ___

Mix it together

In other words, if you don’t have the resources, you have to be resourceful to create abundance. Like Virgin Airlines. They had little money to promote their launch, but that didn’t keep them grounded. They looked at the assets they did have to build relevance and value: Planes = captivated audience, San Francisco area = large Twitterati/sharers, Sir Richard Branson = glamour/celebrity. Then they arranged a trade with Victoria’s Secret for the first fashion show in the sky—a legitimately lofty way to gain visibility.

Now back to your project. Even if it doesn’t have the same scope as a large-sized company, you can define the right level of ambition for your brand. Just remind yourself that when you’re crafting the story, the possibilities are boundless. Truth.

For more inspiration, don’t hold back. Check out A Beautiful Constraint and see where strategic questions can propel you.   

Dana Denberg is an associate Creative Director at Dixon Schwabl and planning advocate.

<![CDATA[Before & After: Recognizing the Need to Change]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/the-difference-between-needing-to-change-and-changing https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/the-difference-between-needing-to-change-and-changing
Sheri Hs Final

Sheri Mitchell, a media traffic manager here at DS, was awarded the Lifestyle Change Award at this year’s Rochester Heart Walk & Run. Each year, the award recognizes one male and one female who have made positive changes impacting their quality of life and improving their health. Below, she shares her story.

Winning the American Heart Association Lifestyle Changes Award was not something I set out to do when I decided that I wanted to start feeling good about myself. My weight was the only thing that always made me feel like a failure. Being overweight wasn’t anything new for me. It was something I’ve been dealing with my whole life.

One event in July 2014 made me mentally ready to finally do something about it. I lost a friend and former co-worker to ALS. Old pictures of us were being posted on social media and that’s when I realized how much more weight I had put on over the years. So, on August 6, 2014, I signed up with a popular national program and followed the steps they set up for me to get started on this journey.

The gym membership that I was paying for and not using, I started using. I asked for a Fitbit for Christmas so that I could track all of my activities. I kept a record of my meals and allowed myself an indulgence or two. I didn’t do anything magical. I practiced portion control, I added healthier foods to my diet, and I became more active. I had no idea that the changes I was making to my health would inspire others to make changes to their health. I just wanted to conquer the one obstacle in my life that always made me feel bad about myself.

We all have our demons to deal with, and I’m taking this one on full force. My weight goal is very close to being reached. Now that I have a much more positive outlook on myself, I know I will not only reach that goal, but I will make sure I never let my weight make me feel like a failure again. 

<![CDATA[How many copywriters does it take to change a light bulb?]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/how-many-copywriters-does-it-take-to-change-a-light-bulb https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/how-many-copywriters-does-it-take-to-change-a-light-bulb
Charles Interest

How many copywriters does it take to change a light bulb?

Only one, but it takes 10 drafts.

1st draft: Change the light bulb.

2nd draft: Now you can change light bulbs at home!

3rd draft: In the dark about changing light bulbs?

4th draft: Save time and money with this simple DIY project.

5th draft: Lighten up!

6th draft: You’re moments away from a brighter future.

7th draft: Get (un)screwed.

8th draft: Let there be light.

9th draft: Provide your family with the peace of mind they deserve.

10th draft: Change the light bulb.

Whether I’m writing copy or plotting a diamond heist, I always assume that my first idea is not my best idea. If it came to me right away, it’s probably come to everyone else a million times before, and while it may have worked for them, there’s no guarantee that it’ll work for me. In fact, the odds are worse it’ll work for me since people would have seen it and will either ignore it or have their defenses up and ready. I see my first idea as a sacrifice to the gods of creativity, trusting that the more ideas I come up with, the more likely I’ll hit on the best one for the job.

And sometimes that best idea is the first one I came up with.

There’s no way to know if my first idea is my best idea until I march it onstage with 20 other ideas to see which one gets the part. Sometimes it’s 10 other ideas, sometimes 50, but an idea never jumps from that mental stage to the finished page without first facing a lot of competition.

So whether you’re planning your business’ next corporate coup or where to spend the weekend, be sure you audition a lot ideas before you pick the best one. And I’m betting it won’t be the first.

Unless it is.  

In addition to being part of Dixon Schwabl’s creative team, Charles Benoit is a celebrated author of young adult novels. Learn more about his work by clicking here. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenoitTheWriter and also on Facebook.

<![CDATA[Making Your Brand Great Again]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/making-your-brand-great-again https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/making-your-brand-great-again

If you want to build or re-build your brand, the fastest and cheapest place to start is with word association. So let’s play our own little word association game. Ready?


(Did you say safety?)


(Did you say search/find?)


(I’m not sure I want to know what you said.)

It shouldn’t surprise you that, when asked this same question, people said things like “even as a very young kid, the name Trump meant rich” and “it meant success.” To see the responses for yourself, watch this clip from John Oliver’s Trump monologue on “Last Week Tonight” (note that some language is NSFW).

Hate him or love him, Trump’s brand is real. Forty years of telling people he’s successful, showing people he’s successful and living his success has sunk in. People believe Trump equals success without too much thought. Wouldn’t it be great if your customers associated something that easily and that consistently with your brand?

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to build a brand like Volvo, Google or even Trump. It requires constant effort, re-evaluation and focus. After the word association game is over, companies work with us to develop their brands through our brandincite workshop. We discuss what makes their brand different, how customers benefit from their brand, and what one promise they can make to customers about their brand.

The results drive naming, messaging and creative development to ensure the customer hears, sees and experiences that brand promise at every touchpoint. But two years later or 10 years later, who is there to ensure the brand promise still rings true? In the case of Donald Trump, he was there. For 40 years (read: nearly two generations), he has beat that drum of “Trump means success” every day. And people believe it.

What’s the one thing you want your customers to believe about your brand? Who is beating that drum inside (or outside) your company? I don’t know how the election will turn out or if it will change the nation as everyone says. But I do believe knowing your brand promise and delivering it consistently in every touchpoint is a lesson that can change your company if you let it. Then it will be your brand people will be talking about 40 years from now.

<![CDATA[At Best of the Web, it's Twitter, for the Win!]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/how-to-tell-your-brands-story https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/how-to-tell-your-brands-story
Matt Stoffel Twitter

And the winner is ...

The Best of the Web Awards were held this morning in Rochester. And while there were several deserving winners, we thought there should be one more. So, we gave away an Apple Watch at random from those in attendance using the hashtag #RBJBOW. 

And the winner is ...


Congratulations, Matt! 

Follow @DixonSchwabl for more from the Best of the Web event, and come back here for a full recap with insights about brand storytelling. 

<![CDATA[Spring Cleaning for Words and Grammars]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/spring-cleaning-for-words-and-grammars https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/spring-cleaning-for-words-and-grammars
Jen M

This was originally sent as an all-staff email from copyediting guru, Jen Moritz, who feels ways about words and grammar.

Happy spring! We've been seeing a few writing quirks lately, so I wanted to send out some reminders that will help us look awesome(r) to our clients. Many of these were sent to me by people who noticed them as a job crossed their desk, so please give this a quick read! (There's even a present for you at the end.)

Big words aren't always better words.

Simple words are good, clear and convey your message in a way that's easier to understand—and actually make you sound smarter!

A few I see a lot, and their counterparts:

amongst = among

usage = use

due to = because

as well as = and

new hire = hire (all hires are new)

utilize = use

Of course there are exceptions, but think of your audience and pare down when you can.


stationery is paper

stationary is action (or technically, no action)


pique (not peek) your interest



as in "basic tenets" (not tenants—those rent apartments)


myself ... is almost always the wrong word; the correct word is "me" (reply to me, let me know, etc.)

An easy trick: If you can't say "himself," you can't say "myself."



I love my ampersands, but they don't belong in most copy. Always "and" except for headlines, titles and the occasional exception when it looks pretty.


DS style doesn't use serial commas

Most of our clients don't, either (sorry ...)


you home in on an idea

you hone your skills


you guyses

... isn't a phrase, in writing or out loud. It's a big mistake, especially to make in front of clients, so please keep this one in mind.


That's it! You sound smarter already. :) Also, if you made it this far, come up to the nook because I made you cookies as a reward for reading! (Seriously. Come get a cookie.)

Our copy editor also bakes, which is awesome. You can follow Jen Moritz on LinkedIn, Twitter (@jenmfinj) and Instagram (@jenmfinj).