<![CDATA[Dixon Schwabl | Blog]]> http://dixonschwabl.com/ Dixon Schwabl Blog en Copyright 2018 2018-03-17T00:35:40-04:00 <![CDATA[Even Celebs Need Media Training]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/even-celebs-need-media-training https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/even-celebs-need-media-training

Sunday is my dreaded “cleaning day.” It’s also my “can’t wait to catch up on all of my TV shows” day, like “This Is Us,” Megyn Kelly on “Today” and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

Mid-Swiffer, my ears perked up when Kris Jenner said, “I don’t like questions from the press.”

She and Kim Kardashian started discussing an upcoming media training the family signed up for.  

“We’ve been doing media interviews for a decade, but we’ve never had media training,” Kim added.

I nearly dropped my Swiffer.

To think the Kardashian family, as popular and influential as they are—not to mention how often they’re seen across the internet and in every tabloid at the grocery stores—has never been media trained? The publicist in me couldn’t believe it. It’s is one of the most important things public relations professionals do. Our goal is for our partners to be comfortable and confident in each interview they do, whether radio or print, national or local.

Similar to our media training process, the Kardashians were part of a “mock interview” with some super-tough questions, which was played back in a big conference room. The trainers walked through the good and not-so-good after the interview. It can be cringe-worthy to watch back, but you learn from it. That’s why we do it. We promise.

Here are a few key lessons the expert trainers in the room gave to Kim, Kris, Kourtney, Khloe and Kendall:

When you’re anxious about the interview topic, you naturally speak faster and therefore have less control of what you say and how you say it. Deliberately speak slower. Be in control.

Ask yourself: “What do I not want to talk about?” Then prepare for those questions. Know what you want to say and how you want to say it, before you walk into the room for your interview. If you’re ready for that tough question, nothing will throw you off.

Be thoughtful of the first five words that come out of your mouth during an interview. Don’t start with “I think.” If you make sure the initial words are content and not just sound, you’ll be cleaner right out of the gate.

While they didn’t talk about these pointers, I think they’re just as important:

  1. Going into your interview, know the three main points you want to clearly get across. And know your time constraints so you can be sure to get them in.
  2. Be prepared. That’s what media training is all about. Go into the interview knowing about the interviewer, what their style is, the purpose of the interview and how long it will be, your key talking points and smart information to back it up, and be ready to share personal examples and stories.
  3. Above everything else, as I like to tell my sisters, “Do you!” Be yourself. Authenticity is remembered. Always. #BeAuthentic

No matter who you are or what level media you’re talking to—should it be your local newspaper, a radio interview on NPR or a segment on “Good Morning America”—it’s your chance to shine and be the smart and savvy expert you’ve worked so hard to become.

Interviews get easier with patience and practice. In the Kardashians’ case, it’s never too late to start—no matter how long you’ve been doing media interviews or how many you’ve had. These media dynamos said they learned a lot through their training, and you would, too.

 So here’s my challenge: Hit up a media training session before you hit the microphone again!

Ryann Bouchard-Guglielmo is a public relations manager and media relations maven. Follow her on Twitter or contact her at ryann_bouchard@dixonschwabl.com.

<![CDATA[Hot Takes for Social Media in 2018]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/hot-takes-for-social-media-in-2018 https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/hot-takes-for-social-media-in-2018

Stephen A. Smith.

Skip Bayless.

Joe Scarborough.

These are a few names commonly associated with the art of the “hot take.” As if a dragon were broiling its dinner at 500° Fahrenheit, these guys are known for giving you their opinions in the most over-the-top way possible, loud and often.

Unfortunately, in the marketing space we don’t have such luxury. Marketing is an industry driven by data, consumer insights and strategic decision making. Things are questioned, then questioned again. That all makes sense to me, for I am a marketer. But if you’ll excuse me and my colleagues for just a few moments …

You see, I wanted the content and social team to give a few hot takes for 2018. I told them don’t hold back. Fire away. Give me everything you got and make sure it’s something I haven’t heard before. Here’s what we came up with, our “hot takery” if you will.

Jessica DiLuglio: “Scott Rogowsky, the host of HQ Trivia, will be knighted in more countries than one. His action as a royal family member will be to encourage marketers across the world to pursue more ‘real-time’ apps and games, building off the popularity of HQ Trivia’s success in developing an uber-engaged audience.”

Justin Dusett: “Instagram will continue to get worse, because they just don’t get it. You cannot appease people in the short term by destroying the feed. In life, there are only a few certainties. Death, taxes and wanting to digest information chronologically. Instagram, I cannot stress this enough, stop overthinking it and fix the feed.”

Michael McGinnis: “Get your subscription services pants on. Netflix, Spotify, MoviePass. They are taking over. By the end of 2018, everything will be subscription-based. For content creators, they’ll need to latch onto where the audience will be. Netflix? YouTube? Where are you? Heck, maybe even our friendship should be subscription-based.”

Adam Sisson: “The world will come up with a better word than infographic. It’s overused, just like the phrase ‘The Patriot Way.’”

Me (Andrew Knoblauch): “Wasting ‘paper’ won’t be acceptable for marketers. Sorry, but you can’t justify spending money just to spend it anymore. If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense. The team can check me on the pop-culture references, but you get it, right?”

Boom. Those are some steaming hot takes. Despite all of the flamethrowing that happened today, here’s one guarantee: Things that ring true about social media in early 2018 will not likely remain the same at the end of 2018.

Do you agree with these takes? Have a few of your own? Tweet them to us @DixonSchwabl.

Andrew Knoblauch is a content marketing and social media supervisor who understands how content works across the vast range of platforms people use to consume it. Follow him on Twitter or contact him at andrew_knoblauch@dixonschwabl.com.

<![CDATA[How Much is Facebook's News Feed Actually Changing?]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/how-much-is-facebooks-news-feed-actually-changing https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/how-much-is-facebooks-news-feed-actually-changing
Jon Alhart  Hs

Facebook got people talking last week when it announced the following: 

Over the next few months, we’ll be making updates to ranking so people have more opportunities to interact with the people they care about. With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.

The announcement left brands wondering, “Will audiences see our Facebook content and ads as much in 2018 as they did in the past?”

The short answer? Yes. 

For perspective, how different is last week’s announcement from this announcement Facebook made in January of 2015?

As part of an ongoing survey, we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content. Beginning in January 2015, people will see less of this type of content in their News Feeds.

We can talk algorithm changes until we are Facebook blue in the face. The bottom line is, how to tell a good story has never, and will never, change. 

Here are three things for your brand consider in 2018—not only for Facebook or other social media, but for your overall marketing program. 

Content That Matters: Tell stories—on your Facebook page, in your collateral, on your website, in your radio spots—that matter to your customers and stay true to your brand. We all know what engagement baiting and bad sell tactics are—don’t do that. Tell. Good. Stories. You know what good stories are because people are interested in them. Don’t sell. Tell. 

• Continue Using Paid: This algorithm change doesn’t have an impact on your paid campaigns on Facebook, so continue to create compelling ads and posts you pay to promote to target audiences. Facebook delivers tremendous ROI, and that won’t change. And of course, pay to play on other platforms that work for you, as well—display, search, TV, pre-roll, etc.

• Analyze/Optimize: Always assess how campaigns are performing—data helps tell good stories because you know what’s performing and can shift your budget to the best-performing topics and platforms. It could be weekly, monthly or quarterly. Establish a timeline for measuring your campaigns. 

Why did Facebook get people talking last week? Because they told a good story. No matter what new platforms and technology emerge, the tenets of telling a good story will always stay the same. Remember that in 2018, and beyond. 

Jon Alhart is Vice President of Content Marketing and Social Media at Dixon Schwabl, and he's an authenticity advocate. Follow him on Twitter or contact him at jon_alhart@dixonschwabl.com. 

<![CDATA[Time to Look Back on the Bills' Drought and Smile]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/time-to-look-back-on-the-bills-drought-and-smile https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/time-to-look-back-on-the-bills-drought-and-smile

In 1999, the word "Miracle" became synonymous with "Disaster" as the Buffalo Bills' playoff drought officially began in heartbreak. Now that that's over, we can all look back and smile.

Graphic designer Justin Dusett worked with the Content Marketing team to do some research and put a creative spin on the past 17 years. Safe to say, things aren't what they used to be.

Buffalo Bills Infog V2 Infog
<![CDATA[Buffalo Bills are Proof that Culture Matters]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/buffalo-bills-are-proof-that-culture-matters https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/buffalo-bills-are-proof-that-culture-matters
Tyler Chauncey  Hs

Is anyone else still in shock? Not just in the ridiculous moment when Andy Dalton connected with Tyler Boyd on an already mythical play that put the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs for the first time since 1999, but also in the totality of the season. The only thing more unbelievable than that play is the notion that this team—this year—was even in that position on New Year’s Eve.

How did the Bills turn another rebuilding year into 9-7 and their first playoff birth since 1999? A decisive, Sean McDermott-led culture change at One Bills Drive was a key contributor.

Many organizations talk about a positive work culture. Not all of them walk the walk. The NFL is no different. In an industry with 5-10 coaching changes every season, there are an equal number of new leadership regimes tasked with making change. McDermott successfully changed the way the Bills approached their business day to day to create a “winning culture.” The result was a euphoric New Year’s Eve for the #BillsMafia, who could celebrate something they’d been waiting a long time for. A “winning culture” can mean a lot of things for different teams (and companies); here are just four observations of what that meant for the Bills in 2017.


In McDermott’s first press conference as a Bill, he took ownership of the franchise’s 17-year playoff drought. Past coaches deflected questions about the drought because it wasn’t theirs. Not Sean. He acknowledged on Day 1 that the weight had shifted to his shoulders and those of his staff. We saw accountability translate to the field, where the Bills went from ninth-most penalized in 2016 down to 23rd in 2017.

Buy-in, starting at the top

We watched Kyle Williams break down the team after a game. We saw Tyrod Taylor hold his head high after a QB change in Week 11. We heard Tre White critique his own play after a win. The Bills bought into their new collective vision 100%. Starting with McDermott, team leaders of all types set an example for how things were going to be done. When members of any organization see their leadership exemplifying their values, it helps everyone buy in all the way, whether you’re in the front office or equipment staff.

Clear values

What are your organization’s core values? It’s something everyone in the building should be able to answer. McDermott had One Bills Drive and Bills Mafia everywhere “trusting the process.” As an NFL team, that meant approaching the season one week at a time, learning from the previous game and preparing diligently for the next. Not getting too high, and never getting too low. This expectation was made crystal clear at One Bills Drive back in August.

Sticking to it

Sometimes prioritizing culture means making sacrifices. They aren’t usually easy … and hardly popular. To achieve top-to-bottom buy-in, the Bills front office made some tough personnel decisions in 2017. While from the outside some said they were “tanking” for a top draft pick in 2018, the staff reasoned that releasing players, however talented, who weren’t a good culture fit would strengthen their team rather than weaken it. The gamble has paid off so far, and we’ll see what Marcel Darius has to say next weekend in Jacksonville.

That “this season is different” feeling was intentional. It took effort, persistence and strong leadership to change the vibe at One Bills Drive. Organizational culture is something you can feel, but does it lead to tangible results you can see? Just ask Buffalo Bills fans who are celebrating the end of the longest formerly active playoff drought in professional sports.

And #GoBills!

Tyler Chauncey is an account executive at Dixon Schwabl, avid Bills fan and culture advocate. Contact him at tyler_chauncey@dixonschwabl.com.

<![CDATA[Leveraging Growth from Your Seat at the Table, and other Buzzwords]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/leveraging-growth-from-your-seat-at-the-table-and-other-buzzwords https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/leveraging-growth-from-your-seat-at-the-table-and-other-buzzwords

Look, no one wants to use a buzzword. And then they do. And they just kind of acknowledge it inside while ducking ever so slightly in the hopes no one else caught it. I’ll own up to each of them along the way. Here goes …

“The printing company said they could meet the deadline AND would package with our custom, handmade wax labels at no extra charge. Solid value-add.”

People and companies alike are always hunting the mythical value-add. On the other side of the deal, it’s often called “the cost of doing business.” One side gives a little more—not necessarily more than is expected, but more than is paid for. Face it, we expect a value-add, whether it’s from our day-to-day vendors or the restaurant we visit once every two years. We pay for a thing, but we expect more than just that thing.

Recently, I realized this applies not just to vendors and services, but to employees. Everyone is paid to do a job, so when employees do what they’re paid to do, that’s table stakes. (Hit me.) Sure, you can do a great job, but you’re still doing the thing you’re supposed to be doing. This can certainly take you a long way, and if somehow you can prove that you’re doing it better than anyone in your building or, better yet, your field, then you’re golden, Ponyboy.

You certainly should strive to do your job as well as you can, and hopefully that means it’s better than anyone else can. But while you’re doing that, what’s your value-add?

Interns, shadows and colleagues have asked me about the career-path topic countless times, and I find my answers have gotten pretty consistent. Maybe it was living through newsroom layoffs as long as I did, but my goal has always been to make myself as valuable as possible while doing a great job. I did my job and learned how others do theirs so that, when the time came that a person was out sick, quit, laid off or otherwise unavailable, I was in a position to help in a way someone focused only on their job description couldn’t.

Beyond doing work—mine or others’—I demanded that my value-add include my perspective. When your job performance earns you a seat at the table, use it. You may be in a room with different departments, colleagues who would otherwise never see your face, and you have an opportunity to add something to the conversation. It takes time to have confidence enough to throw out an idea on how someone else could do their job, but it’s next-level value-add right there. 

If you can’t state it, form it as a question and own the fact that you don’t know the ins and outs of someone else’s job. At worst, it’s a learning moment where they tell you why that idea has been considered and won’t work. But at best, you’ve contributed to a new way something gets done. That’s value.

I learn what I can from the smart people in other departments and then challenge them when I can with ideas that range from 101-level stuff that they left last year to “Wow, I never thought of it that way.” Most times, it’s not a game-changer, but so what? If it shifts the conversation slightly, they could make the jump from a good idea to a great one. That’s value.

So yes, do your job and be great at it. But don’t silo (Ugh.) yourself from the big picture. (Big finish …) Integrate and collaborate to foster synergy and promote efficiencies with cross-departmental benefits that impact the ROI of your career.

Seriously, though: The value you have is the value you add. Leverage it. (Done.)

Paul Gangarossa is a public relations and content manager. And social media account lead. And video content developer. And chronic perspective sharer. Contact him here or follow him here.

<![CDATA[Pitch? Please. Get Smart with PR in 2018. ]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/pitch-please-get-smart-with-pr-in-2018 https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/pitch-please-get-smart-with-pr-in-2018

If I had a nickel for every time I heard questions about the future of the media, I’d be able to buy The Washington Post from Jeff Bezos.

You could use the ever-changing nature of our media to question the future relevance of public relations in a world that is increasingly focused on analytics and measurable ROI. It’s easy to make the immediate connection between the complex media landscape and the success of public relations, as we so closely align ourselves with our journalistic counterparts. But the next few years present a unique and exciting opportunity for the PR industry untethered from the quantity of mentions and impressions as a measure of success.

Wonder Twins

It’s not news to say that the “spray and pray” method of mass press releases, batched pitches and blanket media kits is gone. But now the industry can truly take to heart quality above quantity, approaching brand awareness and reputation management with a new level of precision and personalization.

The symbiotic relationship between the media and PR practitioners will never go away, of course. And storytelling, at the core of a public relations guru’s work, has been in existence since Edward Bernays (the father of public relations) associated cigarettes with “torches of freedom” for the women’s suffrage movement. But who we define as “media” has significantly changed. And how we reach our audience has, as well.

Go to your audience      

The increase in online content has led to media fragmentation, meaning there isn’t one place where people generally get their news and entertainment. As a result, audiences are smaller, yet mightier. Great relationships with target media—say, a bi-monthly boaters magazine or a lifestyle blog focused on the Carolinas—are more beneficial than a name drop in an NPR piece with millions of impressions. Why? Because that mention won’t motivate the reader and won’t benefit your reputation. First, it’s likely neutral in sentiment—meaning it isn’t contributing to the positive (or negative) reputation of your brand. And second, the oft-sought-after “brand awareness” piece can be achieved more thoughtfully and deliberately through other means. It’s the editorial equivalent of shouting your name in Times Square during peak commuter traffic when you could be walking up and introducing yourself to make an impression.  

The highly sought-after national press hit may not be the best fit for your efforts (and is that much harder to attain). The most successful campaigns—and even those who achieve the brass ring of a Times piece or other national hit—start with a smaller, targeted audience and strong relationships with their related media outlets. National publications often turn to smaller, localized platforms to gather story ideas and sources that have legitimacy. Outlets want stories that serve their readers, so your PR consultants are storytellers and matchmakers working hard to craft your message and pair it with the audience that wants—and needs—it.

That’s the reason why quantity (of hits and impressions) is no longer the most effective way to measure ROI. Plus, we know where our target audience lives in part thanks to our friends in social media, digital media and content marketing (check out Mike Reed’s piece on analytics-driven marketing or Adam Wingate’s post on gathering marketing data for more on that). When marketing and advertising efforts are increasingly more precise in definition and measurement via analytics, it’s negligent to focus on results that aren’t catered to your client’s niche.

Take storytelling to a new level

Storytelling doesn’t end with a good pitch to your targeted publication. Public relations also can take charge of the story because of the diverse media landscape. PR practitioners often play the role of (or, in an integrated agency’s case, working alongside) brand journalists, creative artists and content marketing experts. With a mind that’s part journalist and part brand champion, PR experts are an invaluable source when it comes to creating engaging content. Good storytelling will never go out of style—we must have our finger on the pulse of how and where to deliver our message.  And our message must be authentic, especially because we’re creating content in house (or in agency). Readers expect thoughtful, genuine pieces regardless of the source. Therefore, “marketing speak,” whether it’s a written or visual piece, almost never performs as well. In fact, the more you try to sell your brand—versus offering informative, useful content—the worse it often performs.

Leverage built-in audiences

Platforms rich in visual content (YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat) have encouraged photographers, bloggers and vloggers to cultivate a following and monetize their influence.

Micro influencers, those who have a modest but loyal following and are the opinion leader of their community, can be leveraged in a smart PR campaign. They have incredible relationships and understand your audience because they are a brand ambassador themselves. The best micro influencers partner with brands only when it feels organic and are fiercely protective of their own brand. They recognize their audience craves authenticity and can sense phoniness (a la detox teas and gummy vitamins many celebrities push on Instagram).

Again, the goal is quality over quantity. It’s important to cultivate your relationships with key people in the space—which is not just limited to journalists on your beat. In addition, you could work with your PR team to position a key member of your organization as a micro influencer in your space. Creating forward-thinking, valuable content served directly to your community can position your company as the go-to for thought leadership. This result is great relationships with journalists, other influencers and, most important, the audience you serve.

Above all, be collaborative 

 Taking your PR efforts to the next level means collaborating with your digital doyens. PR is at its mightiest when it’s coupled with a strategic integrated campaign that leverages social media, creative, paid search, SEO, content creation and data analytics to amplify your content. If you can’t diversify to that level, start small. Develop an authentic, quality story. Know where your audience is, and execute it (with the help of your friendly neighborhood public relations expert).

<![CDATA[10 Brands That Crush the 404 Error Page Game]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/10-brands-that-crush-the-404-error-page-game https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/10-brands-that-crush-the-404-error-page-game
Ls Paul Option 2

Errors are fine. That’s why pencils have erasers. Wait, let me translate to Millennials: “That’s why there’s a Back button” or “That’s why there’s Command-Z.”

The difference can be all in how you view your errors. One of the most well-known errors in the digital realm is a 404 Error—a digital return-to-sender that tells you that you've entered an invalid address for an active page. Perhaps one of the best uses of an error page was Twitter’s infamous Fail Whale. It embraced the fact that the site was down and turned the whale into a thing. Yes, it was negative, but it became a part of the experience that people remember rather than an annoyance without brand identity.

What used to be an afterthought has become a chance to endear your audience in the face of error. In that respect, these 10 brands turned 404s into 100 emojis. Wait, let me translate for Gen-Xers: They turned 404 Error pages into something totally radical.

Pixar. Cute sells.

Bitly. No detail is too small.

Starbucks. Simple, artsy and on brand.

NPR. All things considered, this is excellent.

Kualo. Please come back after this one, because you’re guaranteed to get sucked in for at least a few minutes.

Air B&B. We’ve all been there …

Mail Chimp. *Snickers before clicking “Back.”

Bloomberg. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

Android. Because games make everything better.

Visit Steve. Super awkward and perfect.

LEGO. So that’s what happened …

It’s a small detail, but that’s the point. Turn that frown upside down with a clever 404 page. Didn't get enough? There's more. A lot more

Paul Gangarossa is a PR Executive and Brand Journalist at Dixon Schwabl, who reached level 5 on the Kualo/Space Invaders game mentioned above. Beat that and then @ him about it on Twitter

<![CDATA[What You Need to Know About Netflix & Nielsen]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-netflix-nielsen https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-netflix-nielsen
Scott Hs

Netflix has been excellent at two things: creating binge watchers and not telling other media companies who those people are. Until now. Netflix will now allow long-time TV marketing leader, Nielsen, to monitor, measure and share viewer data.

This move makes a lot of sense for Nielsen, as they strive to retain their place as the go-to source for TV audience data in the face of staggering cord-cutting statistics. eMarketer projects that 22 million U.S. adults will cancel cable or satellite TV services in 2017– up 33 percent from 2016. By 2021, eMarketer predicts that fully 30 percent of American adults won’t have traditional pay TV at all. Of course, even those who continue to subscribe to traditional pay TV often have subscription video on demand (SVOD) in addition to those services.

All of this makes viewing data for streaming services that much more critical, and Netflix is the clear leader with 66 percent of SVOD users. This move positions Nielsen to fight off comScore, the online measurement company that has been making moves to unseat Nielsen as the leader in TV audience measurement (Nielsen is suing comScore right now to stop them from launching a competing product).

Some people are puzzled about the Netflix move, as Nielsen data has primarily been used by TV companies to justify ad rates and by media buyers to plan ad buys. Netflix, of course, contains no advertising opportunities. Nielsen’s answer is that large media companies (A&E Networks, Walt Disney’s ABC, Lionsgate, Comcast’s NBCUniversal, and Time Warner’s Warner Bros. have reportedly signed on so far) want this kind of audience viewing data to give them a full picture of the reach and lifecycle of their licensed content that ends up on SVOD services like Netflix to guide programming decisions and project licensing revenue.

Nielsen also plans to add the other two major SVOD services — Hulu and Amazon Prime Video — sometime next year. Hulu does have advertising opportunities, and Nielsen data would be useful to TV buyers who want to apply consistent viewing data across platforms.

The biggest shortcoming of this move by Nielsen (at least what we know about it so far) is that it is incomplete. As with all Nielsen data, it’s limited to a sample of people who have tracking devices in their homes. Additionally, as Netflix itself has been quick to point out, it does not measure viewership on smartphones, tablets or computers. When you consider that Netflix data suggests nearly 40 percent of subscribers use one of these devices as their primary means of watching the service, that adds up to a pretty big blind spot.

In any event, as TV advertising continues to become more addressable and programmatic, third-party measurement will be key, and it’s natural that Nielsen would be seeking a foothold in the rapidly growing SVOD space. Whether they can fend off competitors and retain their market position remains to be seen.

Scott Ensign is our VP of Digital Media. You can follow him on Twitter or send him an email to connect at scott_ensign@dixonschwabl.com.

<![CDATA[Take the Time & Do the Right Thing!]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/take-the-time-do-the-right-thing https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/take-the-time-do-the-right-thing
Britt Lui Hs

I’m lazy.

Not necessarily at work, where it’s usually “go time” and I’ll champion even the most minute thing, but in my home life. I’m more likely to watch TV with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine or pick up my computer and cruise the net than run around the block, cut grass or go for a bike ride. I am not typically physically tired from work, but I’m usually mentally exhausted and in need of some recharging from a long day. 

In little squabbles over 22 years with my significant other, this perceived lack of motivation becomes a point of conversation and will be packaged to me as “things you always do.” Like “you never make the bed, take out the trash or put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher.” In my mind, I say how my job is more demanding than his. Or that he’s too “type A” about things. I’m fine. HE needs to loosen up! Now, he does all the outside work, so in theory (although I never agreed to this on paper), I focus on the “house stuff” — cleaning and laundry (which I find strangely therapeutic). But sometimes my actions don’t fit his timetables.

One day, the summer before last, I was about to leave for work. Those of you who know me know that I get up REALLY early in the morning. I’ll go to the gym. (I drive by it every day, I figured I might as well go in!). I’ll come back home and have some coffee, maybe do some work on my laptop. Sometimes I’ll even take a nap before work. (Yes, I get up THAT early!) While about to rush out the door, I looked down at that pesky sink full of dishes from dinner the night before. I walked away, stopped, turned back toward the sink and said, “Do the right thing.” Take the extra time to do what’s right. Don’t give him the chance to bring this up again. And it IS the right thing to do. Clean up your mess. Be a good citizen.

My mantra has become DTRT — Do the Right Thing! I use it almost daily. DTRT and straighten up before you leave for work. DTRT and empty the garbage when it’s full or replace the toilet paper when it's two sheets away from being empty. DTRT and take a deep breath and relax when someone cuts you off on the expressway. DTRT and thank someone for something they did. Doing the right thing isn’t the law. But it makes me feel good and helps create harmony in the house.

The same is true in business. Dennis Organ defined Organizational Citizenship Behaviors as “individual behavior that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system, and that in the aggregate promotes the effective functioning of the organization.” It’s about doing the right thing and going above and beyond to benefit yourself, your coworkers and your organization.

That’s what it’s all about at Dixon Schwabl. We look for good citizens. People with values and integrity who do the right thing. People who lift each other up and act as a true team. People who value diversity and differences of opinion and thought. People who take the time to replace the paper in the copier, rather than just walk away. People who mentor new employees, even though they’re not tasked with that function. And people who admit when they’re wrong or when they’ve made a mistake — even if it’s hard or embarrassing to do.

Doing the right thing has benefited my personal life. And it has helped me advance in the workplace, too. Be a good citizen of your household, your workplace, your community and the planet. When you get the chance to do business as usual or pay it forward and create harmony and order through simple action, it’s pretty clear to me … DTRT!

Britton Lui is our VP of People & Development, and he’s definitely not lazy when it comes to cultivating a culture that grows and sustains itself through doing the right thing. Reach him at britton_lui@dixonschwabl.com

<![CDATA[Twitter Gives Us Character Anxiety]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/twitter-gives-us-character-anxiety-1 https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/twitter-gives-us-character-anxiety-1
Ls Paul Option 2

The Demise of Twitter has been a storyline for a few years now. It's fallen from its perch as one of the largest social media outlets, and instead cranes its neck to look up at its Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat overlords. But it's still relevant. It's still a thing. And it still serves a valuable purpose for its every-day audience and the casual tweet-stalker. 

But Twitter, the business, isn't OK with that. Twitter, the business, needs to grow to stay competitive and stave off obsolescence for as long as possible. Not unlike music stores or Jason Biggs, Twitter needs to do something every now and then to shake things up and regain the spotlight. 

Enter, the Great 280 Character Limit Experiment. 

In what could be Twitter's 'Jump-the-Shark' moment, the social media pioneer is debuting a new 280-character limit that has people everywhere wondering why. In a space that heralded brevity, users (like us) are coming to terms with a new kind of character-counter anxiety. 

We asked team members at @DixonSchwabl — from interns to our president, Mike Schwabl — to share their POV on 280 and close with either #VoteYesOn280 or #VoteNoOn280. Here's how things are trending and, not surprisingly for Twitter, it's mostly negative.

Screen Shot 2017 09 28 At 9 42 05 Am
Screen Shot 2017 09 28 At 9 31 21 Am
Screen Shot 2017 09 28 At 9 29 48 Am
Screen Shot 2017 09 28 At 12 58 18 Pm
Screen Shot 2017 09 28 At 12 20 34 Pm
Screen Shot 2017 09 28 At 2 04 33 Pm
Screen Shot 2017 09 28 At 12 16 17 Pm
Screen Shot 2017 09 28 At 10 22 15 Am
Screen Shot 2017 09 28 At 12 13 20 Pm
Screen Shot 2017 09 28 At 12 16 00 Pm
Screen Shot 2017 09 28 At 12 13 12 Pm
Screen Shot 2017 09 28 At 12 15 07 Pm

Love it or hate it, you don't have to use it. And that goes double for brands. If your brand's goals determine that Twitter is a viable outlet for you, don't worry yourself with the character count. Focus on creating the best content you can and use what Twitter (or any platform) gives you to fit your audience. 

If 280 becomes the new 140, use it because it's smart, not because you can.

@PaulGangarossa is a PR Executive/Brand Journalist at DixonSchwabl with experience helping brands with social media and content marketing. He can also jump over you.  

<![CDATA[Let the Customer Decide Which Marketing is Best with A/B Testing]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/let-the-customer-decide-which-marketing-is-best-with-a-b-testing https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/let-the-customer-decide-which-marketing-is-best-with-a-b-testing
Adam Wingate  Hs

As marketers, we like to think we know what customers are looking for, but do we? Do we really?

It’s impossible for a marketer to understand the nuances of every segment of every target market for a wide range of products. Consumer preferences can change based on demographics, location, age and myriad other factors. Lack of understanding in a specific market forces us to make “gut decisions” based on our personal experiences and allowing our own bias to interfere with the marketing message.

We can minimize these unconscious biases using data. A data-driven approach improves the marketing message and provides a roadmap to reaching marketing and business goals. When creating and refining marketing strategies with data and analysis, we better understand customer preferences and can produce more effective marketing messages.

How to use data to make marketing decisions

Any marketing campaign begins and ends with goals. For more on defining goals, see Mike Reed’s most recent blog post: Analytics: Not Just for Geeks Anymore. After we understand our marketing and business goals, a great way to start removing unconscious bias is gathering data with A/B testing. A/B testing is when we create two iterations of our marketing materials and present them both to customers to see which more effectively produces the desired result. This way, we learn about consumer preferences through their actions and can effectively remove guesswork or bias from the marketing campaign using data to back our strategic decisions.

When creating A/B tests, we start with a null hypothesis to test against. Testing a null hypothesis is something everyone may remember from 11th-grade science, but it isn’t usually something that’s associated with a marketing campaign. A sample marketing null hypothesis could be “a contact form with four fields will have a higher conversion rate than a form with eight fields.” Once we have the hypothesis, we test to prove or disprove it. One common A/B testing strategy is using an incumbent and challenger, where the null hypothesis is compared to a control variable. Comparing the null hypothesis to the control, the goal is to make incremental improvements to our marketing goals with each test, declare a winner and then create a new null hypothesis to test. Each time, we create a hypothesis about how we can improve our marketing goals and try to make incremental improvements to the campaign.

Why test if we’re already getting good results?

With a specific schedule and deliberate testing, incremental improvements add up over time to provide a boost in campaign performance. Even a small increase in conversion rate can add up to a large increase in results over time. For example, in 2007, the Obama campaign increased its email signup rate on a landing page from 8.26% to 11.6% using A/B landing page tests. The difference in conversion rate across the entire campaign added up to an additional 2,880,000 email address collected. Extrapolated out based on average donation of $21 per email, this difference added up to $60 million in additional donations to the campaign just by optimizing the landing page for conversion using A/B testing!

How do we do A/B testing?

Martech is continually evolving, and we’re lucky to have new technologies available for testing on a larger scale than ever before. There are new technologies available that can help create hypotheses, simultaneously handle multiple tests, split advertising traffic between creative versions and report results. We can test almost any element of an integrated marketing campaign to find opportunities for improvement, including tests for:

  • — Landing page design
  • — Call to action
  • — Form length and field
  • — Ad copy
  • — Email design
  • — Subject lines
  • — Images vs. videos 

When starting a new campaign, we follow industry best-practice data. However, each campaign and client is different, and this is where the data we collect through A/B testing can help us continually optimize a campaign while it’s running. Using a data-driven approach and scientific method to gather our data, we can create more actionable insights, make better decisions and ultimately deliver better results on our clients’ marketing and business goals.

Adam Wingate is a digital analyst at Dixon Schwabl, responsible for SEO and web analytics. To learn more about our martech capabilities, contact Adam at Adam_Wingate@dixonschwabl.com.

<![CDATA[A Content Marketer goes to a Cocktail Party]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/content-marketing-or-cocktail-party https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/content-marketing-or-cocktail-party
Andrew Knoblack  Hs

Content marketing is a lot like telling a great story at a cocktail party.

Let me set the scene for you, and for the sake of this party let’s lay on the elegance. In a parlor on East Avenue, a bartender behind an oak bar serves a Finger Lakes Riesling to one guest and a Manhattan to another. Women circulate the room in flowing dresses, the men in black ties. A mixture of laughter, clinking glasses and a string quartet set the mood.

That’s when you walk in. Let’s freeze here, shall we?

Your goal is to have a great time, meet new people and enjoy a drink. Much like content marketing, you’re not here to bring the boredom. Your stories need to entertain those listening. In this context, “entertain” is broad. It can mean laughter, tears, gasps, clapping or a smirk to rival that of Leonardo Dicaprio’s in The Wolf on Wall Street.

This probably isn’t the best place to tell a story about the inner workings of a rotary telephone (though there is a time and place for that as well). Remember, you’re at a party. You only have someone’s attention for so long.

But before you can entertain them, you need to understand your audience. What drives them? What scares them? What motivates them? At the beginning of each day, they put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you. They have mortgages. They have good days and bad. In short, they are people. So yes, you need to understand how to entertain them, but there’s something more important that needs to happen.

Talk to them like a real person. This is where marketers sometimes fall short. They use “buzz words” or industry terms that aren’t relatable to most people. Instead of forcing business jargon, focus on being relatable and relevant. If you find a guest who loves Game of Thrones, drop your favorite Jon Snow conspiracy theories instead of forcing a conversation about KPIs and Facebook’s latest whatever. Talk to them about what they’re interested in and build that relationship.

Building relationships is the whole kit and caboodle in content marketing. You (or your brand) becomes a trusted source of information. Someone will then decide to opt in to you so they can continue to hear from you on the subjects they care about. Once it is time for them to purchase a product in your vertical (even if it’s not for two years) they will most likely come to you first because you’ve worked hard to build that trust.

Sidebar, how great would it be to have an opt out option at a party?

Need an example of building loyalty? Let’s take my favorite grocery store, and potentially the greatest place on earth, Wegmans. Menu Magazine is published two or three times per year and is packed with recipes, stories and more. Story after story, Wegmans provides shoppers like me useful information that will help me lead a healthier life. Why would I shop anywhere else? It’s a long-lasting relationship that Wegmans will be able to capitalize on.

Grab your drink, tip the bartender and go tell a great story. Find what’s relevant to your audience, entertain them, treat them like real people and build fruitful relationships.

Andrew Knoblauch is a content marketing and social media supervisor here at Dixon Schwabl. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewKnoblauch) and hear him on our One More Thing podcast.

<![CDATA[Content Marketing's Growth on Display at #CMWorld]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/content-marketings-growth-on-display-at-cmworld https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/content-marketings-growth-on-display-at-cmworld
Andrew Knoblack  Hs

Cleveland — nestled on the shores of Lake Erie — is home to arguably the greatest basketball player of all time (no, I haven’t spotted LeBron James in the flesh), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (yes, I’m a Rick Astley fan) and Content Marketing World 2017 (where people wear lots and lots of orange).

And that’s why I’m here: to soak in all the content juiciness. My colleague Merritt Ward is here, as well, and you’ll hear from her later as she recaps the whole event. But right now, I want to talk about claustrophobia.

Mine has kicked into full gear, folks. From the moment we left our hotel on St. Clair Avenue, a 5-minute walk from the conference, I couldn’t help but notice … there are a lot of people here.

Walking into my first session, a masterclass on Google Analytics, I was again taken aback by the number of people in the room. Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina, the speaker, even commented: “This is more than I usually get for this topic.”

So there I am, feeling closed in, wondering why there are so many people here. That’s when Crestodina said something that will always stick with me. It almost snapped me back into focus, like a giant bell was ringing.

“I don’t need opinions. I have data.”

Whoa. That was just the first of many powerful quotes. That got me wondering, perhaps data could help me explain why there are so many people here.

My opinion: Content marketing is on the rise. The data?

  • An estimated 3,500 people are attending #CMWorld this year to listen to 225 speakers for a combined 123 hours (CMWorld)
  • 75% of marketers are increasing investment in content (Curata)
  • 18% of companies allocate 10% of their budget (excluding headcount) to content marketing (LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community)
  • The marketing software market is expected to grow to more than $32.3 billion in 2018. It will be one of the fastest-growing areas in high tech, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4% (IDC)
  • 42.5% of companies said they were increasing their content marketing staff levels in 2016 (Curata)

Casey Neistat

There are so many ways for consumers to digest content. As Casey Neistat said during his keynote on Wednesday, “Marketing needs to cut through the bullsh*t.” He proved how he did it for Nike when he took their huge video production budget, traveled the world and made this sweet movie (see below). Nike said it didn’t understand it, but wanted to give it a shot. The YouTube video has 26 million views and Neistat recently sold his company to CNN for $25 million.

But it’s more than just YouTube views or engagement. Content marketing (done well) is a real conversation that has depth and meaning to someone. Done very well, that conversation turns into a fruitful relationship where brands are no longer just part of the noise but more like a trusted advisor who happens to sell a product. Ask my wife and she’ll contend that my relationship with Apple is almost too deep.

Joe Pulizzi

It’s why 92% of marketers said their organization views content as a business asset (Content Marketing Institute). It doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes it’s about setting the right expectations. Check out Dixon Schwabl’s Vice President of Content Marketing & Social Media Jon Alhart’s piece about why expectations are important.

But it all makes sense why so many people are here. Content marketing is not just the future, but very much the present … and marketers are adjusting. The data doesn’t lie.

I hope content marketing has a pretty big bandwagon, because a lot of people are hopping on. As the godfather of content marketing, Mr. Joe Pulizzi said, “Right here, right now is the best time to be a marketing professional.”

Andrew Knoblauch is content marketing and social media supervisor here at Dixon Schwabl. A modern creative-data hybrid. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewKnoblauch) and hear him on our One More Thing podcast.

Photo Credits:
Main Stage: Michael Rizzo, via Twitter (@RizzoMB)
Casey Neistat: Andrew Knoblach
Joe Pulizzi: Patrick Shepherd, via Twitter (@PatrickShepherd)

<![CDATA[7 Web Design Trends We Love (Plus a Few We Hate)]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/7-web-design-trends-we-love-plus-a-few-we-hate https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/7-web-design-trends-we-love-plus-a-few-we-hate
Michael Foster Hs

Web design is constantly evolving as designers find exciting (and sometimes annoying) ways to garner eyeballs, keep you interested, and convert sales. Here are seven web design trends we love, plus a few we could do without.

1. Fully-responsive, device-friendly sites

We love sites that look good on any device, including desktops, mobile, and everything in between; there are a lot of folks out there that swipe around on iPads all day long, never once glancing at a computer monitor. When it comes to making a website responsive, we’re fans of CSS media queries, vw and vh units, calc(), flexbox, and grid. Flexbox allows you to easily align and center content without floats or a fancy CSS framework. Grid is the next big thing. Combined with media queries it’s even more flexible than Flexbox because you can completely reorder content for different screen sizes. Grid doesn’t have the browser support we’d like just yet, but we’re excited about the possibilities.

2. Background videos

If background images are worth a thousand words, background videos are worth a million. People love video and if used in the right way, a background video can help set your site apart. Take our home page for example which features a full screen background video of the Dixon Schwabl workplace. You’ll feel like you’re really in the office with us while you browse our site. Another fine example is the New York State Wine Festival home page which, if you scroll down, features wine being poured from a bottle into a glass. There’s something satisfying about watching that glass fill up with wine that you wouldn’t get from a static image.

3. Call-to-action bars that follow you

If you want your website visitors to take action, make sure they don’t lose sight of it. We recently crafted some hard to miss call-to-action bars for Frontier’s FiOS fiber optic internet landing page. The CTA bar directs the user to call or shop online and stays at the top of page as you scroll.

4. More authentic photos, fewer stock photos

We want to see the real you! So, whip out that camera and take a few snaps. Or hire a photographer — a few professionally done photos can take your site to the next level. Customers love to see pictures of your products, your store, and other customers attending your events.

5. Location-based content

One-size-fits-all may work for baseball caps, but for websites, there is a big payback from delivering custom-tailored location-based content. Customized content helps your visitors find the information they need quickly. For example, the Vantage™ by Frontier microsite displays different home page banners, bundles and deals, and channel lineups based on user's location.

6. Fast-loading pages

No one likes a slow poke. Get your pages in high gear by using server page caches (we’ve seen a 1,393% improvement with FastCGI), image optimization software (ImageOptim free for Mac does wonders), and techniques to delay the loading of content that appears off screen or “below the fold.” We’ve been optimizing our CSS load times with CriticalCSS, too.

7. Integration of social media and marketing automation

You’ve got to stay fresh. Keep your site fresh by tapping into social media APIs to display your latest tweets, Instagram posts, and Facebook updates right on your web pages. On the flip side, potential customers may be living on social networks — are you taking advantage of those platforms for advertising? We are. We recently became a Marketo Premier Digital Services Partner and we’re utilizing their software to better target customers for our clients on social networks.

And now a few trends we could do without…

Hiding everything under a hamburger menu. We know this type of menu works great for mobile devices and can result in a very clean look for desktops. But ultimately it makes it more difficult for your users to find content. Some users may not even realize the menu is there and just leave your site in frustration.

Web browser push notifications. These are popular on mobile devices and perhaps even useful when used sparingly. Now they are becoming increasingly popular on your desktop web browser. But we live in an age of constant interruption. Let’s save the notifications for only the really important stuff, ok?

Pop-up ads. We just got to your site and no, we don’t want to subscribe to your newsletter already. Sorry.

Long loading screens. You should never have to wait for a web site to load with a 45 Mbps connection. Ever.

Michael Foster is a Senior Web Developer at Dixon Schwabl and experienced jetpack pilot. True Story. 

<![CDATA[Analytics: Not just for Geeks Anymore]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/analytics-not-just-for-geeks-anymore https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/analytics-not-just-for-geeks-anymore
Mike Reed  Hs

Use of the term “marketing analytics” has been on an upward trajectory for the past 10 years, but it’s much more than a buzzword. The practice of marketing analytics is a vast topic that encompasses data, technology and skills to inform marketing decision-makers. Business leaders around the world are demanding more from their chief marketing officers (CMOs). The mass marketing Mad Men days of the 1960s, when all decisions were based on inclination, are over.

Today’s CMOs are directly responsible for their return on investment (ROI). Every touchpoint along the customer journey becomes subjected to scrutiny. CMOs are left with two options to maximize revenue and reduce costs:

  1. They can cut their marketing budget, staff and salary. (Wrong answer.)
  2. They can get smart with their marketing by letting data tell their story through insights and analytics. (Bingo!)

Marketing analytics help decision-makers quantify costs and benefits, weigh outcomes and determine the risk associated with specific tactics. We are very fortunate to have an abundance of data at our fingertips. Mining the data and pulling out insights that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye is the job of the data analyst.

I often get asked: As marketers, what do we need to measure? To answer this question, I’d like to reference the visionary author and speaker Simon Sinek. In this TED talk, Sinek discusses his theory of The Golden Circle, the idea of starting with why, not what.

When I get the question, what do we need to do? I ask, why are we doing it?

Why do analytics matter to CMOs?

Clicks and impressions and bounce rates, oh, my!

Every day, marketers report on key performance indicators (KPIs) that might not matter to their business. I love this example outlined in the 2013 Adobe Analytics advertisement Click, Baby, Click! In this short video, the employees of an encyclopedia company get excited when they see clicks skyrocket. “We’re back!” shouts the CEO. This action triggers a series of events that affects multiple economies. But the employees failed to do one thing. They didn’t ask why the click rate was so high — spoiler alert for those who want to watch the video — a baby is hyper-clicking the “order” button on the encyclopedia’s website, displayed on a tablet. “He really loves that thing,” says the baby’s mom.

How do we use analytics to show marketing value and uncover opportunities?

When we clearly know why we are doing something, it’s easier to define how we are going to do it. Marketing pros are interested in analytics because we want to prove our worth. We must show ROI to grow next year’s budget. How do we do that? By analyzing ourcustomer’s journey from their point of view. Understanding how a customer navigates through touchpoints can help us deliver a better experience by reaching the right person at the right place and right time.

Right Person

Identify your target audience before you begin your marketing quest. Using market research will help you build a persona for each of your ideal customers. The personas should include demographics, behavior patterns, motivations and goals. The more detailed you can be at this point, the more insightful your analytics will be when it’s time for reporting.

Right Place

Be where your audience is. The digital landscape has an ever-expanding canvas of channels, pages and platforms where customers spend their time. Develop and deliver highly targeted content on the sites and apps your customers visit every day.

Right Time

Timing is everything when it comes to marketing and sales. I’ve received many direct-mail pieces, emails and phone calls from car dealerships lately. Those sales people identified me as a qualified lead, ready to buy a car. They’re right about some things. I am interested in the cars they’re selling, and they found channels that I’m paying attention to. But they didn’t have the timing right. With a little bit of research, they could have learned that I bought a car six months ago and I’m not ready to buy another vehicle. They’re wasting time and money by targeting me with their ineffective marketing. They’d be better off setting a timer to start marketing to me in a year or two.

To combat the critical “right time” metric, we use a tool called lead scoring. Quantifying a customer's behavior helps us more accurately understand their interest in a product. Buyer intent becomes a tangible indicator for positioning within the customer journey.

What tasks are necessary to accurately measure KPIs, goals and attribution?

This is the important work marketing analysts do every day. From tagging web pages with tracking pixels to building UTM parameters for all inbound links. Marketing analysts are focused on determining multi-touch attribution across all digital platforms. They pay close attention to KPIs that focus on ROI. Conversion metrics like cost per lead by channel, cost per opportunity and customer lifetime value help inform the revenue-driven decisions mandated from the top down.  

When marketing professionals understand why their marketing plan is supporting the larger organizational goals, it becomes easy to determine which metrics matter. Defining how your team is going to reach the goal becomes obvious through the defined customer journey. Determining which metrics matter will become clear, even before your campaign begins.

Do you have more questions about marketing analytics or need help getting started? Contact us today.

Mike Reed is our Manager of Analytics & Automated Marketing and advocate for working both smarter and harder. You can contact him at michael_reed@dixonschwabl.com.


<![CDATA[30 Years of Making It Happen]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/30-years-of-making-it-happen https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/30-years-of-making-it-happen
Mike Schwabl  Hs

Dixon Schwabl is celebrating 30 years of successfully serving clients across the US. Wow.

However, if you’re reading this blog to discover some secret to that business success, I’m not sure I can give you a definitive answer. I can tell you that to succeed in any venture, you have to have an incredible belief in yourself and those around you.

I think that’s what has amazed me most over the past 30 years, starting with the moment I met Lauren Dixon. Here was this single mom and former TV personality from Rochester starting a business from her son’s converted bedroom, hiring a basically unemployed photojournalist from Buffalo to handle creative for her new agency.

“I need to hire someone to produce weekly half-hour TV programs for two of my three new clients,” said the woman who landed those three clients within 48 hours of starting her agency. “Can you do it?”

“Of course I can,” I replied in a heartbeat, never having produced a single video in my life. But hey, if you’ve ever met Lauren, you know her confidence is contagious.

So there it was born. An attitude that anything is possible and that we would do anything it takes to make it happen for our clients. Thirty years later, while I dare say our marketing expertise has been honed through vast experience, that confident attitude is still at the heart and soul of all we do. And you’ll find it driving the 120+ marketing professionals we are honored to have on our Dixon Schwabl team.

Together, we’ve learned that there is no recipe for success in business. But there are ingredients. Three of those are trial, error and trust. You have to invest in trying and learning new things to stay relevant. You have to be willing to fail, no matter how painful. And you have to trust the people around you to give it their all and make it happen.

It’s a formula that’s worked pretty well for 30 years and one that leaves me with the same feeling I had after that first half-hour TV program aired. Wow.  

Mike Schwabl is president of Dixon Schwabl and the personification of our slogan—We Make it Happen. His name’s on the building, but, more importantly, his heart is inside of it. 

<![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.