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Hey – they discovered a new galaxy.

Thanks, NASA. I know what you’re thinking though. Oh, they found another galaxy…Big deal. And you’re right. It is a big deal! A whole ‘nother 719-planet cosmic swirl. Gently butted up against our solar system. You know what that means? There could be a bunch of other “Earths”.  Which also means your brand could exist in an alternate universe. Or galaxy. And they may be growing faster than you. Don’t freak. Luckily, your galaxy has a Spyglass. So what we’re saying is, you still have a chance.

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Condoms for endangered species? Happy Valentine’s Day!

The most interesting thing about marketing is where it pops up. Every aspect of daily life is another opportunity to get your message out. Take the Center for Biological Diversity, for example. After St. Paul, MN was selected as the Best Romantic Getaway in North America by USA Today, the CBD decided to launch a condom giveaway campaign to build awareness around its efforts to promote sustainable biodiversity there. Just goes to show you, if you don’t see a good marketing opportunity, you are just not looking hard enough.

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Super Super Bowl Marketing: How Two Guys Inhaled the Right URL at the Right Time

Interesting article on two savvy entrepreneurs who knew that if the two states that legalized pot got to the big game, they could score big profits. Also shows how the NFL/pot tie-in is helping lots of people make hemp while the sun shines. Like we tell our clients about URLs – while they may not be the end all to profits and performance – it’s a good idea to snap up what you can before someone else gets to them. Full article: http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_25001056/stoner-bowl-xlviii-marijuana-matchup-has-really-gone

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May Not be a Virgin After All

Like pigs that have been running wild in the calamari conversation , this olive oil thing is another red flag for foodies around the world. Looks like another bait and switch. We learn that pure olive oil is likely not so pure after all. Yet another global conspiracy that hits you right in the taste buds. But there is a larger point here – at least from a marketing perspective. The title slide draws you in. The visuals work as hard as the words. And then it’s all over with before you know it. You get the point. A good lesson for any brand, product or concept looking to build awareness. Get your story down to 15 slides. Make the graphics work as hard as the words. Trim the fat. It’s not just a good exercise. It should always be your starting point. Match your presentation to the attention span of your audience. It never hurt anyone to be brief and to the point. It’s the reason we try to keep our RFP responses down to 15 slides. Because whether you’re seeking clicks, consideration or big dollars from investors, getting to the point faster will always be the name of the game. Of course, some presentations are too complex for 15 slides, but start at 15 and you’ll always have a shot. All that extra content can probably go in the appendix anyway, which, much like the superfluous organ found in the human body, is a vestigial structure that has lost most of its original function through the process of evolution.

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(Mini)minneapolis: Our New Favorite City

Miniminneapolis. Ever heard of it? I couldn’t find it on Google maps so there is no way it actually exists.  Well Starburst would disagree. In their latest ad they feature miniminneapolis, where their new miniature candies are made.  Spyglass calls Minneapolis its home so we were instantly intrigued, but what really made us pay attention was the thought behind the ad.  It was perfect.  They managed to introduce a new product, make people laugh, and gain instant interest from anyone with a fondness of the original Minneapolis (or just Minneapolis as we call it). Not to mention it only took them 30 seconds to do so. Think about your own brand. Could you make a play on words to help gain awareness?  We can.  We are already getting the whiteboards out and creating new cities as we speak…. And we can promise you they are filled with new characters and taglines to fit your brand. Which sounds much more intriguing than the weather here, so let’s get started. Right here in Spytopia, a creative municipality located here in PolarVortexasota.

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Target’s Simplicity Challenge

Simplicity. It’s the key to the success of almost any consumer product. Healthcare should be no different, yet in this particular realm, touting yourself as “simple” and “user-friendly” is a task much more easily said than done. 75% of health care professionals — you know, the people selling this stuff — don’t even understand their own health care plans! Alarming.

Enter Target’s Simplicity Challenge, a campaign that uses the bright idea of crowd sourcing to find the next healthcare innovation. They simply posed the question – what would you do to simplify healthcare? The general public certainly made their ideas known, with submissions ranging from mobile app ideas and outreach programs, to TV spots and experiential gimmicks to help bring health care to the every-man’s level. Judging will be done by 11 industry experts procured by Target, representing the  best and brightest from organizations like Medtronic, United Health Group, IDEO and Target, of course.
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Carpe Blogem

“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”
– David Ogilvy

I know what you’re thinking. Easier said than done – especially if you’ve read virtually any other business blog. You know it’s true. Most business brilliance being foisted online is boring and more regurgitated than breakfast for 10 from a mother Blue-Footed Booby. That’s a bird listed early in a Wikipedia article about regurgitation.

Being original isn’t easy. Let alone interesting. A blog about business, even a business as fast-paced, smart, sassy and sexy as the world of advertising, gets boring fast. You’re probably ready to quit reading this now. Hang on. All I’m saying is, making this blog worth a damn and not the typical advertising blog like the one’s you’ll find on (list omitted to protect almost everyone) will take a lot of Google linking, clever cookies—and a heck of lot more than a few cans of Coke, a couple bags of Doritos or shots of Patron. It’s going to take clever content and some damn good insights that you have yet to come across. Mind-blowing stuff. Revolutionary ideas. Einstein, rocket science, South Park, New England Journal of Medicine type of thing. Breakthroughs and solid thinking. Stuff that anyone who pulls their pants on one leg at a time and makes other people fabulously successful would think of on topics like branding and creative, social media and mobile, customer engagement, B2B, digital marketing. Anyway. Trust me. We’re working on it. We think we know a guy. Great sense of humor. But kind of a loose cannon.

 

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Step one to smart marketing: Write your ‘brand map’

IMEDIA

FOR SMALL-BUSINESS OWNERS, figuring out how to differentiate your company is likely one of many tasks on your to-do list. But it’s a crucial one.

It can be harder than it seems. Often, owners are too close to their companies, which can make it daunting to approach their business from their customers’ point of view. Think about it: How many total people hours have you and your team spent talking about your brand and marketing over the past year in various meetings? Now multiply that by the average hourly value of your time.

When we have our clients do this exercise, the average of what they have spent talking about this with little or no real output is $75,000 in one calendar year. That’s time and money that could be better spent elsewhere, actually getting results.

So, how do you stand out from the crowd without wasting money and time? I can tell you from working with more than 140 companies during the past decade, it doesn’t take a million bucks and endless months to get your story straight and out into the marketplace. It simply takes the right approach.

‘Because we have to’
As a branding agency, we often receive inquiries from business owners asking us to redesign their website, update their sales materials, create a logo or develop an ad. These are all valid tactics—but only if they are working in concert to help you accomplish your strategic business goals. Many business owners initially tell us they spend money on branding or marketing “because we have to,” and then they’re often frustrated or disappointed with the results.

There’s an underlying culprit at work here: many companies have yet to uncover a simple and compelling way to express who they are, what they do and why someone should do business with them.

So what’s the secret to being happy with your marketing because it’s having a positive impact on your bottom line? I recommend following four proven steps we use to get the job done in a timely manner and at a cost that won’t give you sticker shock.

1. Define your space. 
A good marketing foundation starts with a one-pager that we call a brand map. It clearly states who you want to be (not your mission, but your vision for your company), and includes: the single and precise reason why people should do business with you; who you want to do business with and the key messages that will resonate with those people; where and how you fit into the competitive landscape; what position you need to take in order to differentiate yourself; and, last but not least, what you want people to think, feel and say after they have done business with you.

2. Bring your story to life. 
Once you have internal alignment and agreement on your brand map, it’s time to bring your story to life. We recommend developing three strategically on point and differentiated marketing concepts that bring the story (based on the brand map) to life in a powerful, proprietary and compelling way.

How do you know which concept is the right one? Ask yourself questions such as: Will this position resonate with my customers? Does it address a very specific customer need or want? Will it give us a competitive advantage? Is it believable? Is it doable?

If you hit a wall or if you’re working with other partners or investors who have differing opinions, simply return to the brand map for guidance and validation. Above all, always remember: Your marketing approach is not about you; it’s about connecting with your customer.

3. Get your story ready for market. 
Congratulations – you’re off and running. You’ve chosen the concept that best brings your story to life and represents what makes you different.

Now, take a look at all of your customer touch points, and ensure they’re in alignment with and ready to support your new story. Check out your customer space, whether it’s an office, warehouse, retail space or other location; review your sales and service processes for enhancements—even simple things like how you answer the phone can have a major impact on what your customers think of you.

We recently helped a professional group of board-certified emergency physicians in the Twin Cities brand and launch their new retail medical concept, The Urgency Room. To help ensure the UR delivered on its promise of being “The Fast, Affordable ER ue along with the estimated wait time.

And the bottom line is benefiting: The first Urgency Room opened last fall and is currently tracking at 350 percent ahead of goal. The takeaway: Defining and delivering a positive, consistent customer experience at every turn is essential to success.

4. Spread the word.  
Even the best strategic approach needs a boost of support to get some traction. Work with your internal and external resources to make sure your brand is introduced flawlessly within time and budget constraints while successfully accommodating the changes inherent in any marketing program.

And don’t forget your employees. Even if you only have a handful of staff, it’s really important for them to be included in the communication process, at least at some level. That way, they’ll be energized and engaged in the new story – and help you tell it in a consistent way.

Now is your opportunity to tell the world about your company and build your brand through channels that may include advertising, public relations, pay-per-click, targeted marketing, special events or social networking.

If you keep your eye on your business objectives alongside your brand map as you continue to tell your story, you’ll save time, money and maybe even smile when you sign those checks for your marketing investment.

Read the article on Upsize

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