New on Staff – Alex Duppong

AlexDuppongHS_smAlex Duppong has returned to the MABU ranks! He first served as an intern with us following his education at Bismarck State College. After working as a web developer for several years, he’s back with the MABU web team as a developer.

Alex grew up as a farm kid in Haymarsh, 11 miles north of Glen Ullin, ND and is a man of many hobbies and interests. You can find him writing, drawing, singing and dancing – and that’s just in the office! Outside of work hours, he enjoys swimming, biking, working out, snowboarding, paintball, movies and gaming.

He’s met Stan Lee and the Karate Kid.

In fact, Alex’s gaming is more than a hobby. He is the co-founder of the Gamer Gauntlet which works to organize high-quality video game events in the community and brings gamers together in face-to-face competition for all skill levels.

Alex appreciates the quirky and the off-kilter things in life. And if he was a piece of furniture? He’d be your grandpa’s old recliner that has that “oh so special” trick to opening up and eating all the remotes.

Welcome back Alex!

3D Visualization & Animation

MABU-ENewsletter-Story3_EdMany people think motion graphics and animation belong only in Hollywood. However, animated content is everywhere these days and has useful applications for nearly any business or organization.

With so much information vying for our attention, animation is a great way to catch your viewer’s eye. This technology can be used in commercials, print and video graphics to bring artwork to life and breathe interest into the messaging. Web technologies are rapidly expanding as well.

MABU-ENewsletter-Story3_earthlodgeBoth 2D and 3D visualization are frequently part of website upgrades, helping to engage the user with digital content. For example, animation can be used in employee training videos, recreating historical sites, medical simulations, future construction projects, educational games for children and even as a way to research and do virtual testing of products prior to release. Plus, the tools and procedures for this type of work are becoming increasingly cost effective.

Motion graphics and animation allow our clients to bring content to life that may otherwise be overlooked.

MABU-ENewsletter-Story3_lightbulbCheck out the interactive version of the 3-D MABU light bulb at www.agencymabu.com/3D to see how it works.

ND Agriculture Department – client spotlight

ND Agriculture Department is Digging “THE DIRT” with New Intranet.

MABU-ENewsletter-Story4_websiteThe ND Department of Agriculture needed a way to communicate with all team members, even with those in the field. With the Department’s new Drupal-based intranet launched earlier this year by MABU, all team members can easily access the intranet using their credentials and get the latest information on their mobile devices.

The design is highly-thematic and shows the fun personality of the Department of Ag without getting in the way of site functionality. “The Dirt” (yes, pun intended) has an uncluttered, clean design. The site serves as a central hub for internal communication with daily tasks just a click away thanks to intuitive navigation.

Watford City: The New Frontier – client spotlight

MABU-ENewsletter-Story1_imageMcKenzie County has always offered up Western culture and an impressive roster of famous visitors (remember Theodore Roosevelt, Sakakawea, Sitting Bull, and Lewis & Clark from your history books?).

When county leaders approached MABU, their end goal was to send a clear message to visitors; McKenzie County, particularly Watford City, is open and ready for visitors.

The MABU team conducted extensive research to help McKenzie County determine their marketing strategy. The new campaign conveys the message that even after a day of rugged exploration and activity, guests will now find unexpected luxuries like great dining experiences, cocktail bars, and finely-appointed hotels.

U.S. Army Civilian Corps – featured client

Research, Target and refine for results

MABU-ENewsletter-Side2For the past six years, MABU has coordinated a comprehensive marketing and advertising campaign to recruit civilian medical professionals to join the U.S. Army Medical Command’s 70+ hospitals and clinics all across the world.  The effort encompasses job fairs, advertisements, news releases, videos, print materials and social media channels to attract qualified applicants and encourage them to visit the Army Medical Command’s recruitment website.

So when it came to updating this already successful website, our research indicated a need to make the site mobile-friendly and searchable for various types of career opportunities. Our team took on the challenge and responded by creating a responsive site with an updated look optimized for speed and ease of use. The new site appeals to users with an updated look, along with a fast, easy way to find jobs based on location and field of expertise. A new online application feature was also developed to help expedite the hiring process.  Since the launch, the mobile bounce rate has improved by 25%, and average page views have increase from 2.4 to 4.5 pages.

Marketing and Advertising Aren’t The Same: Here’s Why

When folks ask where I work, I always give the same response:

“A marketing and advertising agency.”

The two words naturally flow together as if they’re two halves of the same whole – the yin and yang of the business world if you will.

It’s typical to lump the two functions together, so they must be identical, right? Au contraire mon ami – the two are certainly related, but far from one and the same.

Dividing the Marketing Pie

The trite, albeit useful “piece of the pie” idiom is the best way to describe the relationship between marketing and advertising: advertising is a slice of the pie, while marketing comprises the whole delicious confection.

                                                       Marketing is the entire pie!

Think about your overall marketing strategy – it probably has a number of moving parts (i.e., slices), including:

-Market research
-Media planning
-Sales strategy
-Public relations
-And last but not least, advertising

Advertising aims to get a product or service in front of your target audience via brochures, commercials, billboards or another medium – it’s one piece of the marketing pie.

Marketing involves a more comprehensive strategy. Marketing is the cohesive set of functions that combine to create the entire pie, including branding, public relations, and advertising.

The Marketing vs. Advertising Rift

I’m certain there are bands of marketers and advertisers out there who would say the two are the same. Some might take my side – the two are obviously different. Some might claim one can’t function without the other.

But what about those of you on the fence, unsure of your stance on the marketing/advertising debacle? Relax and take some time to mull it over – maybe over a slice of pie.

Life Lessons = Marketing 101

By Megan Full

Every child received the same sage pieces of advice from their parents growing up. Eat your vegetables. Don’t play with your food. Don’t spray your brother in the face with the water hose (okay, maybe that was just me).

At a young age, these lessons helped lay the foundation for the adults we are today – but what we didn’t realize back then is how applicable these life lessons are to marketing.

Look Twice Before Crossing the Street

Chances are you’ll have to look more than twice before launching a campaign. Hours of brainstorming, researching, tweaking and editing lie behind successful marketing endeavors.

Oftentimes, a campaign will forgo multiple ideas and strategies before coming to fruition. Follow your parents’ advice and look twice before embarking on a campaign – it’ll lead to fewer headaches and better results.

Don’t Talk to Strangers

Knowing your audience before launching a campaign is critical for achieving your goals and reaching loyal customers.

Research your audience’s lifestyle, likes and dislikes, and how they interact with brands. Find out if your product or service is something they’d even find relevant – doing so will keep you from talking to strangers AND keep them from viewing you as the stranger they were taught to avoid.

The World Doesn’t Revolve Around You

This one was a fan- favorite during those attitude-laden preteen years – and it still holds true in marketing.

Companies that focus too much on selling themselves forget the true goal behind marketing – to reach the customer. Instead of focusing on how great you are, aim to let the customer know how you can help them.

Treat Others the Way You Want to Be Treated

Long-hailed The Golden Rule, marketers would do well to heed this advice. Audiences can see through buzzwords and marketing-speak. They know when you’re being insincere and when they’re being talked at instead of talked to.

Treat your audience like the valued consumers they are by giving them what they want and delivering on the promises made in your marketing efforts.

“Mobilegeddon” is Upon Us – Are You Ready?

More than 60% of all Google searches now take place from a mobile device. To ensure mobile users have an optimal browsing experience, Google is releasing a new search engine algorithm on April 21st that further emphasizes “mobile friendliness” as an SEO factor.

Brace yourselves for “mobilegeddon.”

Google released a statement in February alerting web-developers of this change:

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

How to Prepare For Mobilegeddon

If you already have a responsive or mobile website:

Don’t panic – do a quick overview of your site to make sure all of the pages are navigable and mobile friendly.

If you need help determining if your site is mobile-friendly, check out Google’s “Mobile Friendly Test.”

If your website isn’t responsive or mobile-optimized:

Don’t panic – but do start to consider implementing a mobile strategy.

After April 21st, your website will still appear in search engine results, but may lose some visibility in rankings.  2014 was the year when mobile browsing finally outpaced desktop browsing and with the release of Google’s new algorithm, there’s no better time than the present to get in a mobile state-of-mind.

Well-Designed Websites Add Value to Your Marketing Mix

By Megan Full

Billboards, radio spots, digital campaigns, and print ads are all key components of a strategic marketing plan. They create brand awareness and pique interest among your audience – but where does a great website fit into the mix?

A well-designed website can be a valuable stand-alone marketing tool and serve as a solid foundation for designing your overall marketing strategy – but how? What value does a well-designed site really add to your business?

It Serves as a Central Marketing Hub

The price tags attached to custom-built sites often deter business owners from taking the plunge. Yet when you view your website as a central hub for your marketing and selling efforts, a functional, user-friendly site starts looking like a wise investment.

Consider the mediums in your marketing mix. Whether digital or traditional, all of them likely have a call-to-action – often encouraging audiences to “learn more” by visiting your website.

Even without an explicit call to action, the very FIRST thing an interested customer is likely to do is find you online. You don’t want a potential customer stumbling onto your site and passing judgment based on the homepage – which leads me to benefit number 2.

It Enhances Your Credibility

An astounding 93% of business purchase decisions begin with an internet search. Your website is likely the initial point of interaction a consumer will have with your business – and your one chance to make a positive first impression.

A well-designed website has the power to solidify your brand and build trust in the eyes of your consumers. Not convinced? In a 2011 study where participants were asked to provide their initial impressions of health websites, 94% of the factors related to “mistrust” of a website were related to design.

You Have Greater Online Visibility

Needless to say, without a website, you’re missing out on a ton of new business altogether. But believe it or not, the quality of your website also impacts online visibility.

Proper use of HTML tags and titles, well-written content, a succinct sitemap, and dynamic webpages all affect how Google’s bots crawl and rank your website – and ultimately determine where you appear on search engine results pages.

The Importance of Branding

by Megan Full

What is “branding”?

“Branding” is a buzzword in the marketing world – but what exactly is it? The easiest way to describe a company’s “brand” is with a simple analogy:

Branding is to a business what reputation is to an individual.

Piece of cake, right?

Unfortunately, defining a company’s brand takes more than designing a memorable logo or drafting a tagline. To establish an enduring brand identity, be prepared to carve out a substantial amount of time researching and questioning your customers and employees to truly understand what defines your company.

What makes a great brand?

A company’s “brand” is a collection of the thoughts and emotions that come to someone’s mind when they see your logo or hear your slogan.

Think Apple – the word innovation comes to mind immediately. What about Disney? They’re known as “The Happiest Place on Earth.”  It’s no surprise that both companies landed spots on Forbes’ list of the world’s most valuable brands – but what makes them so great?

What comes to mind when you think Disney?

A great brand is one that is broadly-known, highly-respected and stands the test of time. Meanwhile, a poor brand is one that’s little-known, not respected or doesn’t have any lasting value.

How do you begin to define your brand?

Deciding on a company brand can be a daunting task. Your reputation has the ability to make or break your business – so how can you possibly land on one idea that completely defines your organization?

Start by digging out a pen and paper for a brainstorming session and ask yourself questions like:

  • Why do people choose us over some other product or provider?
  • What characteristics make us stand out? What do we want to be known for?
  • What is unique about our customers? How do our products or services compare to competitors’?

The Ancient Greeks were onto something with the aphorism “know thyself”: only after you’ve determined your meaningful differentiators can you begin communicating your brand identity.

The Importance of Your Company’s Brand

People gravitate towards companies they perceive as being high in quality and character. A great brand acts like a magnet for attracting customers and creates a lasting emotional connection with your audience. Brands have the power to encourage customer loyalty and attract the employees committed to carrying out the essence of your brand each and every day.

When embarking on a brand strategy, aim for a brand that is malleable enough to evolve with society, yet reliable enough to maintain your unique identity. As they say, perception is reality – before settling on a brand identity, do your research and be honest with yourself to make sure it leads to the perception you intended.