“Thank Goodness”

goodness

I heard the term listening to a report from a group of hurricane survivors who locked themselves in a walk-in cooler at a restaurant in the midwest. The right situation to Thank God, but the young lady said: "Thank goodness we are all alive."

Thank Goodness.

I like this term. Not that I am against God by any means. I am pro goodness. Goodness is something we all can achieve. I have been thinking a lot about goodness lately. I guess it is because of all the hateful rhetoric we see on the news and social media. The country is so divided. What we all have in common is goodness. Can't we all just look for the goodness within and share more of that?

Recently on my Facebook news feed there have been a great number of hateful, wrong and down-right disrespectful posts by "friends". So I decided to do some "un-following". My announcement on this was quite simple and it led to a lot of support and a couple of people got angry too. 

I use social media to stay up on current events both internationally and within my small network of "real" friends and family. These updates help me to craft my marketing for clients in a relevant way. My assumptions were proven correct that out of my 1,500 friends on my personal page, I only see a small portion of their posts. By eliminating (by unfollowing, not by blocking) the negative hateful posts, my feed is much brighter and positive. I am seeing people who have been friends but lost in the bombardment of armchair politicians. I am seeing what people are DOING rather than ranting. And it's made my life greater.

This small difference in my social media use has big benefits. The positivity has helped me stay focused, see the future better and generate more valuable ideas.

Photo: Lindy Sue with Don Chamber's '55 Chevy Nomad at Car Crazy, Inc. in Orange, CA

Let’s Hear YOUR Declaration!

declaration

We start every summer with a celebration of our Declaration of Independence. This got me thinking, what is my Declaration? I imagine the founding fathers creating a document with such passion and testament to what they believed was right.

240 years later, the Declaration continues to guide us through an uncertain future. A set of principles which we rely on in our day to day decision making. It is the guide to our values. We stand for it, we fight for it, we struggle for it. The Declaration is a map. A map for society, for community, for civilization.

Blacktop Branding's Strategic Marketing Map is designed to guide your company with purpose, unique value proposition, vision and theme. Essentially, it helps to define your Declaration. Request a copy here.

TC_1976I was a teenager 40 years ago, in 1976. The bicentennial was a huge thing for me. My room was decorated in red, white and blue. I was fortunate to travel the United States that summer with 100 other teenagers. We circled the continent stopping at all the historic landmarks we learned about in school. The Grand Canyon, Kennedy Space Center, Castillo de San Marcos, Monticello, Washington DC, and more. 22 States in about 6 weeks.

The trip made history real for me. It opened up my world. I truly believed that it allowed me to see more than just myself, it opened a door to self-awareness, to see my place in the world. It was a coming of age.

I declare to use my past experiences to build value for my clients and collaborators. "Allow Yourself To Be, A Vehicle of Creativity."

Work Hard and Be Good To People

begood

I saw these words in a frame within a photo of a friends' post. It wasn't the subject of the post, but it sure grabbed my attention. 

I started to write a long dialog about my grandfather's work ethic, and the current political climate, when I found the statement's simplicity is best. I do though would like to describe the photo I chose for this article and how it relates. 

Meet Pinky Swear.

Pinky is a Southern California Pinup Model who recently won the "Pinups against Bullying" contest. Each of the 10 brave young ladies shared stories on how they overcame bullying in hopes to inspire those being bullied today. Each of these women have moved passed their challenges and are much stronger because of it.

How do you move pass your challenges? 
Is there a ritual or common practice you perform? Please share below.

It was an inspiring event that embodies the term: Work Hard and Be Good To People. Thank you ladies for sharing your stories. To learn more about their organizations go to: https://www.facebook.com/PinupsAgainstBulling/

3 Tips for Great Storytelling

I have been told that I am a great storyteller.

Depending on the situation, that can be a compliment or not.

One-time while on a road trip through the backroads of Vermont in search of covered bridges, I would make up ghost stories about driving through a road very much like this one, and when I came to a climactic point I’d touch the brakes to emphasize the point. It would scare the bejezus out of everyone from grand-daughters to grand-fathers riding in that van.

And when I was a kid and had to explain the bits and pieces of model cars in the backyard, I would quickly come up with a reason that did NOT involve firecrackers.

BlacktopDepotSunset

I have taken those lessons and what I had learned in Art History and Sculpture classes at the Laguna College of Art and Design to the benefit of my clients with my Strategic Design Parameters diagram. The diagram was developed for visual communication, however it works well for storytelling as well. Here we find the “sweet spot” between the Physical, Emotional and Intellectual parameters.

BB_TriadA good story draws people in, compels them to learn more and leaves them feeling content. That’s the structure, or the Physical Parameter. The Intellectual Parameter is the part that compels them to learn more. There is something interesting, fascinating or educational that essentially sucks them in. Then there is the Emotional Parameter that pulls at their heartstrings and creates a bond.

1) Physical Parameter
Outline the structure of your story. Be sure that there is a beginning, middle and end. Sounds simple enough but without the plan, your story will ramble. I have found it best to define the ending first. What is the result you want someone to achieve at the end of the story? The beginning will create the question that the end will answer. The middle is the meat of the story. It will provide the support to create a paradigm shift in your audience and allow them to accept your solution in the end.

If there are problems in the Physical Parameter the message will be lost because the audience will be focused on the flaws. Spelling or grammatical errirs our grate exampuls.

2) Intellectual Parameter
As defined earlier in the meat of the story. The Intellectual Parameter is going to have a historical or contemporary reference that the audience will appreciate. For that to happen you must research your audience to use the proper references. Obscure references will distance you from the audience. Be careful not to overuse industry terms that they may not be aware of. Keep jargon at a minimum.

When there are flaws in the Intellectual Parameter the audience will not get the meaning of the message and cannot make an informed positive action. Be clear and concise in your meaning.

3) Emotional Parameter
In order for the audience to completely “buy-in” to your story it must touch them spiritually. An AHA moment. Something that will connect with them on a deeper more personal level. In researching your audience look for clues to what they are responding to. This could be as simple as a color choice, or as deep as a nostalgic remembrance.

A story may be well written, be full of meaning but without an equally strong emotional quotient, there will be no connection. It will be difficult for the audience to share the story. We need them to share the story with gusto!

I trust this article will help you in writing your STORY. If you would like to discuss how we can specifically assist you in your story, please feel free to call.

– Tony Colombini 949-584-5669

Notes from Recent Online Marketing Seminars

I recently attended three different marketing seminars focused around online marketing. The first was sponsored by Constant Contact, which was a good overview of e-mail, and social media marketing. There was a special guest at Faststart Studio; Benny Luo from NextShark who shared his Facebook marketing tips and at a recent OCMA Luncheon, Scott Rogers from Mercantile Mobile Marketing focused on text messaging.

Here are my notes as a conglomeration of these seminars. I hope you find them useful in your marketing.

First thing, what is your goal with digital marketing? Is it to drive traffic to your website, to boost online sales? Each of us has a different purpose for marketing online. What is your goal in digital marketing? The good news is that everything is measurable, so you can define what works and capitalize on its structure. The bad news is, everything is measurable and you can become overwhelmed by the data.

I suggest you focus on driving traffic to your own site. Algorithms can change on social sites and such where you don’t own or have any control over the content or structure. However, sites such as Facebook are weary of the links going away from their site, and therefore have changed the viewing of blatant external links.

So let’s start with your website.

Google Analytics. Obtain a Google Adwords account. You may not use Adwords, but without the account you cannot find the most common keywords people are using when searching for your product, service or site. If you have a website which is subscription based, such as an online magazine, consider a Google Adsense account and allow Google to place ads on your site which you get referral money.

Before I get into the social media or e-mail channels we should talk a bit about content.

CONTENT
Photography

  • Use intriguing shots or behind the scenes photos.
  • Be dramatic! Emphasize a key element in the image.
  • Review the image for contrast and clarity. Make it really small, like the size of a postage stamp to see if the image is clear as a thumbnail.
  • Include a person in the photo. Happy, smiling people get more click throughs.

Copy – The words or verbiage.

  • What’s your story? Why are you unique? Inspiring? Problem Solving?
  • Use outrageous titles in your posts, however, be sure to back up the outrageous claim in the content.
  • Know this, most people will gloss-over the copy and not read it all. Make it understandable in the gloss-over. Bullet Points, bold sub-titles, like the stuff I am doing here.
  • Write about what people want to read. Who is everyone talking about? Who should they be talking about? Etc.
  • Start a controversy. Pit two opposing ideas against each other. The purpose is to start a conversation. This allows people a way to share the content.
  • “What’s In It For Me?” Tell them. Give them ideas to take home and use.
  • Define your small group that you can empower to share the content.

E-mail Marketing
From Boomers to Millennials E-mail is still the most trusted platform for messaging.

  • Use a reputable e-mail service provider when sending mass e-mails.
  • Obey the CAN-SPAM Act and send ONLY to opt-in subscribers.
  • Include a call to action and repeat it. Join, Share, Visit…
  • Don’t give too many options to the reader Make it easy.
  • Structure as a conversation. Use conversational tone in the copy.
  • Save a list of readers (people who have clicked on your e-mail links) as a separate contact list to send targeted calls to action. This is your main tribe to empower to share.
  • Check Auto Response notes and Welcome E-Mail for conversational tone.

Mobile Marketing
The use of mobile devices has grown exponentially in the past couple of years. More and more people are using mobile devices INSTEAD OF desktop to access the web.

  • Make sure your website is “Responsive” where it is optimized for viewing on smart phones, tablets and desktop systems.
  • SMS reaches every phone with text up to 160 characters uses text
  • MMS unlimited text and 40 sec. video uses phone number
  • OTT (Over The Top) App Based Messaging.
  • Must get written permission to market by text. “Text JOIN to 1234 is allowed by the TCPA or enter text on a website. The call to action must disclose why they are getting your info.
  • Add a way to cancel. STOP, END, QUIT, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE are 5 words to unsubscribe.
  • Message every 7-10 days is 6-8 times more effective than more frequent messaging.

Social Media Marketing
The landscape for social media is always changing and the rules, which the sites use to showcase your content also change as mentioned earlier. Optimize your brand messaging with these tips.

Facebook

  • Customize your page with consistent branding with your website. Cover photo can have a call to action.
  • Make sure your profile picture is clear at the smallest of sizes.
  • Customize the App bar at the top to show the most important three apps such as Events or E-mail Sign-up.
  • Include your web link in the top part of the About info so it can be seen without clicking on it.
  • Photo Album posts get more engagement, almost twice as many as a simple word post.
  • Boost Key Posts – use Facebook Ads to help stimulate traffic.
  • Post a photo, THEN add your external link in either the description or in a comment.

Twitter

The only note I have on Twitter is to use the # option to search for conversations your audience may be interested in. For example, if you are looking for conversations in Autocross. Type #autocross and find the dialog and interests in the media.

LinkedIn
83% of LinkedIn users are B2B Marketers. If you are looking to communicate directly to other businesses, this is the platform for you.
Company Pages have changed where they are retiring the Products and Services tabs on April 14th. LinkedIn suggests you use either the Company Updates or Showcase Pages for promoting your Products and Services.

  • Company Updates appear on your Company Pages AND in followers’ feeds in every device.
  • Showcase Pages were built specifically to highlight a particular brand or product line. They make it easy to build a dedicated community for ongoing conversation, and followers know to expect news about the product or services.

 Other Tools
There are a couple of suggestions for managing these social media networks. Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, are a couple of programs for scheduling and managing your posts. Be strategic about the scheduling. Look at when your audience is online in the various platforms.
Nutshell Mail is a Social Media Monitor that sends the updates to your e-mail inbox in one, scheduled send.

In Conclusion
There are many ways to market your company’s product or services online and if they sound easy, they are however they are also time consuming. Don’t think that marketing online is free. There is an expense in time, resources. As you can see with the example on Facebook, the free lunch is over, you will need to “boost” or “enhance” your post with pay-per-click advertising.

If you would like some more detail on navigating through this overwhelming landscape give me a call, I’d be happy to help you out.
— Tony Colombini, Creative Director, Blacktop Media Network, 949-584-5669 TonyC@BlacktopMedia.net

SEMA In-Booth Spotlights

Hosted by The Queen of Cars Genevieve Chappell

Not your typical interview but one that will explore deep into the challenges of bringing a new product to market. We will explore possible other uses for the product. Dig into your company history and find unique experiences that your potential customers will appreciate.

The Blacktop Media Network Offers Marketing Opportunities for your SEMA Show Experience. We can help you share your new products with a photoshoot, article creation, and/or video interview spotlights. We will provide a CD to share in your social campaigns. We will also distribute the items to the media as well as push in our multi-channeled network.

The Blacktop Media Network SEMA In-Booth Spotlight will provide a professional photoshoot, article creation with your approval prior to print/distribution, media distribution, and provide files for your social marketing campaigns.

PACKAGES INCLUDE:

  • Photoshoot: $650.00
  • Photos/Article: $850.00
  • Video Spotlight (edited to under 10 minutes): $850.00
  • Video w/Photos: $1,200.00
  • Full Package: $1,500.00

50% deposit is required to book.
Balance Due October 23, 2012

To Book Your Spot call us at 949-584-5669 or e-mail us at Campaigns@BlacktopBranding.com

What Makes a Great… E-mail Campaign

If you have an e-mail address, you have seen e-mail marketing at work, for good or bad. Think of how you react to e-mail marketing as the recipient. You signed up for the list for one reason or another and now are getting a barrage of e-mail newsletters, offers and information. Which ones do you open? After receiving them for a year or so, do you still open them?
[singlepic id=346 w=320 h=240 float=left]I get all kinds too. I receive daily e-mails from the likes of Seth Godin, which I open and read each day. I have learned through years of direct mail design that flashy doesn’t always equal results. Seth’s e-mail is strictly type on a white background rarely with photos.

The beauty of e-mail marketing is the metrics involved. We can measure how many and specifically who OPENS an e-mail. We can also see how many and specifically who CLICKS on overall and specific links within the e-mail.

For an Automotive Aftermarket manufacturing client we are getting an astounding 44.8% open rate with a 19.6% click rate. Constant Contact (CC) keeps a tally of average results in different business sectors. The CC Manufacturing/Distribution sector averages 18.6% opens, and 12.6% click rate. We are getting an astounding 44.8% open rate and a 19.6% click rate for one of our Automotive Aftermarket Manufacturing clients. We accredit these incredible rates with several factors. A clean double-opt-in contact list, strategic subject lines, quality content and offers, expected frequency and overall value.

In our 5+ years of e-mail marketing experience we have paid close attention to the trends in the audience, industry and the value proposition of e-mail marketing. We’d like to share those with you. If you are interested to learn more, we would like to share with you our white-paper on effective e-mail marketing specific to the motorsports industry. Simply e-mail your request to: Campaigns@BlacktopBranding.com.

Website and Social Network Content Update Program

[singlepic id=345 w=320 h=240 float=left]Too busy servicing your clients? Our new program is designed to help you keep your website and social network fresh with new content. We will help update your website and social network with new content, offers and project progress reports. We’d like to share that success with you as well. Our offer starts with a twice monthly update of your site (news, new products/services, gallery images of current projects, etc.). We will also update your Facebook Page (if applicable) with announcements of what’s new on your site.

All for only $425.00/mo. 

SAVE $750.00!
*This offer is extended through December 31, 2012, we will waive the $750.00 set-up fee! Regular monthly rate is $425.00. Additional savings when you pre-pay 6 or 12 months in advance.

But wait, there’s more savings!

Regular monthly rate is $450.00
Purchase 6 months in advance for only $2,400.00 ($400/mo)
Purchase 12 months in advance and save even more! $4,200.00 ($350/mo)

CONTACT US TODAY TO GET STARTED:
949-584-5669 • Campaigns@BlacktopBranding.com

BOXKARS Custom Cruiser Bicycles

We are pleased to announce that Blacktop Branding has developed a comprehensive marketing program for custom bicycle builder BOXKARS. We met client Jeff Meredith at the Good-guys Del Mar Nationals at his booth displaying these awesome custom bicycles. Our marketing program consists of new website home page design, press releases and PR, development of a social media program, event and experiential marketing and e-mail newsletters.

If you are looking to launch a new product, we would be interested to share our ideas with you. Call the direct line at 949-584-5669 or e-mail us: campaigns@blacktopbranding.com.

Title Graphics for Web Series – Horsepower, DIRT & Monkeys!

Click on the pic to see the animated text.

In our efforts to bring more opportunities for our sponsors, Blacktop Branding is producing a web series of videos: Horsepower, DIRT & Monkeys! for the Driggers Racing Team. The trials and tribulations of the Driggers family on their quest for a championship in the Extreme Sidecar Racing world.

Blacktop Branding is working on a series of sponsorship opportunities for the Driggers Racing Team. From vehicle graphics, apparel designs, fan collectibles, and online marketing, DRT sponsors enjoy a multi-faceted and highly dimensional marketing program. This series is another creative way to bring value to the sponsors. For more information contact Blacktop Branding and we will discuss opportunities for you.