Don’t be Normal | Tailoring Your Brand to Your Target Market

By: Michelle L. Cramer

There is some tough scrutiny passing around over GAP’s latest “Dress Normal” ad campaign. Launched in August of 2014, the campaign started with celebrities wearing “normal” clothes, doing non-exciting things. As the holidays approached, the campaign shifted to showcase some unexpected holiday interactions – such as a pre-teen boy lip syncing to an old-school crooner for the whole family, or the lanky guy in plaid attempting to kiss a much older woman under the mistletoe – followed by the subtle reminder to “dress normal.”

Way to exclude a large portion of your customers, GAP. Because it’s basically tying a negative aura to any semblance of abnormalcy, when most everyone has some weird quirk, habit or characteristic that makes them stand out from the crowd. It’s called individuality. And GAP seems to think that no one wants anything to do with it.

This, my friends, is a prime example of failing to tailor your brand to your target market.  GAP is inadvertently alienating its customers by encouraging uniformity – go ahead, everyone… wear our cloths so we all look the same and no one stands out. Dress normal.


Insults are Risky

Noises that express displeasure aside, while you certainly want your brand to stand out, you don’t want to upset potential (or even current) customers. Telling your customers that they’re not accepted for who they are—whatever that may be—will promptly send them to your competitor. People want to be themselves and be accepted that way. And they want your product to simply compliment that, not express false pretenses.

The key is branding your product or service in a way that draws people in and makes them believe they need your company to accentuate who they are and what they do. In keeping with our focus on GAP’s faux pas, a better approach to their new campaign would be something along the lines of “Dress to express who you are.” Then it would be prudent to showcase the endless options one could throw together with the GAP clothing line to express individual style and flair, all while still wearing the globally known brand: GAP.

Now, obviously, some products are going to have more refined tailoring necessary to monetize a brand. If you sell riding lawn mowers, you want to plug your products as time saving, precision instruments in a homeowner’s lawn care arsenal. However, if you’re slogan was something like “Be lazy” – emphasizing that a riding mower requires less effort and, therefore, makes the user lazy – well, you’re going to limit your target audience significantly.

That isn’t to say that you wouldn’t reach some potential customers, but you certainly risk seeing backlash if you take a negative approach to your branding.

Make it Memorable

The whole idea of a successful branding campaign is to get potential customers to remember your company by name and what products/services you offer. Branding is a long term thing, planting ideas in the heads of consumers so that they will either buy promptly because their need/desire is immediate, or remember your company when the need/desire for your product crops up in the future. While GAP’s campaign is certainly memorable, it may very well have the opposite effect on consumers, causing them to seek out competitor brands.

To keep your brand pointing in the right direction, ask yourself the following:

  • What is the motivation behind our brand approach?
  • Are we emphasizing the company or the customer (they answer should be “the customer”!)?
  • Is our branding geared toward our ideal customer (consider demographics such as age, location, income, gender, etc)?
  • Does our branding leave a positive lasting impression?
  • Can potential customers recall the company name and products offered after exposure to our brand?

The most accurate responses to these questions are acquired through market research, and testing the branding on a select portion of your target market to gage reactions. Listening to feedback from your target market will allow you to tailor your brand in a more direct—and successful—way.

Despite what GAP may believe, your company can be cool without being normal.

Cohesive Brand Elements | Molding Together Logo and Content

By: Michelle L. Cramer

Have you ever watched Gilmore Girls?

Stick with me, here; I swear I have a point.

That show was a repetitious contrast of two very different worlds: the haughty, well-to-do world of Lorelai’s wealthy parents, and the humble, independent world she and her daughter truly loved. In the seven seasons of the show’s series, Lorelai’s mother frequently ridiculed her (whether directly or through a stream of back-handed comments) for not meeting the rigorous standards of mannerisms that came with the Gilmore name.

Lorelai’s true self never fit into the ritzy world she came from. She preferred rock-n-roll and t-shirts to orchestras and ball gowns. Her life message never coincided with the Gilmore reputation. One might say that the content of her life was in stark contrast with the logo that hung over her head from birth.

See what I did there?

Contrast Can Work Against You

I’m well aware that many readers (especially of the male variety) are likely unfamiliar with my frame of reference, but the concept is clear. When you have a message to convey, every element of your brand needs to bleed right into the other. The mental response a reader has after skimming the words on your website or blog needs to match the visual appeal of your logo.

For sake of argument, let’s say that you, the person currently reading this particular blog post, own a hot tub store. Like many others in the industry, your logo design likely utilizes some flowing water type design in order to help evoke the feeling of relaxation you want associated with your product. Now, let’s say that the blog for your company fails to address the relaxation benefits of your product, but rather, addresses cleaning and winterization instructions, all those party accessories, landscaping your yard to snazz up the space, etc.

The blog focuses on the work associated with a hot tub, but the logo (and probably the images on your website, with models practically sleeping in their hot tub because they’re so relaxed) is designed to sooth and relax.

This isn’t a cohesive marketing tactic.

Unity Within Your Brand

While you might think that my disconnection is a stretch, there is certainly truth there. Potential customers may not be able to tell you for certain why they chose not to buy from you. But when they choose a company with a flowing logo and website, and whose blog focuses on all of the health benefits of a hot tub, how seamlessly the filtration system works and their monthly maintenance services – taking all of the work out of the customer’s head – the connection becomes pretty clear.

You need to synchronize your marketing efforts. And that begins with defining your message and motivation. Once you clearly define the message you want to convey, then you simply use that as the foundation for every aspect of your marketing web.

Sticking with the “relaxation” theme, here, you’d want to emphasize things like an overly helpful customer service department, a sales team that gets through the process without pushing the customer, contractors that stay on schedule with installation (or even finish early), and a maintenance team that is so diligent the homeowner never has to add chemicals to the hot tub. Your logo should be dominantly blue (how convenient in the hot tub industry), which research shows evokes calm, along with brown. And your content marketing needs to emphasize all of the relaxing benefits of hot tub ownership.

Cohesive brand elements assure potential customers that you know what you’re doing and they immediately begin to trust you. Contrasting brand elements, on the other hand, provoke uncertainty, and that’s probably the last emotion you want potential customers to have when they come across your business.

Target Potential Customers With Facebook Lookalike Audiences

By: Michelle L. Cramer

For some time now, advertisers have been able to create Facebook Custom Audiences, matching customer data they already have to current Facebook users so that their ads target them directly. In 2013, Facebook launched Lookalike Audiences, an additional targeting feature that works with Custom Audiences to reach potential customers as well. Lookalike Audiences is finally starting to gain some traction with advertisers, so we thought it prudent to provide you with more information on how to use this feature effectively.


The 411 on Lookalike Audiences

When you create a Custom Audience on Facebook Ad Manager, you upload data about your current customers –typically email addresses – to the social media platform and the program finds your customers’ Facebook profiles. Then, anytime you advertise on Facebook, you can select to have that ad targeted directly at your customers there, essentially giving your business another means of exposure.

Once you’ve established your Custom Audience, you can create a Lookalike Audience, in which Facebook pulls demographics from your current customer list and creates a list of potential customers on Facebook that match those demographics. This gives you an opportunity to broaden your reach in a more effective and direct way.

Taking it One Step Further

In January 2014, Facebook opened up the opportunity to create Website Custom Audiences (WCAs) using  data from your website traffic to target Facebook users – and the skies opened up for advertisers. Then Facebook connected Lookalike Audiences to WCAs… and the targeted advertising potential skyrocketed to new heights. By using Lookalike Audiences in connection to your WCAs, you’re Facebook ads become visible to users who simply match the demographic of potential customers that once visited your website. Can you fathom the reach?

According to Facebook Advertising expert, Jon Loomer, the benefits of using WCA Lookalike Audiences are three-fold:

  • Provide an opportunity to increase website traffic overall (thus boosting results on Internet searches)
  • Allow you to target audiences based upon visits to a specific page on your website (such as the how-to page or frequently asked questions)
  • Allow you to target audiences based upon hits to a specific section of your website (so you can target those who are likely to buy a specific product)

There is also an option to create a Lookalike Audience based upon the people that use the mobile app for your business (if you have one). This offers the same customizations that WCAs do, down to creating a lookalike based upon users who take a specific action within your app.

Reaching More Fans for a Facebook Business Page

Additionally, you can create Lookalike Audiences based upon your current fans for a specific Facebook page under your control. This is a great option for businesses that don’t have an email list established yet or those that see more traffic on their Facebook page than their website. The latest numbers show the number of Facebook users to be more than 845 million people… try to imagine.

Basically, using Lookalike Audiences has the potential to reach an immeasurable number of potential customers more directly, rather than hoping someone enters the correct terms in an Internet search to bring up your website. You can create an ad audience for each product you carry, service you provide, information on specific blog posts, Facebook fans and more. You may need a social media strategist on your team just to keep up with all that potential.

Want to learn more about how to do this and integrate your infusionsoft campaigns so you can target leads and customers who have opened your emails? Schedule a free 30 minute consultation by filling out our form!


Viral Customer Service | Social Media Marketing

Viral Customer Service

At the end of August, Evian launched a full-scale campaign on Twitter that set a new precedent in social media marketing. It wasn’t some outlandish tweet to gain attention, an awesome video/picture or a pressing question people just had to answer. It was customer service coated in the old traditions of simply taking care of people.

And that is why it went viral.

Do You Have Virality?

These days, very few social media campaigns obtain a viral standing without something in it for the followers. One may argue that the Ice Bucket Challenge is an exception to this, but that was in support of a cause. When you’re marketing a brand – trying to sell a product or service – and are seeking a viral response to your efforts, there has to be something in it for consumers. Few will participate unless there is some clear incentive.

Fallon-hashtag-tweetSure, Jimmy Fallon breaks records on Twitter weekly with his Hashtag Game. However, the incentive there is the possibility of being on national television when Jimmy reads your Tweet on his show. Everyone wants their 15 seconds of fame, after all!

The #Evianbottleservice campaign ran from August 19-21, geared toward New York City park goers on hot days (also using promoted posts targeted at the zip codes near those parks). Followers used the hashtag in a Tweet that described their location and Evian’s community managers responded. In less than ten minutes, brand ambassadors hand-delivered a bottle of Evian to participants. The following week, as a sponsor of the U.S. Open, Evian targeted the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens.

#Evian StatsWith over 2.8 million impressions and 75,000 engagements, Evian’s water campaign surpassed the record for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brands on tweet engagement by 80 percent. And the key to this success was the provision of a free product wherever the brand’s Twitter followers were

Giving to Get

Evian launched a successful viral campaign on Twitter, something that is far more rare than most business owners realize. Consider these points if you’re looking to do the same:

  • Best Product – Focus on a the most popular product or service in your arsenal. Offer what sells best because obtain the best campaign response.Win-A-Free-House-Cleaning-From-Exec
  • Something Tangible – Avoid offering gift cards or simple discounts. These items have value, but that value doesn’t come off to the consumer as tangible. So, instead of $50 toward a carpet cleaning, offer a tangible, complete offer  like a “free carpet cleaning of up to three rooms.” The consumer can immediately see how that benefits then, but it’s hard to understand how far $50 will go and if that’s worth an effort to participate in your campaign. Promo No-no – Avoid promotional items as well, such as company t-shirts, mugs, tote bags. These are the kinds of things you give away at promotional events. You will not get a strong response to a viral campaign attempt if these items are the participation reward.
  • Product Over Service – Typically you see more success with a campaign like this if you’re giving away an item rather than a service. Exceptions to that are services that are luxuries to most people, such as massages or professional photographs (include image files with those pictures and it’s a win-win).
  • Keep it Social – Social Media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are the best ways to promote and spread the word with a campaign you want to go viral. Be sure to use relevant hashtags to get optimal results (such as Evian’s secondary hashtag, #BeattheHeat).

The expectations consumers put on businesses to go above and beyond seem to always be increasing. Everyone is looking for a discount, a freebie or even both. Evian found a way to utilize this desire, which balanced marketing and generosity. These strategies may provide you with similar results.

By: Michelle L. Cramer

For more tips, find us on Facebook and Twitter. #getsmarter

74 Characters | Optimizing Facebook Ad Text

74 characters

Be relevant. Grab attention. Have a call-to-action. Include a value proposition. These are the elements of a strong, effective advertisement, no matter on what medium it’s available.

And they are exponentially difficult to convey in the 74 characters available in the body of a Facebook ad.

You’ll find post after post through a Google search about advertising effectively on Facebook. They’ll address targeting your audience correctly, or promoting your website rather than your Facebook page (send them back to Facebook from your website!). And distracting users from what they came to do in the first place (socialize!) so that they’ll click on your ad.

However, few address the fact that all of these practices are easier said than done. Let’s put it into perspective a bit, shall we… 74 characters of text (that’s counting spaces, folks) looks like this:

I am writing a Facebook ad that compels you to buy my product with one cli

Yep. That’s it (that last part was “click” by the way). How well can you sum up the major selling points for your business in less than 20 words? Yeah, me neither. So, let’s brainstorm some ways to make it effective for you.

No punctuationForgo Punctuation

Skip the exclamation marks, periods and dashes. They’re just wasted space – precious characters you can use for other, more important things – like letters. You may want to utilize a question mark on occasion, if you’re leading with a question to grab attention. Commas are better than dashes because they use one less character space, but try and write text that doesn’t require them.

Learn the Lingo

You know that horrible text-speak that your teenager uses – the stuff that, when you go to check her phone for concerning messages, you realize you can’t read a bit of it? Well, take an urban vocabulary class because you’ll need to implement some of those techniques to get your message across in limited space. Some common occurrences:

  • vacay = vacation
  • b4 = before (i.e. “try b4 you buy”)
  • B1G1 = buy one get one (free, half off, etc)

AbbreviationsLikewise, Abbreviate

You’ll also want to abbreviate certain words, or use shortened versions, to save space:

  • bc (or b/c) = because
  • & = and (obviously)
  • biz = business
  • pics = pictures


Why should someone even consider looking at your ad rather than scrolling through the newsfeed? Give them an impelling reason by asking a question – and do it in the header of your ad rather than in the body. The header is in bold and is your visual attention grabber (along with a compelling image, of course). Use that to obtain engagement, leaving 74 characters of ad body to…

Answer the Question

Ask a question in the header and then answer it for potential customers in the body of your ad. For example:

Need a Vacay?
B1G1F for each night you book
in our luxury beach hotel & bask
in the sun!

Notice how that uses all the previously discussed techniques (and even broke one with that exclamation mark because it fit)? You’ll also notice that there is little room to provide where the hotel is or how much one night costs. That’s why you use a picture of the hotel on the beach to accompany your ad and then link to your website. The ad gives them an answer but requires action to get all of the information and that, my friends, is a successful use of limited space to grab a customer or lead!

Don’t be intimidated by a mere 74 characters. You can accomplish a lot more than you think with it.

By: Michelle L. Cramer

Making the Connection | Pairing Email Campaigns and Social Media

Make the connection.

As you look at your marketing strategy, you may tackle email campaigns and social media separately. You may even have different people working on each. After all, one is social media management and the other is content marketing, right?

However, this approach means you’re missing a great opportunity to drive traffic to both avenues by playing them off one another. So sit down with your marketing team and coordinate a process that will generate more leads. Here are some tips to get your started.

Subscribe for contentIntertwine the Content

Make sure that your social media posts correlate with your email marketing campaign and vice versa. In fact, you can take it one step further and create content on your website that is only available to those who sign up for an email subscription – known as “email-gated content.” Then provide links to that content in the emails you generate. Also, link the content on your Facebook posts so that, when someone clicks on the link to read more, he is first directed to a page on your website that says something to the effect of, “To read more of this article, please become a subscriber.”

Of note, the reality of this approach is that some people will determine your content may not be worth the subscription. Which means you need to make content that is worth reading. But that’s a whole other blog post.

FB Newsletter Sign upPlug Subscriptions

The first error that businesses make in marketing their email newsletters is having the subscription sign up only available on their website. This is pure nonsense from a marketing standpoint, because you want to really hit any potential leads from every angle. Which is why you need a button on your Facebook page that allows followers to sign up for emails. And a cover image that points visitors directly to that little box underneath that calls for email subscriptions (sometimes people need a visual!).

Also, consider making discount offers through your social media profiles that – you guessed it – require potential customers to sign up for an email subscription to be eligible for the discount or contest. Contests can be anything like Lay’s campaign to vote for a favorite new potato chip flavor to being put in a drawing for free swag. And guess what, there are Facebook apps available for business pages that pull a user’s email address automatically when they allow the app access to their profile.

When it comes to Twitter, you don’t have a lot of room to post links to email-gated content – 140 characters doesn’t get you far. Consider using sites like to generate mini links to your content (added bonus: you can follow where your leads come from through their website, for free). Another option on Twitter is to plug the benefits of subscribing at every opportunity, such as exclusive offers and articles that provide relevant information. Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards might be another helpful adversary.

Essentially, what’s most important is making sure that you spread access over every platform you have available to potential customers. When you’re coming at them from all angles, you’re more likely to gain access to their important information – like an email address – so you can… well… continue to come at them from all angles.

By: Michelle L. Cramer

For more tips, find us on Facebook and Twitter. #getsmarter

Extreme Content Marketing | Amazon’s Product Reviews

Extreme Content Marketing

Who knew that a $3 banana slicer could cause such joy and turmoil in the world? Especially since a simple butter knife is just as efficient in slicing a banana. But with 5,000 customer reviews, ranging from “My banana is much more curved… it doesn’t cut it right” to “I can finally sleep at night!”, the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer has a lot of traction on Amazon.

Certainly, after reading these reviews, and reviews on other products like Uranium Ore, you’re hip to the jive that a few of them might be contrived. Are you wondering why products like this are even available on Amazon? And why people would even bother to leave these bogus reviews in the first place?

Would it surprise you to find out that a lot of these reviewers were likely paid to write them?

I’ve been in content marketing long enough to recognize paid text verses boredom text, and you’d be hard pressed to convince me that all of these reviews were just written by someone that has an extreme amount of free time. I don’t know by whom, whether it was Amazon itself, the owner of these bogus product listings, or just– but it’s clear that many of these are well thought-out.

If that’s true, what would be the point? Why would Amazon or anyone else care to pay for fake reviews?

Illustration for fake website testimonialsYou’re on the Website, Aren’t You?

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Amazon put up these crazy product listings and paid folks to write equally crazy (and hysterical) reviews. They throw the product in with the suggested product list for users (you know, that list that pops up with you add something to your cart or wish list). You see it, you check it out just for fun, you read the reviews… you laugh hysterically and then share the product listing on social media so others can get a laugh too.

And you’ve just sent a bunch of your friends to Amazon who may have had no intention of visiting the site today. While there, some of your friends decide to look up a product they’ve been meaning to buy. A few of them actually make a purchase.

Win for Amazon.

Any Content is Marketing

Have you ever been to a website and found text that seemed to be written by a grade schooler? While it’s bad marketing, it’s marketing nonetheless. Fake, poorly written, or stellar prose – it makes no difference the quality, all of it evokes a response.

The purpose of these bogus Amazon customer reviews is to get you laughing (the really naïve might actually buy the products and spend money frivolously), evoking positive emotions toward the Amazon shopping experience. It’s like the ploy by the Botto Bistro in San Francisco. In an effort to passively give Yelp a piece of their mind, the bistro has requested that patrons leave a bad review in exchange for a discount. And guess what, that’s content marketing too!

Amazon can stand to put some fake stuff out there – the company is big enough that even negative press won’t hurt its margin. The key is finding where you fit in the market and then, if you’re not eloquent with the written word, finding someone that can convey your message and your voice. And don’t fear being a little risky. It may just work for you.

What other crazy Amazon products and reviews have you seen? Comment below.

By: Michelle L. Cramer

For more tips, find us on Facebook and Twitter. #getsmarter

Eye Catcher | Social Media Photos That Don’t get Overlooked

E Y E  C A T C H E R

A picture is worth 1,000 words… or so they say. When it comes to marketing, the right picture can tell a strong story about your business. Problem is, many businesses use stock images for the visual elements in marketing campaigns and these often get overlooked. Taking your social media photos to the next level will help to engage the shares and retweets of this digital age.

rule of thirdsPhoto Composition

A great camera doesn’t make you a great photographer. It truly is about an eye for technique, and the most skilled photographers have a keen since of composition – they can compose an image in such a way that it immediately evokes an emotional response.

However, if you can’t really afford to hire a pro to get the shot you want, or see a last minute opportunity with no time to call someone, there are a few techniques that can help you produce a better image for Facebook and Pinterest. As a part-time professional photographer myself, I believe I can contribute some insights that may be of some benefit to you:

  1. Utilize the Rule of Thirds – Position the subject of your image in a way that mimics how we naturally look at the world.
  2. Keep the Image Simple – Your brain automatically focuses on a subject above all others in a scene, but the camera doesn’t have this feature without your assistance. Remove distracting elements and bring focus to your main subject, rather than trying to cram everything in the shot.
  3. Lead the Eye – A busy, poorly composed shot makes it difficult for a viewer to find a focal point. Use lines, such as a fence or road, to guide where you want the focal point to be.
  4. Notice Details – Pay attention to what is in the background of your images and avoid distracting objects, such as trash cans.

No Camera PhonesThe Camera Does Matter

While composition is, indeed, you’re most critical element of a usable photo for social media marketing, the camera itself does play a major role in the quality of the image. With the exception of marketing through Instagram, avoid using a smartphone camera. Even using the latest and greatest smartphone available on the market, there is going to be a stark difference between the quality of images it produces and those produced by a professional grade piece of equipment.

Keep it Real

While well-composed, creative shots are great for social media marketing, so are images that convey real, every day practices in your business. Your Facebook followers want to know what you do. Instagram is all about capturing moments, rather than posed advertisements. Add a humanistic element to your business by sharing pictures that have strong composition and show your employees at work installing a hot tub or providing moving services.

Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are all strongly visual social mediums. It’s imperative that you approach the images you use with a process in mind – rather than simply snapping a picture – if you desire to engage your followers.

By: Michelle L. Cramer

For more tips, find us on Facebook and Twitter. #getsmarter

Social Media Tip #1 – Social Media Calendars and Schedulers

In this tip, our social media guru Ruth Braden gives a how to on monthly content for social media channels. If a business is just getting started using social media this video is a “Must Watch” to learn how to plan for content that effectively grows your brand, increases engagement, and helps leverage between posts about products, specials, events and fan engagement centric posts.


Tune in to learn more about :

Social Media Calendars

Social Media Schedulers

The Most Engaging Posts on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram and  much more.


Did you enjoy this video? Let us know!  Engage with us on social media using #getsmarter, or email us at



Web Tips: How to Install WordPress Easily using FTP

How to Install WordPress Easily

This install has been deemed the “5 minute installation”. From my experience, once you’ve gone through the process it’s really that quick. I’ll assume you already have web hosting with cpanel.

Grocery List:

1. cPanel Access

2. Latest version of WordPress (Download Here)

The Process:

Step 1:

Upload WordPress via FTP to a directory of your choice. In this case, I’m creating a sub-directory called “”

Step 2:

Go to your website’s cPanel, normally found at (

Find the section labeled “Databases” and click on “MySQL Databases”
MySQL Databases capture


Step 3:

Create New Database


Step 4:

If you don’t already have a MySQL User created, you’ll need to do that (this is on the same page as Create New Database)

Create New User

The User will be your cPanel name followed by whatever you want. I’m using “dev2”.

Step 5:

Generate a password (it’s more secure). Make sure you save the Database Name, User Name, and the Password from this process.

Generate Password


Step 6:

Select the database you just created and add the user to it.

Add User to Database

Select “All Privileges” and click Make Changes.


Step 7:

Now that you have created your database, it is time to install. Navigate to your new website’s future address. In this case I’m hosting mine at

When you arrive at this page, you simply enter the information you just created


Alternatively, you can access your wp-config file in your FTP, and edit these lines.

On the next screen, you will see the form to enter your website’s information: title, username, password, and email.

Click Install WordPress, and you’re good to go!


Happy …Wordpressing or something like that!