Monday, February 12, 2018

Your Digital Sawdust Is Far From Useless

Think all those words and pictures and stories and relics and redos and revisions you undertook while developing your website are just that - rubbish? Nay, your digital sawdust is far from useless. We can use it to build more content, and then still more content, to expand your audience, increase your page views and build your brand. After all, you can have the greatest content in the world, but if no one sees it, it doesn't matter.

Essentially what we're doing is layering content on content on content. Gary Vaynerchuk, who coined the term "digital sawdust," has said, "The article you're about to read was made from a video, that was made from the making of an article, that was originally based off a video." Follow that?

This is content marketing on steroids - it's challenging, intensive and incredibly rewarding on so many levels. It sounds deceptively simple: Create content from content. But where to begin?

We start by creating three to four content pillars: a 3 to 5 minute video, a web article, a microsite and photography, for example. Then we build your strategy from there, using sawdust from each of these to build out.

Think of it this way: You choose a really choice block of wood (your brand). You carefully carve it into the perfect creation, a masterful representation of who you are. As you're doing this, sawdust cascades around you. While not attached to your piece at the moment, it's no less a part of your process - and no less valuable. Use that sawdust to build your brand. Here's what we mean: "

  • From the 3 to 5 minute video, create 15 second microvideos, and then animated GIFs, to use on Facebook and Twitter. "
  • From the web article and photography, build quote cards, short animations or 10 second stories for Instagram - the aspirational tone and vertical format of Instagram stories lends itself perfectly to it. 

It's not the first time we've seen such a transition from medium to medium - even back when strategists were switching from radio to TV, they began by first trying to simply run radio ads on television. Not too successful - and the same thing happened in the evolution from print to digital; running print ads on the web lacks impact. This strategy is all about understanding the psychology of the user - respecting it and then creating content for that. It's especially effective for reaching the younger generations, with a more in-depth approach that speaks to them differently wherever they are. In other words, the same message won't appear on both Twitter and Facebook - you run the risk your audience will see it both places and tune you out or turn you off.

Leveraging your sawdust means understanding your core pillars above all else. And the proof is in what you build - practitioners of this theory have built $100 million companies, racked up 3 million followers.

What do you see in your sawdust? Let's go build a brand – Tony Oedewaldt at [email protected] or 309-346-6974.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

S-E-Uh Oh – Why Ongoing SEO Matters

Set it and forget it may be a life hack for a lot of things but – SEO isn’t one of them. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a must-have when you launch a website, but what you may not know is that the best SEO takes some care and maintenance to keep it robust. Did you know the top spot in Google results gets over 36% of all clicks, but number 2 only gets 12.5%? SEO matters, and you can’t stay at the top without it. SEO is your site’s 24-7 sales rep!

When you start your website, hopefully you optimized your SEO with items like keywords, meta tags, meta descriptions, search engine submission, directory submission. But don’t stop there. You want to monitor and nurture your SEO on an ongoing basis to see how it’s performing. Look at search results to see where your site is standing, and tweak from there. Bing, Yahoo and the big daddy, Google, are constantly changing their algorithms and web ranking strategies, so it follows that to be successful, your SEO must evolve too. Studies show that companies who didn’t continue SEO saw their page rankings decrease by as much as 30% - and those who invest in ongoing SEO activities increase theirs by 18%.

The fact is, SEO drives 75% of web traffic – and impacts both online and brick-and-mortar purchases. Yep, you read that right: More than three-quarters of us hit the web to find a physical place to make a purchase or fulfill a need. You wouldn’t let the grass grow over your front door, so why would you let your SEO go unattended?

We know it can be intimidating to jump into the sea of SEO without a net, so we suggest taking a few smaller steps to start. Here are four of our favorites:

Google Analytics is a great place to start for ongoing SEO. With it you can see where traffic comes from, who your visitors are, where they go first, which pages they spend the most time on – and focus your efforts there.

Reassess your keywords. Those keywords were great when your site launched, but a year later how people search may be different. Take a hard look at the words and phrases you’re focusing in on, especially when you run campaigns.

Optimize your content. What does that mean? Write for the algorithms. That means including target keywords, adopting a conversational style and asking (and answering) lots of questions by anticipating your visitors’ needs. In addition, add new content regularly – that shows search engines that your site isn’t stagnant, which also contributes to higher page rankings.

Build your links. Incorporating a number of external links also contributes to your page ranking. Choose carefully, and select sites that are rich in valuable, well-trafficked content. You’ll also want to review and update these links regularly because penalties for broken links are severe. And don’t forget cross-linking within pages on your own website!

We could talk SEO all day, and by the time we finish a sentence, it all could be different. It’s a mad, mad worldwide web out there – and one that’s always changing. We use the word “dynamic” to describe tech for a reason. Content, language, algorithms – they all play into how your SEO pings. Luckily we speak the language – and we’re ready to translate for you. Reach out to Tony Oedewaldt at [email protected] or 309-346-6974.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

McD Team Design and Builds Welcome Center Kiosk for Visit Mason City, Iowa

The Music Man panel features a real snare drum with the Mason City logo on it and a real trombone.

Old display
The old Visit Mason City Welcome Center display was informational with some interactive displays. However, it didn’t really stand out to guests passing through the center. 

The area in the Welcome Center where the display was placed had no access to electricity limiting the interactivity within the display. The option of moving the display was considered, but the decision was made to leave the display in its current location and develop a more creative display that would be more interactive and attention-grabbing.

Mason City called McDaniels Marketing for help. After our discovery visit, we were able to design a new kiosk that incorporated a variety of different interactive options and we were able to streamline the interchangeable display for photography and information for the Mason City area.

The new kiosk is three-sided and hollow. Each panel pays homage to the main draws of Mason City - The Music Man and Frank Lloyd Wright; as well as local attractions, events, restaurants and accommodations. The fourth ‘side’ of the display allows visitors to actually enter and view a plethora of Music Man artifacts. Visitors can even play a few notes from 76 Trombones, one of the most iconic musical numbers from the musical, on a scaled down piano.

The River City panel features interactive trivia cubes that rotate; as well as a photobook of hotels, restaurants and attractions.
The three outside panels have interactive features to draw visitors in to experience the display, and will attract those in the area simply by the activities of other guests. On one corner rotating blocks were installed that feature trivia, giving guests the opportunity to learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and Meredith Willson. A photobook was installed on another panel featuring hotels, restaurants and other local attractions. The pages of the photobook can be interchanged as needed and allow for more space for displaying photos of the area.

We wanted the display to stand out in the Welcome Center so we incorporated the colors of the Visit Mason City logo, yellow and red and included the logo on each panel. We were even able to feature the logo on a salvaged snare drum on the Music Man panel. Additional musical instrument were attached to the display drawing attention to the display.

Due to the size of the final piece, the display was developed by our creative team and built under our watchful eye by a local sign builder. The pieces were broken down for transportation and then rebuilt onsite in Iowa. The final display is four feet around and 11 feet tall. The tremendous attention to detail is evident on every panel, inside and out.

Inside the display you can learn to play a tune on a real miniature piano.
The new display now gives Mason City a more striking and interactive Welcome Center that comes alive and is visible as soon as you enter the Welcome Center.