Why “To-Do” Lists Are Hurting Your Business Arielle Kimbarovsky | August 8th, 2016

todo

 

It’s Monday morning, which means professionals around the world are kicking off their workweek. They’re getting coffee, catching up around the water cooler, firing up their computer, and getting down to business. And in the process of getting down to business, many of them are hurting their own productivity before the work can really even begin. 

They’re writing a to-do list.

To-do lists are often recommended as good strategies to increase productivity and efficiency. Walk through a typical office and you’ll probably notice lists, post-its, and other reminders littering desks, laptops, and smartphones – manifesting in a giant reminder of things that haven’t been done. While the idea is for these lists to serve as a reminder, they actually end up having a negative effect on our psyche… and in turn, our overall output.

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Repurposing Content Through Visual Reimagination Lauren Nelson | August 4th, 2016

recycle-content

 

As any content marketer will tell you, diligent strategy execution and time can yield a treasure trove of promotional material for your use. That content creation, however, can take up a lot of bandwidth. It’s not easy to consistently turn out high quality blog posts, white papers, newsletters, emails, and more. But in a fast paced world of social sharing, there’s pressure to do exactly that. You have to stay fresh. You have to stay relevant. You have to stay hungry.

That doesn’t mean that you have to reinvent the wheel six times a day. As your library of existing content swells, it’s not only perfectly acceptable but absolutely advisable to find ways to recycle or repurpose that content for ongoing use.

There are a number of ways you can do this. Quora conversations can become blog posts. Webinars can become informative videos. Blog post series can become white papers. White papers, case studies, and blog posts can become ebooks.

This sort of tactic works. Taking information you already have and putting it into a new wrapper not only frees up some of that precious bandwidth, but allows you access to broader or distinct audiences through leveraging new mediums.

But there’s one type of repurposing that is frequently forgotten or ignored: design.

We’re living in a visual world, where images lead to greater content and social account engagement in addition to higher share rates and wider reach. Yet when the subject of repurposing content is broached, the talk usually revolves around how the existing content can be given what amounts to a light makeover. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it ignores the possibilities that arise when you take content and put it into a completely new visual format.

How can you do that?

1. Infographics — Infographics are shared at 3 times the rate of any other sort of content published online. That’s a lot of power in one image. And though we usually associate infographics with the organization of data, they can also be used to illustrate concepts involving process and composition. Somewhere in your existing content is a piece that begging to be translated to this format.

2. Quote Graphics — People love them some quotations, and they love sharing them. They don’t even need to be accurately reported or attributed to gain traction; there is an ocean of quote graphics out there “from” Marilyn Monroe if you’d like some examples. We wouldn’t encourage anything like that, but it makes total sense to transform some of the memorable or powerful lines from blog posts of days gone by into shareable quote graphics.

3. Cartoon Strips — People like to laugh. They like making other people laugh. They like folks who help them do both. So why not satisfy that itch while also showing off your smarts? Take a blog post on common mistakes in your industry, for instance, and commission illustrations to drive the point home in snarky fashion. It’ll help you stand out, and maybe snag some new audience members who might otherwise not have found you.

Have you tried other visual means of repurposing content? Tell us about it in the comments!

 

Image Source: AllProWebTools.com

Fresh from the SPRING: JCarlos Audree | August 4th, 2016

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this print design project.

Let us start the slow clap for JCarlos. Check out more great work on JCarlos’ profile page.

Nicely done, JCarlos, nicely done!

FFTS-JCarlos

How to Design a Fantasy Football Team Logo Jason Byer | August 3rd, 2016

Geek Fantasy Football Names

The 2016 NFL season isn’t far away, which spells excitement if you’re playing fantasy football this year.  But does your team logo inspire excitement? While your office colleagues might be excited about the team name, the logo is a powerful source of pride that shouldn’t be forgotten. 

Picture your team sitting down at your favorite wing bar ready for the Fantasy Football draft. What symbol will you rally around? Will it look like a kid slapped it together in MS Paint or will the other bar patrons give you a nod of approval when they see your team logo? Here are some tips to create a team logo that creates excitement and pride all season long. 

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How Crowdsourcing Can Supercharge Your In-House Brainstorming Lauren Nelson | August 3rd, 2016

brainstorm

 

Advertising executive Alex Faickney Osborn was frustrated. The storied firebrand of world renown advertising agency BBDO, he was less than impressed by the creative ideas his team had been bringing to the table. So in 1939 he began working on a process he believed would inspire his team and others to think outside the box and push each other to dream big. He shared that process with the world in his 1948 book Your Creative Power, calling it “brainstorming.”

Whether in the classroom, the conference room, or the boardroom, odds are you’ve taken part in some variation of this creative process. There’s a reason for that: it works. Groups can and do make each other better. As cliche as it sounds, iron sharpens iron.

Well, most of the time at least. Despite the brainstorming’s widespread popularity and ubiquitous application, it’s an approach that can be overused, wasting a great deal of time. It also only works if the dynamic of the team brainstorming allows for equal and unrestrained participation, which can be a tall order when your team is a mashup of personalities.

As a result, different tweaks have been introduced over time in an effort to make brainstorming more effective and efficient. In a video for Fast.co, Senior Editor Mark Wilson talked about some of those alterations, including something called “brain writing.”

 

 

But regardless of whether you’re writing down ideas or shifting coffee cups by a few millimeters, there’s still an inherent limitation to team brainstorming: the team itself.

That’s not to say that your team isn’t wonderful or that they’re incapable of coming up with good ideas. But they are, at the end of the day, existing within your culture. Over time, thought patterns can become increasingly homogeneous on your team, as members learn each other’s quirks and adapt to each other’s needs. That homogeneity can have a significant impact on not just demonstrated creativity, but creative capacity.

Does that mean brainstorming is worthless? Of course not. But it might mean that your brainstorming efforts need a shock to the system, and crowdsourcing creative work can do just that.

Crowdsourcing is often discussed in terms of convenience and value for your dollar. Those are absolutely some of the associated benefits. But really, the primary benefit of crowdsourcing is that you get a litany of ideas presented to you by a diverse group of creatives.

That’s fantastic when you’re looking for just the right logo or tagline, but the projects you commission via crowdsourcing do not exist in a vacuum. They’re collateral that will interact with a number of other elements in your overall marketing strategy. And that’s how crowdsourcing creative work can be uniquely beneficial to a marketing team in a rut. Seeing a wide array of creative concepts associated with your value proposition or upcoming initiative can help do what in-house brainstorming alone could not: spurring truly unique ideas from your team.

It’s a concept that would make Osborn drool.

 

Image Source: Iron Post Media

5 Ways to Tackle the Tricky Business of Measuring Branding and Marketing ROI Lauren Nelson | August 2nd, 2016

Return on investment

 

One of the major benefits of the digital age is that marketers now have far more meaningful metrics by which to evaluate the success of their initiatives. It’s no longer just about creative swagger and assumptions regarding your audience. We have an avalanche of data on consumer preferences and behavior, website usage, content engagement, and more at our disposal.

It’s enough to make ya giddy.

With this data comes the ability to quantitatively evaluate the performance of our efforts. A landing page, for instance, can be analyzed relative to conversions. Your display ads can be scrutinized according to cost per lead. Your social media posts can be compared on the basis of impressions and engagement.

But is that really enough to demonstrate ROI on an overall strategy? How do you calculate the dollar value of a shared meme from your Facebook page? How do you determine the expected RoR on a newsletter subscriber? How do you assess the impact of a prominent retweet to your bottom line? How do you nail down the contribution of a new logo to your profits?

This conundrum is particularly relevant to those making a case for a specific budget or allocation to a marketing initiative. This data glut has created an impression among those not directly involved in marketing that everything can be boiled down to decimal points. But what about all of the peripheral marketing and branding activities taking place that push your audience to convert? How does one explain that to the powers that be?

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Battle Royale: Evaluating the Marketing and Branding Efforts of Clinton and Trump Lauren Nelson | August 2nd, 2016

If you’re a fan of the musical Hamilton, you know elections weren’t always this polarizing. It wasn’t until 1800, when young upstart Aaron Burr chose to break with tradition and openly campaign against favored Republican candidate Thomas Jefferson, that the idea of directly attacking an opponent and speaking on your own qualifications became a thing.

 

 
Admittedly, things have… intensified… since then. The 2016 election cycle spend blew past the $1 billion mark in April of this year, well before the final candidates in the general had been decided. Now that both the Republican and Democratic conventions are over and done, things are about to kick into high gear, with a high dollar budget to match.

Where do all those dollars go? The most expensive branding and marketing campaigns in the world.

That’s what a campaign is, at the end of the day. It might have started with Aaron Burr talking at social clubs, but campaigns today include millions dumped into advertising, social media strategy, promotional products, and more. And just like any other campaign like this, some of it’s good… and some of it’s awful.

So how are the branding and marketing efforts of the candidates stacking up to date?

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Monday Motivation: Thought Candy Lauren Nelson | August 1st, 2016

Monday mornings can be hard. The burgeoning to do list on your desk can quickly become overwhelming if you start things off on the wrong, under-caffeinated foot. It’s gonna be alright, though. To help ease you into the workweek, we’ve compiled some excellent reads that will inform, engage, and inspire as you tackle the marketing and branding challenges ahead.

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Weekend Reads: Daydreamin’ Lauren Nelson | July 29th, 2016

It’s gross and rainy in Chicagoland, so you’ll have to forgive us if our minds have already turned to happy, shiny visions of the weekend. We figured we wouldn’t be the only ones looking for a distraction as Friday goes on, so we thought we’d share some diverting reads for your own mental escapes.

 

But it is Friday, after all. Give yourself a giggle with this rainbow of fun:

 

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A Mile in Their Shoes: Framing Your Content Marketing Strategy Lauren Nelson | July 29th, 2016

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There are thousands of articles, videos, and books out there, all eager to tell you the “secret” to effective content marketing. There’s a reason such resources are in high demand: 88% of all B2B businesses are investing in content marketing, along with 80% of B2C businesses. Of course folks are gonna want to know how to get it right.

Many of these resources focus on tactics and analytics. A great deal focus on management and tone. That’s a great starting point, but insufficient. Your strategy can be technically perfect and impeccably measured, but there’s an element to marketing along any channel that will always rely on subjective and immeasurable creativity and humanity. Guidance on how to excel in that facet of your marketing has always been difficult to form and process, but it’s sorely needed if you want your investment in content marketing to pay off.

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