Forever Creative

“Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

Creativity lives in all of us. Think back to when you were a child and had no worries. Children never hide their creativity, whether they are playing dress-up, using a stick as a sword, or creating a masterpiece of macaroni art.

People don’t lose their amazing imaginations; they just choose to hide them. Let your creativity stay young forever.

Here are some ways to keep your creativity young and inspiring:

  • Tell a bedtime story every night.
    • Making up stories to help your children fall asleep forces you to use your imagination and creativity.
  • Listen to music, read a book or watch an inspirational movie.
    • Relaxing every once in a while helps to keep creativeness flowing. Listening to music, reading a book or watching a movie can inspire your creativity.
  • Go for a walk or jog and soak up the nature.
    • Exercising and keeping your body and mind fit will help keep your creativity fresh and fit.
  • Take something that exists – the continents, for example – and reimagine it. What would you name the continents if you could? Why?
    • This activity is just a fun way to see your imagination and creativity at work, and it’s also fun to see what answers you come up with.
  • Take a few moments to look at bright or bold colors.
    • Looking at bright and bold colors helps you to change your mood or mindset when you get stuck in a rut, or can’t think of where to go next on a piece of work.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
    • Making mistakes is a key part of creativeness. Mistakes can open new doors and opportunities. Embrace your failure, learn from what you did wrong and start exploring new opportunities.
  • Always have fun.
    • Having fun is crucial to creativeness. If you enjoy what you do and have a good attitude, you will be more creative and imaginative.
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Online shopping just got a whole lot easier … Uh-oh.

By Christina Renfroe, Intern

These days it feels like everything is for sale. And even if it’s not, you can always find it online. Marketers are tapping into that assumption and looking for new ways to target consumers online. Meanwhile, social networking sites are recognizing the opportunity to profit from it.

In the past couple of years, the two have come together to develop a marriage of e-commerce, and everyone wants in on the party. Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram have all rolled out new features that will allow consumers to more easily purchase the things they see on their feeds and in their pins. All of the features have the same basic goal in mind: to help consumers reach the point of purchase. But not all of the features were created with the same audience in mind and not all of them have the same effect.

Here’s a rundown of what each site has to offer in this e-commerce-driven world:

The newest addition is called “product pages.” These pages act as mini stores for an individual item. They collect tweets about the brand and the product itself so consumers can not only see reviews from others who have made purchases, but also interact with them in real time. To buy, they simply click on the “go there” button, which will take them directly to the purchasing site. Although Twitter is currently experiencing a lack of growth, this may be an avenue to consider for brands that are targeting males between the ages of 18-29, as this is Twitter’s largest group of users according to the Pew Research Center.

Possibly one of the most exciting initiatives for Pinterest users is the development of the “buyable pin.” For years users have struggled to find the retailers behind their favorite pins. With “buyable pins,” users will be routed to the page where they can buy the product directly. It may take a while for “buyable pins” to really take off because retailers have to register each pin as one of their own. However, because Pinterest users are more accustomed to product-driven images and are already at the purchasing stage, “buyable pins” may be one of the most effective e-commerce features.

Last year, Facebook started testing its “click to buy” button with a few retailers and has recently expanded the opportunity to more brands. The button appears in organic posts as well as in paid advertisements. Users are able to store their credit card information within Facebook to make checking out that much more convenient. Facebook is an appealing option for many advertisers because of the extensive data it keeps on its users. For brands looking to target a specific audience, having that data is key.

Like Pinterest, Instagram is an image-driven site. Retailers can display a well-lit, filtered photo of their product and users can simply click “shop now.” From there, they will be directed to the location on the retailer’s site where the product is available for purchase. Instagram may encounter problems with this feature because it is only available to retailers who are using paid advertising, not to those who simply post photos from their own account. This may prevent small businesses and boutiques that don’t have dollars to spend on paid advertising from using the feature.

Here’s the bottom line: Whether you supply a tangible product or an intangible service, social media marketing is not to be ignored. Those who use it correctly have an opportunity to engage with their audience directly, on their own turf. The key is to do it strategically. Keep an eye on what your competitors and brands you admire are doing. Stay informed about new features and trends. If you do, consumers will notice your presence and be much more inclined to interact. Heck, they may even want to buy your product.

For a more comprehensive review of each of these platforms, check out this article in Adweek or pay a visit to each platform’s information site.

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Google’s Mobile-Friendly Search Result Announcement

Is your website ready?

David Hejduk

David Hejduk

Beginning April 21, your Google search results will pack a little extra punch. The tech company has announced a major change in its ranking algorithm to include “mobile-friendly” as a factor for compiling mobile search results.

While mobile technology is far from a new concept, this development is a total game changer. Whether your site’s prepared or not, its mobile adaptability will soon be subjected to the judgment of the Google algorithm, thus affecting the site’s reach. In the dawn of 2014, it was reported for the first time that mobile usage exceeded that of PC. Regardless of which platform your company gets the majority of its hits from now, the trend is moving increasingly towards mobile across all industries.

This isn’t a theme – or announcement – to take lightly. But don’t take our word for it, check out what the Google Webmaster Central Blog has to say about it:

“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.”

Still not convinced? Below are the Mobile Technology Facts from the Pew Research Center:

  • 90 percent of American adults have a cell phone
  • 58 percent of American adults have a smartphone
  • 60 percent of cell phone owners use their device to access the internet
  • 49 percent of cell phone owners use their device to get directions, recommendations, or other location-based information

Websites with mobile usability issues beware, “These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.” – Google Webmaster Tools

If that’s not a indication of what to expect come April 21, then I don’t know what is. But don’t worry, there’s hope for even the worst mobile adaptability offenders.

Think your site might need some help meeting today’s standards? Let us evaluate it and get you some options that’ll beef up your presence and bring you up a few spots in the rankings.

– David Hejduk, digital marketing manager 

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Does social media have power? Truck yeah!

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.16.40 AMWe recently met with a prospective client who asked if we could act as his media spokesperson. Sure we can, but we suggested that we train him to be his own well-prepared spokesperson. He said, “You see that guy give Bumgarner the Chevy at the World Series? That would be me on a good day.”

Yes, we all saw it – the World Series blunder where Rikk Wilde gave Madison Bumgarner keys to a new Chevy Colorado. It was one of the most awkward live television moments in history. Sweat running down his face, and drowning on air, with notes on a Post-it, Wilde presented the keys, saying things like, “It has technology and stuff.”

General Motors could have had its spokesperson make the presentation. Why Rikk Wilde? Because Wilde was a regular guy and relatable to the company’s target audience.

Social media blew up, sharing laughs about Wilde’s presentation. We often find that many clients are afraid of social media’s transparency for scenarios exactly like this one. Social media can be too unpredictable and out of their control.

GM played it perfectly. By 12:30 a.m., less than an hour after the event, the company participated in what had become a trending topic on Twitter.

GM’s first tweet: “Truck yeah the 2015 #ChevyColorado has awesome #TechnologyAndStuff! You know you want a truck.”

Hours later, GM’s spokesperson tweeted that Wilde was on message, saying “The truck does have technology and stuff.” Then, GM used the national conversation to tell its audience about the truck’s offerings.

At the same time, GM quickly added the words “technology and stuff” to its online and television ads. In addition, the company purchased the keywords “Chevy guy” and “technology and stuff” so when people Googled the event to have a laugh, GM’s site would be at the top of the search page.

GM’s “technology and stuff” television spots aired during Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Kimmel and other shows that would poke fun at the “Chevy guy.” The motor company took out full-page ads in USA Today, The New York Times and daily papers in San Francisco and Kansas City.

GM followed the golden rules of social media:

  • Be prepared, but more than that, be responsive to what really happens. Empower your social media team to make quick decisions and remain responsive.
  • Don’t take your brand too seriously – be authentic and relatable.
  • Remember, in any communication, you have the opportunity to bring the conversation back to your key messages and mission.
  • Then, see it through. Watch it carefully until it’s over.

Estimates reflect that the “gaffe” generated more than $5 million in free public relations for GM. Its website traffic went through the roof. There’s an opportunity to make hay if you have the national spotlight turned to your brand – even for three minutes – even over a gaffe. It’s the ultimate #lemons2lemonade moment.

 — Shawna Samuel, Senior Vice President/Account Group Director 

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Ice Buckets of Social Media

Emily Drape

Emily Drape

It is impossible to escape the #ALSicebucketchallenge on social media. Whether it is documented as a photo or video, this campaign is taking social media by storm. The feel-good (well, not so good when you have ice down your back!) campaign has raised more than $23 million for the ALS Association. So how is this happening? This campaign pulls major social and emotional strings that get people to stop and give … while having fun.

Being doused with ice water had been around in early summer, particularly among pro golfers raising money for their own charities. In mid-July golfer Greg Norman got Matt Lauer to take the challenge on the “Today” show, though it wasn’t yet known for ALS. But a young Boston College athlete with ALS picked up the idea and his friends and family fueled it with an abundance of postings on his behalf. From that point on, social media took over. People began posting their own “ice bucket” challenge videos and photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Not to be left out, celebrities joined in, like Jimmy Fallon and Lady Gaga, who wanted to be part of the social conversation. That gave the campaign a larger platform and by early August it had taken off: 118,000 tweets from mid-July to mid-August. So why is this working?

It’s so simple, anyone can do it.

It’s simple. It’s personal. Anyone can do it. The beauty of this campaign is how easy it is to get a network of your family, friends, co-workers or neighbors involved. They feel included. They feel like they are part of something and that makes people feel special. They can be part of the team; join the conversation.

Competition is a powerful motivator.

A key component of this campaign is the requirement to nominate three to five others to participate. But wait, there is a catch: You have only 24 hours. Ready. Set. Go. As soon as that last icy drop lands on your damp scalp it is time to repeat the cycle.

With a race against the clock, this campaign causes people to feel the urgency of completing the challenge, while emphasizing the urgency of finding a cure for this debilitating disease.

It will make you cry.

This campaign is full of emotional stories that draw you in and make you want to do something. Everyone wants to be a part of something special. Being able to say you dumped the bucket on your head, or donated, can do that, especially when other people know about it. The ice bucket challenge evokes a strong emotional rush.

This has become a simple, unifying concept that plays on people’s desire to become part of the social conversation, and do good at the same time.

-Emily Drape, Account Executive

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Cleaning house.

Moving2Last week my family and I packed all of our belongings for a move. The challenge was fitting everything we’ve accumulated over the past 18 years into an 8-by-16-foot container. Needless to say, it didn’t quite fit. It’s amazing how much stuff one accumulates even after annual purges. Yet many things are important, such as childhood keepsakes, a bed and the recliner for Sunday afternoon naps. Then there’s the “I’ll use it one day” stuff. Since we have a three-week transition period before we move to our new home, essential items were scrutinized down to the last teddy bear.

How does this relate to marketing and PR? Like your home, your organization and brand collects excess baggage over the years. Some items are very needed, some are nice to have and others are not necessary at all. It’s likely your organization has generated a plethora of marketing materials and messages over the years – a new sales sheet here, a micro-website there, a news release from a satellite location, a new business presentation, etc. The message and materials you relied on a few years ago may not be relevant or fit in today’s market, and they could be slowing you down. It’s vital to pause and take an audit of your brand, before the truck arrives. Just as your new home may not need that picture of Elvis above the mantle, your brand may not need that message that your CEO’s wife liked in 1990.

Conduct an audit, clean house and keep your brand refreshed and moving forward.

— Jeff Madden, Senior Account Supervisor

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Welcome to Kansas City

imagesWe’re a kind bunch here in Kansas City. As a people we are friendly, helpful, hardworking, and we treat everyone with a smile. It’s our Midwestern way. Especially when it comes to welcoming visitors to our town. When we see an out-of-towner, we go out of our way to make sure they know how to get to the Country Club Plaza, or to remind them they are actually in Missouri right now, and (of course) to assure them that the line that reaches outside the door at Oklahoma Joe’s won’t take too much longer … and, yes, it is worth it.

We roll out the welcome mats and greet them with open arms. Unless they are going too slow along Ward Parkway, or taking too long figuring out what to order at Gates Bar-B-Q. If that’s the case, all bets are off. They can go back to California. But that’s a whole other story.

When it comes to business, though, shouldn’t we show the same Midwestern hospitality? Imagine you are an established company – maybe from Austin or Houston, Boulder or Vancouver, Wash. – and you’ve picked Kansas City to expand your brand to the Midwest. Wouldn’t you want a friendly face waiting with open arms to show you the ins and outs of Kansas City? To describe the difference between folks from Parkville and Leawood? To explain the fact that parking really is a big deal to us?

At Trozzolo Communications Group, we’ve adopted this Midwestern hospitality as a charge for our “Community Team.” We are truly inspired when an out-of-town brand chooses Kansas City as its next place to do business.

We are constantly surprised when a new prospect or client comes to town and they haven’t heard of the Plaza Lights or the Plaza Art Fair, or they don’t quite know the difference between Missourians and Kansans. (Yes, we’re all the same. But not really. But sort of. But not really.) We’ve come to realize that these new-to-KC businesses need a local’s touch. A guide. A friend. A partner.

We believe it is our duty to welcome them with open arms, share our knowledge of Kansas City, and put that knowledge and our connections to work. To inform, engage and inspire Kansas Citians about new brands – from Chuy’s to Hotel Sorella to Papa Murphy’s to the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce – who choose Kansas City to share their message, their products and their new approaches to their craft.

The heartland is the melting pot of the United States. And Kansas City is at the center of it all. Please join us in welcoming not just visitors to our great city, but the permanent transplants, companies, and brands alike. So, what can we do to play our part in a way that could impact your business, while welcoming new companies and their people here? Here are three opportunities we can leverage:

  1. Be their community concierge. Show them the ropes of this city. Describe how consumers in Leawood may be different from consumers in the Northland. Heck, you may need to describe what the Northland is. Help them discover the unique areas of town – where business is done, who their neighbors are. Ask yourself, if I don’t share this information with them, who will?
  2. Connect them with a cause. Every company wants to do something good for the community. Help them navigate the waters of finding a charity to become involved with, a cause they can connect with and truly support. Kansas City has so many great organizations that need corporate sponsorship and involvement. When the right match is made, special things will happen.
  3. Help define their position in the community. Often times a business that is new to Kansas City may not fully realize the competitive landscape that awaits them here. We all know that competition can come from all angles, in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t have to be from another company. It can be misperceptions, or the dreaded “they’re from out of town” tag. Help them define themselves here in Kansas City. Don’t let the market or the competition do it for them.

Let’s help those who are new to our great city add something great to our community. Let’s roll out that welcome mat. Shine up that smile and say it like you mean it with the words, “Welcome to Kansas City.”

Josh Brewster, Account Group Vice President


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