Top Four Places to Get Creative in the Quad Cities

Top Four Places to Get Creative in the Quad Cities

The Quad Cities is home to some awesomely creative and inspiring places! So, next time you’re looking to get inspired, be sure to check out one of these top four places to get creative in the Quad Cities—courtesy of the TAG team.

QC Co-Lab
The QC Co-Lab was established in 2010, and provides an excellent space for creative minds to make meaningful masterpieces! Promoting the areas of technology, science, engineering, art and music, the Co-Lab houses detailed project rooms, including industrial and electrical workshops, a library and classroom and a state-of-the-art AV studio. QC Co-Lab is available to non-members, as well as special events, workshops and a regular Open Houses every Saturday. A QC Co-Lab membership is $30 per month, but provides you access to any and all equipment or rooms you need for your project—what a great concept!
QC CoLab

Quad City Arts
Quad City Arts is a non-profit arts organization that focuses on advocating for local artists by providing the Quad Cities community with educational performing arts programs and services. What’s great about Quad City Arts, is that they offer year-round programming, so you can stay creative all year long. Whether looking to be inspired by up-and-coming artists, or wanting to take a more hands-on approach with visual workshops and events, Quad City Arts offers everything you need to channel your inner creativity and have fun.
QC Arts
Figge Art Museum
The Figge Art Museum is a premier art exhibition and education facility, located in the heart of downtown Davenport. Home to one of the Midwest’s finest art collections, and host to world-class traveling exhibitions, the Figge is one of the best places in the Quad Cities to get your creative juices flowing. If looking at art isn’t your thing, the Figge also offers a variety of interactive art classes for both youth and adults. And, if you’re looking for a fun place to take your kids on a rainy springtime afternoon, their Artica Gallery / Family Activity Center offers a great imaginative spot to hang.
Figge
Crafted Quad Cities
Do you like to craft? Then you’ll love Crafted Quad Cities! Not only can you shop for adorable, hand-made items at Crafted Quad Cities, but they also host a variety of crafting classes—available on nights, days and weekends. If you’re ready to make stuff, they’re ready to help!
Crafted QC
Wherever you choose to get creative in the Quad Cities, all that matters is that you are finding a great place to express your inner creativity. Where are some of your favorite spots in the Quad Cities to get creative? Join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Humanizing your Digital Strategy

Screen-Shot-2013-07-24-at-3.25.44-PMWe tend to trust our friends more than a business or a brand. So when your friend tells you something about a brand, you’re more likely to believe what they’re telling you rather than when a brand makes a claim. So how do you make your brand more trustworthy? How do we humanize our digital strategies?

Talk like a Person!
Shift your thinking and adjust your messaging to be more relationship focused rather than “salesy”.  Talking to your followers in a way that is not a sales pitch or corporate jargon is much more interesting to them, and they’re more likely to engage with you.

Usabilla reports that 79 percent of digital marketers will increase their content marketing budget in 2016, and 60 percent of marketers see the biggest challenge as producing engaging content. If you’re simply a mobile sales pitch, you’re going to annoy your followers and end up losing customers in the long run. Advertising a sale or a special offer gets some engagement at first, but too much sales talk will annoy your audience.

Interact with People
Respond to questions and comments from your followers. Better yet, ask them to engage with you by posing a question or asking for their input! According to Usabilla, 56 percent of customers are more likely to buy when given a personalized experience. And when someone responds to you, be sure you let them know that you’re reading their input by commenting on it, liking it or favoriting their response. This is a great way to start a real conversation that feels human-to-human rather than human-to-brand.

Show off your Team and Workspace
Your audience wants to be able to put a face to the words they read on your social platforms or your website. Take pictures or produce videos and webinars where your employees can show off their personalities. Visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content according to Kissmetrics. Give your followers a glimpse into your working world and let them feel like they’re getting a behind-the-scenes tour. Doing this makes your followers feel closer to you, and will make them want to get to know your brand more.

Be Authentic and Transparent
Be mindful that all of your messaging should reflect your brand values to create authenticity. And if you make a mistake, whether it’s something little or something big, just come clean about it. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Humanize your brand by not covering these things up, but by owning your mistakes.

Your followers want to have a conversation with a person, not necessarily a business or a brand.  You can improve your digital strategy by making engagement with your followers feel like they’re talking with a friend, rather than a business. For more information on how to humanize your digital strategy, give the experts at TAG a call or visit us online!

Marry content and execution for truly impactful video marketing

The importance of production value can’t be overlooked when creating a successful video marketing strategy. It matters both what you say and how you say it, which we refer to as content and execution.

Content: what do you want to tell your audience?

The first part of producing an effective video is creating great content. At TAG, we often collaborate with our entire creative team to get the best ideas on the table and develop content that is well-crafted, direct and concise.

Execution: how do you want to deliver that message?

The other part of high production value is the execution of your message delivery. How you deliver your content is a huge part of your video’s effectiveness. For instance, emotional messaging enhances your message and overall brand.

 

Find out more about production value and TAG’s video skills on our website. For high quality content and execution, TAG… we’re it!

You’re in love with your new website. Now what?

Website Traffic photo

The day you have your website built and launched might be one of the best days of your life. But don’t let yourself slack off during the honeymoon phase. There is some serious work to be done to drive traffic to your new site and make an impact in your market.

Be sure to put yourself out there

You know how everyone loves posting their big life events on their social platforms? Do that with your website. It’s a big life event in the timeline of your business, and that’s something you can justifiably brag about. Link to your site through email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other meaningful social platforms.

Word to the wise: Embed your YouTube videos on your homepage to increase your chances of being found organically through search engines.

Pay to play in the digital marketplace

Don’t underestimate the power of cash when it comes to digital traffic. Google Adwords, display ads and even ads on social media take your messaging beyond the limited scope of organic reach. Use a variety of designs and messages to reach targeted audiences and drive traffic to website content relevant to them.

Word to the wise: Marketing budgets are allocating more money to digital marketing each year. Be competitive in the marketplace by promoting your website with audience-enhancing ads.

Know the effect you have on your audience

Keep tabs on your website traffic with tools like Google Analytics. Note where your audience is coming from by monitoring referrals and search terms, and watch which messages gain you the most traffic. This is a strategic way to know what your audience is interested in and what makes your website relevant to them.

Word to the wise: Set goals for traffic—decide which pages you want to see traffic on, how much traffic you want on those pages and how many inbound marketing leads or e-commerce purchases you consider successful in a set increment of time, whether it’s one week or one month. Use digital methods to work toward those trackable goals!

Participate in active listening

Stay responsive to your audience. A digital relationship is something that takes ongoing work—don’t let yourself go just because your site is live. If you treat your website as a “set it and forget it” asset, you’re missing out on opportunities—and revenue! Tweak content and messaging according to your analytical feedback to keep things fresh and relevant.

Word to the wise: Use matching design elements across your website, social platforms, print and broadcast media in order to preserve your brand, but keep your branded content and campaigns dynamic and exciting month over month.

 

TAG understands new website infatuation, but we’re in it for the long haul with our clients. Think of us as your digital relationship counselor. From driving website traffic to creating complete marketing plans, feel free to reach out to the TAG team when your digital presence needs that extra something sprinkled in!

But why male models?

Here at TAG, we’ve been inspired by the brilliant marketing campaigns we’ve seen over the past few days. These three stand-out strategies set fire to our creative fuel, so we’re giving them the attention they definitely earned.

A release on the runway

In case you missed it, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson took to the Valentino runway during Paris Fashion Week in order to promote the Zoolander sequel. The stunt not only announced the motion picture in style, it also grabbed some major attention. Part of the success of this promotion hinges on the serious attitude surrounding Fashion Week and its designers, critics and brands. The surprise appearance was a comedic twist to Valentino’s catwalk, earning buzz not only for Zoolander 2 but also for the well-respected fashion brand.

 

NotThere Campaign

A campaign so subtle, you can’t ignore it

The #NotThere campaign was launched by No Ceilings for International Women’s Day, bringing attention to the state of gender equality worldwide. Implementing dramatic absences of women from billboards, magazine covers and commercials, this campaign not only drew attention through subtraction, it also achieved high success by supporting its messaging with an excellent landing page, well-organized and visually appealing data and clear calls to action.

 

VinceVaughn iStock

Bad stock photos make for great advertising

To promote their new movie Unfinished Business, actors Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco and others helped create a series of business-related iStock photos by Getty Images. Playing on the campy and cheesy aspect of stock photos, the cast managed to insert themselves into some laughably terrible stock images—that aren’t a far cry from the actual selection available to and oft-used by marketers. The blankness of stock photos is both the appeal and the detraction when crafting campaigns and promotions, making them the perfect stage for Vaughn and company to tout their new movie.

 

We’re excited to take these pieces of marketing inspiration and put our uncommon energy to work creating successful and meaningful campaigns that stick with our clients’ audiences long after they launch. From surprise appearances to disconcerting disappearances, these campaigns have heated up our creative atmosphere. TAG—we’re it so hot right now!

When-Some-Hot-New-Person-Scene

Are you leading, but losing? Four reasons every CEO should go social

iStock_000029894058_Small

Social media is the new normal. We utilize social platforms to connect with family and friends, but they have also fundamentally changed the way businesses communicate with consumers. However, while brands are embracing social media, many CEOs aren’t. So while you are effectively leading your organization, you might be losing when it comes to social.

A study by Weber Shandwick surveyed C-level executives about their CEO’s use of social platforms. Of those surveyed, 76 percent think it’s a good idea and want their CEO to be actively engaged in social media to help build business and establish trust in their industry. Take our advice (and your C-level executive’s!) and start engaging on social now!

Here are four reasons every CEO should embrace social media: to showcase innovation, communicate and build relationships, build your business’ reputation and see tangible results. 

Showcase innovation

Be the first to do it, and do it right – that’s innovation. Use social media as a platform to be seen as an innovative leader in your industry. Connect with other executives and groups on LinkedIn to share industry insights, company blogs and awards. Lead your marketing team to create a strategy for a LinkedIn business page and build up a base of followers who want to know more about YOUR company.

John Legare

Create a Twitter account that not only retweets company information but also shares interesting articles, engages people in conversation and even adds humor and personality to your work. Feel free to tag other businesses and create friendly competition in the Twittersphere.

Communicate and build relationships

Being socially active allows you to communicate while building relationships with key influencers, potential clients, your colleagues and your staff. When used effectively to connect, CEOs who use social media make their employees feel inspired, technologically advanced and proud to work for an employer who embraces the future of communication while giving their company a face and personality.

Social CEO - Benefits

Build your business’ reputation

In 2014, consumers make judgments about your business’ reputation based on what they find online, and 82 percent of consumers put more trust into a company whose CEO has a Twitter account. Does your company stand out as a leader? Adding social to your personal strategy allows you to spread more positive information about your business, become an innovative leader in your industry and cultivate a strategy to always be top of mind with your target demographic. After all, social media is where your prospects, employees, current customers and peers are looking for you.

Richard Branson

Connect and see results

Social media is a two-way conversation. Make sure you listen to what people are saying about you and your brand on social media. Ask questions, engage with and respond to your followers to create a meaningful connection that will lead to brand loyalty, new business and sales. Be your company’s secret social media sauce when it comes to sales by inspiring those following you.

Bill Gates

Over the next five years, trends predict that 50 percent more CEOs will be actively using social media. You can no longer sit on the sidelines – stand out as a leader with smart social today!
Follow our CEO Mike Vondran on Twitter @TAGMikeV and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn more about TAG’s social media marketing strategies and services.

*Studies and infographic from Weber Shandwick.

Five tips to choose a web development partner

Your business website is more important than ever in today’s digital-savvy world. Often times your potential customers find your website before engaging with you directly. Your website needs to reflect your brand, drive business, collect leads and serve as a 24/7 inbound marketing machine.

There are many factors that go into choosing a web development partner for your new website. But we’ve narrowed down the top five considerations for choosing a firm to trust the future of your business’ online presence to.

Website Grader

Start with a discovery meeting

A discovery meeting is critical to creating a website that will work as an inbound marketing machine for your business. Designers, developers and copywriters are experts at creating websites; but, you are the expert in your business and industry. The discovery meeting allows your website design team to get to know your business goals, market expectancies and what you need the website to do for potential customers.

Only after a discovery meeting will you get a website that truly works for your business 24 / 7, and a true estimate of the cost to make it do exactly what you need it to.

Will the website be responsive?

The way we access the web is changing. Mobile and tablet usage is on the rise and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Mobile users want a website that is easy to read without having to turn or enlarge the screen. If your website doesn’t dynamically resize itself on a mobile device, 61 percent of people will leave and go to a competitor’s that does.

Is the website designed just for your business?

One way website developers cut corners is to use a template design for your website. While this can keep costs down, it also means there could be another business out there with a website that looks just like yours. In order to get the most ROI out of your website, it’s best to have it designed and developed specifically for your brand, business needs and objectives.

Use an open-source CMS instead of a proprietary one

A CMS, or content management system, is the back end of your website where you will be able to edit and make changes to the content. Some web developers use a proprietary CMS that was developed in-house. This can be problematic because you’re tied to the developer as long as you have the website.

However if your website is developed in an open-source CMS, you can cut ties and take the website with you when you go.

Optimize for search with a Google-certified specialist

Your brand new website won’t be very useful if your potential customers can’t find you. Search engine optimization is becoming much more about content on the page, than meta tags included into your website’s code. Writing for the web is an art form. It’s not like writing for print. Working with a Google-certified specialist to choose keywords that matter to your industry, and an experienced copywriter to weave them into the content throughout your website, will increase your search engine ranking.

Click here to learn more about the TAG web design and development process and how we can help turn your business website into an inbound marketing sales machine.

We have a few free tools to help you asses your current website and vet potential web developers. Click here  to download your free website grader determine the strengths of your current website’s marketing presence. And click here to download a web development services checklist to get all the right interview questions to ask potential web development partners.