Sparktank Franchise Marketing – our new franchise marketing division – recently launched one of our most exciting projects to date; teaming up with A&W on their franchise recruitment marketing to help the iconic brand expand their reach across Canada! As a longtime fan of A&W’s burgers and frosty cold root beers, I was very excited to see this project come to life.
A clean and modern bilingual website plus series of landing pages were created to replace an outdated website and ultimately increase conversions. In addition, we managed the production of two videos for the French and English speaking markets that had the video crew interviewing A&W franchisees and staff all across the country.
We are also working on their online marketing strategy and management to help attract new prospects and increase sales.
Can web content make or break your business? Rick Sloboda, seasoned web content copywriter and strategist, who conducts content studies with the likes of Yale University, suggests it can. We recently spoke to him about the impact of good and bad content, and how to establish content that gets real results.
ST: You’ve been quoted in various publications, stating content should come before design. What’s the reasoning?
RS: People go to websites for content to complete tasks. When sites are designed with dummy text or blank boxes to be filled in later, it implies content is secondary. This approach is fundamentally flawed because it forms how things are communicated before deciding what needs to be communicated. Identifying and establishing key messages up front helps visitors get the specific info they want or need, quickly and with ease.
ST: What are common pitfalls when it comes to web content?
RS: Common culprits include self-centric, ‘we’-driven content. ‘We are great, we are amazing’ messaging doesn’t resonate with people. It’s like going into a store and the salesperson starts boasting about herself non-stop. I would politely leave the premises as soon as possible. Of course, online visitors can leave immediately with a single click or tap. Visitor-centric, ‘you’-driven web content is more engaging and much more effective.
Another frequent offender is long-winded, jargon-heavy content. We must be careful not communicate what we want to say and instead communicate what visitors want or need to read. We must always write for the intended audience. Business owners often fail here because they’re passionate about their business, get excited, and blab and blab and blab. A third-party can go in objectively and filter out unnecessary verbiage.
ST: Writers often discuss features versus benefits. Can you speak to that?
RS: An old-school editor taught me years ago that features tell, benefits sell. We must remember that we’re emotional beings — we make decisions emotionally and then rationalize them logically. Benefits get people to care and take action.
So, for instance, if you’re selling binoculars with an oversized lens — what’s in it for them? That’s just a feature, and we need to convey what it does for the customer. It provides low-light performance. Okay, we’re getting warmer. Keep going! They’ll capture bright, sharp images from dusk until dawn. Okay, now we’re really getting somewhere.
ST: What other tips can you provide to establish content that works?
RS: Don’t forget to ask for the sale. We might be working in the digital age with fast-moving technologies, but the good, old-fashioned ‘ask for the sale’ still applies. Online, we do this with a call to action, also known as a CTA. It can be to prompt a visitor to call, email, request a quote, subscribe, download a report, or some other desired action.
Business owners must keep in mind that people go online for products and services to accomplish specific goals. They don’t want to waste their time. So, to help visitors complete desired tasks efficiently and effectively, your web content needs to be organized logically and intuitively, and communicate key points clearly.
When you do the heavy lifting up front and organize and fine-tune all of your content, it makes it more enticing and easier to do business with you.
Rick is a Senior Web Copywriter and Content Strategist at Webcopyplus, which helps designers and businesses boost online traffic, leads and sales with opti-mized web content. His clients range from independent retailers to some of the world’s largest service providers, including AT&T, Bell Mobile, Tim Hortons and Scotia Bank. He advocates clear, concise and objective website content that promotes readability and usability, and conducts web content studies with organizations in Europe and the U.S., including Yale University. Rick speaks frequently at Web-related forums and seminars, and serves as a Web program committee advisor with various organizations, including Langara College and Vancouver Career College.
Mink Chocolates is a Vancouver-based franchisor with their own line of award-winning, artisanal chocolates. They sell their chocolates through retail chocolate cafés and an online e-commerce store. Their website hadn’t been redesigned in a number of years so they turned to Sparktank to refresh the look and update the technical standards of the site.
Goal #1: Redesign the website.
Our first goal was to assess their website to make it more visually appealing and user-friendly.
Mink Chocolates are more than just a food item. They’re a simple luxury that allows you to celebrate special moments in life with friends and family.
The new website images capture the lifestyle appeal of the brand, with photos of smiling people enjoying chocolate with friends and loved ones. We gave the layout a more modern style, while keeping the overall colour scheme and branding consistent.
Goal #2: Make the website responsive (compatible with mobile devices).
Prior to the redesign, the Mink chocolates website was not designed to work optimally on mobile devices. With nearly 50% of all e-commerce traffic coming from mobile users, Mink understood they needed to make it easy for customers to get information and shop online on any device. The new website adjusts perfectly to work on cell phones, tablets and desktop computers.
Goal #3: Setting up email marketing.
We also set Mink Chocolates up with a new email template so they could keep in touch with customers and website visitors. Email newsletters are a simple way to turn leads into potential customers, encourage repeat sales, and establish stronger brand loyalty with customers.
“Please accept my heartfelt thanks to you and your team. I’m thrilled with the results. Thanks for bringing me into the modern age!” —Marc Lieberman, President, Mink Chocolates Inc.
Vassi is a high end menswear brand based in Toronto, Ontario. The growing business has built its stellar reputation through word of mouth and by attracting local clientele in the business community.
Despite having well-established retail location, VASSI did not have a web presence. They turned to Sparktank Creative to translate the tactile, premium experience of shopping at the VASSI boutique into the digital world.
Goals and Creative Solutions
Before diving into the project, we conducted a Discovery Session with the VASSI team to learn as much as possible about their customer base and business needs. Sparktank’s Discovery sessions are typically filled with illuminating brainstorms and new ideas that get everyone excited about the project. Using a detailed questionnaire, we dig deep to really understand our clients’ businesses and come up with strategic solutions to help them succeed.
Together we identified four goals for the VASSI website:
Communicate their high end sophistication.
Expand their reach beyond their local following.
Showcase their clothing line.
Build long term relationships with customers.
Goal #1: Communicate High End Sophistication
VASSI excels in giving customers a premium experience in their retail store and through their physical products. They wanted a website which mirrored the brand’s sophistication and emphasized their customized, personal shopping experience.
On the homepage we showcased a high end video that conveys a sense of sophistication, prestige and sex appeal. We also incorporated imagery and a sleek design to appeal to VASSI’s discerning business clientele.
Goal #2: Expand VASSI’s Reach
Superior service and products helped VASSI expand rapidly in downtown Toronto. Their next business goal was to reach new clients outside their local market.
With a new website, VASSI will be able to promote their brand to clients through advertising, search engine optimization, and other online marketing channels. The site also highlights their membership program which encourages repeat customers and rewards brand loyalty with exclusive discounts and other benefits.
Goal #3: Showcase Clothing Lines
Naturally, VASSI wanted to showcase their clothing lines on the new website. We created a photo gallery which highlights the variety, craftsmanship, and attention to detail in every product. VASSI can easily update their collections with the simple WordPress onlin
e system we used for this project.
Goal #4: Build Relationships with Customers
In addition to attracting new clients, the VASSI website is a starting point for building a relationship with customers.
We set up a newsletter template and website newsletter signup box so VASSI could easily send out news and special promotions. Regular communication with existing and potential clients will help turn visitors into paying customers. It can also increase brand loyalty and foster long-term client relationships.
Keeping Your Eye on the Goal
A custom website must be crafted to meet the needs of the client. We built the site not only to look good, but to make a statement. The finished product exudes the luxury and quality on which VASSI built their reputation. And as an extension of their brand, the VASSI website will reach more clients and enhance their brand’s visibility.
Next up? An e-commerce website focused on VASSI’s popular line of ties.
“We’re thrilled with the new website. Sparktank worked closely with us to identify our business needs and came up with great solutions to expand our brand. They were very easy to communicate with and went above and beyond to listen to our needs. We’re confident the new website will help us grow our business.” — Andre Vassi, CEO, VASSI
When a potential customer lands on your homepage, you have at most a few seconds to catch their attention. If your website doesn’t make a strong first impression, you may not get a second chance.
But what exactly makes a good homepage? Over the years we’ve spent studying and designing websites at Sparktank Creative, we’ve noticed certain differentiators that make effective homepages stand out from the crowd.
Here are four qualities that top-notch website homepages have in common:
1. Clear Messaging
With such a short window of opportunity to make an impression, your messaging must be clear and concise. If possible, condense your company description into a single phrase that tells people who you are, and what you do.
We’re fans of MailChimp, a user-friendly email campaign program. MailChimp’s website greets you with one pithy invitation: Send Better Email. Below that they give you even more reason to consider them: “Join more than 8 million people who use MailChimp to design and send 600 million emails every day.”
They tell you what they do (send email), how it benefits you (your emails are way better), and why you should go with them (they’re trusted by millions of other people).
2. Visually Attractive
When it comes to websites, looks matter. Of course content is extremely important too, especially for SEO (see the next point). But a visually attractive website tells visitors that your company is professional and trustworthy.
With so many options to surf on the web, a poorly designed site can be enough to cause visitors to reject the website and move on to something else. And don’t forget to make your website responsive, so it looks amazing whether it’s being viewed on a phone, tablet, or desktop screen.
Zipcar’s website is not quite what you expect. Instead of a photo of say, a car, you’re greeted with a picture of hikers high in the mountains, and an intriguing suggestion: “Upload yourself to the cloud.” The website conveys a sense of adventure and makes you want to be part of an elite group (the cloud of online Zipcar users). Beneath that splash they clarify how Zipcar works.
3. Draws Visitors In
So you’ve got an attractive website with clear messaging. Great! Next you want to engage visitors to draw them further into your website.
Creating a Call to Action is one way to engage customers. What is your ultimate goal of getting visitors? Is it to get them to sign up for your program, or to contact you to discuss working together, or to make a purchase? Make sure this is easy for a customer to find.
And substance matters as well as good looks! We highly recommend a blog, or at least crafting valuable, intriguing content that engages customers. Offering useful content also improves your website SEO and is a way of demonstrating that your company is the expert in your industry.
NatureBox has a clean landing page with a clear call to action: Start your free trial. They give potential customers an incentive to sign up by offering a free trial. Other incentives could be a free e-book for joining your newsletter, a discount on a customer’s first order, or a free 30-minute consultation for joining your online training program.
4. Speaks to Your Audience
Learn as much as possible about your target customer. What are their needs? What questions and concerns will they have when they visit your site?
Try this exercise: Create a persona for your target customer. Describe in detail their age, gender, background, and other demographics. Get really detailed. Some companies even give this target customer a name. What are their goals? What are their primary needs and pain points? What are their main questions and concerns?
Make sure that your website copy addresses these needs and goals. The more you speak directly and anticipate their needs, the more likely you are to attract your ideal customer.
Dove made headlines with its “Real Beauty” campaign in 2004, which celebrates different body types and showcasing real women rather than models in their advertisements. Today Dove’s website still features real women who are confident with their bodies. Their homepage also highlights their Self Esteem Project dedicated to helping girls overcome beauty-related anxieties. These campaigns speak directly to their target audience: women account for 85% of all consumer purchases in the U.S., and 75% consider themselves the primary shoppers for their households.
It’s a Win-Win
By crafting a clear message that is visually attractive and engages visitors, your website homepage will be a positive and memorable experience. And if you speak directly your target audience, you’ll be able to connect with your ideal customers.
This is a win-win: customers enjoy their visit to your website and feel connected to a brand that speaks to them, while you are able to engage with customers and make a strong first impression.
One of the first questions we are asked when discussing a brochure project with a client is what format to use. To help us make the best suggestion we can, we like to understand as much about the project as possible; to know what it is trying to achieve, who the audience will be, what the content needs are, and how much the budget is. All of these factors will help shape the final decision on format, as they all bring their own qualities and limitations. To help you understand how, we’ve put together a rundown of the most common marketing brochure formats used today.
Rack Card Sitting in racks in reception areas of restaurants, hotels or theaters, at landmarks, travel agencies, trade shows, and other locations that see a high amount of foot traffic, single panel rack cards are designed to quickly grab the attention and provide a call to further action. Providing a short burst of information, rack cards are ideal for conveying a specific message, such as an upcoming event, a special offer, or an invitation for the reader to visit your website to find out more. Because rack cards are usually displayed in tiered racks, the top half has to be eye-catching. This may be your logo, an attention-grabbing title, or a call to action, with your contact information, map of your physical location, or even a QR code can be placed in areas that are only visible once the card has been picked up.
Traditional Trifold Folding to the same dimensions as the rack card, the traditional trifold is a staple of brochure design. Often fitting in the same reception area display racks, the extra real estate allows a lot more text and visual information to be presented, making them more suitable for introducing a company than rack cards while still being small enough to be taken away. Following the rules of brochure design, the text should be broken up with images and graphics, with bullet lists also making the information more scannable by the reader. As the back cover is the least likely panel to be read, no important content should be placed there; your contact information is often enough.
Larger Bifold or Trifold For those looking for a more visually impressive result than the traditional trifold can give, larger bifolds or trifolds that typically fold to an 8.5 x 11 or similar size allow more room for the higher quality photographs that are preferable when introducing higher-end products or services. Simple yet flexible, good brochure design can allow large bifolds to feel less claustrophobic than traditional trifolds, with more space around the images and text. While rack cards or traditional trifolds are designed to easily fit into the pocket or bag and be taken away, larger bifold or trifold brochures are aimed more at individuals who will have the time to sit and read at the point of contact, and can be used as folders to hold additional papers or proposals too.
Booklet The pinnacle of brochure design, booklets are used to give in-depth information about a company and its products or services while making a more impressive statement than any bifold or trifold could. Whether placed in a company’s own reception area to be read by visitors or sent out to clients or prospects who have requested more information, the number of pages available in a booklet allows the designer to provide something unique while both impressing and informing the reader. Full-page photographs can be used in high-end booklet design for a greater impact and to give visual breathing space to the content, while the quality construction of the booklet lengthens its lifespan; not only will it be physically more durable than a bifold or trifold, but the recipient is also less likely to discard it.
Further Considerations Once you have decided on the most suitable format, there are a number of further aspects to consider regarding your brochure design. Whatever message you’re trying to convey, your copy has to be right. As most company brochures are marketing pieces, that means focusing less on yourself and more on the customer, with more persuasion than information, and technical jargon reserved for when further contact is made. High-quality photography is also a must for showing your company in the best light. Depending on the subject of the photos, hiring a professional photographer or having your designer select high end stock photos is highly advised to ensure your business brochure is conveying a professional image. Finally, both the printing quality and choice of the paper stock used can have a huge effect on the success of your brochure. Today, there are many more affordable quality printing options available so a high end look can be achieved on a smaller budget.
Thinking of getting a brochure designed for your organization? Get in touch and we’ll happily help you sort through all the options.
Pacific Destination Services is an internationally recognized and award-winning destination management company. They offer meeting, incentive and event planning in Western Canada.
They had grown out of their existing website and were ready to make a change to something fresh and new to celebrate the 16th anniversary of the company.
Sparktank worked with the Pacific Destinations team to develop a new responsive website that ensured their site would be viewed correctly on both computers and mobile devices. Their new site is fully manageable with a WordPress CMS, to allow them to easily make additions and revisions as required. To best showcase their work, we added galleries with full sized images to highlight the many fantastic photographs they had available.
Pacific Destination Services also required a blogto share company news and information. We worked with them to create a searchable blog that organized their event & destination news, inspirational posts, media features and awards:
“Once again, you have exceeded all expectations. I am so in love with our website, I can’t thank you enough for your time, creativity, advice, patience and expertise in designing and developing our new and amazing website. This website speaks to who we are, what we do and how we do it.
Since our launch, we have received innumerable compliments. The excitement that it has created for us will convert, no doubt, to future business and great opportunities. It’s a sales tool, a closing tool and an information tool – just what we need! Thank you for taking our vision, expanding on it, animating it and making it a beautiful reality.
You and your team are exceptional. We love what you have created for us. Thank you most sincerely!”
One of my favourite marketing tools to implement for our clients is our web video packages. Web videos are a fantastic way to put a human face to a business and help differentiate them from the competition. Your typical website will use text and photography to present a company’s products or services. While this type of content is needed, video can offer a more personal look at their story, people and unique offerings. In addition, a well done video is simply more entertaining and easier to watch than static content. According to the Kelsey Group, “Customers are 4x more likely to click on a video than any other web content”.
Video is also a great social media tool. In addition to placing your video on your website, it can be used on your Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn channels or simply inserted into the signature of your email.
Here are a few of the ingredients that make a successful corporate video:
1- Be Human. This come back to the point of putting a personal voice and face to your video. We are all a little jaded by overly commercial style sales pitches. Just tell your story- honestly and simply. People will relate to this much more.
2- Talk about Benefits instead of Features. This is true of any marketing efforts. Clients often want to talk about all the technical details and unique features of their product or service. It’s a common occurrence as we are all a little too enmeshed in what we do and tend to look at our offerings from the perspective of an industry insider. However, it’s important to put yourself in your client’s shoes and describe what benefits your business will offer. Things like making our life easier, saving time, increasing revenue and improving your life are what hits more of an emotional chord with your audience.
3- Keep it Short. Everyone’s time is limited and we’ve become accustomed to instant, on demand information. Keeping your videos to 3 minutes or less will give you more that enough time to get your information across without losing your viewer’s interest. Set the scene, tell your story and end with a strong call to action to encourage your audience to reach out and take the next steps.
At Sparktank, we offer 3 main video packages:
Our videos’ streamlined system and affordable pricing has been a big hit with our clients.
We interviewed our internet marketing expert and team member Candace to give you the inside scoop on how to attract more business via internet marketing and social media.
1.When marketing your business, how important is it to be found on the search engines?
Internet presence is critical for modern business. In *2014 it is estimated 87% of Americans use the internet. Print Yellow Pages, Newspapers, Direct Mail, and Radio do not work like they used to because potential customers aren’t looking there anymore.
2. What steps are involved in ensuring that your website is found by your ideal clients on Google and other search engines?
Ensuring the website is search engine friendly equally requires standards compliant web coding techniques and an understanding of the phrases that consumers use when searching for your products and services. The focus is on understanding your target users, producing great content, establishing your authority and visibility, and providing a great experience for the users of your site. Properly architecting your site and addressing local search (if that is relevant to you) are also important.
3. What role does social media play in attracting new clients?
Social media can attract new clients but its strength is really in client retention. Using this as a channel similar to email marketing to connect with existing clients and keep in touch with them is its best attribute.
4. When does it make sense to invest in paid online advertising?
When implemented correctly, paid advertising can have great benefits for a business. With Facebook Advertising this can aid in a new Business page to get started building a fan base, with AdWords (the space at the top or right side of Google searches), it can enable top of page results for very specific competitive keyword phrases. Depending on how competitive your industry is, the top page positions can be difficult to achieve for all profitable key phrases. Highly targeted paid advertising campaigns can be very effective in increasing visibility.
5. What tools do you use to measure success?
Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. Web analytics is not just a tool for measuring web traffic but can be used as a tool for business and market research, and to assess and improve the effectiveness of a web site. We typically use Google Analytics for this purpose. It helps to analyze visitor traffic to understand your audience and their needs, wherever they are along the purchase path. Google Analytics shows customer interactions across ads and videos, websites and social tools, tablets and smartphones. That makes it easier to serve current customers and win new ones.
We’ve all seen examples of businesses that have polished, professional looks that are truly memorable. Their website, promotional materials, packaging or physical locations all have a unified message and design that creates an image of who they are and makes them instantly recognizable. This is all a result of carefully planned and well executed BRANDING. What exactly is branding? Entrepreneur magazine defines branding as “the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products“.
Large corporations invest millions of dollars working with ad agencies to develop and market successful brands for their businesses. Tactics like extensive market research or using the perfect celebrity endorsements are not uncommon. Of course not all businesses can afford or, quite frankly, require this level of investment. Great branding doesn’t need to be overly complicated but it does require some important thought and planning. Here is a breakdown of the major steps involved in creating a great brand:
1- Asking the right questions:
What is the company’s mission?
Who is their ideal client?
What are the unique benefits and features of their products or services?
What values do they want to be associated with?
2- Establishing a look and feel for the business. This could include:
A logo design
Development of a unique colour palette
Writing a company tagline
Creating a set of design and branding guidelines to follow
Creating a “voice” or “unique selling proposition” for the company
3- Continuously and consistently applying these brand elements in all of the company’s marketing materials and customer interactions.
Making a business look like a million bucks is all about developing a strong foundation and creating branding building blocks that will aid in a company’s growth. Large business or small, the same basic rules apply.