Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are the Future

Remember a couple of summers ago when Pokémon Go was all the rage? The hype quickly fizzled out even though Niantic, the software development company responsible for the technology, was on to something. Not sure what augmented reality and virtual reality mean to the future of marketing or what these emerging technologies actually are? Not a problem. We’ll go over AR and VR, their pros and cons, and how one, and not the other will have the most impact on marketing campaigns for the foreseeable future.

AUGMENTED REALITY (AR)

man playing pokemon goWhen virtual objects are placed into the “real world” such as Pokémon Go, a game that utilizes a smartphone’s GPS and camera to place cartoon characters near actual, physical locations, on a virtual map that users can go, you get what is referred to as augmented reality or AR for short. AR enhances or alters the physical world around us, and not just with smartphones. There are other means of utilizing AR, such as car windshields that display road layouts, navigation directions, and even a speedometer.

VIRTUAL REALITY (VR)

person wearing virtual reality headsetOftentimes, augmented reality and virtual reality are mistaken for one another. Yes, they both alter our physical world in some shape or form, but VR takes it a step further, and immerses the user into a completely virtual setting. VR takes us to another place and cuts us off from reality, using virtual reality headsets. Such as goggles or sealed off visors for watching short films or gaming with a controller that tracks hand movement for manipulating virtual objects. Notable manufacturers of VR technology are Oculus Rift, Samsung Odyssey, and HTC Vive. Higher end models like the Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR, operate from PCs and gaming consoles respectively. They include features such as 90Hz refresh rates and over 200 million pixels per second.

HOW AR AND VR TIE INTO MARKETING

In 2017, HubSpot released a report known as State of Inbound, which tracks marketing trends and data, and stated that video is the number one channel for content delivery. So how do AR and VR fit into all of this? Just look at what French based beauty and makeup supplier, Sephora, is doing with AR right now.sephora_virtual_artist_tutorials The company has a virtual make-up artist app available, that lets users see how a certain lipstick will look, without having to physically apply it. The app scans the user’s face through a smartphone camera, and once the user finds a product they like, they can instantly click to purchase.

 

TRAVEL AND REAL ESTATE REIMAGINED

vrpostcards-marriot-samsung-travel-hotel

Virtual reality also has great potential in marketing, mainly in the tourism and real estate industry. Brochures or other print ads an only do so much to capture an audience’s attention, and online ads must deal with the ever-increasing use of ad blockers on web browsers. But VR takes users to another place that is free of distractions. It’s only recently been made widely available to the public, and does not make users feel they are being force fed advertisements. VR, just like AR, can also take the hassle out of physically shopping around for the right product.

IN YOUR HOME

matterport-core-vr-headsetMatterport, a real-estate firm based in the U.S., offers 3D virtual tours, so potential buyers don’t have to see the home at the actual location. The home-improvement industry has also begun to incorporate VR technologies in marketing. Lowe’s offers Holoroom, a home improvement design and training tool that allows customers to try out do-it-yourself projects in a virtual space. This makes customers feel confident in buying the right products. Similarly a person using Holoroom is more likely to retain the information compared to watching a conventional video.

SO, WHO’S IN THE LEAD?

We’ve gone over some examples of how AR and VR can be successfully implemented into marketing campaigns. AR looks to be the clear winner for the near future. Why? Well, it’s more cost effective, and the foundation is already there. Smartphones are everywhere now, therefore that’s all that’s needed for AR to work in most cases. virtual-reality-online-shoppingGoing back to the Sephora virtual makeup app, there is a clear call-to-action. The consumer can click on a product right away, and make the purchase. VR has the advantage over other forms of advertising because there is more interaction from the user. Yet, there isn’t a way to get that user to pause from that interaction, and respond to a call-to-action like clicking or making a purchase.

AR WILL PREVAIL

man-holding-ipad-with-virtual-reality-app

Both augmented reality and virtual reality show a lot of promise for the future. However, it’s evident that AR will have the most impact sooner. Many of today’s smartphone cameras have the capability, which means AR technology will have an immediate impact versus VR. Right now, VR headsets are too costly and may limit the user’s mobility to a confined space. With AR technology, people can be directed to nearby brick and mortar locations or easily be directed to click on something and make a purchase.

Have ideas for how you can use this technology to reach your customers? Let us know and we can help launch your brand in to the future!

ABOUT CATMEDIA

CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Stay Connected with CATMEDIA:
For more information, please visit CATMEDIA
Facebook 
Twitter
Instagram
LinkedIn

Filming the Flames: Our Outcome Shooting a Fire Recruitment Video

When creating a moving experience, especially one that inspires and encourages you to serve a greater purpose, it all comes down to telling a great story through authentic and captivating content. However, capturing powerful images and stories through video is no easy task. The filming process requires knowing deeply who your audience is, what would shift the way they think or feel, and how to create empathy through the story you tell.

CATMEDIA created a branded recruitment video for DeKalb County Fire Rescue to inspire young individuals to join the department and increase the number of applicants for the 2019-year. Consequently as a result grew their social media presence and number of applicants exponentially. Click here to watch the 1 minute version!

filming-fire-recruits

DeKalb County Fire Rescue (DCFR) is one of the largest fire departments in the state of Georgia and in the country. Each year the department accepts applications for recruitment from December 30 to January 13.

They sought to have a branded recruitment video that would:

  • Maintain its use and value for years
  • Target a younger, technology savvy audience
  • Displayed the growing diversity of their department
  • Show the opportunity for growth within the fire service
  • Express the fulfillment of working as a fire fighter

SCRIPTING

We worked closely with the department’s leaders to identify what unique core elements of the department were most important to invoke a “call to service” within their target audience.

“Visual storytelling isn’t something people need to be sold on. We all know it is the most efficient way to catch attention, deliver a message, and build a connection.” – William Warren, Writer

Therefore, we presented 3 treatments for them to choose from. This included tagline options, shot descriptions, production elements, and aesthetic examples for each one.

CONCEPT

“ANSWER YOUR CALLING”

We posed the question, “What kind of person does it take to become a hero?” This concept focused on the characteristics of a person who has what it takes to become a firefighter. As a result, a viewer can watch it and be able to see him or herself in that position.

Cinematic and action packed, this concept aimed to draw in the audience by focusing on the intensity, excitement, and passion of working as a firefighter.

interview-with-dcfr-zina-greshamfilming-the-flames

PRODUCTION

Our contract called for ad-hoc Video Production services. Once the client approved the final script, CATMEDIA coordinated closely with DCFR to solidify production plans. This included creating a production calendar, developing a shot list, scouting locations and coordinating with real firefighters to be interviewed on camera.

“Anything and everything about a video production’s logistics are coordinated from scratch based on the script, and everything must be in place before the principle photography begins.” – Amy Ferzoco, Production Manager

FILMING THE FLAMES

We had one day to shoot the entirety of the video. Therefore, we only chose 2 locations to eliminate travel time between. We conducted interviews with a diverse group of fire fighters, captains, and chiefs. Above all, our goal was to show the diversity of this department to include women in leadership roles.

Our production crew was kept small and only consisted of the Producer, Cinematographer, and a Camera Assistant, hence allowing us to move quickly throughout the day. The department allowed us to shoot a LIVE burn at their training academy, where they had 15-20 active fire fighters volunteer to demonstrate distinguishing a house fire. The department also arranged for several of their special op teams to demonstrate unique sides of the fire department that most people don’t know about.

DELIVERABLES

CATMEDIA delivered two versions of the video, a 5-minute version and a 1-minute version. It was shot with 4-K Footage to achieve the “cinematic” aesthetic the client wanted. Interview sections high-lighted the driving points of the video from a relatable perspective, one where the viewer could see through the eyes of a fire fighter.

The videos were branded, taking inspiration DCFR colors and the DCFR logo with custom graphics, including lower thirds, tagline graphics, and a wallpaper graphic.

OUTCOME

5-MINUTE VIDEO

  • In 2 days DCFR Facebook page increased by 500 followers
  • Surpass their goal of reaching 6,000 followers by the end of 2018
  • YouTube – 7,820 views
  • Facebook Post – 42,000 views / 227 shares / 125 likes / 29 comments

1-MINUTE VIDEO

  • Received 9,000 views within the first 2 months
  • Facebook Post – 9,200 views / 122 shares / 74 likes / 5 comments

Largest application turnout in the past 3 years for the department, receiving 779 new applications within two weeks.

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS:

Jan. 2018 (3,200) to Jan. 2019 (7,205)

Goal was to meet 6,000 by the end of 2018

Ultimately we were able to accomplish the client’s goals to increase number of applications, create a video that can be used for years to come, and subsequently help them reach their social media growth goals they had set for the 2018-year.

WE TURN YOUR VISIONS IN TO MOTION

Video marketing is an exciting and interactive way for you to reach an audience, and thanks to the digital-technology boom of the last 20 years; it is more important and more cost-effective than ever to create video content for your brand. Do you want more information about video-marketing? Check out our website and tell us if we can use video to take your online marketing strategy to the next level!

CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Stay Connected with CATMEDIA:
For more information, please visit CATMEDIA.com

Check us out on social media!
Facebook 
Twitter
Instagram
LinkedIn

Marketing to Healthcare: Applying the 4 C’s

Healthcare marketing revolves around the patient, and in some cases the target customer is a representative of the patient, such as a parent, adult, child, or guardian. Healthcare insurance marketers refer to policyholders or insureds as their target audience. To borrow and slightly alter Shakespeare’s words, “a customer by any other name would be as precious.” In this article, I connect the four C’s of marketing to the specific issues of the healthcare industry.

1. CUSTOMER WANTS AND NEEDS

Today, healthcare marketing revolves around the patient and the patient’s wants and needs. Healthcare firms need to understand not only what patients want and need but also what patients’ options are in the marketplace. Previously, we’ve discussed the change in the healthcare industry and the new year promises a continuation of that change.

The heightened buzz about healthcare and healthcare insurance certainly raises awareness of patient choice. Therefore, it is very important to listen via social media, primary and secondary research, and engage with patients to ensure that when patients or other healthcare customers choose you!

2. COST

healthcare-marketing-credit-card-in-handThere is significant awareness today of the rising costs of healthcare and debate about what drives those costs. Patients and their advocates focus on the value of care while also paying attention to costs. A patient considering cataract surgery may not look for the lowest-cost provider to cut on her or his eyes. As the healthcare industry continues the journey from fee-for-service to value-based care, providers increasingly focus on patients’ long-term health and vitality, such as health maintenance and illness and accident prevention.

Since value-based care rewards keeping patients healthy, there is considerable value to healthcare firms in better-educating patients. Similarly showing patients how they can improve their quality of life through lifestyle changes and consistent well care visits. Consequently, by forming a partnership with patients regarding health and vitality, patients see that you care and are more likely to choose you as their health partner.

3. CONVENIENCE

marketing-in-healthcare-hands-on-a-laptopPatient convenience has driven many changes in healthcare. As a result, patients can now get their flu vaccine when they go buy groceries or stop by the drug store for cough lozenges. Providers now offer evening and weekend hours to accommodate busy patients. Rather than having to call the office and wait on hold, many providers and insurers have websites so patients can schedule their own appointments, track claims, or find answers to frequently asked questions.

It is important that healthcare marketers ask patients about the importance of convenience and what convenience means to them. Therefore, marketers understand the relative value of developing mobile applications. By being proactive in understanding and providing solutions to patients’ needs, healthcare firms can prevent losing patients to competitors.

4. COMMUNICATION

healthcare-marketing-guy-on-phoneHealthcare firms communicate with patients to understand their wants and needs. Through completing the feedback loop by saying, “We listened to your thoughts, and this is what we are doing about it.” Communication is most valuable when it includes interaction. Social media, website content, and other digital marketing tactics can help your healthcare firm engage with patients and patient advocates.

Finally, integrated digital marketing allows a feedback loop between patients, marketers, and providers, and nurtures engagement of all stakeholders to bring about holistic care. Healthcare marketers have the added responsibility to ensure any social media engagement or research complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and other privacy laws. How does your healthcare firm keep a pulse on patient needs and wants, and nurture a long-term relationship?

ABOUT CATMEDIA

CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Stay Connected with CATMEDIA:
For more information, please visit CATMEDIA
Facebook 
Twitter
Instagram
LinkedIn

B2C, B2B, and B2G and Their Differences

Business to consumer (B2C), business to business (B2B), and business to government (B2G) are three common types of marketing strategies. As a marketing agency CATMEDIA helps clients with all three types of marketing strategies. Although general marketing concepts apply to all marketing strategies, there are important differences. Below I will answer a frequently asked question regarding key similarities and differences between B2C, B2B, and B2G marketing.

B2C MARKETING

B2C-image-of-woman-shoppingB2C, or business-to-consumer marketing, takes place when a business—such as a grocery, storefront retail store, an online consumer legal services, or an online medical information organization—markets their products or services to the public. A similarity between B2C, B2B, and B2G is that as marketers we are always developing communications directed to people. A key difference is the focus on the particular role of the person. B2C marketers are marketing to the consumer, as contrasted with B2B marketers marketing to the business decision maker or influencer. While B2G marketers are marketing to the government contracting officer or representative, or government program manager.

Consumers typically make smaller purchases compared to those made by businesses or government entities, and these purchases typically take less time for a final purchase decision than business or government purchases. The purchase decision is also typically less complex than the process of selling and marketing to businesses or government. The lower complexity is due to fewer people being involved in the purchase decision–perhaps only one or two consumers deciding whether or not to purchase one or more items. Through advertising, direct and Internet selling and marketing, and things like discounts, coupons and loyalty programs, B2C marketers work to convince customers and prospective customers to purchase their products and services.

Who are B2C selling to?

B2C marketers sell to individuals within huge populations. Of course, not every product is going to appeal to every consumer in one population. Therefore, B2C marketers use tools to segment their market into multiple target markets. B2C marketers conduct marketing research to better understand consumers of certain age groups, gender, income, place of residence, and other demographic and psychographic categories regarding their needs and buying behaviors. By understanding key target populations, B2C marketers learn how to sell products and services more effectively to consumers.

Brand Nurturing

A key component of B2C marketing, which is equally important in B2B and B2G marketing, is that of building and nurturing a brand. If a brand has a good reputation, consumers, businesses, and government agencies are more likely to purchase that brand. Logos, packaging, and other brand components help create an affinity between the brand and a target segment of consumers, businesses, or government entities, which encourages the selection of the product over a competitor’s option.

B2B MARKETING

B2B marketing takes place when a business sells its products and services to other businesses. This includes marketing to businesses that conduct business for a profit and to those organizations that have a non-profit charter. Business purchase decisions, unlike consumer decisions, tend to require more planning and a more complex, formal purchase decision process.

The Purchase Process

Man-reading-business-newspaperBusinesses purchase many products and services including desks, chairs, computers, and office equipment for their employees, raw materials for manufacturing, software systems for operations, and various services to assist with marketing, IT, accounting, and other business functions. Similar to B2C marketing, some B2B purchases are critical needs, while others are discretionary purchases. Most businesses have a formal purchasing process which includes procedures for requests, approvals, procurement, and payment. Often there is a cost/benefit analysis to ensure the purchase is not only needed but is the best alternative. In the business world, there are many stakeholders in the purchasing process. Including those that influence, recommend, and have authority to purchase. Therefore, a B2B marketer must fully understand the needs of the organization to which they are selling, as well as the organization’s buying process and the stakeholders in that buying process.

Similar to B2C, B2B marketers conduct marketing research to segment their market and develop marketing communications focused on the needs and wants of the target audience. Possible B2B segments include industry sectors, business size (small, medium, large), and common needs (such as agency knowledge of compliance regulations). Because of the longer and more complex buying process, B2B marketers focus on building a relationship with its business prospects and clients. While also addressing the buyer’s specific information needs at each step in the buying process.

B2G MARKETING

B2G marketing refers to businesses that sell their goods and services to government agencies. A major difference as compared to B2B and B2C is that in the B2G model, companies generally respond to requirements published by a certain government entity through a structured bidding process. This bidding process can take place online in real time and can be highly competitive. For example, as part of a bid a company may publish its “Statement of Capabilities,” which describes the company’s products and services pertinent to the government project. A company may also include a “Proposal of Service” which refers to specific information in the request for proposal (RFP) or request for information (RFI). B2G sales and marketing is sometime referred to as public sector marketing.

business man walking in subwayThe Buying Cycle

The buying cycle for B2G can be quite long—measured in years, as compared to several months for B2B, or a day to several weeks for B2C. The B2G marketer must understand and comply with bid specifications, compliance regulations, and applicable laws. This sometimes means the B2G marketer may not have personal interactions with agency contacts needing the products or services detailed in the bid until the bid is awarded by the contracting officer. The bidding process can vary significantly between local, state, and federal government entities.

In Conclusion

To summarize, marketers in B2C, B2B, and B2G, must all be able to:

  • Send messages to their target audiences
  • Know their customers or clients, how to segment the market into meaningful audience groups, and how to reach the target audience with informational and promotional messages
  • Understand the difference between absolute needs and discretionary purchases, and understand their clients’ options to fulfill those needs and wants
  • Build and nurture their brand

The Main Point

Differences between the marketing strategies of B2C, B2B, and B2G include:

  • The focus on a particular role of the person:
    B2C marketers market to the person as consumer;
    B2B marketers market to the person as a business decision maker or influencer;
    B2G marketers market to the person as a government contracting officer or representative, or government program manager.
    The purchase decision for B2C is less complex than the process that goes into selling and marketing B2B or B2G. This is due to the number of people involved in the purchase process. As well as the need to understand and comply with organizational processes for requesting, approving, procuring, and paying for purchases.
    Typically, the buying process is shortest for B2C, longer for B2B, and longest for B2G.
    B2G marketing model businesses generally respond to requirements published by a certain government entity. For example, a public, structured bidding process.
    What are the key challenges in your marketing strategy? Please share below.

About CATMEDIA
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Stay Connected with CATMEDIA:
For more information, please visit CATMEDIA.com

Check us out on social media!
Facebook 
Twitter
Instagram
LinkedIn

Marketing Trends to Look Out for in 2019

Each year, the vast landscape of marketing continues to change. Just when we the experts think we have it figured out, in walks in another (better) method of making valuable connection with your customers. Although many of these developments have been around for some time, it’s necessary to keep up with last year’s growing trends that will lead to this years success. So buckle up! We’re about to dish out the top 7 marketing trends of 2019!

1. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

No, we’re not referring to the 2001 Steven Spielberg film about robots that resemble humans and contain the capacity to have emotions. Even though some believe we’re not far off from that. Your Siris and Alexas are considered A.I., after all. It exists within many other platforms and online services that you might not be aware of. For example, Netflix has the ability to suggest new TV shows to you based on your viewing history, thanks to its’ recommendation system.

What A.I. is bringing to the table for marketing is an easier way to monitor half-brain-half-artificial-intelligenceconsumers behavior and patterns online in real time. From targeting future leads more rapidly, to performing data analysis more easily, A.I. is transforming the way companies personalize their consumer experiences. Which leads me to another example of artificial intelligence…

2. CHATBOTS

chatbot-on-a-phone-graphicHave you ever gone to a website and seen a pop-up message from the corner of your screen? It says, “Hi! Is there anything I can help you with today?” You begin to speak with the individual, but something doesn’t seem totally, well, human. Close, but a little off. Chances are you are speaking with what is known as a Chatbot, or “conversational agent”, and it’s the way of the future. These friendly software applications mimic human speech and written words to sound like a real person. While some don’t necessarily like these robotic-esque machines, they are becoming more and more popular and even more advanced, with the ability to learn from conversation.

Companies are taking the capabilities of these conversational agents to the next level, getting creative with how they are used. Disney has used the chatbot systems to promote several of their movies, making it possible for you to chat with characters from the film. This example specifically attracts a younger audience, but creates an enriching and entertaining experience for fans. Real estate and medical companies are also beginning to reap the benefits of these fast-responding bots. From answering medical questions to helping you find new homes on the market, chatbots aren’t going away anytime soon.

3. SMART SPEAKERS AND AUDIO

Speaking of robots talking to you, the next trend that isn’t slowing down anytime soon are smart speakers. According to techcrunch.com, 47.3 million Americans own or have access to a smart speaker of some kind. Whether it be through their mobile device, laptops, or the very popular at home speakers that have taken over, asking for the nearest pizza places or the daily weather has never been easier. Not only does this make it easier to find information quickly, but consumers enjoy that it cuts down on screen time.

smart-speakersSo why is this the time to hop on the smart bandwagon? Voice-based commerce sales in the United States climbed to $1.8 billion in 2017 and are projected to reach $40 billion by 2022, according to Search Engine Land. With the growing popularity, these smart speakers are more affordable than ever, opening the door to countless marketing opportunities. Consumers are searching for a deeper connection with tech. With these devices, marketers can more easily reach their target audiences and, therefore, personalize content and messaging. Timothy Nichols, ExactDrive, Inc.

4. LOCAL INFLUENCER MARKETING

phone-food-photoSo far, we’ve discussed how technology and artificial intelligence are changing the marketing landscape. But fast response and tech advancement are not the only thing consumers are holding high on their expectations these days. With all the skepticism in the world, no one easily buys into the fluff of a simple ad anymore; they want credibility. First, it all began with celebrities endorsing products for companies, drawing in all of their fans and followers— even drawing in those who weren’t their fans. The point is, it got buyers attention. However, this began to stir even more controversy for some companies, leaving the consumers to question if the celebrity endorsers even used or liked the product, or did they just receive a hefty paycheck?

In walks in local influencer marketing. Now with the social media stage, fame has become achievable for the average person willing to put in some extra effort to climb their way to “influencer” status. These are “real” people that can relate to other real people, and companies are seeing a greater response from their audience. These sources of review are more trustworthy because they provide a more honest perspective in the eyes of the consumer.

5. SOCIAL MEDIA STORIES

We’ve stressed the importance of video in marketing today in several of our blogs. redbull-instagram-storyHowever, video is coming in many forms now, is being watched on every platform imaginable, in various different formats. One of those formats being vertical video. We began to see this vertical video with the rise of Snapchat stories. These stories eventually made their way to mega social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Suddenly, not only we can see what Carol from high school is up to these days, we can get a 24 hour play-by-play of her life. While this has made the need for high school reunions almost unnecessary, it’s expanded the possibilities for marketers to reach their audience.

Instagram-on-a-cellphoneNow instead of the permanent posts made to your social feed, it’s possible to post something that will only live on your “story” temporarily. It also cultivates more of a relationship with your audience by allowing them to feel like they are part of your activity. It has proven to be a successful way to stir conversation. So if you’ve begun to strategize for the new year, you might need to build an entire strategy around video specifically, keeping vertical-form videos in mind.

6. VISUAL SEARCH

Have you ever had or taken a picture of a product on your phone, but don’t know Target-brand-on-a-cellphonethe name or brand, or perhaps are just looking for something similar to it? Typed and voice searches just weren’t enough, so visual was introduced. Some that have already begun to thrive off of this visual search technology are companies such as Pinterest, Bing, and a little business called Google. Users can now snap a picture in real time and be guided to a place where they can purchase the same item, or find others like it. This advancement has specifically caused excitement for e-commerce retailers and is driving customers to their sites.

Pinterest has really taken off with this technology through its app. It even allows you to select a specific area of a Pin that will then pull up similar images to that selected part. Recent research from L2 found that only 8 percent of retail brands have built visual search capability into their web inventory. It’s safe to say this method of search is only going to continue to grow and become more accurate.

7. PERSONALIZATION

woman-on-a-laptopFinally, let’s discuss one of the more controversial marketing tools that have taken the world by storm. Simply referred to as personalization. More and more social media users, and even those who have a smartphone some argue see ads pop up on their feeds that give you this deja vu effect as if you’ve seen them before. Well, you probably have. Or at least you searched it online. Through data, algorithms, and analytics collected through means of search engines, marketing campaigns, and even the buyer behavior of a loyalty customers to name a few. Some find this a bit creepy, which is why it’s stirred the question “Am I being spied on?”.

However, the big takeaway from personalization is that it conveys that your company is paying attention to you and your needs. In a way, it helps to erase the irrelevant content that doesn’t pertain to you and makes browsing more efficient. It’s likely that there will still be a level of concern regarding privacy from the perspective of your consumers, which is why you have to be thoughtful about how far to go with personalization.

What do you do now?

Don’t get overwhelmed with the amount of change and new trends emerging in the marketing world. Each and every business is different and can find that implementing some of these trends into their 2019 strategy can prove beneficial or not.

Let us know what your goals are for the new year! CATMEDIA can help guide you down the path that best fits your needs!

Is your organization in need of creative servicesmarketing and advertising or social media management? CATMEDIA is able to see what your competition is doing on social, amp up your digital marketing and give you assistance to help you step up your game. Give us a call today!

ABOUT CATMEDIA:

CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Stay Connected with CATMEDIA:
For more information, please visit CATMEDIA.com

Check us out on social media!
Facebook 
Twitter
Instagram
LinkedIn

Web Design: The Advantages of CSS

As mentioned before in a previous post, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a web design tool used to control the layout of a webpage while HTML deals with the actual content. There are different versions of CSS including the kind that is found in the actual HTML code itself, but that defeats the purpose of using CSS in the first place. For better performance and easier maintenance, a separate CSS file is preferred over embedded CSS. If font, text size, or changes in the appearance of any element are to be made later, simply accessing a separate CSS file is much easier than having to go through extensive lines of code in an HTML file.

apple-laptop-catmedia CSS has gone through several changes over the years, and the latest version is CSS3. Most web browsers likely support the CSS3 standard. With this latest version, CSS designers have more tools at their disposal. The advantages of using a separate CSS file rather than embedding the CSS code inside the HTML file include:

  • The layout of a web page is better controlled
  • Style (CSS) kept separate from structure (HTML), means smaller file size
  • Reduced file size means reduced bandwidth, which means faster loading time

There are far too many tools that are useful for CSS designers to list here, but I’ll describe a few along with best practices and some things to avoid as well.

CSS Validator and Cross-Browser Compatibility

I mention these first because the two most important things in CSS web design to worry about are having correct syntax and making sure a website displays properly across many different browsers, including older versions of those browsers. Validators are essentially CSS editors that check code for grammatical errors.

Cross-browser compatibility tools allow CSS designers a way to test web design appearance over different browsers and helps to save time by not having to test laptop with cssdifferent browsers manually one by one. Even though I mentioned earlier that most modern browsers do support the newer CSS3 standards, many users out there still navigate the web using older versions of browsers such as Internet Explorer 9 or previous versions. Equally important is the capability of cross-browser compatibility tools to allow CSS designers the ability to see how web pages will appear on mobile devices.

CSS Compressors

Another way to increase bandwidth is to decrease the size of a CSS file with compressor tools. CSS compressors eliminate blank spaces, indentations, and even comments to boost performance. Another best practice for CSS designers is to combine separate CSS files into one file for multiple webpages to reduce the amount of HTTP requests (cleancss.com).

Vendor Prefixes and Post Processors

Browsers use prefixes to render specific style elements that are coded by the CSS designer. When there is a web design style element that is not fully supported by a browser, vendor prefixes are added manually in the CSS code, forcing the browser to display that style element. Of course, different browsers will display that particular style element in a different manner. For those users out there who are running older versions of browsers, it is still necessary to add vendor prefixes. Remembering to manually enter each of the vendor prefixes that are specific to all the different browsers out there can be difficult for software vendors to remember.

CSS Reset

All browsers have their own proprietary default style. So, if no CSS rules are used on a webpage, the browser will determine how fonts, padding, and margins appear. By using CSS resets, a developer can override a browser’s style sheet by setting things like margins and paddings to “zero”. Consequently allowing the developer to use her or his own specifications.

apple-laptop-phoneSome experts argue against the use of CSS resets because they believe that cross-browser inconsistencies can be dealt with by using well-crafted cascading style sheets. The concern is that if certain elements are set to zero, the developer must redefine them later. This could potentially lead to larger CSS file sizes and result in slower loading times. Also, if default behavior for a certain element is removed by CSS resets, there could be issues with the webpage if those elements are not restyled later by the developer (sixrevisions.com).

There is no right or wrong way concerning the use of CSS resets. Despite the differing schools of thought on the matter. Remember, if a CSS designer wishes to set margins, padding, and fonts to the manner that they want displayed, then by all means, use CSS resets. However, if you don’t mind minor differences in the appearance of elements across multiple browsers, CSS resets aren’t necessary.

Things to Avoid

Here are some things to avoid when working with CSS:

  • Naming an ID or class based on its property. Try to use names that are based on an element’s use instead of its physical attribute. For example, an element’s color can be changed later when editing the style sheet.
  • Not using comments with different portions of the CSS. This contradicts what I mentioned earlier with CSS compressors, but having comments to go along with your code will help tremendously when making revisions months or even years later. A best practice is to include comments where there are questions about why a section was coded a certain way.

Conclusion

CSS is a powerful tool as long as you know certain tips, best practices, and avoid problematic issues. With CSS web design, you can adjust the layout of a webpage. Without having to define the appearance for every single element, table, or block of text in the HTML file itself.

What comments or questions do you have about the use of CSS?

References

“Digital Marketing Trends for 2017”. Smartinsights.com. 26 October 2016. Web.

“CSS Minifier”. Cleancss.com. 16 December 2016. Web.

“Should You Reset Your CSS?”. Sixrevisions.com. 19 December 2016. Web.

ABOUT CATMEDIA:

CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Stay Connected with CATMEDIA:
For more information, please visit CATMEDIA.com

Check us out on social media!
Facebook 
Twitter
Instagram
LinkedIn

The Brand Name-Game: How Visuals Solidify a Brand

Branding, by definition, is “the process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product” (Business Dictionary). Your brand is the voice and personality of your organization and needs guidelines and rules to maintain its identity. How does an organization ensure its branding is being handled well both internally and externally? Brand and style guides define the standards and technical parameters for the design of documents, signage, and any other form of brand identifier. As a result, they guarantee consistency in style and formatting. Consequently, ensuring no erosion of the brand identity in the design of logos, collateral, social media, and web presence.

Types of Style Guides

In the world of company branding there are two type of guides that companies utilize to project their identity through design: style guides, and their sibling, the brand style guide. These two types of guides outline the rules of design and are essential to a company’s growth, and certainly in the world of design by helping the company establish a personality. Guides focused around presenting the visual aspects of a company are essential to the outreach to the firm’s clients.

A style guide canvases the basic visual elements of a company in order for it to develop and maintain a successful and well-rounded brand. A style guide would include subject matters on logos, secondary logos (if the company has one or more), brand colors, typography, trademarks, an overview of the brand itself, information on website design and layout, advertisement examples, and the copy interaction with design.

LOGOS (Prime And Secondary)

The backbone of any organization’s identity and style guide is the logo. Brand style guidelines include information and visual examples of the size of the logo, when and how to use the mark, the backgrounds that are usable against the mark, exclusion zones around the logo, and the incorrect usage of the logo. While the logo is the primary visual identifier that clients see, a company can also utilize one or more secondary logos (such as individual products or services). The secondary logo should complement the prime logo and can be used in different circumstances to help strengthen the brand. The secondary logo section of a style guide should have the information about logo sizes, usage parameters, and should identify incorrect usage.

Color Palette

It is essential that a company style guide contain a color palette. A color palette displays the brand colors along with the technical color codes in accordance to the medium in which the graphics will be used. For example, Pantone and CMYK for print or hex and RGB for web. These color codes are displayed as swatches, enabling the user to take a quick at-a-glance visual of the palette. This section would also show the correct and incorrect usage of the colors with the logo.

Typography

CATMEDIA-Typography-Brand

Branded typography includes the different typefaces, fonts, or style of text that a company uses. These typefaces are typically used in the primary or secondary logos that have a typography element, marketing collateral, or any published material from the company. Likewise, the style guide establishes the formats, size, and layout of the typeface and font across all branded materials (print, web, and digital media).

BRAND STYLE GUIDE (or Brand Bible)

Similarly the brand style guide, sometimes referred to as the brand bible, is a more elaborate version of the style guide. While the style guide covers the basics of branding a company or corporate identity, a brand style guide provides more detail in more categories of issues related to the brand. These categories cover topics that pertain to the brand and the design.

For example:

CATMEDIA-Colors-Brand

  • Logo design
  • Secondary logo
  • Colors
  • Typography
  • Iconography (images)
  • Photography
  • Graphic language
  • Editorial voice and tone
  • Templates
  • Legal guidelines
  • Brand platform

Similarly, brand style guides are like style guides in that they share similar categories. However, brand style guides provide more comprehensive information for each category. An example of this is the logo category. In a brand style guide, the size, spacing, exclusionary space, and incorrect usage is included. Also included are examples of the logo in both print and web format and trademark examples. One of the more important categories that appears in the brand style guide is the “Photography” category. Above all, this category is crucial to companies that use pictures in advertisements and an essential part of the brand style guide.

CATMEDIA-Photogrpahy-Brand

Different but the same

So, do brand and style guides vary from industry to industry? Though the style and look of the guides may change, the bones of the style guide (the essential information), remains the same. There are many ways in which different companies share their information. Skittles, for example, uses funny pictures and stories to present information. Where Adobe’s approach is simpler and monochromatic with very little flare.

Finally, while the structure of the information is similar, the different elements are simply presented in a way that showcases the brand. Every brand needs a style guide. Even more one that specifies the necessary guidelines and rules to maintain the brand’s identity. As well as consistently present the company image. Visual aids are the best way to help people quickly understand the quality of work and services your company can deliver. It’s all in the visuals!

What else is visual and get’s your audience’s attention?

Video marketing is an exciting and interactive way for you to reach an audience, and thanks to the digital-technology boom of the last 20 years; it is more important and more cost-effective than ever to create video content for your brand. Do you want more information about video-marketing? Check out our website and tell us if we can use video to take your online marketing strategy to the next level!

About CATMEDIA

CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Stay Connected with CATMEDIA:
For more information, please visit CATMEDIA.com

Check us out on social media!
Facebook 
Twitter
Instagram
LinkedIn

From the CEO’s Desk: The Creative Process and Collaboration at CATMEDIA

Do you know anyone creative? What traits or characteristics do they have? What comes to mind? Now think about yourself. Do you consider yourself to be creative? Why or why not?

CHANGE IS KEY

woman-working-on-creative-processAfter being creative and producing creative work for much of my life, I believe that creativity exists everywhere and in everyone. People tend to doubt their creative abilities because they think, “I’m not a painter. I’m not a writer. I’m not a musician,” but creativity is not just about being an artist. It’s not about whether you can dance or sing or play an instrument. Creativity is about being adaptable and open to change. So, today we’re going to cover why change is so critical in the creative process, and how it has impacted collaboration and creativity at CATMEDIA over the years.

SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO SHAKE THINGS UPdog shaking

Creativity has a tendency to manifest itself in people in different ways. For example, even in my personal life, there have been times when I’ve felt stressed or overwhelmed, and I’ve had to look at my life and see where I could make changes. I’ve had to stop to consider what I could do differently to make things run more smoothly, and this is something that we all feel the need to do from time to time. For some people, it’s a matter of rearranging furniture or switching up their hair color, but a huge part of our creative process involves having the need to shake things up and approach things from a different angle. At CATMEDIA, this desire crosses over into our professional lives and helps us to develop projects that are impactful and creative.

TENACITY TRUMPS TALENT

computer-do-more-creative-processOne thing my father used to always ask is, “Is it the talent, or is it the tenacity?” When it comes to creativity, the creative process itself does not require work, but the craft certainly does. If I’m a pianist, I have to practice. If I’m a baseball player, I have to practice, and this is true no matter the career path. There are a lot of talented people who don’t develop their talents and a lot of less talented people who managed to become successful through dedication and tenacity. To maintain that competitive edge, we have a responsibility to develop and sharpen our skills, no matter the industry.

CREATIVITY IN LEADERSHIP catherine downey creative director and ceo

Effective leadership would be almost nonexistent in the absence of creativity and change. “Leadership is a set of processes that creates organizations in the first place or adapts them to significantly changing circumstances.” As a leader, I try to encourage my employees to think creatively. I want them to think critically and independently, tell me what’s not working, and suggest ways that we can improve. I’m all about giving them the tools to help them succeed. However, I need them to take ownership, and use those tools to do great work. Here at CATMEDIA, we approach everything creatively. Yes, we have processes in place, but I expect my employees to be able to embrace change in order to make the most impact on our clients.

WE EMPLOY CREATIVITY TO HELP OUR CLIENTS SUCCEED

dollar sign on the napkinAt CATMEDIA, we employ creativity to help our clients succeed through program management and human resource management, in the fields of training and creative services. We provide a unique service for our clients by putting ourselves in their shoes and seeing the problem from their perspectives. As a team, we approach every new project from two different points of view: by acting like a customer and thinking like an owner. When acting like a customer, we ask ourselves what the client needs, what they want, and how we can make them more successful. When acting like an owner, we ask ourselves, “If I owned this business, what would I do?” By approaching each problem from these two perspectives, we are able to come up with the most ideal solutions for our clients. 

COLLABORATION AT CATMEDIA 4 fist bumps

There are many projects at CATMEDIA that I’m proud of, but there are two in particular that I believe are really great examples of our ability to employ creativity and work well as a team. The first would be our work with the Atlanta Housing Authority, where we came up with a marketing plan and tagline that was very unique to the client’s target audience. We also gathered research and obtained an in depth understanding of the marketplace. This led to us to create one of the most innovative marketing plans the organization had ever seen.

I’m also super proud of our work on the Flight Standards Administrative Manual (FSAM) with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In this project, we have exercised a great deal of creative problem solving. Meanwhile working collaboratively with the client to identify the organization’s needs and create an amazing product.

Conclusion

The creative process comes in all shapes and forms. Through creativity and adaptability, we have been able to imagine our customers’ needs. Consequently, providing them with the tools to help them be more successful. Creativity is about more than art. We are all creative thinkers, and the only block to creativity is when we are afraid to change.

About CATMEDIA

CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Stay Connected with CATMEDIA:
For more information, please visit CATMEDIA

Check us out on social media!
Facebook 
Twitter
Instagram
LinkedIn

Marketing Strategy: Forget the 4 P’S! What are the 4 C’S?

As marketers, we’re all taught about the four pillars of marketing strategy. The 4 P’s- Product, Price, Place, and Promotion are ingrained in our memory from day one of our education in the marketing world. However, these four categories align with four other, more realistic pillars of marketing: the 4 C’s.

What are the 4 C’s?

The 4 C’s of marketing, which consist of Consumer wants and needs, Cost, Convenience, and Communication, are arguably much more valuable to the marketing mix than the 4 P’s. They focus not only on marketing and selling a product but also on communication with the target audience from the beginning of the process to the very end.

The 4 P’s focus on a seller-oriented marketing strategy, which can be extremely effective for sales. However, the 4 C’s offer a more consumer-based perspective on the marketing strategy.

To further explain the importance of the 4 C’s, I’ll break them down piece by piece for you.

1. Customer Wants and Needs

The first C in this marketing mix is the customer’s wants and needs. Instead of focusing on the product itself, the first C focuses on filling a void in the customer’s life.

man-working-on-marketing-strategyThis marketing strategy is important for businesses that are interested in seeking an understanding of their customers. Once you understand your customer, it becomes much easier to create a product that will be of benefit to them. The customer makes the purchase decision and is, therefore, the most valuable resource in any marketing strategy.

2. Cost

teen girl holding a credit card looking at a laptopThe Second C in this marketing mix is cost. Don’t confuse the cost of your product with its price. Price is only a small segment of the overall cost of buying a product to a customer. It is important to determine of overall cost – not price – of your product to the customer. Cost not only includes price of the item, but also may include things such as the time it takes for the customer to get to your location in order to buy your product, or the cost of gas that it takes to get them there. Cost can also include the product’s benefit, or lack-there-of, to the customer.

3. Convenience

The Third C within this marketing mix is convenience. Convenience is similar to “place” in the 4P’s marketing strategy. However, these two are very different. Place simply refers to where the product will be sold. Convenience is a much more customer-oriented approach to this marketing strategy.

2 adults looking at cellphonesOnce you have analyzed your customer’s habits, you should be able to know whether they shop online or in stores as well as what they are willing to do to buy your product. The overall cost of the product will determine in part its convenience to your target audience. The goal is to make the product cost effective and simple enough for the customer to attain the product without having to jump through hoops.

 4. Communication

woman-discussing-marketing-strategyThe fourth and final C in this marketing mix is communication. Communication is always key to business marketing; without it, the 4 C’s would not be effective. Communication is similar to the fourth P, promotion; however, it is very different.

Promotion of a product is used to sway customers in order to get them to buy a product. Promotion can often be manipulative and ineffective. However, communication is (again) a customer-oriented approach to the task of selling products. Communication requires interaction between the buyer and seller. This marketing strategy can very easily be implemented through the use of social media.

hand holding iphoneMarketing a product on your social media sites, or even including links to your social media profiles can be very beneficial to your customers. This allows them to interact with your brand on a personal level and will eventually lead to greater brand loyalty among your customers.

 

Applying the 4 C’s

The 4 C’s of marketing can be highly beneficial to any marketing strategy. This strategy forces marketers to really understand their audience before they even being to develop a product. This strategy requires communication throughout the entire process, from start to finish, and begins with understanding what the customer wants and needs out of your product.

When utilizing the 4 C’s, just remember to always think of your customer first, and communicate with them along the way. Consequently, your audience will feel like you are speaking directly to them and their needs.

Do you prefer the 4 P’s or the 4 C’s of marketing? Tell us in the comments below!

About CATMEDIA

CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Stay Connected with CATMEDIA:
For more information, please visit CATMEDIA.com

Check us out on social media!
Facebook 
Twitter
Instagram
LinkedIn