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instagram strategy

Learn how you can create an Instagram strategy that connects with customers and tells a story about your brand.

Like so many social media platforms, Instagram can be a daunting endeavor for a small brand. It’s hard enough to remember to post on Facebook and Twitter, much less remember to post pictures on Instagram. However, did you know that Instagram boasts the highest brand engagement rate? At 4.21%, Instagram’s brand engagement rate soars over both Facebook and Twitter. Visual brands like GoPro and National Geographic use Instagram’s visual interface to generate original content. Retail-driven brands like Starbucks leverage their active fanbase to share user-generated content. At 2930 Creative, we use our Instagram account to share more about our culture. What narrative will your brand create using Instagram? Here are some helpful tips to create an Instagram strategy unique to your brand’s story

What story will you tell?

As with any content strategy, knowing the story you want to tell is important. Do you want to chronicle your travels? Do you want to highlight your customers? Or maybe you are a retailer that wants to show off different ideas for your product? Developing a narrative will allow you to create a cohesive thread that pulls your separate posts together.

To determine a narrative, take some time to think about your brand. What does your brand value? What is important to your brand? What do you want customers to know about you? Play some word association with different elements of your branding identity. With your product or service at the core, what does the culture around your brand look like? Brainstorm some of these ideas and write them out. This will be the bare bones of your Instagram strategy.

Who are you telling your story to? Your target audience on Instagram may be slightly different than it would be on Twitter or Facebook. Much like Pinterest users, Instagram users are more immediately ready to buy products and interact with brands based on their wants. Who are the people that are most likely to buy into your brand? Think about what they want to see, and think about how they can help you generate content that you can share.

If your fan base is millennials and you are a furniture store, think about the things that they want to see. Millennials are renters, and some are new home buyers. Think about things like decorating in smaller spaces or ways to create storage space. If your fan base is teenage girls and you are a skateboard company that wants to appeal to teen girls, you might consider highlighting female athletes to whom they can relate.

User-generated content is a great way to let your avid fans help you with your storytelling. Ask them to share pictures with your product. If you have a theme going (maybe Fearlessness for that skateboard shop?), ask them to show ways that highlight the brand and the theme. Share their posts on your Instagram page and mention them. Posts that have @mentions (when another Instagram user is mentioned) receive 56% higher engagement than those that do not.

What is your desired end result? What is the desired end-goal for your Instagram strategy? Do you want more views on your website? Do you want to sell more product? Do you want greater awareness for your brand and the culture that surrounds your brand? Determining your goals will also help you to guide your strategy.

If your goal is to direct more traffic back to the website, make sure that a link is clearly visible in the profile. Instagram’s anti-spam policies do not allow for links to be posted in picture descriptions and comments. Refer to the profile link if you are directing users to your website.

If your goal is to sell more product, then highlight your product in your posts. However, rather than posting pictures of your product from different angles and in different lighting, think about how your product relates to your customers. If you sell candy or baked goods, maybe appeal to brides and photograph your product in wedding settings like showers or reception dessert tables. If your brand is a local pet shop, you could show pets in different parks around the city or fun pet tricks with your product in the photo or video. Finally, if your goal is to create a culture around your brand, let the culture speak for itself. Create user-driven content promotions that allow your users to interact with your brand. A picture of a happy customer with your product speaks loudly. Consider this when creating your strategy!

The Technical Stuff

Now that you have determined your strategy, you will need the tools to implement it and allow it to grow. Using these tactics will help your brand get found, and make it easier for your customers to understand how to interact with your brand.

Hashtags: Just like Twitter, hashtags are an easy way to categorize your posts and help you be found by your target audience. Research your Instagram hashtags using websites like Iconosquare. This post from Shopify has some amazing tips about how to research relevant keywords for your brand.

Follow Campaigns: Another way to find your audience is by searching for them. On Twitter and on Instagram, I like to use a method called “Follow the follower.” I research like-brands that are similar to mine or my clients, and follow their followers. Another way that I find followers is by researching brands that may not be similar to my brand, but whose followers are in my target audience. For example, I follow many businesses that follow the Chamber of Commerce accounts in the area. These are mostly small businesses that are the target audience for 2930 Creative. 

 

It’s all around you. ☕️❤️ #Regram: @NatalieCherie

 

A photo posted by Starbucks Coffee ☕ (@starbucks) on

Mentions: As we mentioned earlier, Instagram posts with @mentions receive dramatically higher engagement rates than those without them. There are a few ways to employ this in your strategy. The first is highlighting your employees in your posts. This is a great method if much of your focus is on your company culture. If you are active and attend events, you might want to give “shoutouts” to other businesses and people that you meet at events. If your strategy includes user-driven content, this is where you can ask your fans to create pictures for you. You can repost your customer’s pictures and mention them directly.

Calendar: Instagram does not let you schedule ahead. It’s another way that the platform avoids getting too spammy. I like to take pictures ahead of time and store them on my Google Drive with corresponding dates. I then insert links to these pictures on the content calendar so I know which picture will go on which date, and with what messaging. Planning ahead of time will allow you to retain the cohesive narrative for your strategy. Posting on the fly is ok sometimes, but can get off-message. By using a content calendar, you will save yourself time in the long run and keep your Instagram posting consistent.

In my opinion, Instagram is the most fun of the platforms. It allows brands to show their more creative sides. Instagram also allows the customer to understand what your brand means to their life specifically. Is it a dream life they want to have? Is it practical uses for things they need? By creating a visual narrative on Instagram, you can appeal other senses. We are so excited to see what your brand will do with Instagram. Good luck and most of all: have fun!

Have questions? Give us shout. You can also find our Instagram by following us at @2930_creative.

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Create a Unique Voice using Curated Content

You took the first step and created your Twitter account. You even have some followers. That’s great, but now what? The next step to building your following on Twitter is sharing content that your followers will find valuable. This will not only help your following grow, but it will also help you to cultivate a brand voice.

There are two types of content that you can share on Twitter. Original content is content that you have created yourself. Curated content is content that you have found from other sources and collected. If you have the time to sit down and create original content, I would recommend a mix of ⅓ your original content and ⅔ curated content. However, if you do not have the time to create original content, you can still create a unique voice that reaches your target audience through curated content.

The next step is finding the right kind of content to share on Twitter. There are several ways to collect content. Set up a Google alert by visiting google.com/alerts and typing in industry-related keywords. You will be emailed a list of current content based on these keywords as frequently (or in frequently) as you wish. Another way to collect content is to use newsfeed apps like Flipboard. You can bookmark, star or send yourself links of articles that interest you. I use both of these methods, as well as the save function in Facebook. When you see a link that looks interesting, click on the top right of post. A drop down menu will appear with the option to save the link for later. I do this throughout the week and then use my bookmarked links for the next week’s content.

The next part is where a little more strategy comes into play. To curate links for a particular audience, you must first understand who your audience is. For 2930 Creative, our audience is small business owners and entrepreneurs. To demonstrate that our Twitter stream is valuable, I look for content that will specifically interest them. I bookmark and save links to my phone that I will use for content later. The next part is important, as it will help your tweets to be found in the endless ocean of tweets.

Crafting a tweet is not difficult, but it is important to take care. Misspellings and grammar mistakes are definitely poor form. Hashtags should be used sparingly. Which brings us to a very important point: use your hashtags correctly. They are an effective tool when used in the right way. Do research about specific hashtags using tools like hashtagify.me or hashtags.org. Since 2930 Creative’s audience is small business owners and entrepreneurs, I often use hashtags such as #smallbiz, #entrepreneurs, and #startup after posting my link.

Another important part of your tweet composition is the message you write before your curated link. If you are linking to a list, pick one of the list items you really like. You may also want to post a question to your followers about what they think. Pull an important statistic from the post that applies to your industry and use it before the link. Here’s an example of a recent 2930 Creative tweet:

Remember, with your username and link, your 140 characters will probably go down to less than 120. Use your words carefully.

Which brings me to one more point about creating a tweet with a curated link: the link itself! When posting links on Twitter, you will want to give yourself the most room possible to write your tweet and hashtag. Twitter does shorten links, but if you need more room or want to track link clicks, use a link shortening service.

Running a business means that I do not always have time to sit down and write a long blog post. Curating links for my followers became a quick and easy way to keep our Twitter stream alive while I was working on other things. Through this method, I was able to increase our Twitter following by 300 followers in 3 weeks, and increase our influence score to 100 (via Sprout Social).

Even without original content, there are ways to create a strong voice on Twitter. Finding and sharing curated links is a great way to demonstrate your brand’s value online. Curating those links to cater to your audience will help you to craft a strong brand voice.

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Learn More about Constructing a Review Response

You’ve heard the statistics: 88% of consumers trust online reviews like they would their friends. 39% of consumers read product and service reviews on a regular basis. (Via) You have even taken the next step to claim your location pages on popular consumer review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google Plus Local. Then, the inevitable happens: you get a bad review from a disappointed customer. What do you do? We have put together a few important steps to keep you calm and collected when you respond to negative reviews.

Don’t Panic! Douglas Adams wrote these famous two words in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s sage advice when dealing with negative reviews. Your first instinct will be to get annoyed, or even infuriated. Step away from your desk and let that feeling pass. Do not attempt to write a review response while you are under any kind of emotional duress.

Are You Calm Now? For Real? If the answer to this question is no, go back and repeat step one. I cannot stress it enough: do not write a review until you have your emotions in check.

Open Word. (Or Google Docs, or Notepad, etc.) Write down how you would respond to the angry customer. Let it all out.

Now Delete It! I wasn’t going to let you get away with it that easily.

Read the customer’s review and try to pinpoint a key problem. Was it service? Was it wait time? Was it poor quality of product? Extract these points from the review. Ignore the swearing, the slurs, and the anger. Distill the core message to find what this customer’s pressure points are.

Rewrite your review. Always start with “Thank you.” I believe thanking people for their feedback sends a powerful message to your customer that they are important. Continue with “I am sorry for…” Customers want to know that they are being heard, and more importantly that it affected you. “I’m sorry for your bad experience.” Then, explain what actions are going to be taken so that this won’t happen again or explain your current company policy. “Please know I have read your review and will make sure that this does not happen in the future.” OR “Please know I have read your review. Unfortunately, our police does not allow for X.” Offer a further contact point to take the disagreement offline. “If you would like to speak to me or a manager, please email us at XXXX.”

Most review sites will allow a customer to provide a rebuttal to your response. Because of this, it’s very important that you do not give your customer a reason to respond and continue the argument. Here are some examples of what not to do:

Do not blame the customer for anything. Even if you know for a fact they were the ones who left the table a mess or they were disrespectful to your staff or tried to return clothes that were clearly worn. The urge is always to make a point and to have the last word. This absolutely does not work in a review medium. Stay calm, stay cool. Pointing a finger just results in another finger pointing back.

Do not write a detailed excuse. Similarly to the reasons above, getting down to the nitty-gritty of what happened, and why, will only open up opportunities for the customer to attack the details of the story. The review response should be to the point, and considerate, but not starting a conversation. The point is to make sure that the customer is heard, and that this review is about their experience – not yours.

Do not ignore the review. Bad reviews can be scary. They can also be completely ridiculous to the point you believe they do not warrant a response. But they do! All reviews warrant a response, whether they are justified or not. You can look at a negative review as a bad thing, or you can look at it as a time to show other consumers that you really do care about what they have to say. By using this powerful forum, you can give your brand a voice.

Reviews don’t have to be scary. They can be used as tools to win back lost customers, and to speak up where your brand not might have otherwise had a chance to defend itself. People trust people, which is why reviews are a powerful. By responding to reviews, you can allow the humanity of your brand to shine through.

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In the past two months we have moved twice. Our most recent move was to our bigger space at Pacific Place in Dallas, Texas. We are small business owners so we did not have an unlimited budget to create our office. We are also creative people, so we knew we didn’t want our office to look like the same old-same old either. We had $1000 to spend, and 450 square feet to fill. Here’s how we did it, and how you can create your HQ on a budget.

Our Brand Comes to Life

It was important for us that our office be representative of our brand identity. We wanted to use the small space that we have to bring our brand to life. 2930 Creative is a values-driven agency, so it was important to show our values on the wall. We are also a fun group, so we wanted to have our personalities come out a little with how we decorated our desks and office space. Our brand colors are red, black, grey and white. We tried to stay away from the typical brown and black office furniture and steer toward a more modern interior design that reflected us as a company.

Desk Space

Our first stop was Ikea where we found some amazing “DIY” desks. Skip over the prefab desks and go straight to the “make your own office” section to find some great deals. We were able to get great birch desktops and match them with silver legs. For our conference table, we used a longer birch color desktop and matched it with four red legs. Each desktop was $20, and each leg was $3.50 each. Total per desk came out to $35. Our conference tabletop was $36 with each leg $3.50, total $50.

We wanted to keep our desk space simple but also fun. We chose these red lamps that came out to $13 each. In addition, each of our desks has their own personality. We brought in some of our favorite figurines from home. See if you can recognize any of our friends in some of these pictures.

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Storage

We also would need storage since our new office doesn’t really have any supply closets or space to store things. We wanted to make sure we were also keeping our clean, modern design even though we were still staying on the cheap. We found these great shelves at Ikea that would allow us to mix and match. We fell in love with the bright red lacquer finish of the shelving units because it matched the 2930 Creative red. The shelves created a bold statement piece while also serving a purpose for storage. The two longer shelves (4ft X 2ft X 1ft) were $90, and the shorter shelf (2ft X 2ft X 1ft) was $50. We also bought these boxes in various shapes and sizes to keep things organized on the shelves ($50 in total). For personal desk storage, we found these rolling drawer units at Ikea for $60 each.

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Walls

Our walls are where we decided we could really show off our personality. One of my favorite parts of our office is our growing picture wall. We designed and printed our value posters and framed them in silver Ikea frames we found for $5. The two photographs are prints by our friend Mouyyad Abdulhadi. One of my favorite finds on Etsy this year was a store called Patent Prints. We have the patent for the Nintendo Game Boy.

As I’ve mentioned before, our values are important to us. In addition to the values framed on the wall, we also found a really cool wall decal from an Etsy shop called The Lovely Wall. When I found it in the store, I had to get it because it was so in line with our mission statement. For a pop of color, I purchased some simple arrow-shaped decals in red and used them throughout the office. Total for wall decals and art: $250.

Since we are a creative team, it was important to us to make sure that we could have a part of the office dedicated to brainstorming ideas. Our good old whiteboard made the trip into our new office. In addition, we added two magnet panels ($13) that we found at Ikea to hang up color swatches, messages, and inspirational items.

Office total: $889.

We had a lot of fun decorating our office, and it’s still a work in progress! We would love to see how you are decorating your personal offices at home. Tag @2930_creative on Instagram with your office pic! 

brand identity

Save time and communicate with your creative team efficiently by understanding your brand identity.

Brand Identity is how a business wants their brand to be perceived by consumers. This includes the name, communication style, logo and other visual elements such as printed collateral, letterheads, business cards, and a website. Have you considered your brand identity recently?

The most common element of brand identity, and the one that most brands usually start with, is the logo. The logo is the first interaction that many consumers will have with your brand.  Your logo should be memorable, should easily scale up or down, be effective in both color and black and white, and while your logo can be relevant to your industry, it’s not a requirement. For more about how to create an effective logo, read our blog post about logo design.

After either you have created your logo, you will need to start determining other elements of your brand identity. A brand identity will help you determine your brand and style guidelines. A brand and style guideline is an actual document that a brand provides to anyone creating work representing the brand. This includes writers, advertisers, marketing firms, partners, and web developers. Providing a brand and style guideline will help save time and ensure that the brand’s identity stays consistent across all platforms.

In a brand and style guidelines document, you will include all correct versions of your logo and other brand identity elements such as the correct size and weight of your chosen typefaces; the correct colors and their corresponding codes for print and screen; and your brand tone and message for written work.

Understanding your brand identity will save you many steps with your design team. Knowing what you like, don’t like and how to communicate in terms they will understand.

2930 Creative offers brand identity packages to help you highlight the best of your brand. Contact us to learn more about our pricing. 

logo design 2

Your logo will be most consumers first interaction with your brand. What does yours say about you?

2930 Creative has designed logos for several of our clients across different industries. We can honestly say that designing a logo is one of the hardest things to do for a brand. A logo comes before any other brand identity elements. It is a visual representation of your brand. Your logo will set the tone for what consumers can expect when they engage with your brand in any setting.

Why is a logo so hard to design?

Designing a logo can be challenging, as it is often the very first design element that business owners think about creating. Without previous design elements, the design process can often turn into a game mind-reading between designer and business owner. During this phase, it’s best to use descriptive phrases, and to be honest about what you like and do not like so that your designer will have direction as to what your expectations are for the design.

Where should I start?

Go through your competitors logos and list out things that you like and do not like about each one. Find some common themes and elements that each logo. If you are confident in your sketching skills, try drawing a rudimentary sketch to get the designer thinking about how you would like the element to look. Listen to your designer’s feedback. Sometimes things you think will work may not, and vice versa. Just like talking to your web designer, working with your designer should be a two-way street. Ask for advice from family and friends, as well as anyone who may be in your core market. Find out how your design makes them feel, if it compels them to take action, or what they may not like about it.

 

 

logo design sketch

Example of a logo sketch from a client.

What does a “good” logo look like?

There are five principles of good logo design. A good logo should be memorable, timeless, simple, versatile and relevant. Ask yourself if your ideas for a logo holds up to these five principles. Versatility is very important when considering using your logo across different mediums such as digital, television and print advertising as well as product merchandising and possibly uniforms.

What should I expect to pay for a new logo? 

The story goes that Nike famously only paid $35 for the swoosh. Logos may be priced in different ways, as with any creative work. A designer may charge an hourly rate, or you may pay a fixed rate price for a logo. On the low end, logo design could cost as little as $100. Experienced designers may charge anywhere between $300 – $500 or their hourly design rate. Pricing can depend on the experience of the designer as well as the scope and reach of your business’s market. For example, a logo that will be used across several different mediums may cost more than one needed only for display on a website. Many designers will work with their clients and their budgetary restrictions.

What are questions I should ask when hiring a logo designer? 

Ask any logo designer about their portfolio and clients they have worked with in the past. What programs do you use to create your logos? Will I be receiving vector versions of my logo? What logo versions will you provide for me? What timeframe can I expect for the whole process?

Designing a new logo can be a challenging part of developing your brand identity. Knowing where to begin and how to communicate with your logo designer will make the process easier. We love talking about logos. Contact us to learn more about our logo design packages or check out our logo-specific portfolio

 

…And How to Sound Smart Doing It

You’ve made the decision that you need a website. That was the easy part. The next part of the process is finding the right website developer for the job. This can be a daunting experience for anyone who is not familiar with coding and website development. We put together this handy guide to help you speak to your website developer and get the most from your relationship.

Finding and Hiring a Web Developer

1. What languages do you code in?
2. Can you provide me with examples of previous work? What parts of these projects were you responsible for?
3. Does your pricing include both design and coding of the website? Are you able to do both of these things? If I have my own design, do you need it sliced or are you able to do this?

(‘Slicing’ is the process of taking a large design and making smaller pieces from it that the developer can place into the coded website.)

What Your Developer Should Ask You During The Hiring Process

By gathering the answers to these questions ahead of time, you will streamline this introductory conversation.

1. Do you have hosting?
2. What language is your site coded in?
3. Is your site built on (or would you like it to be built on) a content management system? (A content management system is is a computer application that allows publishing, editing and modifying content, organizing, deleting as well as maintenance from a central interface.)
4. Do you already have a design in mind?
5. What’s your timeline to complete the project?
6. Have you purchased your domain? (Your domain is your website address.)

Things to keep in mind that your developer may need to know: how many pages you intend on having on your site and, if the site has an eCommerce functionality, how many products you will have on your page. Keeping track of these things in a spreadsheet is a great way to stay organized.

During Your Project

During the project, it will be necessary for you to keep an active conversation with your website developer. Be alert for questions regarding approval process from your web developer to make the process run faster.

Here are some things that your website developer will ask you to do or to help with to keep the process running smoothly:

1. If you have not already, your hosting plan should be purchased and provided to the developer during this part of the process.
2. When the time comes, you will need to assist the developer (or provide the correct information) in pointing your purchased domain to the server. This is so that when you type in your website address, your website will appear where it is supposed to be.
3. Any assets like photography and logos should be provided during this time as well. Your website developer should be able to provide you with the correct file sizes and extensions. (For example, you may need to provide a 100x100pixel size version of your logo in a transparent .PNG format.)
4. Any other content, unless provided by your development team, should be provided by you at this time. This includes copy written for the website, product information, blog posts, navigation headings, footer copy, and legal notices.

When Problems Arise

Sometimes things happen in life. Deadlines are missed, web developers have poor attitudes, or the quality of work produced is poor. Here are some scenarios and how you, the client, can handle each while ensuring your website is completed.

A Deadline is Missed
What to Do: Be aware of approaching deadlines on your calendar. At the beginning of the project, you should create a calendar of upcoming deadlines by phase of the project. For example, phase one may be design and wire-framing (wire-framing is a process in which a bare frame of the website is presented for planning where features and functions will reside on the final site). An example of phase two may be completion of the home page. An example of phase three may be completing eCommerce product pages.

As each deadline approaches, reach out to your website developer for a status update. If a website developer does not have a project manager or account manager to update you, you may have to play an active part of this process. By communicating with your web developer, you will always have a good idea of when you can expect delivery.

What NOT to Do: Wait until the deadline passes to approach your developer. Your developer should have communicated the delay ahead of time. If they do not, do not freak out. There are many problems that can arise when coding that developers will need to problem solve. Bugs are unexpected but a very commonplace situation while developing a website. Be patient, over-communicate.

The Design is Not Looking Like What You Were Shown in a Comp
What to Do: The web developer will provide a preview link for you to see the progress. You may notice that the current version of the site does not look exactly like your design, or what you were shown during the design process. Make a list of items that you notice that are different between the design and the website and provide this list to the developer or account manager. Again, your patience will be required as sometimes things need to be changed during the coding process to make sure the website can support both the design and functionality of the website. Many developers will look at a site from a functional standpoint over a design standpoint, because they see the elements in a different way than you might see things. Ask your developer why things may look different. The answers they provide may allow you to see your site in a different way.

What NOT to Do: Again, don’t get upset if what you initially see doesn’t match what you were shown in comps. Refraining from an accusatory or finger-pointing tone will allow conversations to occur. Never resort to threats in an effort to create change.

The Bottom Line

Communication is the most important part of the website development process. Remember, the website developer wants the project to be finished just as much as you do. They are on your side, even if you don’t necessarily speak the same language. By treating them as members of your team rather than employees or contractors you will foster a healthy and productive relationship. It’s important to know what to ask your developer to make sure that things get done in a timely fashion. A website need not take a year and half to go live. Consider what we have shared here to help you foster your next client-developer relationship.

2930 Creative has developed 32 websites in 2 1/2 years with a 6.2 week development time average. It’s no coincidence our customers come to us for fast, efficient and beautiful sites. Contact us today to find out how we can help you. 

dallas caramel company

Dallas Caramel Company Brings Kindness and Charity into their corporate culture.

One of the great things about working at 2930 Creative is getting to know some really awesome entrepreneurs. Rain McDermott is the founder of Dallas Caramel Company. From her website: “A native Texan, Rain grew up in Houston and moved to Plano at the age of 7. When she turned 9, her father took her on a date to the Reunion Tower which inspired her creativity and propelled her desire to leave her own mark on the city. Ever since that day, she has been captivated by Dallas, its people, its culture, and its iconic skyline.”

Dallas Caramel Company 2

Photo by Dallas Caramel Company.

Rain’s enthusiasm for her brand was both refreshing and exciting. We quickly realized this was a person that was motivated and ready to take on the world. She is also a very kind and giving person, and has pledged a part of her proceeds go toward Operation Homefront. Operation Homefront helps to support families of soldiers currently serving abroad. She also uses her brand to recognize random acts of kindness in the community by highlighting do-gooders on her social media pages. I recently asked Rain about her brand and brand values.

1. Why is being kind an important part of your company’s culture?

It’s hard to put into words the answers to your questions.  The basic answer is because it’s how I was raised and it’s the right thing to do.  When I get away from my own wants and needs and focus on other people and how I can help them, my problems are less in comparison and I feel like I am following the example Jesus set in the Bible.

2. What is a positive experience that you have had since starting your business because of giving back or kindness? 

We give specifically to Operation Homefront and so when I mention this at events or chocolate tours, people often tell me stories of how that organization specifically helped them.  It’s validation I guess that I am supporting a great cause and that it REALLY IS going to the actual people and not “other stuff”.  With the RAK campaign, it’s been fun to hear people lift others up by recognizing their small acts of kindness. Hopefully it creates more awareness in others to look for the good and call it out.  I just wish this campaign received more response and interaction.

3. What is your favorite part about being small business owner?

I love being small because every day is a “pinch me” moment.  The growth of DCC is measurable every single day and it still blows my mind.  I hope I don’t ever get so big that I no longer notice the small accomplishments of my business and businesses of other friends in the same industry.  Being local and helping or partnering with other local companies to do good or make delicious food is awesome!  It’s a way to support others in their business and help them to grow as well. It feels good to be there for other friends with their businesses even if they are competitors in the dessert market.  I hope I never become calloused to that or too competitive that I don’t celebrate their accomplishments.

Thank you, Rain, for answering our questions so candidly. We are so happy to see Dallas Caramel Company fans embracing this culture of kindness and giving back.

If you would like to create a campaign focused around your corporate values, let us know! We would love to work with you. 2930 Creative is an advertising agency in Dallas, Texas, and we can’t wait to hear from you

At 2930 Creative, one of our most important core values is “Always be kind.” We will be discussing it all through the month of September through our blog and on our social networks. We will be highlighting some of our colleagues and clients who are trying to make a difference in their community.  We are also working on a Google Hangout to talk about how creating a culture of kindness helped us to build our organization, and allowed us to help other organizations as well.

Stuffed animals ready to be delivered by Santa for the kids of Promise House, a halfway house and homeless shelter for women, children and teenagers. 2930 Creative staff volunteered at their 2013 Christmas Dinner event at South Side on Lamar.

Stuffed animals ready to be delivered by Santa for the kids of Promise House, a halfway house and homeless shelter for women, children and teenagers. 2930 Creative staff volunteered at their 2013 Christmas Dinner event at South Side on Lamar.

2930 Creative made a commitment to kindness when we first started; however only in the past year has it become one of our official values. Kindness, to us, is about the way we treat our clients, our vendors, colleagues, competitors, and community. It’s about giving back through charitable acts, volunteering, mentorship, and creating a positive environment that fosters creativity and the willingness to pay it forward.

Each Christmas, 2930 Creative donates art supplies to local homeless shelters and art therapy programs.

Each Christmas, 2930 Creative donates art supplies to local homeless shelters and art therapy programs.

The results since making the commitment to kindness have been overwhelmingly positive and immediate. Our tiny team has doubled in size because we have found people who not only believe in what we are doing, but want that vision to grow. Our philanthropic efforts have introduced us to new projects and new people; friendly faces that we now call friends. Because of our work with smaller nonprofits, we have gained larger projects than we could ever hope for that will bring more exposure to our mission. To summarize, making the culture shift to clients has allowed us to grow our team and our network, and increased our bottom line.

2930 Creative helped charitable foundation Punta Gorda Women's Club create a beautiful website to attract new members.

2930 Creative helped charitable foundation Punta Gorda Women’s Club create a beautiful website to attract new members.

But kindness, as we know, is not a one-way street. We have enjoyed our experiences, but even greater is how we’ve been able to help. Our team has clocked volunteer hours for several various charities, not only working events but providing our services free to organizations that need creative work. We have also helped to raise several hundred thousand dollars to small businesses and nonprofit organizations through our campaigns and efforts. This is why Be Kind and Give Back are two of our four core values. This is the legacy we want to leave behind.

2930 Creative has partnered up with Extra Life DFW and Children's Miracle Network to bring some really great creative work to this year's Extra Life Marathon.

2930 Creative has partnered up with Extra Life DFW and Children’s Miracle Network to bring some really great creative work to this year’s Extra Life Marathon.

You can do it, too! No matter what your business size, making a positive cultural shift that values kindness and goodness is rewarding. You don’t spend a ton of money to do it either; just your time and energy to create something that will let the whole world know who you are through your actions.  We are excited to be exploring this topic further through the month of September.

How do I bring a culture change into my agency?

For 2930 Creative, it was all about getting back to our roots and determining what motivated us. Everyone who works on our team could be making more money, earning more accolades, and getting more recognition at other agencies. None of this was as important to us, however, as treating people with respect and courtesy. Our clients loved us for our candor and our ability to share in their successes while providing a high level of service. We wanted someone to know, just by walking through our door, that this is what we stand for. It needed to be replicated and practiced on all levels of our business.

Snowball Express is an event that benefits the children of fallen heroes and allows them to go on an adventure of a lifetime. 2930 Creative helped to create social media guides for the 1300 parents and children in attendance.

Snowball Express is an event that benefits the children of fallen heroes and allows them to go on an adventure of a lifetime. 2930 Creative helped to create social media guides for the 1300 parents and children in attendance.

For you, it starts with what that little burning fire in your heart is telling you. What gets you up and to work everyday. It’s not the money. That is a result of your motivation. What inspires you, what makes you want to keep doing the same thing over and over again, and what excites you when you talk to others about why your business is special? That is how you start your culture shift. Once you figure that out, understand how it can be implemented in ever aspect of your business: sales, customer service, production and even accounting.

What should my ultimate goal be when making this culture change, both for my company and me?

That’s up to you ultimately. For us, our ultimate goal was to create a space where people could come with their wildest ideas and trust that they would be treated with respect. Because of that, we have been able to meet some amazing clients that a bigger agency may overlook. Think beyond the money and the awards: where will you feel the most fulfilled? When you leave this great blue planet, what will be your legacy? What one change will start you down this path? From there, it’s just creating the milestones in between. For example, getting our space in downtown Dallas was the first step in getting a bigger space where nonprofit organizations and small business owners from all over the country could bring their huge campaign ideas; a space busy with ideas and art and creativity that we have dreamed about long before we even thought about 2930 Creative. It is another milestone on our path to that goal, and it will provide us with a big tool in implementing these crazy ideas like Being Kind and Giving Back.

What if I’m too busy to implement a new company culture?

I am a strong believer that if something is important enough for you to want it, you will find time for it to happen. It’s not a sudden change; it’s a gradual one. You will have those that push back and flat out reject it. You will have to work at it, and nurture it as it grows. Your company culture is in many ways your company’s spiritual identity.

As with anything, carving out time each month to implement or examine your company culture is essential. If it’s a priority for you, it should be on your schedule the same as any billable hour. Since this is also a gradual project that will take some time, you might want to make small goals and checklists that allow you to measure your progress.

2930 Creative use social media to help fundraise for SkyBall X, honoring our nation's heroes. The star-studded black tie gala was attended by several hundred veterans from all branches of the armed forces.

2930 Creative use social media to help fundraise for SkyBall X, honoring our nation’s heroes. The star-studded black tie gala was attended by several hundred veterans from all branches of the armed forces.

We are excited to share more including how some of our other clients are already succeeding in building their company cultures. We’re ready to kickoff this month, but first we want to know about you! If you are a small business or nonprofit organization building a culture of kindness, we want to hear about it.  Tell us in the comments or send us an email.

Client Rain McDermott of Dallas Caramel Company rewards do-gooders and those constantly helping with others with free bags of caramel. Random Acts of Kindness has become a monthly event for Dallas Caramel Company.

Client Rain McDermott of Dallas Caramel Company rewards do-gooders and those helping  others with free bags of caramel. Random Acts of Kindness has become a monthly event for Dallas Caramel Company.

Remember: Work Hard, Be Kind, Give Back, and Create Things. 

2930 Creative is an advertising agency in Dallas, Texas that specializes in online strategy and design. If you would like to learn more about us, check us out on our social networks on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook

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The other day, I attended a great webinar sponsored by Social Media Today on the subject of allocating resources in marketing strategies. While a ton of great points were made throughout the presentation, one point in particular really caught my attention: too many companies are focusing on vanity metrics.

Vanity metrics is a term used in marketing that refer to a key performance indicator (KPI) that is tracking something superficial. Some marketers would refer to things as likes, comments, and shares as vanity metrics, as they do not always convert into sales. However, later on in the webinar, both Don Bulmer and Monica Peterson brought up how their goal for Shell and Toyota respectively were to lead conversations and engage with communities. And while I’m sure they would like social media to contribute to sales at both companies, these aren’t brands that have to rely heavily on social media for advertising as most everyone is aware these companies exist.

If you’re seeing the disconnect between the beginning of that paragraph and the end, you’re not alone. In fact, I even tweeted as such during the webinar:

Obviously, Toyota and Shell are larger sized companies than what most of us are used to dealing with. Both are juggernauts in their industries, yet both also face stiff competition from rival companies of similar sizes. So are conversations a vanity metric? Or are they a goal that companies should strive for?

In my opinion, conversations are vital to growing a business of any size, but only when your brand has received enough recognition in your target audience should you shift the message away from conversion to conversation creation.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to wait until your company goes international and nets a few hundred million in profit. Your target audience should always be expanding, but your community doesn’t necessarily have to. Every community, regardless if it’s a small town or large city, has local favorites that dominate their respective industries. If you have hit critical mass of exposure in your community, you don’t need to keep pushing sales. Instead, you should switch tactics and start devoting time to talking about:

  • Company philosophy
  • Hot-button issues in your industry
  • Community issues
  • Everyday company culture
  • Community outreach events

Once you’re not posting to generate more sales or conversions, the idea is you want your business to be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a particular subject. You want word association. For instance, Coke doesn’t need to generate more sales, but they also spend a ton on advertising. That has paid off for them: when I think of soda, I think of Coke. When I think of diet soda, I think of Diet Coke or Coke Zero. Many of us experience the same thing.

Obviously, most of us don’t work for a company like Coca-Cola, Shell, or Toyota, but that doesn’t mean that we all need to focus our social strategy on generating new business. Some of us have made it to the point where we want to focus away from sales and generate more of those “vanity metrics” because conversations carry currency—conversations can be an appropriate goal and not just a means to achieve sales. By dominating and creating conversations, you can establish your business as a synonym of your industry in your local community—and then grow from there.

2930 Creative

1910 Pacific Ave
Suite 8060
Dallas, Texas 75201
(214) 749 - 5155
info@twentynine-thirty.com

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