5 Essential Marketing Lessons Black Friday Teaches Us


A valuable lesson is present in almost every situation – even in the frenzied rush of holiday shopping. In fact, we’ve found 5 Black Friday takeaways that can be used to enhance your marketing tactics year-round!

  1. Communication is Key

Whether you’re sharing new inventory items on Facebook, texting special redemption codes to insiders, or emailing about store wide deals, businesses must communicate. (Consumers are swarmed with hundreds of marketing messages on a normal day, but Black Friday is another creature entirely).

If your business isn’t consistently communicating with consumers, the brand will get lost in all of the commotion and left behind. It’s the “out of sight, out of mind” principle.

  1. Deals Demand Attention

Buy one, get one free! Save 20% storewide! Purchase a can opener, and get $2 off a spatula. It really doesn’t matter what the deal is, as long as people believe they’re getting a bargain.

Many people are going to see the cookware special and think, “Well, I really could use another can opener. I might as well buy one now and get a spatula, too.” It’s incredible how unnecessary items suddenly become attractive when attached to a deal of some sort.

  1. Urgency Inspires Action

Shop before 10 am to receive 50% off storewide! The time constraint is half the appeal of Black Friday shopping. It’s the reason people drive out of their way to retail stores after just having eaten a huge Thanksgiving dinner. They arrive only to wait in the cold for hours, sleep-deprived and surrounded by aggressive bargain hunters. Now, that’s dedication!

  1. Consumers Make Comparisons

Because most companies realize the importance of communication, they’ll often post Black Friday specials on their websites ahead of time. This leads consumers to flip back and forth between sites in search of the best deal. Even when we’re saving money, we still want to make sure we’re saving the most money.

  1. Insiders Like to Feel Special

Take an additional 15% off when you use your VIP Insider card! Whether it’s special savings, promotional freebies, or early access to shopping locations on sales days, insiders want to feel privileged.

They want to be set apart from the average consumer. Otherwise, what’s the point of being an insider? Chances are, these people are some of your most valuable customers. Keep them happy by reminding them that they’re special.

How to Write a Great Tagline for Your Business


You have only a short time to capture your audience’s attention and pique their interest. At the same time, your tagline should communicate the following pieces of information:

  • Your given industry
  • Your brand purpose
  • How you can benefit the consumer
  • What makes your company different from competitors

Trying to effectively express all of those items in one short slogan isn’t the easiest task. That’s why we’ve developed 5 quick tips to help you!

  1. Be Clear

Taglines like “Just Do It” and “I’m Lovin’ It” work for Nike and McDonald’s, but it doesn’t mean they’ll work for your brand. These companies can get away with having such vague taglines because they’re extremely well known and well established brands.

If your firm isn’t currently ranked on the Fortune 500 list, it’s probably best to err on the side of clarity.  People don’t want to spend time searching for a deeper meaning, so it’s better to be obvious.

  1. Keep It Simple

Likewise, people don’t have a lot of time to read lengthy slogans. Your tagline should be concise and to the point. Avoid using larger words and technical jargon in an attempt to sound superior. Don’t make your consumers feel ignorant; they should be able to understand and relate to you.

  1. Focus on the Audience

Appeal to the person you’re targeting.  A good tagline focuses more on benefits to the consumer rather than characteristics of the company.  Are you trying to sell to yourself or to a specific target audience?

  1. Make It Your Own

Ask yourself, “Would this tagline work for my competitor(s)?” If so, you’ll need to make some adjustments.  Slogans should be unique to each individual brand. This one phrase will become so much of your brand identity that it shouldn’t be able to apply to any other firm.

  1. Craft Something Memorable

If your tagline isn’t easily remembered and associated with your brand, it’s not serving its purpose. Strive to create a slogan that is considered catchy but still retains its meaning.

Here are some famous examples of great taglines:

  • “The Ultimate Driving Machine” – BMW
  • “There at Every Turn.” – Citgo
  • “Never Let Them See You Sweat” – Dry Idea
  • “Go Greyhound and Leave the Driving to Us” – Greyhound
  • “Hertz Puts you in the Driver’s Seat” – Hertz
  • “100% Juice for 100% Kids” – Juicy Juice
  • “Share Moments. Share Life.” – Kodak
  • “When Banks Compete, you Win” – LendingTree
  • “There are Some Things Money Can’t Buy. For Everything Else, there’s MasterCard.” – MasterCard
  • “Michelin. Because so much is riding on your tires” – Michelin
  • “Must See TV” – NBC
  • “All the News That’s Fit to Print” – The New York Times
  • “Connecting People” – Nokia
  • “Grab the Southwest by the Bottle.” – Pace
  • “Eat Fresh.” – Subway


It’s never too late to develop and adopt a truly remarkable tagline. In fact, it’s better to make the change now rather than continue on with a poor execution just for the sake of consistency.

To learn more about creating an effective tagline for your business, schedule a free consultation with our marketing professionals!

Todd Duff’s Radio Interview – Part 3: The Importance of Knowing your Consumer


Our company’s owner and CEO, Todd Duff, was recently interviewed on Bristol Broadcasting’s LifeTalk 1450 AM out of Paducah, Kentucky. If you happened to miss this event, don’t fear. We’ll be bringing you coverage of his interview throughout separate blog installments.

#3 – The Importance of Knowing Your Consumer

In the third portion of the radio show, Todd talks about the importance of understanding your customers and appealing to them. Below are a few key items from the interview.

If your business has recently gotten a bad reputation, new marketing may not be the solution. Don’t get a new logo or completely redesign your branding.  Instead, start looking inward to your company culture.  Make sure the people that you’ve employed actually want to be there. If these people enjoy what they’re doing, it’ll show to customers on the outside and make for a more positive brand image.

The marketing industry changes quickly, especially with continued advancement of technology. One thing that’s become increasingly apparent is the need for great content. Rather than screaming your generic message out to the public and interrupting people, find a way to provide more personalized value. Give the audience something that helps them while positioning your company as an expert within the industry.

Social media is a wonderful tool for all brands, but it can be especially helpful to small businesses that are struggling with their marketing presence. One thing that makes this tool so special is the two-way conversation it creates. You’re able to actually listen to consumer thoughts and respond in real time. It may take some effort on your part, but customers will definitely share their opinions and ideas. “When people know you’re listening, they’ll respond.”

Todd continues by saying that in regards to social media reach, it’s important “to have the right people looking instead of a lot of people looking”.

Learn what type of content to post by learning more about your consumers. For instance, choose five of your best customers and ask to interview them individually. Maybe even take them out to lunch. Ask each of those five people some basic lifestyle questions.

How do they typically spend the day? What are some of their pain points or daily issues? What is their first source for information?  What do they value most? From there, create some basic buyer personas that tell you more about the target audience you’re trying to reach.

You can hear the full audio version of this interview segment below.


Above is Patrick White of White Financial Group and Life Talk’s audio technician during the interview with Todd Duff.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to everyone at Life Talk 1450 AM for having Todd on the show!


7 Tips to Finding the Right Name for your Business


Starting a new business isn’t easy, but finding the right brand name can be just as difficult. Many firms take months to develop the perfect name. Small business owners should at least take a few weeks to make a final decision.

Here are 7 tips to help you choose the right name for your business:

  • Communicate your company’s purpose and personality

When the average person sees your brand name, he/she should have a general idea of the products or services you provide. The better your brand name is at communicating this concept, the less you’ll have to explain it.

Begin by reflecting on your company’s mission statement. What is your brand promise? A company name should make sense in relation to the given industry and your specific business goals.


  • Don’t over complicate the name

You want your brand name to be remembered by consumers. In order to be memorable, it must be relatable and easily understood. Avoid using strings of initials or numbers. (Example: EFD Pharmaceuticals or 1052 Consulting). When consumers attempt to recall this brand name, there’s a good chance they’ll mix up the letters/numbers or forget them completely.

  • Don’t be overly specific

Don’t pigeonhole your brand. Think about the long term possibilities and avoid geographic/regional identifiers. Will your St. Louis start-up eventually expand to Chicago, Atlanta, or Detroit? If so, a name like St. Louis Softball Shop won’t make sense in those locations.

This business name is flawed in a second way. What if you decide to broaden your product offerings by selling tennis balls, basketballs, and any other sports equipment?  St. Louis Softball Shop will no longer have any relevance.

  • Avoid puns

We’ve all seen the terrible “punny” business names. You know, the kind that someone must have thought up and said, “This is genius!” (See this post for examples). In reality, these names just sound forced and usually aren’t that clever anyway.  Not to mention, they may do more harm than good. With names like Florist Gump and The Merchant of Tennis, consumers are much less likely to take your company seriously.

  • Be creative

With all of this being said, it’s still important to be unique. You want your brand to stand out from competitors. Combine words or make up new ones if you feel the need. Just make sure the resulting name is relevant and memorable.

A good example of this is a brand called Sevenly, an online store that sells clothing and accessories.  Sevenly creates custom designs for a new cause campaign every week. Each product purchased results in a $7 donation to that week’s charity. (Sevenly, $7…the name even communicates brand purpose).

  • Is your company incorporated?

If not, don’t put “Inc.” at the end of your business name. It may sound silly, but you’d be surprised how many people actually do this.

  • Appeal to your target audience

A business is nothing without its customers. Take your ideal buyer’s personality, sense of humor, and values into consideration when determining a brand name. How do you want them to feel when they think of your brand name? Now, develop a name that will stimulate that sort of response.

For help developing your company’s perfect brand name, schedule a free consultation with the Innovations Branding House team!

5 Steps to Revitalizing your Brand


Times change. People change. Make sure your brand can keep up with all of this movement by maintaining its relevance.

If your company has been in business for a while, it may be time to revitalize your brand. Start with these five steps!

  1. Know Your Brand Inside and Out

Begin by examining your brand. Over time, your company may have gone off track a bit, losing sight of its initial purpose. Or maybe experience has led your company to pursue a new goal. Either way, it’s a good idea to step back and reevaluate.

Ask basic questions that lead to deeper answers. What does your company do? What is its purpose?  What is your brand promise? Before attempting to rebrand your business, you must fully understand its motives and inner workings. Without a good knowledge of the brand, how can you expect to sell it to someone else?

  1. Understand Your Consumers

We can’t stress this point enough. To improve your branding, you’ve got to know your customers. What are their needs? What are their daily pain points? What kind of help are they searching for within your industry?

  1. Match Your Strengths with Their Weaknesses

Now that you have a firm grasp on your company’s purpose and a better understanding of its consumers, it’s time to bring the two together. How can your business help this customer base? Chances are that you’re not the only company providing this product/service. These consumers have a choice, so why should they choose your brand over your competitors? What makes you different? Finally, consider how you want the audience to feel when they think of your brand.

  1. Look the Part

As much as we’d like to support the whole “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” idea, you’ve got to admit that visuals say a lot.  It’s not exactly anyone’s fault; it just happens this way. Consumers are exposed to hundreds, often thousands, of marketing messages per day. These messages are all around us in the form of billboards, restaurant signs, newspaper ads, online pop-up ads, grocery store labels, commercials, direct mail pieces, etc. That’s not to say we absorb all of these messages. The brain can only process so much at a time. Naturally, many marketing messages will go unnoticed.

Therefore, it’s crucial that your branding be as eye-catching and appealing as possible. Visual design serves as a first impression. Consumers choose brands based on their credibility. Design can say just as much about your credibility as the valuable content you produce and goods/services you provide.

Think of the last time you used a search engine to find an answer to a question. You probably opened several search results in order to compare information and find the best answer. Some of those sites may have looked sketchy and unreliable, so you closed them. Unknowingly, you judged those sites based on their appearance. They could have contained the most accurate information, but their design was the first thing you saw and led you to think otherwise.

  1. Back It Up with Valuable Content

You’ve hooked the consumer with your graphic design, photography, and videography. Now, you’ve got to continue proving your credibility with valuable content. Your website should accurately describe your company, its products/services, and how it benefits customers. Use social media to encourage consumer engagement.

This can be achieved by providing interesting daily updates, asking questions, and offering contests or giveaways. Your blog will be a source of frequent, in-depth information on company- and industry-related topics. Printed marketing pieces will also require stimulating copy that complements design.


How Can I Not Waste Money Marketing to the Wrong People?


So you’ve started to reconsider your company’s marketing strategy, or maybe you don’t yet have a marketing strategy at all.

You could easily contact any marketing firm and ask for help. Most agencies will gladly take your money and provide an assortment of marketing ideas. The question is: Will those ideas be effective and tailored to your individual business?

It all begins by understanding your ideal customer.  This will be the foundation for your marketing strategy.

Why not just push out a lot of generic advertisements and hope someone takes the bait? This would be neither effective nor efficient. You might get a few sales from this method, but if you’re not attracting the right customers, you won’t be able to maintain those sales.

The trick here is to remember that not everyone is your prospect. If you believe your target audience to be “anyone with the money to purchase my product or service,” you won’t get anywhere. Valuable time, energy, and resources will be wasted by marketing to this vague consumer group.

A good agency will strive to allocate your marketing dollars in the most effective way possible, rather than just trying to sell you every service they provide. Developing a marketing strategy begins by understanding and evaluating your target audience to find the most efficient methods of contact.

In stressing the importance of understanding your perfect consumer, we must refer back to buyer personas.

To create these personas, you’ll want to ask questions, like:

  • Is my ideal consumer male or female?
  • How old is this person?
  • What is his/her level of education?
  • What is his/her income level?
  • Is this person married?
  • Does he/she have children?
  • What does he/she value?
  • What are his/her hobbies?
  • Where does this consumer go for information?

The answers to these questions will largely determine your prime marketing venues. Reaching your ideal consumers is about more than just finding the right people.  It’s about being in the right place at the right time with the right content.

If your target audience is older and rarely accesses the Internet, social media might not be the best investment for your business. If your potential consumers are most likely to read email updates early in the morning, that’s when your email blasts should be sent. If your ideal customers enjoy reading as a hobby, write a blog post about your company’s “Top Ten Picks for Best Novel of 2013”.

All of this information on your customer base can be found with the use of inbound marketing practices and tracking software.

For help with your strategic marketing planning, schedule a free consultation with the Innovations team!

5 Steps to Managing Your Company’s Online Reputation


Online conversation can have a significant impact on the success of your company. Pay attention to what is being said about your brand.  If you don’t take charge and manage your online reputation, someone else will. Here are 5 great ways to start!


  1. Social Media Management

Social media is used to continually build relationships with consumers and keep your brand name at the forefront of their minds. Sites like Facebook and Twitter facilitate a two-way conversation. Not only can you display a more personable side to your brand, but consumers will be able to reach out to you with questions, comments, and concerns. You’ll have a better online reputation if you respond to those consumers!

According to this article, nearly 60 percent of people expect brands to reply to their social media comments. Be sure to respond promptly, too! Customers want to know that you’re listening. To do this, some brands even have a separate Twitter account that acts as a customer care center. Dell, for example, uses the handle @DellCares to hear out their users’ needs and respond to questions.

  1. Blog for Consumer Trust

While social media is perfect for posting brief messages that prove you’re listening, blogs are better for providing more in-depth communication. Maybe you’re a home improvement company, and your audience seems to be interested in DIY projects.

Write a blog post about “The Top Ten DIY Ideas for Fall”. You’ve already gained their attention with your website and piqued their interest with your social media pages. Now, earn their trust with valuable blog posts.  If you know your target audience well enough, they’ll feel like these blog posts were tailored to fit them!

  1. Monitor Online Reviews

An increasing number of consumers go to the Internet before making a significant purchase decision. Why wouldn’t they? It’s fast, easy, and there’s generally no shortage of information. Online reviews are a great place to start. Consumers typically trust other consumers. For that reason, it’s important that you monitor what customers are saying about your brand.

Unfortunately, unsatisfied customers are more likely to take the time to post reviews than satisfied customers. That’s just how it works. Therefore, you should encourage happy consumers to post reviews for your company. It will help if you give them some sort of incentive. For instance, “Send us a link to your review, and we’ll give you 20 percent off your next purchase!”

  1. Showcase Testimonials

Over the process of managing your online reputation, you’ll probably encounter some customer praise.  Why not highlight these positive remarks on your website?  Again, people are much more likely to trust third-party reviews than any praise your company gives itself.

5.  Search Engine Optimization

Most companies want to be known. They want to appear relatively high in Google and other search engine results. To do this, Google must see your brand as the leading authority on whatever search term your consumers are using.  Having the right website content and keywords can help you get there.


How to Create an Effective Call-to-Action


A call-to-action (CTA) encourages your audience to do something. That something can be as simple as “read this article,” or it may involve more effort, such as “sign our petition.” Either way, CTAs are used to tell the reader what to do next.

With inbound marketing, CTAs usually involve bold buttons that stand out from the rest of the page.

There are two types of CTAs: primary and secondary. Primary CTAs reflect the main action you want visitors to take.  Maybe you want them to get involved with your cause or to buy a product. Secondary CTAs exist for other, slightly less significant, actions you want visitors to complete.

These will still provide value to the end user, but they don’t require as much commitment. Such actions might include downloading an eBook or following your company on social media.


DoSomething.org displays a primary CTA (“Do This”) with 3 secondary CTAs below it.

To begin developing an effective call-to-action, you’ll first need to know your target audience.  Who is your ideal consumer? Once you have a clearly-defined persona in mind, ask yourself which primary action you want this person to take. What about a secondary action?

When designing CTAs, there are three key elements that will help attract your ideal consumer:

  1. Grab their attention

With your buyer persona in mind, create a striking design that will appeal to this type of consumer. You have a small window of opportunity in which to attract them. Otherwise, they’ll quickly move on to something else.

  1. Why should it matter to them?

You must clearly identify how completing this action will help improve your visitors’ lives. What sort of value is being provided?  Will clicking your CTA help lighten their load, teach them new things, or make them feel better?

  1. Choose your words wisely

To produce action, use words that encourage action. The right CTA button is clear but not wordy, direct but not commanding, and inspiring but not soft.  Verb choice is essential here. A few good examples include “Sign up,” “Start,” “Learn,” “Donate,” and “Help.”


The American Red Cross website uses a design that captures your attention, a value statement of why your help matters and a CTA button that gets to the point.

If done correctly, CTAs can easily increase your company’s customers and improve your conversion rate.  Learn more by consulting with the marketing professionals at Innovations Branding House!

Why Should my Company Use Video Marketing?

Video has a way of communicating messages more effectively than text or still images. Not to mention, videos are just more entertaining!  Many people would rather watch a video than read a block of text.  Displaying a video on your website has the power to significantly increase conversion rates.

Furthermore, videos are shared often and easily online. By uploading your videos to sites like YouTube, it becomes effortless for viewers to distribute this content through various social media networks and by email. All the while, your potential reach continues to grow.

With the advantage of having both visual and speech elements, conveying tone and personality is a breeze!  When your potential clients have a better understanding of who you are, you become that much more relatable and appealing to them.

Video marketing is great for the following purposes:

  • Introducing your brand’s purpose and value proposition
  • Showing product demos
  • Visually explaining your services
  • Describing complex ideas
  • Introducing your staff
  • Displaying client testimonials
  • Producing a video series that keeps consumers regularly coming back for more
  • Presenting your brand’s personality and company culture


Here is a glimpse at the office culture behind Innovations Branding House.
With all of this being said, your video shouldn’t be too long.  People tend to lose interest after about 1.5 or 2 minutes. It’s also important to stay true to your target audience and remain consistent with your video design.

As always, you’ll need to use clearly defined keywords for SEO purposes. Just like written content, videos can be picked up by search engines if appropriate keywords exist.