There are so many ways to respond to "why?" Here is a few answers to some pesky nagging questions.

Why Us?

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Ok, that is the most important question you can ask. Why should I use Creative Aerts, or any agency at all? Good question!

Before I answer, let me present a notion I have about humanity, and why we are so successful over most of the other animals on the earth:

Specialization.

I know there are other creatures that have adapted specialization, but not to the extent that we have. {CASE STUDY: Ants are considered highly successful due their evolution into specialization. The Queen makes soldiers, workers, attendants, scouts, etc., each with their own set of unique body parts and brain designed specifically to maximize their performance at a given task.} Humans have taken this to a higher level.

Through education and practice, anyone can learn to perform a task better than ever before. Especially because we are not having to attend to our most basic needs (food, clothing, housing) we have time to spend perfecting any interest we have. That allows us to have brain surgeons, car mechanics, chefs, business managers, and airline pilots. Each of these have unique skills that are not necessary for basic survival. Personally, I would prefer my brain surgeon concentrate on perfecting his skills rather than spending his time running his business, fixing his car, cooking food or flying himself around. Because he can concentrate so much on his chosen profession, then he can do the best for his patients. The specialization has really taken off in recent human history.

You can argue when in history this specialization revolution really exploded, but the point is this. If you are running a business and do that to a high degree of confidence, how can you possibly be a specialist in advertising, too.

There are brilliant people who can multitask and specialize in many activities. For the rest of us, it helps to have some outside specialist fill the gaps in a competent marketing strategy

The question remains unanswered, why us?  You will not find the answer here, but I will attempt to answer it on the “who are we” page.  If that is not enough, then contact us for a consultation.

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Why Advertise?

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This might seem obvious to most businesses, but let’s stop for a minute and think about this. Why do YOU advertise? The typical answer is “to increase sales.” That is naturally the big picture, but without looking at the macro of your advertising can you begin to understand if your methods are effective and productive.

Most advertising cannot be tangibly measured by directly correlating an advertising message to a sales. Not even on the internet is this 100% traceable. {CASE STUDY: A client is very versed in using Google ad clicks to run his business. Yet even with this data rich environment, we have had a difficult time tracing how many of those paid clicks actually convert to completed sales. There are too many repeat customers, and many who don’t complete the sale.}

So why bother advertising? How else will anyone know you exist? Word of mouth is a lousy way to get your message out. It works for some, but for the rest of us, shouting from the highest platform to a captive audience it how to stand out in a competitive and ever expanding marketplace.

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Adapt or Die?

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Adapt or die.

A common sense cliché in business, if you are not growing, you are contracting. No one stands still, and markets change, so adaptation is paramount to survival.

{CASE STUDY: My own business has witnessed the total conversion from an analog and chemical production of media to digital. 30 years ago, the norm was paste up (using spray mount and rubber cement), huge typesetting machines (state of the art for their day), marker layouts (a true art form in itself), and post production negatives for final output. Now everything is digital up to final printing. Even printer plates are produced digitally. The fact is if I did not adapt to the changing methods, I would be doing something else today.

I saw the “writing on the wall” when I was in college, and knew that computers would one day be much more common and capable. When pursuing my degree in 2 dimensional design, I thought that I would hedge my prospects by minoring in computer science. What a boon that was. Translating the concepts of computer science to web programming was natural. I am still here. I adapted.}

But let’s look at the statement, “if you are not growing, you are contracting.” Every business has an ebb and flow. Seasonal sales always dictate the needs for planning ahead and understanding your market. But if you are not experiencing a steady overall growth, then you may be losing your market share. Now is your time to adapt or die.

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What kind of Website do I need?

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A question well worth asking… This takes a great deal of thought. In order to answer, we need to determine who your customers are, how they would use your website, and how much you want to put into building it. But what I am really trying to speak to is some of the current trends in web design.

Every website has two main aspects regarding its appearance. The first is the coding structure or method of the website and the second is the visual design.

The current trends in methods and visual design cater to the fact that the fast growing new customer base is increasingly using cell phones and tablets to access online content. This forces everyone to focus on creating websites that are “mobile friendly.”

Method:

In the past, websites were designed statically, with the attempt to control the appearance of our website as you would a printed brochure or sales sheet. As bandwidths increased, the ability to place massive amounts of data and graphics before website visitors allowed business to “reveal all.” It was about solving a customer problem. It focused reducing the need for a customer to have to call and get information. It removed the need for personal interaction.

Smart Phones have reversed this trend. Instead of becoming more disconnected from our services, the opposite is now true. It is so easy for a customer to find you, and much easier to simply call rather that search for the information that might be readily available on your website. It also forced companies to simplify the user experience and focus on the most relevant and sought after content. Tracking a user’s experience became imperative to optimization.

Phrases like Adaptive Web Design and Responsive Web Design permeate the internet. They are essentially very similar, each trying to tailor the displayed experience by interpreting the user interface or user interactions.

Responsive Web Design can read the size of the user interface (browser) and dictate how the content of a web page will be displayed. It can do much more, but that is the most common use of the method.

Adaptive Web Design goes much further at reading how a user interacts with your website and alters the experience based upon these interactions. Where Responsive Design may simply display your content in different methods, Adaptive Design actually goes far deeper into attempting to read the user’s intent and direct the experience.

Although this explanation is basic, I will take it one step simpler. Adaptive Web Design is about creating an online experience and uses any and all technology (programming languages) available to create an experience, while Responsive Web Design modifies website appearance based on simple Cascading Style Sheets interpreting the user interface.

Madness:

Oh, I meant “design.” The word has been usurped by coders who “design” websites, but I choose to use “method” to define a code structure for a website. That frees up the word “design” to apply to the physical visual appearance of a website – period.

There are several design concepts for websites, but most can be grouped into these few categories.

Brochure Web Design – The oldest type of web design, this style was ideal for home or business computers connected to a high speed connection. Anything and everything that the business needed to present to customers would be fair game. Any question your client would ask, you can answer here. If they can’t find it on your website, they will try to find it somewhere else. This design is still valid, but much thought must be applied to how the website is used and who your audience is. As younger democratic audiences trend towards mobile devices as their main source of web browsing, faster loading,easy to read pages without fluff are demanded. They simply will not wait for pages to load.

Post Card Design – This is a teaser, much like a rack card, that is designed to promote an emotional response from viewers, and seek further information. It is usually image intensive, incorporating info-graphics and photographs. Deceptively simple. Hugely popular.

Split Screen Design – A newer interpretation of the Post Card Design, the top part of the screen is split into two separate windows side by side. The content for each is simplified and basic to shepherd the user to different experiences, or not.

Tile Design – Driven by the introduction of touch screens and made popular by cell phones and newer computer operating systems, tile design relies on a simple grid interface that leans towards graphics and away from text to communicate navigational structure within a website. Many template driven website fall into this category. The simple grid designs are easy to navigate and basic in their appearance.

Scrolling Design – Instead of scrolling down to see more content, the use of cell phones and tablets have given rise to Scrolling Designs that mimic cell phone applications.

Anti-image Design – No photos or graphics at all, just great font usage. It reminded me of print ads from the 60’s. These websites eliminate large background images and use fonts, text, and very simple graphic layouts.

Only Essential Design – Removes all unnecessary anything. Brief. To the point. No teddy bears here. But a “right sized” photo is always better than 1000 words (except to Google search spiders). Forgoes large background images for faster downloads.

So, after all that, what kind of website do you need? Let us help you create the perfect solution.

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To tweet or not to tweet?

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I’m talking about all Social Media, not just Twitter. I would like to say I hate it, but I don’t. I just have little time for it. The success of media like Facebook is undeniable. It allows for a sharing of information on a scale that is unprecedented, and with speed and scale that is mind boggling. With so many people connected to me, it is difficult to find enough time to give it the attention it deserves.

Strangely enough, this has given control of the consumer market back to the consumer. You can no longer give bad service or sell a bad product without the very real threat that “everyone” will hear about it. And as a business, you have absolutely no control over this. The best way to avoid it is to be perfect.

Nobody is perfect. The best way to manage damage control is to engage in the conversation, not avoid it. It’s basic, if you are not engaged in the conversation, then everyone else has control on what’s being said. Your side of the story is valid too, but you must participate to be heard.

The dark side of social media is that you must fully engage to use it successfully, and you must not over engage at the risk of annoying your audience. The key is relevance, and how you can tailor your message to not be a distraction. If you fail to engage at all, then you look disinterested.

This is where it gets difficult. My advice to anyone who wants to use social media; be sure you can dedicate the time and resources to make this a successful part of your marketing plan. Otherwise you become part of the noise.

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The One Lemon Rule?

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For those who need a definition, “Lemon” is used to describe a defective product. A car that required too much maintenance and repair to keep operating even though it was newer, was deemed a “lemon.”

It’s as hard as ever to be perfect. There is little room for forgiveness. Some of the time, this is not true, especially if you have the opportunity to create an impression of quality and confidence. But what am I really talking about here?

Bluntly, if you screw up, blunder, error and especially cheat, your customers will not just abandon you, but will try to hurt you back.

Why? Customers almost always have options. And with social media, they can complain to a large audience, and be heard! When I was younger, there was a saying: “If you do something good for someone, they will tell 1 or 2 other people about it. If you do something bad to someone, they will tell 10 other people about it.” That was an error ratio of 1 in 10, so you had to perform as advertised 90% of the time to break even. These days, if you do a good job and simply do what’s expected, a brave few will leave feedback. Go above and beyond, there is a good chance that someone will leave positive feedback, but do something perceived as wrong, and you have the potential to be dragged before the entire world and raked over the coals.

Social Media has given a great deal of marketing power to consumers. The only problem with all of this is that with so many people accessing social media with so much frequency, many complaints or compliments can get lost. It becomes part of the “white noise” that we experience every day in visual and audio media. On your drive to work, how many billboards, signs and advertising messages to you read? How many do you remember? We experience information overload – a white noise of visual stimulus.

Today, the one lemon rule usually applies to customers who somehow feel you have wronged them. They will not be back. There is no room for forgiveness. But instead of running and hiding, the lesson is to engage in the conversation, and turn a negative into a positive.

No one is perfect all the time. It’s how you handle the bad stuff that defines your reputation. Negative reviews can be used to show how concerned you are about customer issues. Otherwise, lack of response can make you look apathetic. You cannot ignore the negative.

The real question is how are you making lemonade out of your lemons?

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