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Is Customer Loyalty Still A Thing?

Is customer loyalty still a thing? Like, is it dead or?

It depends on who you’re asking. Thanks to the ever-expanding presence of e-commerce, consumers are faced with more choices than they know what to do with.

This overabundance of choice has created a more knowledgeable and demanding consumer base. Because of this, there’s a divide among marketers and e-commerce consultants about whether or not customer loyalty is dead and what will rise/is rising to take its place.

It’s Time For A Brief History Lesson About Customer Loyalty

To better understand where customer loyalty is at today–and why it’s there–we have to go back in time and trace its journey up to this point:

With this new strategy of rewarding consumers for repeating behavior businesses of all kinds hopped on board–bakeries, hotels, auto repair shops, airlines–and soon after that the plastic cards that cluttered everyone’s keychains were replaced by apps on their smartphones.

But this type of strategy had an Achilles heel no one noticed until it was “too late”.

  • Constant discounts turn into bribing consumers who want bigger savings and better deals every time you try enticing them to come back
  • Everyone’s doing the same thing so consumers can download multiple apps from companies that are known competitors with each other and be “loyal” by obtaining discounts from everyone

This is when loyalty programs began to give way to membership programs.

Unlike traditional loyalty programs, which were free for customers to join, membership programs ask consumers to pay to receive discounts and special swag. Some examples you’re probably familiar with, or a member of yourself include:

All of which have been extremely successful because these companies are the best at providing value (i.e. attractive exchange) beyond special deals and discounts.

In-The-Traditional-Sense-Of-The-Term-Customer-Loyalty-Is-Dead

So, Yeah, In The Traditional Sense Of The Term, Customer Loyalty Is Dead…

but it ain’t dead as a doornail. A new form of customer loyalty program/strategy is emerging which focuses on engagement, emotion, and relevancy to create long-lasting relationships with customers.

At this point, everybody knows it costs more to acquire new customers than to keep old ones. Outpacing your competition depends on how loyal and happy your tribe of customers are at any given moment.

A quick Google search will return a variety of research that shows today’s customers prioritize receiving great service from the brands they deem worthy of their business.

According to this report by Bond Brand Loyalty, the percent of members satisfied with their membership program is 2.7X higher among members whose program reps make them feel special and recognized.

Businesses that focus on building strong relationships with customers, rather than focusing on just providing discounts, are the businesses that reap the rewards of customer loyalty. As the Bond Brand Loyalty report also pointed out:

  • 81% of consumers said loyalty programs that focus on relationship building make them more likely to continue doing business with the brand
  • 73% of consumers are more likely to recommend brands with good loyalty programs
  • 75% of consumers say that loyalty programs are a big part of their relationship with brands

But don’t let these stats fool you. On average, consumers are members of at least 8 different loyalty programs. The real question you should be asking isn’t, “is customer loyalty dead,” but rather how do I build a reputation for developing amazing customer relationships?

Small Business Success Is Dependent on Satisfied Customers

Let’s be real here. As small business owners, we can’t beat the big boys when it comes to things like low prices and out of this world specials.

But we can beat them by providing a level of service to our customers they just can’t compete with.

Consumer data from a Peppers & Rogers study revealed that: 81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering an excellent customer experience are outperforming their competition.

As marketer’s, we’re guilty of getting so wrapped up in lead conversion that we forget what happens next is more important than anything else. How we maintain our relationship with customers once they’re customers.

If you read our post, Explaining the Marketing Funnel and How It Works, you’ll remember that if you’re always looking to make the buyer’s journey as simple as possible for prospective buyers, you’ll convert those prospects into customers and you’ll be just fine.

That’s when your focus needs to shift to providing an ongoing top-notch experience. Because if you don’t somebody else will and you’ll never maintain the loyalty from customers we all need to survive.

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You’re Crazy If You Don’t Have A Podcast In the Works

…and we’re not just saying that because we’re prepping to launch our own podcast, Between the Coffee and Us.

Every entrepreneur, influencer, and small business owner who’s interested in growing a business, selling something, or sharing an idea should learn how to produce a podcast. The power of voice in marketing is on the rise and there are plenty of places to be heard:

Audio-first consumption is exploding like a 2-liter Diet Coke full of Mentos.

You know what this means right?

We-Smell-An-Opportunity

We Smell An Opportunityyyy

Gather round kids. We’re about to blow your minds with some trippy podcast stats:

    • 64% of Americans have heard of podcasts. And more Americans know what a podcast is than know who the Vice President isonly 40% of Americans can name the US VP.
    • 44% of the US population has listened to a podcast before
    • 12 million people listened to a podcast for the first time last year
    • 26% of Americans listen to podcasts every month
    • Monthly podcast listening among American women jumped 14% between 2017 and 2018
    • Podcast fans listen to an average of 7 shows every week — up 40% from 2017
    • 80% of podcast listeners hear all or most of each episode they consume
    • 49% of podcasts are listened to at home
    • 23% of podcasts are listened to in the car
    • 69% of American podcast listeners primarily listen on a mobile device

Every single business owner/entrepreneur out there, we don’t care what you do or sell, should already have or be working on producing a podcast right now. Not because of the revenue opportunity, and boy is there a lot, but because of the marketing opportunity.

The Marketing Opportunityyyy

Y’all, there’s no other way to say it. It’s huge. The marketing opportunity with podcasting is huge. Gargantuan. Elephantine. Monumental. For example…

Let’s say somebody gets on one of the audio platforms we listed at the start of the post looking for advice on how to dominate Fortnite: Battle Royale — a super popular, super free to play,  co-op survival video game that everyone and their Nana is playing right now.

And just for giggles, we’ll say you, your cousin and even your Nana play this game together practically every day. You freakin’ love it. It’s great for bonding. And better than all that bonding stuff, you’re good at Fortnite. You’re obsessed with it.

Good! Use that!

You’re talking about it all the time when you’re not playing anyway so you, your cousin and Nana decide that just for the heck of it, you’ll start recording yourself talking about Fortnite because it’s fun and you want to share your pro-tips and talk Fortnite with other players who love the game as much as you do.

All it takes is that one somebody who comes across your podcast that finds the conversation you’re having about Fortnite interesting and the tips that you’re giving away valuable and you’re in. So is Nana. No more bingo for her. She’s a go-to gaming expert now.

Thanks to the knowledge bombs you and Nana are dropping on the podcasts, you’ve got the opportunity to hook a listener who’s going to go tell all of their video game fanatic friends about your Fortnite podcast and before you know it you’ve got a couple thousand listeners.

You have your own community of gamers/podcast listeners. People are watching you play on Twitch now (which is another post for another day). And then you start earning revenue from talking about/playing Fortnite with your Nana every Thursday – Sunday night.

What is this life?!

Freaking awesome is the answer.

The Revenue Opportunityyyy

In addition to the marketing opportunity podcasting presents there’s also a substantial revenue opportunity that can come with producing a quality podcast.

Popular podcasts can get some sick ad offers but podcasting also opens up the door to diversify revenue beyond just advertising. We’re talking merch, subscription services, partners.

The revenue earning potential for voice is insane right now.

How’s that even possible?

It’s where all the people are. It’s because podcasting is on track to replace talk and satellite radio in 2018!

Podcasting revenue exploded 85% between 2016 and 2017. Big brands and advertisers are going where the listeners are and it’s not radio anymore — its podcasts.

Marketers and advertisers know that by sponsoring/getting their ads on podcasts, they can reach people who skip ads elsewhere who they can no longer reach via more “traditional formats” like radio and television.

And if you’re lucky enough to get your foot in the door on a video game sensation like Fortnite, dude, just think of all the possibilities.

We Ain’t Stupid

Since the start of 2018 Z Coast Media has had a podcast in the works. It’s not going to be about Fortnite because even though it’s an awesome game, it’s not what our business is about and it’s not something we want to talk about on a podcast.

That’s rule number one for creating your podcast. Talk about what you’re passionate about. People can tell when you’re faking it and if you or Nana are feigning your interest in Fortnite just because you know it’s a popular thing to talk about right now.

Don’t taint Nana’s image like that. You’re better than that. But moving on…

This is where we’re at with our own podcast:

  • We have a name: Between the Coffee and Us
  • We’ve picked a format: We want to do “8 episode seasons” where each season has a theme and each episode covers a topic related to that theme
  • We’ve got gear: We’ve got our mics, recording, and editing software and we’ve started experimenting and recording trial episodes because we’ve never done a podcast before

After another test run or two, we’re going to record all 8 episodes of season 1 of the podcast and release it. We’ll let you know when we’re getting close. Until then we’re just gonna keep documenting the journey and what we’re learning along the way.

You can do this too. You don’t have to be an expert to start podcasting. Nobody starts out being an expert in anything. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Experts are born when people are willing to take risks and open up their mind to learn more and more every single day.

The only way you’re going to be found/considered an expert in your field is by figuring out where people are looking and then building your castle there.

And if podcasts are where people are looking/listening?

We’d all be stupid to ignore it.

Xx Paige & Nick xX

Stats courtesy of Convince and Convert; and Podcast Insights

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Branding Yourself Is Weird, Isn’t It?

Let’s take a break from the in-depth posts this week and have a 1-on-1 chat. You up for it?

Cool. Let’s talk about how weird branding yourself is.

Everybody’s always talking about how to brand yourself right? (Even us.)

How to brand yourself as a hairstylist. How to brand your consulting business.  How to brand your band. Branding yourself for success. Branding yourself on social media.

〰〰〰

Talking about “branding yourself” makes a lot of folks really anxious. They’d rather be perceived as someone who is humble, not an obnoxious self-promoting narcissist. Unless they’re a narcissist. But most people aren’t narcissists.

The truth about branding yourself isn’t about having a fat head. It’s about enthusiasm. And people enjoy working with other people who genuinely love what they do.

This doesn’t mean you have to be hype 24/7. It just means you’re proud of who you are and what you’re doing. Do you know what people who are proud of their work do?

They talk about it. And that’s okay!

They start YouTube channels and they make awesome Insta-stories and they make an effort to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter and stuff like that.

It’s easy for people to tell the difference between natural enthusiasm and calculated enthusiasm. So if you’re faking it won’t take long for folks to figure it out.

Self-promotion isn’t bad. Branding yourself isn’t bad. Talking about how dope something is that you don’t believe in is bad.

〰〰〰

Being uncomfortable isn’t always a bad thing, but being uncomfortable because you feel like a fraud is a warning sign. If you’re uncomfortable and feel like a fake when promoting yourself or your brand or whatever, take a step back and ask yourself why you’re even doing it.

What’s the point of doing something you’re not totally passionate about for the next seven years? To keep you busy until something better comes along?

If that’s the case quit now because you’re never going to get anywhere.

Harsh.

The truth hurts sometimes but it’s better if you come to grips with it now than seven years down the road when you’re looking back on all the time you wasted trying to build something you didn’t 100% believe in.

Let’s put it another way: if you don’t like talking about what you do or why you do it, why would anybody ever want to buy from you or hire you or do any kind of business with you ever?

Think about it.

If the guy telling me jumping out of the plane is totally safe and he’s done it a thousand times has the personality of a walnut, I ain’t jumping out of the plane.

But if the guy telling me to jump out of the plane is telling me it’s totally safe and he trusts his life with this parachute and the rush is nothing like anything else I’ll ever experience and he still isn’t over it even though he’s jumped a thousand times, I’m going to be more willing to swallow my fear and jump out of the plane.

Why? Because he’s being genuine with everything he says and that’s how people connect with each other.

People want to see your passion. They want to see your fire.

Don’t worry about branding yourself. Don’t hide your flame. Instead, take the advice of one the most well-known brands in the world and Just Do It.

Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks or what they have to say. Your brand is your brand and nobody else’s. Build it the way you want. And if it doesn’t work out the way you planned, it’s okay. The thing that matters is having the guts to try.

Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right but if you’re truly passionate about what you’re trying to build, it will happen. We believe that with every fiber of our beings.

Later,
Xx Paige & Nick xX

*Note: If you take up residence under a rock, Just Do It is Nike’s slogan.

 

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17 Stats That Prove You Should Be Making Videos

The amount of options we have for posting content on the internet is ridiculous.  Every major platform out there (that you’re probably already on) supports video in some way.

Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are all stellar for short videos and sneak peek clips. Facebook Live and YouTube are phenomenal options for long-form videos, ads, interviews and anything else you can think of.

One of the best things about having all these options for video and live streaming as a business owner is that this stuff isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Check out our infographic for some insanely compelling stats that are going to make you want to get up and start recording immediately.

Creating videos and video marketing is far beyond an “up-and-coming” tactic at this point. It’s here and it’s getting more powerful by the minute, especially when it comes to:

  • Telling your brand story
  • Building relationships
  • Explaining your value prop
  • Growing awareness for your business/products
  • Staying connected with an ever-evolving mobile audience

Video is now an invaluable tool for helping business owners convert customers and increase engagement no matter what your business does. Find the platform that makes sense for your business — the place where your audience hangs out — and start providing them with the content they’re looking for.

Own an auto shop? Start making how-to / tutorial videos on YouTube for basic at-home car maintenance. Have a salon? Create short before-and-after videos / boomerangs on Instagram featuring your clients. Sell makeup? Ask your customers, friends, and family to send you questions or challenges in regards to the products your selling. Then go and fire up Facebook Live and prove in real-time that your products are capable of everything you say they are.

Creating content isn’t easy. It requires a lot of creativity and a lot of hard work. That’s why so many people don’t make videos. But their lack of effort is yours for the taking. All the audience your competitor is missing out on because they don’t want to take the time to figure out how to do video is yours for the taking. Be yourself. Be real. Just get out there and try.

That’s what we’re doing. If you haven’t seen already, we’ve got a YouTube channel where we publish:

  • A weekly vlog
  • 7-Minute Saturdays (marketing) Videos
  • Tags, Challenges, and Games

We started the weekly vlog, ZCM Vlogs, because we want to document our journey from the bottom up. We know it takes time to make it big so we’re going to make the most of the time by showing other small business owners we’re in the same boat, we don’t always know what we’re doing, but we’re going for it anyway.

7-Minute-Saturdays is a bi-weekly series where Nick and I sit down and film a 7-Minute video covering topics related to marketing, web design and small business ownership. We share our knowledge and are working on developing a rapport with our audience so we are having consistent conversations with people.

We want this to be all about communication. We want to know what we can film that will help you out with your own marketing and business efforts and then we want to give you the answer in video for free.

Our Tags, Challenges, and Games playlist is where we show our less serious side (not that we’re very serious to begin with) and just film the weird, fun, and crazy stuff we do to cut loose and ensure we’re promoting a healthy, creative, team vibe at Z Coast.

Check us out if any of those things appeal to you, we truly appreciate it if you do.

Have a suggestion for us? Drop it in the comments below or shoot us an email: contact@zcoastmedia.com.

Thanks for stopping by the blog this week!

Reminder:

  • New blogs go up bi-weekly on Tuesday
  • New vlogs go up weekly
  • New 7-Minute Saturday episodes go up bi-weekly on Saturday
  • Podcast coming soon!

 

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12 Books Every Creative Entrepreneur Needs to Read

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Creative entrepreneurs wear all kinds of hats—we’re digital marketers, we’re designers, we’re copywriters, we’re a little bit of everything. In any case, as a creative entrepreneur, you must have the ability to transform the beige and boring into something that everybody wants.

But this is easier said than done.

We know plenty of designers who want to improve their copywriting skills and plenty of copywriters who want to know how to do a thing or two in Illustrator. Why? Because they know it will set them apart from the competition.

It doesn’t hurt for digital marketers to know a thing two about design and copywriting both but creative entrepreneurs should have at least a basic understanding of all three—digital marketing, copywriting, and design—if they want to succeed.

A little harsh, but true.

Loosely translated, our little quote from Dr.Seuss at the beginning of this post means you should never stop learning and expanding your skill set if you want to continue to grow.

If you want to excel as a creative entrepreneur we recommend checking out any and all of the books on this list.

What’s your favorite book about design, digital marketing, or copywriting? Tell us in the comments, please.  We’re looking for new titles to add to our bookshelf.

Sharpen-your-copywriting-skills-read

Sharpen your copywriting skills, read

  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – This book is a treasure and by far one of the best things you will read in your life. Creative entrepreneur or not. It’s targeted more towards creative writers and novelists. It won’t help you write copy that sells but it will inspire you and teach you how to keep creating every single day.
  • D&AD: The Copy Book – The Copy Book is a must have for creatives and copywriters. The lessons found here on writing clearly and persuasively apply to all creative entrepreneurs.
  • Read Me: 10 Lessons for Writing Great Copy – If your goal in life is to master the written word Read Me will teach you how. The 10 lessons inside are easy to understand, difficult to apply. But that’s kind of the whole point. Once you’ve mastered the application you should consider yourself a great copywriter.
  • The Idea Writers – Do you want to understand the realities of creative business today? Read this book. The Idea Writers provides an in-depth understanding of how the advertising business works and how we as creatives can bring our terrific ideas to life.

Fine-tune-your-design-skills-read

Fine-tune your design skills, read

Whet-your-digital-marketing-appetite-read

Whet your digital marketing appetite, read

  • All Marketers Are Liars – Seth Godin discusses the importance of being authentic with your branding campaigns. To be a great digital marketer / creative entrepreneur, you have to be genuine.
  • Content Inc. – The full title of this one is actually Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses. It’s a mouthful, but it’s a fundamental read for anyone who wants to understand the importance of content in marketing campaigns.
  • Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers – Although this book is more about customer service than straight up digital marketing, it’s an important read for everyone because smartphones and social media have fundamentally altered the science of how people make and respond to complaints.
  • You’re My Favorite Client – Successful marketing campaigns are built on a foundation of understanding your client’s expectations. You’re My Favorite Client provides you with tools and techniques you can use to ensure you kick every project off right: with a clear understanding of what your client wants.

Just like Dr.Seuss said, “The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” That’s what creative entrepreneurship is all about, right? Learning and growing your creative abilities for success?

That’s how we interpret anyway. If you think differently, feel free to tell us about in the comments. We’d be happy to talk.

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24 Simple Ways to Inspire Yourself

We all lack inspiration sometimes. It’s just a natural part of the creative process.

However, we understand how irritating it can be when your creativity gets stuck in a rut. Hence the infographic below. We’d like to share 24 of our favorite methods for inspiring ourselves when it just won’t strike and we hope you find it helpful.

Is there something you like to do to get inspired that’s not on our list? Please share it with us in the comments! We’re always looking for new places, ideas, and things to draw inspiration from. 

Isn’t it funny to think about? The fact that inspiration for a new marketing campaign or website design or poem or whatever it is you like to do can come from doing something as simple as going for a jog or talking to another person? Our minds are truly amazing things. Make the most of yours.

All of these inspiring tips are simple and all of these things are available for anyone to try. This list is comprised of some our favorite things to do when we’re not working. That’s kind of the point, ya know? Inspiration often strikes when you least expect it. Something brilliant comes to you when you’re relaxed, gearing up for a workout or jamming out to your favorite playlist. Jot down your idea and keep going.

The next time you need to get yourself inspired and you ask our advice, for starters, we’re going to point you towards these inspirational tips. We hope you make the most of them.

Are you stuck and in need of a little inspiration to kick off your next marketing or design project? Contact us! We’re here to help you launch brilliant and creative campaigns and designs.

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10 Simple Tips for Designing Logos

Designing a logo is easy, right? Wrong. So, so, very wrong. A logo serves as a brand’s visual identity and there’s so much more to creating a logo than just slapping the company name in a colored box and calling it a day.

To consumers, a company’s logo reminds them who the company is and what they do.

To the company, a logo is a visual representation of who they are and what they stand for. Their logo is part of their brand’s voice.

To designers, a logo is a challenge. You know what we’re talking about if you’ve ever tried incorporating an entire organization’s ideologies and values into a single graphic.

No matter your relation to logos, we can all probably agree that logos are important. The fact that they’re so important is what inspired us to write this post and share some easy to follow advice about designing logos.  We hope you learn something new and exciting today!

If you have a question about something you read here, don’t hesitate to reach out or leave a comment. We love talking about graphic design around here.

An Easy-Read Guide About Logo Design

  1. Your logo has to be simple. Simple logos are easy to recognize, versatile, and memorable. The best logos feature something unique or unexpected without being overdone.
  2. Your logo has to be evergreen. You’ve heard of evergreen content, right? Evergreen content is content that stays relevant to your customers. Just like the content you create, your logo should be evergreen too. The logo your client is using today should still be relevant 20+ years from now.
  3. Your logo should match your client’s voice. The way a logo is positioned should be appropriate for the company’s target audience, every intended use of the logo, and the voice they’re trying to establish.
  4. Design briefs are important. When you’re designing a logo for a client, it’s important to ask questions for a design brief so you have a reference guide while working.
  5. Research is always necessary. In order to design the perfect logo for a client, you’ve got to do your homework. Research the industry your client operates in, its history and competitors.
  6. Look for inspiration everywhere. Look at websites, successful trends, current trends, and current styles related to what you put together in your design brief.
  7. Cliches should be avoided at all costs. Idea light bulbs and international globes are so overdone. Be original. Be clever. Think outside the box.
  8. You better be picky about the typeface you choose. Good typography is essential to a good logo and you’ve got two options: create your own typeface or adapt an existing one. Whatever you choose, just make sure it’s simple, legible and matches the brand.
  9. You have to remember to take breaks. No designer has ever successfully completed a logo design in a single sit-down. It’s okay to take breaks while designing logos, heck, it’s even recommended. Breaks give your ideas time to mature and your client the opportunity to provide you with feedback.
  10. Limit options. When you present a logo idea to a client, we suggest never giving them more than designs to look at. Too many options at once can be overwhelming. Let your client see what you’ve come up with, take their feedback, and repeat until they see what they want (within reason of course).


Don’t Forget About Color, Color can make or break your logo design. Every color in the color wheel implies something different. Don’t convey the wrong message when designing a logo by picking the wrong color(s). The Science Behind Color, an article by The Logo Company, serves as an excellent resource when choosing colors for a project. For example:
 
BLACK is a color best suited for the marketing, financial, and corporate industries. It is most often associated with qualities such as strength, power, and precision.
 
BLUE is a color best suited for tech, health-care, and government. It is most often associated with qualities such as clean, calm, and professional.
 
ORANGE is a color best suited for sports, entertainment, and food and drink. It is most often associated with qualities such as energy, creativity, and youthfulness.  
 
Yay for bonus tips! You can learn about other colors by reading the article linked above.
 
But more importantly, you read this article so that means you’re one of two people:

  1. A designer who’s bright, shiny and new. You’re gearing up for your first logo design project. That’s awesome! We’re glad you stopped by our blog.If you’d like to continue learning about logo design, we suggest reading:
     
    2016 Logo Design Trends & Inspiration
     
    11 Brilliant Resources for Logo Designers
     
    10 Tips for Designing Logos That Don’t Suck
     
    Don’t be shy about letting us know if you found this article useful or have a tip you think should be included. Leave your two-cents in the comments section.
  2. or

  3. A new business owner who’s trying to figure out all this branding and logo stuff.
     
    If this is you, let’s talk! We’d be thrilled to help you create the best logo for your brand. Shoot us a message or give us a ring and let’s get started!

Design community: What are some of your favorite logo designs? Let’s get a discussion going.

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How to Overcome Creative Flaws With New Year Goals

Happy 2017 everybody! What better way to ring in the New Year than highlighting some of our biggest creative flaws, right?

For example, you know those memes floating around that say something like, “When you check the clock at work and it’s 9:00 am and then you check 3 hours later and it’s 9:21 am”? We’ve all been there.

Can you really blame us? As graphic designers, copywriters, creative people of any kind, our mental endurance is always being tested. It’s not that we don’t love what we do, but we are, after all, only human. All work and no play makes everybody dull. At least, that’s how it works in our world.

While we take great pride in the work we produce, achieving the end result isn’t always easy. With that in mind, we thought it’d be fun to take our first post of 2017 and shine some light on 4 flaws of the creative mind that we battle on a weekly basis and our New Year’s goals to address each one.

Flaw #1: Our insatiable need for coffee

A tired mind isn’t always an inspired mind but neither is an overcaffeinated one. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle that places you in either category.

Allow us to give you an example: Over evaluating the perfect headline or two shades of blue can tear apart any daily agenda.

Making these tedious decisions often call for that reliable pot of coffee. With coffee cups in hand, we can face every looming deadline unflustered, make enlightened decisions late into the night, and get up the next morning to repeat the process all over again.

Nick takes his coffee with a lot of creamer, I prefer coffee as black as my soul. We use coffee for inspiration. We use it for conversation, And sometimes, we use the lack of it as our go-to excuse. So no matter how you brew it we’ll always say we’re in need of it. Kind of an endearing flaw, don’t you think?

Goal: We’re not giving it up but we are going to try and limit ourselves to a healthy 2-3 cups per day.

Flaw #2: We stay chained to our desks sometimes

When the coffee is flowing and inspiration has finally struck, it can be easy to lose track of time because you’re lost in a project. Being locked in and focused is important but so are taking breaks.

We have to encourage each other to take breaks more often than not. Taking a walk to the coffee shop down the street is a great way to keep our minds fresh. Soaking in a little Georgia sun and getting some midday exercise doesn’t hurt either.

If there’s one flaw of ours that you can learn from it’s this one. Don’t forget to get up and move around during the day. It’ll help you avoid creativity blocks of any kind—withng or design.

Goal: In 2017, we’re going to be good to ourselves (and our backs) and make an effort to get up and move around 10 minutes out of every hour during the work day.

Flaw #3: We ask a lot of questions

We’re curious people. We can’t help it. We look at the world around us and have to know how and why it is the way it is. We seek answers through intense conversations, solitary mind-wandering, books, blogs and from anyone who’s willing to give us an answer.

Asking a lot of questions isn’t necessarily a “flaw” in the traditional sense but we could stand to use our listening skills a little more often. Honestly, everyone could. Listening is one of those things that you can always work to improve on.

We won’t stop asking questions in 2017. We’ll never stop asking questions but we do have a goal to work on this “flaw” in the new year.

Goal: Listen more intensely to our coworkers, friends, family, clients and anyone who wants to talk. You never know what you might learn.

Flaw #4: We’ve been known to get lost in design inspiration black holes

There are a lot of awesome design inspiration websites on the web:

Just to name a few.

Sometimes, when you start a project, you need a little visual inspiration. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem lies in getting sucked into a crazy mind-blowing design for hours. There are a lot of stunning designs out there that are fun to look at and analyze but there are other places to find inspiration.

In other words, it’s easy to forget not to limit ourselves to all the latest and greatest design trends on occasion. Inspiration can be found in your coworkers, outside, in a book, in a song. All of these things can be so much more intriguing than the web when you give them the chance.

Goal: Open ourselves up more to inspiration from new places other than our favorite design blogs and influencers in 2017.

The first week of every New Year is the perfect time for personal reflection. With that in mind, what are some of your biggest creative flaws? How do you plan to address them in 2017? Tell us in the comments section.

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6 Of Our Favorite Marketing And Design Newsletters

Keeping up with the latest marketing and design trends can be a real struggle. On WordPress alone, there are over 56 million blog posts shared every month. But who has the time to check all of their favorite industry websites every single day?

We certainly don’t. But we hate missing posts. Thankfully, a lot of our favorite blogs and industry leaders are great at providing newsletters that keep us informed.  

Here are 6 of our favorite marketing and design newsletters  you should subscribe to. Speaking of subscribing to newsletters, have you signed up for the Z Coast Newsletter?

6 Newsletters You Should Subscribe To Because We Say So

 

  1. MOO. The MOOsLETTER is one of the best things to grace our inboxes in the history of Gmail. What’s great about Moo is they don’t bombard you with “buy our stuff” newsletters all the time. You get quality content, expert tips, product updates, exclusive discounts and all sorts of other goodies. If you’re not already receiving The MOOsLetter, you’re missing out.
  2. Death to the Stock Photo. Death to the Stock Photo defines themselves as, “A photo & inspiration haven for creatives crushing their path.”  But Death to the Stock Photo isn’t just for photographers. Writers can sign up for a special newsletter too, The Writers List, that dishes out fun writing prompts every week to keep you on your creative toes.
  3. Buffer Social. Buffer Social is the bomb. Buffer is a company with a whole lot of personality and it shines through in their newsletter. If you’re looking for a resource that will provide you with expert social media marketing advice, tips, and experiments this is the one you want.
  4. Desk of Tobias van Schneider. Tobias van Schneider is an award-winning designer with some award-worthy facial hair who resides in New York City. You can join his private email list and receive an email every Sunday night overflowing with new and interesting articles, exclusive updates, and special tips and goodies for designers.
  5. General Assembly. The GA website is already an excellent resource for marketers and their newsletter incorporates a number of these resources into their newsletter regularly. Some topics you will often find discussed (in addition to courses offered) include coding, career advice, data, design, and marketing. Subscribe to the General Assembly newsletter. Enjoy!
  6. HubSpot’s Marketing Blog. HubSpot is one of the most respected leaders in the marketing industry. They also churn out a lot of content. The most convenient way to keep up with HubSpot and all the latest marketing tips, trends, and best practices is to subscribe to HubSpot’s Marketing Blog. There’s a reason everybody’s doing it.

 

Don’t see your favorite newsletter on this list? Email us your suggestions!

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Z Coast Advice: Creating Your Buyer Personas

We’re posing an important question to you this week: Do you know who your business’ buyer personas are? How much do you actually know about them? Take a minute and really think about this.

But, before you dive into this post, know that you have 3 options here:

  1. Read this post and take the DIY approach to creating your first set of buyer personas.
  2. Skip to the end (even though there’s some killer info in this post you don’t want to miss) and just send us a message that you’d like a little help with creating your ideal buyer.
  3. Read the whole post, tell us how much you love it in the comments, and send us a message.

Okay, enough chit chat. Let’s do this.

Tell Me, What’s a Buyer Persona?

Buyer personas—sometimes referred to as marketing personas—are fictional representations of the ideal buyers who make up your target market.

HubSpot Academy elaborates on my simple definition by explaining that, “Personas are fictional, generalized characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behavior patterns among your real and potential customers. They help you understand your customers better.”

Understanding your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving pretty much everything in your business from content creation and product development to sales and follow-up practices. At least, it’s critical if you actually want to attract and retain customers. Just saying.

“Okay, they’re important. I get it. Are you gonna tell me how to make one or what?” We are! But we need to discuss something else first. Just hold your horses.

The good news is that creating a buyer persona is pretty easy. The better news is we’re going to give you the basics on how to create your buyer persona(s). But you have to hold your horses because we need to make sure everyone understand why they’re so important.

creating-your-buyer-profile-bomb

Okay, Fine. Why Are Buyer Persona’s Important?

Thanks for asking! I’d love to drop a knowledge bomb on you today. Here we go:

Buyer personas are important because they help you understand your real (and prospective) customers better.

Understanding what makes your target audience click, and the things they’re looking for makes it so much easier on you to create the right kind of content, messaging, product, and services to meet the needs and concerns of the people you’re after.

In other words, you may know that your target buyers are campers, but do you know what their specific needs and interests are? Are they RV campers or tent campers? Do they prefer warmer climates or colder ones?  Do they just need something that can withstand the elements of their own backyard or a 7-day trip in the Pahsimeroi Valley?

The strongest buyer personas are assembled via market research and the insights you gather from talking to your real-life customer base. Depending on the business you’re running you could have as few as 2 personas or as many as 20.

Pro tip: If you’re new to creating buyer personas, start small.

Wait, What About Negative Personas?

Negative personas are a thing. Think about your ideal buyer for a second; the people you want as customers. Now think of a persona that reflects the type of buyer you don’t want as a customer. Boom. That’s a negative persona.

Moving on…
creating-your-buyer-profile-creating-1

How To Create A Buyer Persona

It’s time for the fun part! First things first:

Buyer personas can be created through things like:

  • Surveys
  • Market research
  • Interviewing current customers
  • Interviewing potential customers

Easy stuff, right? Right. Now, because we’re here to help, we’re going to dish out some of our favorite tips for gathering the information you need to create a buyer persona:

  • When you create forms to use on your website, use form fields that capture useful information for building your buyer persona(s). For example, if all of your personas vary based on the number of employees a company has, ask each lead for information about how many employees they have.
  • Talk to your sales team. Nobody knows your customer base better than your sales team. The feedback they can provide about the leads they’re interacting with and the different types of customers you’re already serving is invaluable. Don’t let it go to waste.
  • Get on the phone, send out a survey, or start inviting people out to lunch for a little interview. Let your customers tell you what they like most about the products or services you offer and how it’s solved a specific problem for them.

“Hold up, how do I find people to interview?” Try and challenge me next time, would ya?

You have so many options for gathering info for your buyer personas right under your nose that it’s ridiculous. You can contact people in your current customer base, reach out to current prospects, and use your current network to ask for referrals for other people to talk to. Don’t make it hard on yourself and start by dropping your line into those pools.

How Many People Should I Interview to Create a Buyer Persona?

There’s no right or wrong number here but a lot of people around the blogosphere and in the marketing community typically suggest 3-5 interviews for each persona you’re creating. You just have to go with your gut.

After you’ve conducted a few interviews you’ll start anticipating and predicting what the person you’re interviewing is going to say. When you’ve reached this point it’s usually safe to stop.

If you’re not sure what questions you should be asking your interviewees or you’re still a little fuzzy on how to get started building your personas, we recommend reading Buffer’s recently updated blog post: The Complete, Actionable Guide to Marketing Personas.

The guide is pretty comprehensive and will provide you with a lot of actionable tips and templates for building your marketing personas/buyer personas, in addition to providing question examples for interviewing people while doing research.

Talk to Z Coast Media

Told ya we were going to drop some heavy marketing knowledge on you this week. This was a lot of information to digest but if you made it all the way down here without freaking out congrats!

Diving into buyer persona creation for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. If you’d feel more comfortable getting a little help than taking the DIY approach, or you just want to talk about this topic with us, shoot us a message.