David Hamilton Design http://davidhamiltondesign.com Web Design & Graphic Design - Humboldt County, CA Wed, 26 Sep 2018 22:48:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 http://davidhamiltondesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/cropped-favicon-32x32.jpg David Hamilton Design http://davidhamiltondesign.com 32 32 DHD Is Proud To Now Feature The Landscape Photography of Zack Stanton http://davidhamiltondesign.com/dhd-is-proud-to-now-feature-the-landscape-photography-of-zack-stanton/ Wed, 26 Sep 2018 22:46:14 +0000 http://davidhamiltondesign.com/?p=2726 David Hamilton Design is proud to work with a number of local photographers to provide quality photographs for local web design and graphic design projects. In that vein, we are pleased to announce that we will now be featuring the landscape photography of Zack Stanton. See something here that you would like to have used on your web design or ...

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David Hamilton Design is proud to work with a number of local photographers to provide quality photographs for local web design and graphic design projects. In that vein, we are pleased to announce that we will now be featuring the landscape photography of Zack Stanton. See something here that you would like to have used on your web design or graphic design project? Let us know! And be sure to check out more of Zack’s photography on his Instagram account at https://www.instagram.com/zackatak71/

 

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The Danger Of Mistaking Your Audience For Your Product http://davidhamiltondesign.com/the-danger-of-mistaking-your-audience-for-your-product/ Sat, 25 Aug 2018 21:25:26 +0000 http://davidhamiltondesign.com/?p=2658 A few years back, we had a meeting with the marketing director of a local casino about possibly rebuilding their website. Things were going well, until we asked them a question about their brand. “Our audience is elderly,” he said. “The last marketing director was trying to cater toward a younger crowd, all the people in the ads were around ...

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A few years back, we had a meeting with the marketing director of a local casino about possibly rebuilding their website. Things were going well, until we asked them a question about their brand. “Our audience is elderly,” he said. “The last marketing director was trying to cater toward a younger crowd, all the people in the ads were around 30. But that’s not our audience. Our crowd wants to sit quietly at a slot machine and plunk money in.”

It was roughly at that point that I knew that I didn’t actually want to land this job. We politely finished the meeting, went our separate ways, and didn’t contact them again.

We hit the same problem some time later at a local theatre. They were convinced that because their audience was 70% elderly, that every part of the theatre needed to cater to that, from the shows, to the art in the lobby, to the ticket sales process. Who needs online sales when your audience is seventy, right? Not surprisingly, their bottom line had been consistently dropping year after year.

Both these cases conveniently forget one thing – theatre and casinos are both forms of escapism.

If you’re seventy, you’re not going to the casino to be reminded of your age. Casinos literally continue to exist and prosper because they provide a thrill. They trigger an addictive part of your mind that is sure that “I got so close last time,” and that “it’s my turn to get the jackpot.” People who go there aren’t looking for a retirement community. They want to feel young, to have that rush of endorphins that comes from winning. Most importantly, going to a casino feels like an event. It’s an escape from your day to day life. A chance to have an adventure. There’s a certain romanticism to it.

Going to the theatre is a chance to trigger emotions, to witness magic, to escape from your life for a moment and ride along on an adventure. When theatre is at its best, the audience can forget who they are and immerse themselves in a story. Audiences don’t go to a theatre because it feels like their living room. They go to the theatre to experience something bigger than themselves.

In both of these cases, the potential client was mistaking their audience for their product.

Know What You Are Actually Selling

The easiest solution to this conundrum is to never lose sight of what you are actually selling. What does your product or service offer? Most of the time, it’s not what you think it is.

It’s amazing how many people come to us for logo design services and think their industry needs to be featured in the logo. “We sell tractors, so the logo should have a tractor, right?”

Does Coca-Cola have a glass of soda in their logo?

There are only a few basic things in this world that any company is ever actually selling – independence, opulence, confidence, escapism, acceptance, nostalgia, youth, sex, power, health, comfort, value, peace of mind. The product or service is secondary.

Learn From The Big Guns

Why are diamonds so expensive and desired while cubic zirconia (which are far more flawless) are costume jewelry ? Because the De Beers company successfully created a mystique of wealth, privilege, and exclusivity around them. When you buy a diamond, you’re saying that you are important, powerful, that you are the kind of person who can afford diamonds.

Why are the people in Coca-Cola and Pepsi ads almost invariably young and attractive? Because these two brands have made a fortune by selling independence and acceptance. Notice how little time the ads spend focusing on the drinks themselves. The main thrust of their ads are almost always the relationships between characters. Often they like to tell a charming story where sharing a soda somehow bridges the gap between different people. Pepsi likes to lean into the independence brand a little harder, while Coca-Cola also sometimes relies on the nostalgia factor.

They know what people are buying. Sure, a good percentage of their audience is in their fifties and lead a sedentary lifestyle – but their product is youth.

In our casino example, take a look at some advertisements for the big Vegas casinos. The people are young, well-dressed, high rollers, popular. Excited folks are gathered around watching someone win big. “But Dave,” you say, “Vegas is a gambling mecca. The people there actually are all young and well dressed and–”

And yet if you stroll into most of those casinos you will see row upon row of singles and couples in their fifties and sixties who have been drawn there by the exact marketing that you just cited. In fact, according to PBS, the largest demographic of gamblers in Vegas are 65 years of age or older. Vegas itself is selling youth.

Las Vegas Casino Advertising

Put A Plan In Motion

So what’s the solution? Get your key decision makers together and ask yourself the question, “What are we selling?” and once you make a decision, stick with it. Your logo, ads, products, décor and website should all reinforce that. Who are your main competitors and what are they really selling? How can you differentiate yourself from them?

A town has four supermarkets. The first sells health. Their products are locally-sourced and organic. Their décor has a lot of greens and whites, cursive fonts, inspirational quotes on the wall. Local brands are on the end caps of every isle.

The second sells convenience. They’re open 24 hours a day. The end caps have the products that you need most commonly. The brands are all easy to recognize – the ones you’ve used for years are in plain sight. The décor is corporate and easily recognizable.

The third sells value. Their products are brands you don’t recognize but they’re super cheap. Every time you go in there’s some great new bargain. Their décor feels like some sort of secret warehouse. If you find a product there once, you go back and buy it all because you don’t know if you’ll ever see it again.

These stores all know what they’re selling, and the audience comes.

And then there’s the fourth store. They’re selling groceries. They’re remodeled a few times over the years because they hope it will draw in more customers. They run big sales sometimes, but have a rough time maintaining a customer base. Eventually the store goes out of business because of lack of brand loyalty.

Know what you’re selling, model your business around it, make it clear to your audience – and you’ll have a business that thrives for years.

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Redefining A Brand: A Case Study http://davidhamiltondesign.com/redefining-a-brand-a-case-study/ http://davidhamiltondesign.com/redefining-a-brand-a-case-study/#comments Thu, 16 Aug 2018 23:34:32 +0000 http://dhamdesign.wpengine.com/?p=2575 The Issue: When I officially came on board as publicist at North Coast Repertory Theatre in 2016, the theatre had already been established for over thirty years in downtown Eureka, but had done little to hone their image into a consistent recognizable brand. Each show was basically being promoted largely by that show’s individual director and the theatre didn’t have ...

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The Issue:

When I officially came on board as publicist at North Coast Repertory Theatre in 2016, the theatre had already been established for over thirty years in downtown Eureka, but had done little to hone their image into a consistent recognizable brand. Each show was basically being promoted largely by that show’s individual director and the theatre didn’t have an official photographer – which meant that the imagery used in posters ranged wildly from clipart, to text based, to photographs snapped in the lobby.

The First Step: Marketing a Season Line Up

My first move as publicist, was to start crafting full-season posters. The banner graphics for each show in a season are tied together by some common themes. In this example (Season 34) the client suggested that the key theme tying all the shows together was someone going on a journey.

Each of the banners for the 34th season features a figure on the left. Because English readers tend to read a story from left to right, the subconscious mind tends to see the figure on the left as a protagonist and the rest of the graphic as the story in front of them. Each of these banner backdrops is designed at a high enough resolution to be reused in posters and billboards later in the season. We also establish recognizable text based logos for each show that can be used on posters and publicity photos later.

Season Graphics for NCRT

Second Step: The Photographer

This step was one of the most vital. Not only did we need to establish a reputation for quality art, but we also wanted photos that immediately triggered an emotional response from the viewer. Snapshots in a lobby are incredibly hit-and-miss, so we went out and hired an expert – Evan Wisheropp from Evan Wish Photography. Evan’s expertise in lighting had already paid dividends for the Haunted Mill Tour project, and he had a very good eye for recapturing photo and lighting effects from different eras and genres. Evan’s photos began to immediately set NCRT ahead of the sea of graphics bombarding people on the internet.

Evan Wisheropp - Photographer for NCRT

Third Step: Posters & Supporting Graphics

My first move on posters was to request permission to switch to a landscape format for the posters. This fit well with the season banner graphics and made NCRT posters a little more distinctive and recognizable. We also immediately moved toward having a single character in each poster break the “fourth wall” and make eye contact with the camera. We carefully judged what emotions we wanted each character to evoke in the viewer. Was their eye contact pleading for help? Warning of imminent violence? Trying to seduce? Once the perfect photo was selected for a show, we reinforced that brand through Facebook posts, business cards, and a billboard over the NCRT marquee – and of course matching Facebook cover photos shared with the cast.

Poster Graphics for NCRT

Fourth Step: Additional Publicity Photos

NCRT had been submitting publicity photos to the newspapers for years. But often these posed shots didn’t really make a statement about the play or tie to the existing branding in any way. We started having more thorough photo shoots on the finished stage, and marking each photo with the text logo that was originally created for the banner. This helped to reinforce branding that the viewer had already been exposed to. We also moved the official archive photo shoots for the theatre to an earlier weekend so that we could take advantage of those professional shots in publicity for later weeks in the run.

Publicity Photos with Logos

Results:

In the first year of this marketing program, NCRT recorded their highest grossing season in their 33 year history. The 34th season surpassed those numbers and was capped off by winning “Best Place to See A Play” in the annual Best of Humboldt competition in the North Coast Journal. By establishing a consistent high quality brand, NCRT was able to build an enthusiastic audience base and build excitement for upcoming plays.

NCRT Box Office Gross Income Graph

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Instant Gratification for Your Website http://davidhamiltondesign.com/instant-gratification-for-your-website/ Mon, 06 Jul 2015 18:43:28 +0000 http://davidhamiltondesign.com/?p=1977 Let’s be honest here – most marketing campaigns don’t get you results overnight. They’re long-term investments in the success of your business. Right now, however? It’s July. It’s warm and sunny (although today’s foggy morning is a notable exception). You have better things to do than plan a six-month sales campaign for the holidays, not that that isn’t an admirable ...

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Let’s be honest here – most marketing campaigns don’t get you results overnight. They’re long-term investments in the success of your business.

Right now, however? It’s July. It’s warm and sunny (although today’s foggy morning is a notable exception). You have better things to do than plan a six-month sales campaign for the holidays, not that that isn’t an admirable task.

Sometimes, especially in the beautiful days of summer, you just need some instant gratification. Here are 3 things you can do, right now, to improve your website and digital marketing results so you can get out of your chair and back outside.

  1. Make it easy. Take a look at your website from the perspective of a brand new visitor. If someone visits your site, with money to spend, how difficult is it for them to give that money to you? Is your contact information easy to find? If you have an online store, is it simple to navigate? Does the shopping cart work? If you have a contact form, how long will it take for the customer to get a reply? You have a hard enough time convincing the people that aren’t sure they want to spend. For the ones that are sure? Make it easy for them to hand over the cash.
  2. Look at the numbers. How many visitors did you have to your site last month? How many of them made it to your sales page, or your contact page? How many of them spent ten seconds on your home page and then just left? If you can’t answer these questions, you’re losing out on valuable knowledge. Google Analytics is a free service that can provide you with incredible insights into the behavior and needs of your visitors. Not sure how to get it set up? We can help.
  3. Ditch the junk. Take another look at your site, this time keeping an eye out for anything that isn’t necessary or is out of date. That YouTube clip of your best commercial…from three years ago? Replace it with something current. Don’t overlook the basics, either – make sure that all your contact information is up to date. Do you have a brick-and-mortar location? Double check that your hours are prominently featured and that they’re correct (you’d be surprised how often we come across sites with incorrect hours). Your website is often the first impression a new customer will get of your business, so make sure it’s a good one.

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Blurred Lines: The Importance of High Resolution Images http://davidhamiltondesign.com/blurred-lines-the-importance-of-high-resolution-images/ Fri, 19 Jun 2015 18:53:58 +0000 http://davidhamiltondesign.com/?p=1964 Last month I was working on a poster for a client. He’d sent over some photos, and I wrote back to tell him that I needed larger versions, at least 2500 pixels tall. He cheerfully answered “Cool, I’m blow them up for your tonight and send you the new copies.” To which I answered, “You mean you’re going to get ...

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Last month I was working on a poster for a client. He’d sent over some photos, and I wrote back to tell him that I needed larger versions, at least 2500 pixels tall. He cheerfully answered “Cool, I’m blow them up for your tonight and send you the new copies.”

To which I answered, “You mean you’re going to get me uncropped versions of the original photos, right? You’re not just going to resample these small photos in Photoshop and send them again?”

Radio silence.

I actually run into this problem a lot — and by a lot I mean at least five times this month, so I decided to put together a handy dandy little guide to explain exactly why your graphic designer is so insistent on getting higher resolution photos.

Bitmap Versus Vector:

Graphics aren’t magic. Unlike what CSI what have you believe, you can’t just push a button and crystallize a blurry image. The graphics on your computer screen hold data in two different ways, bitmap and vector.

Vector Images:

Vector images store data using geometry. These images are composed of shapes, points, lines and and curves, all of which are stored in the computer using complex mathematical expressions. You can resize a vector image to any size without loss of quality. Vector images are always built using a computer. Common examples of vector images can be found in t-shirt designs, clipart, or company logos. Common vector formats include EPS, SVG, SVGZ, CDR, or AI.

Bitmap Graphics:

Bitmap graphics store data as a series of tightly packed dots or pixels. Each of these tightly packed dots has a specific color. Photographs are always stored as bitmap graphics. Examples of common bitmap formats include PNG, JPG, TIFF, PSD, and GIF. When you look at a printed photograph, these dots are usually packed in at at least 300 dots per inch, while on a screen you’re usually seeing a mere 72 dots per inch.

When you increase the size of a bitmap graphic, these tiny dots get large enough that the human eye can see them. The computer tries to compensate by imperfectly storing the data in new pixels of the proper size. This causes blurriness and pixelation.

 

Bitmap Images

From The Screen To The Printer:

The more observant students in the class may have noticed an interesting discrepancy in the last section. I mentioned that screen media only displays data at 72 dots per inch, while print media displays at least 300. This means that an image that looks four inches wide on your screen would actually only print as a little less than one inch wide. So if your graphics are camera phone shots that you have cut and pasted from Facebook, be ready for them to be about an inch wide in print.

Getting High Resolution Shots

The more pixels that you have in the photo, the higher the level of detail. If your camera is taking high megapixel photography, then it’s packing tons and tons of these dots into the finished product and making a photograph that is “high resolution.” High resolution photographs can be printed at very large sizes without losing quality.

As a graphic designer, ideally I’d love to have all of your photos come from a professional photographer — but that’s not always realistic. Most modern dedicated digital cameras (and some of the newer smart phones) take high enough resolution photos for graphic design work. The key is to send the whole photo to your designer. Download the file and send it via email or upload it to Dropbox. Never filter your images through Facebook – it drastically reduces size and quality.

And though you may be sure that you know exactly where the photo should be cropped, send the whole photo to your designer with a description of which part you want shown. The raw photographs give us a lot more tools and options, and you’ll be happier with the finished product in the end.

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Building Killer Graphics For Your Event http://davidhamiltondesign.com/building-a-killer-poster-for-your-event/ Mon, 15 Jun 2015 22:02:04 +0000 http://davidhamiltondesign.com/?p=1952 Want to build enthusiasm for your play or festival? The marketplace is saturated with bad posters. If you want to get your message out there, you need a poster and graphics that are a cut above the rest.  Follow these simple guidelines to distinguish yourself from the pack. Step 1: Determine Your Marketing Strategy. This is a vital first step that ...

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Want to build enthusiasm for your play or festival? The marketplace is saturated with bad posters. If you want to get your message out there, you need a poster and graphics that are a cut above the rest.  Follow these simple guidelines to distinguish yourself from the pack.

Step 1: Determine Your Marketing Strategy.

This is a vital first step that oddly enough often gets missed. It’s easy to just pick a scene or element from your event and build a poster around it, but it’s like firing arrows blindly into a pond. You might spear some fish, but it will be by blind luck and saturation – not actual skill.

Evoke an Emotion.

Determine what emotion you are looking to evoke in potential audience. Are you playing upon their excitement or fear? Are you trying to trigger nostalgia? Are you catching their attention with lust? Do you want your audience to feel comfortable or uneasy? These emotions will help determine every aspect of design, from photos, graphics and color scheme to the selection of fonts. If you are trying to get folks to a haunted house you need to make their skin crawl but if you want to get them to a summer arts festival you need to make them feel at home. Determine what you want the subject to feel after they see your poster.

 

Haunted Mill Tour Cover Photo

What Makes Your Event Special?

Ask yourself what is the key selling point that you would use to pitch this event to a stranger. Does the play have a very talented cast? Will your festival have excellent beer and wine? Is your performance intelligent? Gutteral? A rare opportunity? This key selling point will help to determine your most prominent photo or graphic.

Step 2: Get That Perfect Photo / Image

Consider a Photo Shoot:

Look at your marketing strategy. Is it important that you show your performers? Your venue? Your product? If the answer is yes, then go out and hire a professional photographer. It doesn’t cost much and it makes a huge difference in the finished product. For an explanation of why this is important, read my blog entry Why You Should Spring For
A Good Photographer: Part I.

If you do end up with a photo shoot, be sure to tell the photographer exactly what feeling you are hoping to inspire with the finished product. A good photographer can do a lot with backdrop, textures, and lighting effects that will make the designer’s job a lot easier. For example, Evan Wisheropp’s fantastic photoshoot for Richard III at NCRT spawned a series of three posters and eight iconic Facebook cover photos, like this one featured below.

 

Explore Stock Image Galleries:

If you don’t need a photo shoot, look at a stock image gallery like Shutterstock.com. Often you can get a perfect photo or graphic to get across all of the feelings that you want. Try different combinations of search terms, throwing in words about mood, color, lighting and image styles. In this particular example, we have two historic photographs from the public domain, a texture and two picture frames from Shutterstock, and a gorgeous ship photo, also from Shutterstock. If you’re going to design photos regularly, a stock photography subscription can be your best friend.

 

Commission Original Artwork:

Sometimes you have a vision in your head that doesn’t exist anywhere and you need to either build or commission an original piece of artwork. If you go this route, make sure that your marketing strategy is completely clear before anyone picks up a pen. There are few things as frustrating as waiting two weeks for a piece of art that just won’t sell your product.

The best part about this route is that it opens an entire world of possibilities. Want an original Art Deco piece to sell your show? Build it. Think that your actors would look great in a spoof of a classic Star Wars poster? Draw it. Often it’s good to be careful not to directly incorporate the text into the artwork. Building the text in the computer generally provides more versatility. That said, if you think your title would great woven into a forest, go for it. Just realize that it will set certain elements early in the design process and may be difficult to change.

 

Anything Goes Cover Photo

Step 3: Textures and Backdrops.

Even if you have a photoshoot, often you will need to go out and find that perfect texture for the background of the poster. This is where a stock photography database will be your best friend. Input a variety of search terms that work well for the feelings you are trying to evoke. Often your background textures will use the words “grunge” (for that fatigued look) or “retro.” Try playing with color choices, light, fabrics, metals. Sometimes, the proper look will be achieved by combining two of the textures together. In the case of this graphic for NCRT’s 1980s style production of King Lear, the background is a combination of a prison wall for the grunge texture, and a colored dust burst.

 

King Lear Cover Photo

Step 4: Choose Your Perfect Fonts

The perfect font really ties together a poster. Ideally you want something that isn’t terribly overused. Avoid heavily saturated “character” fonts like Papyrus or Comic Sans. Quite often, I go to an online font database and try a variety of search terms. Think about the exact feelings that you are hoping to inspire. Do you want the font to feel modern and clean? You’ll probably want a san-serif font. Want comfortable and nostalgic? Either try a serif font or go for a fun retro font that fits your theme. You won’t have quite the search term freedom that you get with a stock photography site so pick major groupings like “Greek” or “Comic book.”

 

Marjorie Prime Cover Photo

Most of the text on your poster will be in a font that is fairly subtle, but it should still make a statement. Also consider the spacing that you want between your letters. Capital letters with a lot of spacing between them tend to bring up images of the Roman empire. Tall thin letters closely packed have connotations with old time newspaper headlines. Figure out exactly what message you want to get across on a subliminal level and then go find the right font to do it.

Step 5: Test Your Message.

Once your poster is assembled and you’ve added your finishing touches, send a screenshot to five friends and ask them for a first impression. If their first impressions are in line with your marketing goals, then your poster is a success. If not, take their feedback with a grain of salt and make a few adjustments. Don’t ask them for specifics – just ask about the feelings that the poster evokes.

Follow these guidelines and your poster will be a successful and pivotal part of your marketing campaign.

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How to Make Facebook Work For Your Business http://davidhamiltondesign.com/how-to-make-facebook-work-for-your-business/ Thu, 11 Jun 2015 18:11:59 +0000 http://davidhamiltondesign.com/?p=1880 I have a confession to make: I am a terrible sculptor. I can draw portraits, design posters, even do some decently nice woodworking, but give me a ball of clay and tell me to make a puppy and I will create a sagging lumpy monstrosity worthy of a late 80s horror film. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person or ...

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I have a confession to make: I am a terrible sculptor. I can draw portraits, design posters, even do some decently nice woodworking, but give me a ball of clay and tell me to make a puppy and I will create a sagging lumpy monstrosity worthy of a late 80s horror film.

It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person or a terrible artist. I just don’t know how to work with that medium.

A lot of marketers are like that with social media. Give them a billboard, a website, or a thirty second commercial and they will build you a masterpiece, but hand them the reigns of a Facebook page and you’ll get an awkward lump of gray formless matter. It doesn’t mean they’re bad at marketing, but the pulse of the public excitement is a weird creature that needs to be constantly channeled and stimulated. Do it wrong and you’ll be stranded with a boring Facebook page with a hundred followers but no actual fans.

Excitement – Your Most Valuable Commodity

Classic advertising relies upon the captive audience. Want to watch your favorite show? First sit through this beer commercial. Stuck on the highway? Stare at this billboard. Social media defies those rules.

Facebook is grassroots excitement-driven publicity that relies heavily upon getting your visitors to like, share, and talk about your posts. Your target audience gets bombarded by marketing messages every day. They’re jaded, they’re cynical and your billboard style ad isn’t going to make it through their defenses.

The greatest resource in the social media world is buzz. You want people to be excited enough that they have to tell their friends.

Stunning photographs, interesting facts, behind the scenes stories – show them a different face. If you’re a theatre company, don’t just post a publicity photo for your upcoming play, give them a behind the scenes tour of a working costume shop as they piece together the coat of motley for the jester. Post a time lapse video of a neat make-up effect being applied. Tell a story about two of your actors walking into a Starbucks on stilts during their break and post a photo of them posing with the barista. If it wouldn’t be neat enough to be a conversation starter at a party, it probably isn’t going to work for your social media page.

What if My Business is Boring?

Social media is a place for personality. If you can’t get people excited about your widgets, at least get them to remember the face of your company. If you want to build community and public support, go out and interact. Enter a team in a charity race and tell their amazing story. Build a sandcastle at the local sculpting festival. Adopt a shelter dog as the office mascot. Creating social buzz isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone, but if you can make a story that’s worth re- telling your business will reap the benefits.

Found Content

A lot of businesses find their niche in social media by re-posting interesting tidbits from the internet. If done well, these links can be popular and cause fans to share your posts. This kind of found content marketing is a double edged sword though. If you don’t have a real story of your own to share, your business will just be borrowing and amplifying buzz for others. There’s no real point to having ten thousand Facebook fans if you don’t have your own organic message to share.

Found content is like bacon for your Facebook page. Dish out small meaty portions and your audience may find it flavorful, but feed them on a diet of it and your Facebook page will probably end up in cardiac arrest.

Paid Advertising

When you do have that perfectly crafted billboard and just need to get it seen, Facebook paid advertising is a decent route. Even a ten dollar budget is usually enough to get your ad seen by about 500-1000 people. One of the strengths of social media is that it allows for amazing ad targeting. You can set very precise demographics for your market, even targeting people who post about specific topics online. Your ad should be image-driven. Facebook won’t approve ads if text covers over 20% of the area.

This is a great place to use a professional photo shoot or go out and find the perfect stock photograph. Our preferred stock photography supplier is Shutterstock.com.

When you do have this perfect billboard message, consider giving fans an additional reason to share it. If your product is high enough quality and you’ve built enough excitement, many folks will be willing to share your post to their page if they get free entry into a drawing.

Putting It All Together

Having a successful Facebook page is a fairly full time job. Great photos and stories tend to happen around us all the time, but most folks don’t truly go out of their way to document them. A successful Facebook marketer should always have an eye out for opportunities to build excitement, should have a professional photographer on speed dial, and should never be far from a notebook or a camera. It’s hard work, but if you can successfully get people to care about the personality of your business, you will get the kind of buy-in that a thirty second beer commercial can only dream about.

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Your Accidental Brand Identity http://davidhamiltondesign.com/your-accidental-brand-identity/ Tue, 02 Jun 2015 03:35:57 +0000 http://davidhamiltondesign.com/?p=1862 Marketing is Life. Yeah, I’m a marketing guru so you’d expect me to think it’s pretty important. But marketing isn’t some neat feature that you’ll need some day so your business can “go big.” It’s an overarching storyline that invades every single part of human interactions. Who did you have a crush on in high school? What did you like ...

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Marketing is Life.

Yeah, I’m a marketing guru so you’d expect me to think it’s pretty important. But marketing isn’t some neat feature that you’ll need some day so your business can “go big.” It’s an overarching storyline that invades every single part of human interactions.

Who did you have a crush on in high school? What did you like about him or her? Was she the quiet artist with an ear for heavy metal? Was he the football player who took care of animals on weekends? Everybody has a brand. In these elemental human interactions, you are sculpting your first real message. There are certain clothes that you wear, clubs that you join, ways that you behave, photos that you are willing to have seen in public. These are the ways that people represent themselves.

How This Relates to Your Business.

Even if you don’t know it, your business has a brand. Maybe it’s “that little sandwich shop that is tucked into a corner, doesn’t try too hard, but has really fresh ingredients.” Maybe it’s “that guy that you can call if your computer breaks down and he’s also really handy with appliances.” On a more worrisome note, maybe it’s a jumbled soup of mixed impressions.

When people talk about what they like or don’t like about your business, they are usually talking about your branding. This coffee shop is “good about custom orders and eco-friendly,” or this theatre has “edgy shows for a college crowd.” Whether or not you recognize it, this is all part of your brand.

How to Take Control of Your Narrative.

Actually you can learn quite a bit from those early high school days. Just like the star pitcher wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of penny loafers, your business needs to establish its identity and stick with it. Know your crowd. If you’re trying to capture tourists with your rustic appeal, spring for quality reclaimed lumber with a weathered exterior. If you want the 21-30 crowd, the charming Roy Rogers figurine on your front counter is probably muddying the water. You don’t have to be two dimensional, but you don’t want the elements of your identity to be fighting against each other.

Craft a Compelling Message:

Want your weekly shows to be seen as a major event? Get a shoot from a quality photographer and post the most exciting shots on social media. Want people to find you charming? Post stories about the owner’s grandparents purchasing this land in the 1930s. If your message is strong enough and compelling enough, YOU can determine the primary dialogue about your business.

Speak With One Voice:

When people ask me about designing for a committee, my most important piece of advice is to make sure there is one person who makes the final decision. Compromise works great in some aspects of business, but taking the middle route will always leave your branding mired in quick sand.

If your haunted house is trying to walk the fine line between appealing to kids and families and appealing to the college crowd your message is going to get lost.

Committees often give designers headaches because they represent multiple different visions of your company’s brand. With our high school example, imagine if our football player, our quiet artist, and the math teacher all got to pick one third of your clothing. Maybe the result would be fine – more likely you’d end up with an ensemble
that none of the three were comfortable with.

Say it Loud and Proud:

Know who you are and who you want to be friends with. Know how you want customers to see you. Keep that message consistent across all elements of your branding. Do all of these things and the customers that you want will start lining up to ask you to dance.

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Surviving Mobile-geddon http://davidhamiltondesign.com/surviving-mobile-geddon/ Tue, 28 Apr 2015 18:44:20 +0000 http://davidhamiltondesign.com/?p=1844 Chicken Little has announced that the sky is falling for your website.  The big bad Google has changed up their algorithm yet again and if your site isn’t mobile friendly they’re going to divide up your business and sell it on the black market. Not everything you hear about Google’s algorithm change is true.  Here’s a quick guide to the ...

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Chicken Little has announced that the sky is falling for your website.  The big bad Google has changed up their algorithm yet again and if your site isn’t mobile friendly they’re going to divide up your business and sell it on the black market.

Not everything you hear about Google’s algorithm change is true.  Here’s a quick guide to the facts and a couple of solutions for your business.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

What Exactly is Happening?

On April 21st Google shifted their algorithm for how search engine results are calculated for mobile devices. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, it will be penalized in search engine results on mobile devices only.  This is most important for industries whose websites are often checked “on the go” like restaurants, hotels, and tourism sites who often get up to 75% of their traffic on mobile devices.

Is My Site Mobile Friendly?

There are a lot of tools out there to let you know if your site is mobile-friendly, but your best bet here is to take it right from the horse’s mouth and ask Google.  Google has released a webmaster tool to let you know if your site fits their mobile friendly standards. You can access that tool here.

How Do I Fix It?

If your site doesn’t rank well in mobile-friendliness, there are a couple solutions.

1) Build CSS for Mobile Using Media Queries

If your site is a standard site built with html and styled with cascading style sheets, you can become mobile friendly by creating a new style sheet specifically for mobile and adding a media query to your head tag.  Here’s a nice little tutorial to show you how it’s done.   You’ll also want to integrate a mobile-friendly menu bar.  For most small or medium businesses this will take your web designer about two days work – if the site was well designed from the beginning.

2) Rebuild Your Site in a Responsive Platform

If your site just wasn’t meant to be responsive, maybe you should look at a rebuild.  Our favorite responsive platform is WordPress.  It powers around a quarter of the sites on the internet, is highly flexible, and most good WordPress frameworks are fully mobile responsive. Think WordPress is for beginners or that all WordPress sites look the same? Check out our blog about this. The 5 Most Common WordPress Misconceptions.

What to Avoid

Platforms like Wix often offer to build you a separate mobile site.  If you’re a small business this is one rabbit hole that you don’t want to disappear into. Separate mobile sites run the risk of dividing up valuable resources like incoming links, and all too often one of the site versions will lag behind on updates.  You want to make sure that when someone visits your site, they’re getting the latest content.  Don’t divide up your time and resources maintaining two sites. One good mobile responsive website will pool all your resources and make sure that your clients get a high quality experience every time they visit.

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The Hidden Costs of Free Websites http://davidhamiltondesign.com/the-hidden-costs-of-free-websites/ Mon, 06 Apr 2015 17:55:54 +0000 http://davidhamiltondesign.com/?p=1684 If you’ve ever been on Facebook you’ve probably seen the ads. They promise a free website. You create the content and design. No web design experience required. We’ve picked up the pieces after a lot of these free websites. While they may work for some, here are five reasons why you should leave that couch on the curb and keep ...

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If you’ve ever been on Facebook you’ve probably seen the ads. They promise a free website. You create the content and design. No web design experience required. We’ve picked up the pieces after a lot of these free websites. While they may work for some, here are five reasons why you should leave that couch on the curb and keep walking.

#1: Drag and Drop Editors Don’t Build Code Structure

Sure, you can drag a photo to the right spot on a page, but there is a reason that web developers spend years or decades learning coding languages. Without a proper code structure your site doesn’t have room to expand. The code template of individual pages aren’t linked together, making it difficult or impossible to make sitewide changes. Imagine a car that looks okay and that moves down the street but that doesn’t have any linking interior parts. Something goes wrong with that car and a mechanic just can’t fix it.

#2: Separate Mobile Versions (If You’re Lucky)

These drag and drop editors aren’t mobile responsive. Without code tying the elements together, they can’t be. So the best of these free websites let you make a mobile version of your site. Of course the mobile version isn’t really tied to your website so any changes that you make in one you have to make in the other. Plus the elements of the site don’t move responsively so your mobile site won’t look good on all devices, just the ones you are targeting.

#3: Search Engine Optimization Soup

There are a lot of specific tags that search engine robots check. They scroll around the internet looking at alt text tags on photos, checking out H1 tags on your headlines– when they hit one of these free websites they are often built in JavaScript, a language that isn’t actually intended for search engines at all. Plus the truly free domains never make use of one of your best search engine optimization tools. Which leads us to #4…

#4: Domain Names that Mean Nothing

Getting business cards? Hope you’re planning on having them say “Visit us at www.s904930.mybuilder.com/mysitename.” Not only is it unprofessional, but it doesn’t give the search engines any keywords in the vital domain name spot. Speaking of unprofessional…

#5: Killing Your Groove With An Ad Bar

Want your message to be finely tuned? Hope part of that message is a highly visible and obnoxious bar saying, “I got my free website courtesy of freewebcompanynamehere.”

The Sad Truth About Free Websites

Once you start buying add-ons to make free websites actually competitive (get rid of the ad bar, get a custom domain name) the costs quickly start to mount up. We’ve had customers come to us for a new website because their formerly “free” site is costing them $30-$50 per month, is drastically outdated, and has no flexibility to grow or change. In the end, if you are even remotely serious about your business – it pays to do it properly in the beginning.

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