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Check out our blog for industry related posts focused on helping you achieve your advertising and communication goals.

8 Elements of a Modern Website

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Twenty years ago, it wasn’t unheard of for a business to exist (and even succeed) without an online presence. The ubiquitous nature of the internet has made that very untrue today and in 2022, having an outdated website is almost as bad as having no website at all. If you grudgingly created a website in 2002 and haven’t updated the style since this blog is for you.

White Space/Minimalism

With modern websites, less is more. A minimalistic design puts the spotlight on your product or message and looks clean and professional. The easiest way to incorporate that design into your website is by using white space to visually organize your elements like images, content and calls to action. Pro tip: white space doesn’t need to be white! Any color can be used to create some breathing room on your site.

Scroll Effects

Scroll effects are an easy way to make your content interactive. They include:

Parallax Scrolling – The background changes as you scroll.Scroll-Triggered Animations – animations pop up as you scroll, but everything else stays the same.Horizontal Scrolling – Your pages move right and left rather than up and down.Infinite Scrolling – Your page scrolls in a loop so when you reach the bottom you’re starting at the top again.Bold Colors

Ensure your website color scheme matches your brand's tone but keep it bold to grab attention and make your brand instantly recognizable.

Large Typography

Who needs pictures when you can make your content look like art? Pick a unique (but still easy to read) font that will become instantly recognizable as your brand and make your name the focal point of your homepage!

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Three Ways Students Can Improve a School’s Social Media Presence

Students on cell phones

 

There’s no doubt that social media is where the majority of students spend their free time. So why not put their passion for the digital world to use? Fortunately, a platform called Class Intercom has created a way for students to create compelling content and safely share it to help promote their school on social media. This platform’s goal is to provide schools with solutions to engage students in social media creation, create a curriculum, and open communication. 

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Top Tips for a Good Interview

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The office doorbell rang, and I answered the door. It was a young college student (aren’t they all young?) applying for a summer website internship position. He introduced himself in a calm matter and I offered him a seat while I informed my boss of his arrival. I admired him for his calmness and for the many meetings he will have in the future. Being interviewed can be scary and if you are unaware of what to do or not to do…read on.

Our company hired this great applicant but some of the others who didn’t make the cut made the mistake of making these DON’T statements:

I don’t handle stress well.I don’t really want to do web development; I want to develop apps.I don’t know what I want to do after graduation.I don’t multi-task well and I procrastinate.

These applicants forgot the simple fact that an internship is still an investment of time for the employer, not just the employee and you work for them, not them for you. An employer wants someone who will do what it takes to get the job done with a smile.

As scary as an interview maybe it is also an opportunity to see if it may be suitable for you. Are the employer and employees a right fit for you or your personality? Is the position what you were expecting? Will it give you a chance to grow? My first interview out of college gave me insight when it began like this:

 “Okay,” the interviewer began. He turned off the lights and turned on a spotlight above me. “Don’t feel nervous,” he said with a bit of seriousness, “We are just going to ask you a few questions.” Then he chuckled a little, turned on the lights and said, “Just kidding. We are trying to lighten the mood a little. You’re fine.” Talk about terrifying.

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Love My Job? Yep! Here’s Why…

Gary

The great philosopher Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Great words to live by and used as a goal to reach by many.

Do you enjoy what you do every day? Is what you do for a living a career or a job? What’s the difference? Here’s the dictionary’s definition:

Job: a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one's occupation or for an agreed price.

Career: success in a profession, occupation, etc. often requiring special training, followed as one's lifework.

My mother always told me, “Choose an occupation you will enjoy, not just for the money.” Of course when you are young, it’s always the money first and happiness will follow. (Right?) It took me years to discover the great wisdom of my mother’s words.

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Podcasting 101

Podcasting101

Podcasting ­­­­— what was once a niche market has exploded into popular culture in a huge way. In 2022 you likely know at least one person who hosts a podcast. If not, hello! My name is Devin and I host a podcast. And now my point is made.

The same reasons everyone from your neighbor to your mechanic can host a podcast apply to businesses as well – its easy, relatively inexpensive and fun! In fact, when it comes to businesses, podcasts are one of the easiest and most effective marketing tools. From a Forbes article on the benefits of podcasting –

“You can’t demonstrate your credibility without sharing your expertise, and by sharing your expertise you become helpful. You become valuable for your listeners,” explains Stephen Woessner on his podcast Onward Nation, a daily podcast for business owners. “It’s much more likely you can then develop a business relationship from someone in your audience when you’ve established your credibility.”

But where do you start? We have compiled a checklist of everything you need before you jump into the podcasting world. The below is merely a jumping-off point, there are countless options and services when it comes to podcasting, but these are my recommendations for starting out.

Decisions to Make:

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They Want it When?

WhenGUY

Sometimes a client requests a printed marketing piece in a “less than average” time frame. Sometimes we can do it and sometimes we can’t. What factors help us make that determination?

Due date: When do you need it in your hands? That triggers a process used by most creative firms to allow each individual on the “production tree” ample time to produce a satisfying end product. In the agency business, this is what’s involved:

Printer (Rush: 3-4 days at a minimum, dependent upon size and quantity):  Select your printer. Ask them how much time they need from time of receipt of the file to final printing and delivery. Confirm the proper dimensions, paper available and any additional needs (folding, perforation, etc.). For rush jobs, they may have to readjust their schedule by pushing other work back to accommodate your timeline and that could result in extra fees.

Copywriting/Editing (Rush: 1-4 days):  The writer needs information from the client for content or direction on how it should be written or what needs to be included. After the content is written, it’s submitted to the client for review and reworked, as needed. Upon approval, the designer receives the copy to flow into the layout. 

Design (Rush: 3-5 days at a minimum):  Is the necessary information ready and provided to the designer: approved copy, photography to be used, desired dimensions and logo or branding information. If in a rush, a designer who has the dimensions and general information can create a basic layout with “dummy” text and photos as fillers for when the real stuff comes in. Designing “on the fly” is challenging and not usually a good idea as the amount of creativity and number of revisions allowed may be sacrificed in the rush to complete the job within the timeframe desired.

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The 10 Best Super Bowl Ads of 2022

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Apparently, there was some sort of sports game on the other night…? I wouldn’t know. I was only there for the food, the halftime show and, of course, the commercials. Truly, unless you’re someone who genuinely “likes” football or lives in one of the represented cities, the only thing to look forward to on Super Bowl Sunday are the ads. This year, advertisers chose to largely ignore the upheaval in the NFL and the world at large and focus on funny, star-studded entertainment. Not all the swings were hits, but many were. Here are the top 10 (at least in the opinion of this humble marketing professional).

 

Rocket Mortgage, “Barbie’s Dream House”

Sometimes you need to laugh to keep from crying. Yes, the housing market is so competitive that even Barbie would struggle to buy her dream house, but through the undeniable charm of Anna Kendrick that ugly truth comes across as fun rather than soul-crushing. Plus, the idea of Barbie living next door to Skeletor? Priceless.

 

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Three Ways to Better Understand Inclusive Marketing

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Inclusive Marketing may sound like the latest industry buzzword, but it’s actually the natural progression of what marketers have known for decades: if you’re trying to reach a particular group you need to appeal to who they are and what they like. Seems simple enough, yet time and again we have seen brands fumble in their delivery. Here are three tips for avoiding the common pitfalls of inclusive marketing.

1. Do Your Homework

The only thing worse than not being inclusive in your marketing is being inclusive in name only, without putting any actual effort into understanding and appealing to your target audience. If you or your team doesn’t have firsthand knowledge of your target customer group your priority should be market research. (It also might be time to look at why no one on your team can speak to certain demographic groups and consider making changes at a company-wide level).

Get to know your customers - what they want and how they want to be represented – before you start marketing to them. Thinking you understand a group without doing the actual work could land you in a PR crisis or worse. Remember when Pepsi tried to capitalize on the Black Lives Matter movement with… Kendall Jenner. Yeah, that did not go well.  Don’t be like Pepsi. Be better.

2. Create Realistic Content

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Seeing It in a Whole New Light

I sat there looking at the illustration I had been working on for some time… upside down. My wife didn’t question me as many of my family members have learned not to. It was a “Dad or Gary thing” or maybe just what artists do. As the saying goes, “The left-handed are in their right minds.” Meaning of course, we use the creative side of our brains (the right side) more often than that of the typical right-handed person.

Why was I looking at my illustration upside down? One family member did dare to ask me once, fearing some eccentric answer. But it was anything but that, at least I think so. I had spent some time working on this piece and still couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. I had been looking at it for so long I became comfortable with what I was doing. Much like writing. You write it and proof it and proof it again. You can’t find any errors but give it to someone else and they find things that you overlooked because they are a fresh set of eyes seeing it for the first time.

What does the artist do to resolve his problem? First, he turns it upside down. By looking at it in a different way he is seeing it like another person seeing it for the first time. It now becomes a different piece of work and errors are easier to find. Another way to see it differently is to hold it up in a mirror. Looking at the reverse image of what you’ve been staring at for so long, “magnifies” any possible adjustments needed.

So, if you walk into a room of an artist looking at his work upside down, he’s not crazy. He’s just trying to improve his work and if he is sitting and staring at someone else’s work (like I often do) he’s just admiring the talent.

Have a Very-Perri 2022

The “cerulean blue monologue” from The Devil Wears Prada will forever live rent-free in my mind. You know, the one where Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly succinctly reads Anne Hathaway’s Andy Sachs character for scoffing at the “triviality” of fashion while highlighting the countless designers, editors and visionaries it takes for a simple blue sweater to end up in our closet? Excuse me, cerulean. It’s a cinematic masterpiece and the first thing that pops into my head every time Pantone reveals its color of the year.

The process of picking the color of the year sounds very similar to the series of events Miranda Priestly describes; the color experts at Pantone scour runways, artwork and films for a color that will speak to the general mood of the world for the coming year. Then, in the endless circle of influence, the color is picked up by even more designers and tastemakers and even corporate brands to truly become the omnipresent color of the year.

This year, Pantone chose Very-Perri – a vibrant shade of periwinkle – to define 2022. As Pantone explained to Adweek, they started with a blue base  – a perennial favorite – and then added a “red-violet undertone.” “So, you’ve taken your blue, that steadfast color, and added this excitement, this dynamism,” Pantone executive director Leatrice Eiseman explained.

So where will we be seeing Very-Perri in the coming year? Likely, everywhere. From the fashion industry, who pays particular attention to Pantone’s annual choices, to Microsoft, a long-time partner of Pantone, who will incorporate the hue into their products such as PowerPoint and Windows wallpaper.

The great thing about having a universally rallying color is that brands big or small can take advantage of the intel. We might not all have access to the exact shade of Very-Perri – a brand new and exclusive Pantone shade – but we can all feature vivid periwinkle in our ads and products for the year and benefit from the burst of optimism it’s meant to impart.  

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KMK is Getting into the Holiday Spirit!

Here at KMK we’re getting into the holiday spirit by reflecting on our favorite Christmas traditions. Unsurprisingly, many of them include baking and they all include loved ones.

Pam's favorite tradition is baking Christmas cookies with her three kids. "I started baking with them when they were very young and got more dough on the dog and on the floor than they did in the bowl,” she laughed “but now in their teens, they are pretty good bakers!" Her favorite is peanut butter chocolate fudge passed down from her mom.

Gary's fondly remembers his mother's four different homemade shapes of sugar cookies: Santa, tree, star and bell. He explained, "Each of my siblings and I took turns frosting and sprinkling them. They had to be a specific way. Santa's were red with a beard and suit trim, stars were yellow, bells were blue, and trees were green." Lori's family also got in on the baking fun with a weekend long cookie baking extravaganza. She said, "The process may be long, but it is very rewarding in the end." It may have helped that her family owned a bakery where they made her favorite, animal cookie – a sweet bread pastry.

For Lexi, Christmas means ice skating in downtown Chicago. She loves “being in the city and seeing all of the festive lights." And Devin loves her family’s tradition of gift tags that are clues to the gift inside. “I think I look forward to reading my tags (and having my family read the ones I've written) and trying to guess the gift more than actually opening the present on Christmas morning." Shaun's favorite tradition is the Progressive Dinner that sees each member of his family hosting a different course at their house until “finally we go to my parents’ house for dessert."

Even for those of us who don’t count baking among our favorite holiday traditions, we still have nostalgic treats we look forward to every year. From Lexi’s grandmother’s recipe for homemade crescent moon cookies covered in powder sugar to the Sicilian chocolate spice cookies that always remind Devin of family, baking is clearly one of the best parts of the holidays.

Top 3 Digital Marketing Tips to Lift Your Holiday Revenue Spirits!

At a personal level, the holidays are the time of year to slow down, spend more time with family, and appreciate the little things. At a professionallevel, the holidays are the time of year to up your game and stay in the know. One way to do this is to incorporate the holiday spirit in your digital marketing strategies. This holiday season, deck the media with creative Christmas digital marketing strategies! Having a consistent, visually appealing, and festive theme can help drive consumers to buy your products/services. As Christmas gets closer, be sure to include these three ways you can incorporate Christmas themes into your digital marketing strategies.

Utilizing holiday themed content is a great way to engage your audience in an interactive way. Consider developing social media posts that engage thecommunity withholiday specials. People love to share during this time of year. By circulating your content around a popular subject, you will stay up to date with consumers and be able to actively interact.

Holiday newsletters are a great way to engage your customers in an interactive format, while increasing your brand awarenessamong new prospects. If you’re thinking about creating a newsletter, then you should start now. People want to receive newsletters before Christmas. If you’re already sending out an email blast with sales or advertisements, then consider adding a newsletter to it by linking the two together.

Christmas branding is seen everywhere during this time of year. Branding is one of the simplest ways you can incorporate Christmas marketing into your business. Consider updating your logo or brand name with something festive for the holidays. This is an easy and playful way to attract your customers. There are endless possibilities on creative design. Opportunities range from adding Christmas images to your logo and/or brand name, creating a catchy holiday caption, or even designing a brand mascot for the holiday season.

           

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A New Year in the Life of a KMK Media Graphic Designer

Gary

It was October 26, 2020. I began my new position with KMK Media Group as their Graphic Designer. I felt blessed. After losing my position with a game and toy company I had been with for 20 years and a long search due to COVID, I had landed.

I was given the option to work at home…remotely like so many businesses were doing. I was given a nice office with windows (no 8’ x 8’ cubicle in the middle of a building) so why would I want to work at home? We kept our doors partly closed and wore our masks when meeting with each other. The most difficult part of my transition was my manager being gone for my first 2 weeks due to COVID. Systems and routines were explained, tasks via email. I prevailed or so I believe I did.

It wasn’t just a learning curve for me. Everyone needed to get to know me. How easy am I to talk to and how well do I take constructive criticism? My manager would often start out with, “Don’t take this the wrong way…” I told her, “I’m not perfect and I expect corrections and input. Without it how can we grow as an employee and a person?” Now, a year later, the collaboration and feedback flows freely toward successful solutions for our clients.

One of my first job duties was to create the website design for a large, regional government organization. During my job interview, I’d been asked for ideas. After being hired, one of those ideas was presented and selected by the client for implementation. The new site launched earlier this year, much to my excitement and the happiness of our client.

I also worked on projects for a school, menus for a restaurant, charitable foundation website, logo designs and billboards, to name a few. There was never one set thing to do and always a variety. My only downfall was occasionally being too eager and starting a project before I had the final go-ahead. My boss thinks there could be far worse weaknesses.

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Be a Graphic Designer in 4 Short Weeks…NOT! (i.e. the value of a true graphic designer)

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“Learn Graphic Design in 4 Short Weeks!” …has anyone else seen this Facebook ad?

I have now seen it several times. As a professional graphic designer with formal training and more than 30 years of experience, the fact that the ad was targeted to me did, perhaps, color my perception of it right from the start.

The comments from other Facebook viewers were not what I expected. They questioned what programs are required and whether it was really 4 weeks of free training. The best response by the company that posted the ad was, “Actually it is an eight-week course, and the first 4 weeks are free.” Really? Bait and switch at play and yet people were still interested in the offering.

You cannot learn graphic design in 4 weeks or 8 weeks…at least not enough to become proficient and knowledgeable enough to do it for a career.

Over the years, I have fixed the “design” files of many people who claimed to be graphic designers, having taken a short course or purchased a self-taught program or two. The fact is: anybody can use the software but not everyone has the skills required to do it well without proper instruction. Sure, you can open a blank document in InDesign with guidelines set for your text and your photos. Place the photos, maybe make a few bigger than others, but is that design?

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“I See Your True Colors”…or Do I?

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“What difference does it make what color I use? I’m just going to use what I think looks good,” said many a graphic design intern I have mentored over the years.

There is a logical reason for every color choice, but first, start with black and white.

Begin your design process in simple black and white (and greys), because color plays a very important role in how we view everything we look at. In the design world, whether it is a brochure, a sign, a game box or an ever-important logo, color affects perception and preference.

I once created several variations of a logo using different colors. Upon presenting in front of a committee for feedback, I was overwhelmed with a variety of opinions. Adding color to them distracted the viewers from the actual look of the logo, and many were analyzing them with color in mind. Upon recreating them in black and white, a mutual agreement was easier to be reached based on the design alone. If you start your design process with color first before basic design, you limit creativity based on color first, NOT the design.

The next important rule of design with color? Consider your target audience. In my many years of designing packaging, products, promotional material and logos for a game and toy company, I discovered the need to start with the age demographic. It will jumpstart the design process and incorporating color.

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I Can See Three Dinosaurs

Teal

Ever see those jumbled up paintings?

You know the kind where there are always at least three people standing around staring at it with one saying, “I don’t see anything. You’re both nuts.”

And another responding, “What do you mean you don’t see it? They’re right there! Three dinosaurs! Just stare at it for a while, you’ll see it.”

And the third person loses countless hours staring…and staring…and staring…

Well, that is art. I was once asked in art school, “What is art?” Some students had answers, others looked either scared to respond or hoped they wouldn’t be called on. The professor answered, “Art is what you want it to be. It is what the eye perceives. I can hold up this pencil and call it art because I say it is.”

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First KMK Staffer Gets "The Shot"

Gary-Vaccine

It was believed to start in China. A strange virus able to spread quickly to the immune system of any one of us. It has no favorites and seems to most seriously affect the elderly and those with low immune systems. It soon spread throughout our country. Many thought they were invincible and refused wearing masks or taking precautions. They were bitter and angry when restaurants closed down and stores denied them entrance without masks.

Jobs were furloughed and employers encouraged people to look for other employment. Some began to lose their jobs, once thinking they were crucial to the company’s success. Thousands and thousands flooded LinkedIn, Indeed, and Zip Recruiter looking for employment within a scarce number of available jobs, and many people are still searching for employment.

Schools changed the way they teach. Children taught themselves to learn remotely, parents worked at home, Zoom became a word as popular as Kleenex. The year 2020 changed the way we lived and how to survive. Surviving the loss of a job, the double duty of working at home and spending more time with children, longing to return to the “old normal” of no masks and not hearing the daily COVID death count while hoping for a cure.

In 2020, a vaccine was created. The essentials were first to receive it…doctors, nurses, medics, emergency providers, teachers, etc. We put our names on a list hoping to be next. It is not 100% effective, but in my opinion, if I am 90% safer and protected from getting the disease, then the vaccine is definitely worthwhile. I will be the “human guinea pig” as some vaccine non-believers call me. It’s us human guinea pigs that helped find the cure for Smallpox, Measles, Chicken Pox, Polio and so many others that killed thousands of people in the early 1900s.

So, I became the first of the KMK staff to receive the vaccine. Does this mean I can whip off the mask and act like Superman….indestructible to everything? Everything that is, but Kryptonite, the one thing that could make the invincible superhero weak and vulnerable. The vaccine is my hopeful cure to the “old normal” and the virus is the Kryptonite, needing to be destroyed.

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How Facebook Has Changed During COVID-19

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For better or for worse, this year’s slew of postponed and cancelled events has given people much more free time. If you’re one of Facebook’s nearly 3 billion users, you’ve likely spent more time scrolling through your newsfeed as a result. During that endless scrolling, you may have noticed some changes to the user experience that have been introduced over the last several months.

Updated InterfaceRemember when our biggest worry about Facebook was when we would have to switch over to the dreaded timeline? The most recent Facebook design that we’ve all become familiar with was removed in September, replaced by a plainer interface meant to highlight Facebook’s newer features like Watch and Facebook Gaming. However, the plainness and reorganization of icons and buttons has brought its fair share of criticism. COVID wasn’t the catalyst for Facebook’s overhaul (it was announced in April 2019), but the update still came at a time where users, living in a world that has changed virtually every day this year, may have appreciated some familiarity.

More AdvertisementsFacebook spending increased 19% in the first six months of 2020 and the influx of Facebook usage has caused desktop users to see nearly 25% more ads since the beginning of March according to Ad Age. It may seem odd that more advertising money was being spent during an economic downturn, but these advertisements have been promoting hot ticket items like branded masks, virtual entertainment, and at-home activities more so than typical COVID-less goods and have become a staple of the Facebook experience.

No Political AdvertisementsSince this is a newer change, you may have not yet noticed that Facebook stopped running new political ads starting October 27 and banned them entirely after polls closed to limit the spread of misinformation this election season. The change is not expected to be permanent, but there is no timetable for when they will be reinstated.

What This All MeansIf you only use Facebook for personal reasons, nothing here has likely created any major challenges. It may take some time to adjust to the new interface and the surge of ads might be annoying, but you shouldn’t be affected otherwise. For people like myself who run multiple Facebook pages, create advertisements, and track analytics, this has created some difficulties.

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Irr-Reese’s-tible: Do Favorite Candies Top the Temptation of Advertisements?

photo-1499195333224-3ce974eecb47 I'm a sucker for gummy candy

The best candy will forever be a topic of debate. Fruity vs. chocolatey. Chewy vs. crunchy. Sweet vs. sour. Americans spend egregious amounts of money specifically on Halloween candy each year. In 2019, Americans spent $2.6 billion on Halloween candy, a number that’s rising in 2020 according to the National Confectioners Association. To celebrate the approaching holiday season, candystore.com released its annual list of the nation’s top 10 Halloween candies which are:

1. Skittles2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups3. Starburst4. M&M’S5. Hot Tamales6. Candy Corn7. Snickers8. Sour Patch Kids9. Hershey Kisses10. Jolly Ranchers

Americans clearly have their favorite candies and are willing to spend big on them, whether it be for themselves or someone else. This got me thinking: Since virtually everyone has a favorite candy, does advertising these specific candies do much? If everyone in the country knows what they look like, taste like, and already has a favorite, is it worth it?

To answer this question, I compiled a graph with television advertising statistics I found on ispot.tv. I focused on television ads because it was the easiest to find data on. Unfortunately, there was no data available for Hot Tamales, Jolly Ranchers, and the too general candy corn. The candy with available data appears on the graph in order of popularity.

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Insult Your Customers on Social Media? These Businesses Do It Successfully Every Day.

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Have you ever scrolled through Facebook and seen someone post a complaint about a product or customer service on a company’s post? The typical response is something along the lines of:

“Hi, so-and-so. We are sorry to hear you had a bad experience and we would like to make things right. Please call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx so we can resolve the issue.”

Sure, it’s a standard cookie cutter response, but it’s how customer service on social media has always been run. Work with customers and make them happy so they’ll keep buying your product or service. But what if there’s another way to respond to customer complaints? What if the social media team fights back?

 

 

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Who We Are?

KMK Media Group is a full-service communications firm focused on helping businesses succeed through consistent creative, message and tone.

What We Do

Our services include award-winning design, web development, social media management, video production, public relations, ad campaigns and more!

Where to find us?

Address
716 North Church Street
Rockford, Illinois 61103
Phone Number
815-399-2805
Email Address
info@kmkmedia.com