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5 Ways To Make Your Content Stand Out

Content marketing is a great way to entertain, inform and build a relationship with your audience. So rather than making it dull and overwhelmingly informational, make it interesting, fun and playful, while driving your most important information forward.

You want to spark curiosity in your audience, so that they take the next step and engage with your brand. 

Here are five of our favourite ways to make content stand out. 

1. Set a Brand Tone and Keep It Consistent

Remember, your content isn’t necessarily unique; it’s your voice that sets you apart. Your voice is the personality that shines through your content. 

The most important things to remember about your voice are consistency and clarity. Every piece of content you put out there should have a consistent tone of voice. Clarity allows you to control how your audience views your brand’s personality. 

A tip for having consistency and clarity throughout your content is to have a style guide, that anyone in your company can refer back to when creating content.

2. Know Your Content Options

Before starting to produce any content, you need to understand what will be valuable to your specific audience, and what your purpose is for creating this content.

There are a variety of ways to share content:

  • Blog
  • Youtube channels, other video options
  • Podcasts
  • Email newsletter
  • Any other free content

Be sure to include a wide spread of content, while keeping the demographic of your audience in mind. Where does your audience spend most of their time?

3. Have a Detailed Strategy

What is your goal with each piece of content? Some important questions to ask yourself are: What are you doing, how are you doing it, who are you doing it for, and when are you doing it? 

If you have multiple teams focusing on different aspects of digital marketing, have a content strategy that is applicable across all marketing teams. The last thing you want, for example, is to create a blog, and not have the proper SEO for it.

If all of this sounds too complicated, we can help you get started! Contact us, so we can set you on the right path.

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Quick Guide: Designing Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are a great way to attract new customers to your business and stay fresh in the minds of people who already know your brand. But in a time where everyone is fighting for customers’ attention, you need to make sure your ad creative will make them stop scrolling and pay attention to what you have to say. 

In a previous blog post, we talked about how Canva can be your ally when it comes to creating an ad. It is a tool we use a lot here at Curve, since you can choose to either design from scratch or take advantage of their templates–the latter option of course being an even easier and faster path towards great-looking ad creative. But even if you choose the template route, there are a few tips and tricks you should keep in mind when it comes to designing Facebook ads:

Before reading any further, remember that the purpose of your ad is to make people stop scrolling through their feed, so you need to create an image or video that will stand out!

1. Consider the basics first

  • Like we mentioned here, if you’re adding text to your design, make sure it doesn’t exceed 20% of the image;
  • Before choosing the colours, images and fonts, consider your brand identity. Being consistent with your colours and style helps customers recognize you more easily.

2. Choose the right format

  • Single image: the most basic (which doesn’t mean boring!) and easiest-to-create option. Go with a square design of 1200×1200 pixels.
  • Video: best option for when you want to tell a history or give a demo of a product or service.
  • Carousel: perfect for showcasing multiple products! You can have up to 10 images or videos and each image can have its own link.

3. Find an image

  • If you don’t have or don’t want to use one of your photos, you can use stock images. We’ve created a list of the best websites out there to source great pictures and graphics for free!
  • Only use high quality photos! A 1200×1200 pixels image is perfect for Facebook.

4. Pick your colour scheme

  • Take a few minutes to read about the psychology of colours. Knowing what the different colours represent is important so you can match your design to the message you want to send.
  • Because your goal is to catch people’s attention, choose bright colours with high contrast!
  • Stay away from shades of blue – blue is Facebook’s colour and using it will make your ad blend in. If your brand identity happens to be blue, choose complementary colours, like oranges and yellows. Use a colour wheel to help you.

5. Play with text

  • Readability comes first! Stay away from cursive or ornate fonts – you have seconds to catch someone’s attention and you don’t want to make it difficult for them to read.
  • If your image has a lot of detail and the text doesn’t stand out, use elements to create a background; it doesn’t have to be a solid block of colour– just play with the transparency!

6. Use templates

  • As mentioned before, you can use Canva templates to create single images, carousels and even some animation.
  • If you’re creating a video, try out some of the Vimeo templates!

Pro-tip: Always create more than one design. Simply change the images and the placement of your elements. Sometimes the image you loved is not going to appeal to your prospects as much as you would’ve imagined. So set up two or three variations and let Facebook deliver the most successful one.

If you want to learn more about the other components of an ad, we have some extra resources for you! Check out this blog to read about ad copy and targeting, and this blog if you want help with your copywriting.

And if all of this seems overwhelming, get in touch and let our experts advertise your brand for you!

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5 Ideas for Successful Restaurant PR

Restaurants have had a particularly rough time during COVID, and many of them sadly won’t come out the other side. For those who remain, and for those who have managed to open during the last 18 months, getting diners to support them is key to survival.

Letting people know about your restaurant, and then getting them to come and try your food, and then turning them into repeat customers who will spread the word, is vital.

Restaurant PR can be hard to secure, but there are several ways to get your restaurant noticed and to gain a following that will hopefully be key to long-term success.

1. Do your research

Look at local news sites to find the name of their resident food blogger, or even better the food editor. These people spend most evenings eating out at new establishments, so if you want to get a mention on their all-important pages, reach out to them and invite them for a (free) meal, or even better, for them to experience everything on the menu in tasting form. Invite them AND a plus one, because you’ve got a better chance of them turning up. 

If they accept, make sure you prearrange a day and time for them to come, so you can make sure your front of house and kitchen staff are fully prepared. Ensure you are on hand to greet them (look them up online to see what they look like, although sometimes they go incognito and you can’t find a photo!) and walk them through the menu as you bring dishes to the table. I’ve heard of cases where influential food writers showed up, and were left to fend for themselves AND foot the bill. 

Those reviews weren’t glowing. Some writers may insist on paying, so let them if they want to, as they might not want to be “influenced” by the owner. 

2. Be unique

Come up with something for your menu that no one else is doing. Think along the lines of the $100 burger, or the steak that’s wrapped in gold leaf. Those might not be your style, but the point is, a unique menu item has a better chance of getting you some media coverage. Once you’ve created it, let everyone know about it!

3. Arrange a kitchen tour

Some food writers like to see behind the scenes, s invite a few of them (they mostly know each other) to come to the restaurant for a full tour of the kitchen, followed by a selection of items to enjoy from the menu. Having people along in a group rather than one on one can reduce the cost of individual free meals, but you need to make it special in order to entice them. Provide transportation and maybe a gift box or a welcome cocktail, and set aside time to talk to them before service so that the kitchen isn’t slammed, but where staff can make food just for them.

4. Give them what they want

If you serve breakfast, why not make some breakfast items and have them delivered to the local TV and radio stations, as well as the local online news outlet once they start the day? You’re a late night establishment? Deliver something to those media folks who are still at work to get them through the end of their shift. If you want a shout-out during coverage of an event, send your team to deliver food to people who are covering that event – sports commentators, breaking news reporters (only when it’s good news happening!), election night teams etc. These people are usually hungry, always grateful, and will generally give a generous plug for your business if you feed them!

5. Passing it on, and sharing your knowledge

While the way to go used to be getting on TV shows to do a cooking segment (and that’s still a GREAT thing to pitch if you can), there are fewer stations doing that now, and even where they exist, often the facilities are not as conducive to live cooking as they used to be (thanks to smaller budgets and not as many maintenance folks around to look after the equipment). Organize a public cooking demo where people come to you to watch as an audience. Get involved in community events where you are making and donating food – it’s a great exercise in letting people know about the values you have as a business. Create your own cooking videos where you share recipes and cook things up, sharing your knowledge and teaching people how to make it themselves. 

This provides great online content for your social media channels and you can even send those links to local influencers for inclusion on their blogs. You can then become the go-to person for cooking-related stories when they need a spokesperson!

Interested in more PR tips? Follow us on social media and read our blogs for more insights about the digital marketing world. Click here to schedule a chat with us!

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Seven No-nonsense Tips to (Best) Structure your Workflow in Asana

Want to make the most out of Asana’s best features to structure your workflow and ensure optimal productivity? Asana is a highly customizable and powerful workplace content management system (CMS). It is built for organizations of all sizes and there are a variety of ways to tailor it for you and your team. Asana is built to streamline projects connecting your individual workflow to the broader organizational objectives. 

 

Asana is user-friendly and anyone can use its basic features without any training. But if you want to gain a competitive edge from this tool, you will need to stop just employing it as a simple to-do list. When you begin using Asana’s various features to structure your workflow (the right way 😉), you will see an increase in productivity. These seven no-nonsense tips to structure your workflow in Asana will help you get started.

1. Declutter “My Tasks”

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My Tasks” is your home–the hub to use as your starting point for your work day. It’s a place to discover what is coming up and what you need to work on, but you can use it for much more than just a to-do list. 

At the beginning of your day, organize your assigned tasks using the filters on the top right hand corner and prioritizing them amongst sections as “To-do,” “Doing,” or “Done.” This feature comes in handy for staying on track and laser-focused on what’s important. For example, you can hide the “To-do” tasks while concentrating on “Doing” tasks to focus on priorities. Moving completed tasks to “Done” lets you see your completed tasks in one spot, and gives you a sense of what you’ve accomplished. “Done” comes in handy as a quick progress report too!

At the beginning of my work day, my personal filters are set to “Sort by due date” and “Show incomplete,” which ensures my tasks are organized into each priority level section. 

2. Streamline “My Tasks” with automations

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If taking a few minutes each morning to organize “My Tasks” seems daunting and time consuming, worry not. By adding a few rules (automations) to Asana, it will organize your tasks for you. 

To add these Automations:

  1. Click “Customize” in the toolbar
  2. Click “Add Rule”

In the add a rule menu you can create 3 rules to streamline your daily tasks:

  • When the due date is approaching (3 days before) → Move task to “To-do.”
  • When the due date is approaching (due today) → Move task to “Doing.”
  • When the task is marked complete → Move the task to “Done.”

 

Pro-tip: You will know the rule has been deployed when you see a lighting bolt⚡️ beside the section that has a rule.

3. Create tasks (the right way!!)

Art Create GIF by GIPHY Arts - Find & Share on GIPHY

So now you know the optimal way to organize your assigned tasks but what if you need to create new ones?

From “My Tasks” you can create new tasks that will automatically be assigned privately to you. Add them to projects to make them visible to the rest of the team. To ensure your newly-created tasks are structured correctly, follow these steps before clicking “Create Task.” 

  1. Add a task name that explains what it’s about in simple terms.
  2. Write a detailed description explaining the task’s specifications.
  3. Assign the task to the team member in charge of it. They will be its lead.
  4. Next to the assignee option you can add the task to a “Project” and choose the appropriate “Section” for it.
  5. Choose the task’s priority level: “Low, Med or High.” (Your team will thank you for the clarity.)
  6. Add a due date. You can further set the task and its due date to repeat daily, weekly, monthly or for a specified range.
  7. Before clicking “Create Task,” edit collaborators, looping in all that need to be added. They will all get notifications when any changes are made to the task.
  8. Finally, click “Create Task.”

You can further click on your newly-created task for more options. My personal favourite is “Subtasks.”

9. Add subtasks to break down work into smaller steps, each of which can be assigned to a different person.

 

Pro-tip: Add a date range to tasks to set a specific start and due date. This will help you pace the work and plan ahead, ensuring everyone involved has enough time to complete their work.

4. Store the same task across multiple projects (multi-home)

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Asana has a key feature when creating tasks that deserves its own section. One of its most underused features is the ability to have one task appear across multiple projects, or “multi-home.” 

Sometimes a task isn’t confined to one project, such as this blog post which is being tracked in the communal “Curve Blog Challenge” project, as well as in my private “Blog Writing Workflow” project. Rather than wasting time duplicating the task and stressing over which project it should go in, I just assign it to both. Now, updates are tracked in one spot, but other teammates involved can visualize the task in the project that makes most sense to them. With that, I can easily check off subtasks from within the “Blog Writing” project while my project manager can scan the “Curve Blog Challenge” project tasks to make sure we are all on track. 

Adding tasks across multiple (multi-home) projects helps the curve team keep work connected.

5. Create private projects to brainstorm ideas

Projects create a succinct process of tasks to achieve a specific goal or initiative. Sometimes when I’m mapping out an initiative, it’s best to do so in a private project that I can use as a rough draft. Once I’ve fine-tuned it then I can make the project public and begin collaborating with my team. 

Pro-tip: To help you better visualize the project you can choose to view it as a list, board, calendar or timeline.

6. Speed up and document your process with custom templates

You have spent all this time polishing your tasks and creating a project with a precise process, but now maintaining and replicating the process across the board can be laborious. Asana has the solution for that too. Simply go to the finely-tuned project you want to replicate and click the drop-down menu next to the project’s name, then click “convert to a template.” Voila! Creating custom templates is the easiest way to document your process to be used time and time again by you and your team. Anyone can benefit from the fruits of your labour by creating new projects from your refined templates. 

Now your team has a tried and true roadmap so they can know they’re following the right procedures to execute the goal successfully.

Pro-tip: Any repeating process can be turned into a template. A great use for this feature is new employee onboardings.

7. Take advantage of keyboard shortcuts

To streamline your Asana organizational process and work more efficiently, use keyboard shortcuts. Use them to shave off a few seconds, all of which can add up if you are not careful. My favourite keyboard shortcuts are shown below. 

Most start with the tab keyboard key.

 

  • Search within Asana: tab + /
  • Quickly add sections to your projects: tab + N
  • Assign the selected tasks to yourself: tab + M
  • Assign the selected task to anyone: tab + A
  • Create a task: tab + Q
  • Quickly delete tasks: tab + delete

Within a task: 

  • Add the task to projects: tab + P
  • Add subtasks: tab + S
  • Add collaborators: tab + F

Keyboard shortcuts help my teammate and me save time keeping us focused and in the zone when working in Asana. 

Genius Productivity GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Pro-tip: You can find the full cheat sheet of shortcuts by clicking command + / on a Mac and Ctrl + / on Windows.

P.S: For a little surprise try tab + B.

All of these are seven of my favourite tips to best structure my workflow in Asana. Take full advantage of all these amazing features and wow your team with your expertise. When used as part of your day-to-day it will help you stay productive, organized and on track. 

 

Interested in more marketing tips? Follow us on social media and read our blogs for more insights about the digital marketing world. Click here to schedule a no-strings-attached chat with us!

Person in front of laptop

How to Sell Without Trade Shows (Warning: Humans need to do some of the work)

We are undoubtedly experiencing a paradigm shift in regards to how we conduct business with each other. Curve Communications works hand in hand with businesses in different industries, including manufacturing, education, health care and equipment companies. We work closely with our clients on all aspects of their B2B marketing needs, with a specific focus on driving leads through inbound and outbound customer-centric content, events, and advertising.

The COVID-19 crisis changed things significantly, especially as it pertains to how companies interact and communicate with potential customers via avenues like trade shows, conferences and more.

It may be a long time before we see any kind of normalcy return to the way companies conduct B2B marketing. With that kind of uncertain future, companies like yours have to start re-thinking marketing plans for the year ahead. The good news is that this is not forever. Any new initiatives and techniques you implement now will complement your other – well-established channels, down the road. 

One area of opportunity that you may or may not be familiar with, or that you perhaps know the techniques of, but not the terminology, is Account-Based Marketing (ABM).

ABM is a strategic approach to business marketing based on account awareness, in which an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as if they were markets of one. ABM helps you increase your customer account relevance, engage earlier with leads, close bigger deals, align your marketing activity with sales strategies, get the best value out of marketing, inspire leads with compelling content, and identify specific contacts at companies that will convert into paying customers.

So many of Curve’s clients have relied on trade shows for lead generation and overall sales, but with the world in flux, we are working closely with our clients to move them more aggressively towards a solid ABM strategy.

Trade shows have traditionally been very advantageous for most business-to-business marketing. The reason: your audience is gathered in one place where you can network and sell, one-on-one. You get to build trust with leads in real-time in real life. Interacting with warm leads, who have been brought together in one place, hanging out at their booths, at industry talks, at the cafes and, yes, at the bars.

Convenient, done for you, all in one place — who doesn’t love a good trade show to grow business? So that means the temporary loss of the beloved trade show is a big loss in the B2B marketing toolbox. And while there are current attempts for virtual trade shows as a replacement, it’s just not the same. Technology is not yet sophisticated enough to provide the 3 or 4D, AR or VR experience we might dream about. However, technology in a different way, using account-based marketing techniques and tools, might be the golden ticket, because doing nothing is not an option. In fact, there is significant proof that now is the best time to start marketing more than you ever have, and the opportunity for long-term growth is better during a recession than any other time.

If you are an experienced business owner or sales representative for a business, then we are sure you have seen and experienced several ups and downturns of the economy. On the other hand, you have never seen anything like the COVID-19 crisis that we are currently experiencing, but that is no reason for your company to stop its marketing efforts.

Evidence from the Great Depression of the 1920s to the more recent economic crisis of 2008 proves that if you market in a down economy, then you are more likely to be prosperous to a greater degree than before, once the economy recovers.

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Interesting Facts

According to Harvard Business Review, 200 companies were followed through the economic recession of 1923 to 1927. The investigation showed that the largest increases in sales were experienced by the companies that advertised the most during that period.

During the recession that occurred between 1981 and 1982, McGraw-Hill research showed firms that increased their spending on marketing during that period averaged significantly higher sales growth, both during the recession and in the three years following the recession than those who decreased spending on marketing. By 1985, revenue growth among the aggressive recession advertisers was 256% faster than among those who had reduced their advertising activity.

More recently, a Yankelovich/Harris study found that the vast majority (86%) of executives say that when a company markets in a down economy, it makes them feel more positive about the company’s commitment to its products, and, more importantly, it keeps those firms top-of-mind when purchase decisions are made.

The above studies should be enough to convince you of the importance of marketing in a down economy if you weren’t already convinced. On the other hand, we are living in unprecedented times and facing a crisis that has never been faced in modern times, so traditional marketing approaches like trade shows and promotional events may not serve you as they did prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

This by no means is a reason to stop: you need to find new ways to reach your audience.  

The process of replacing, albeit temporarily, your trade show marketing plan with an account-based marketing system requires several steps to maximize success. And because ABM relies on significant use of digital marketing, you need to lay the groundwork first. This means having a customer relationships management (CRM) system coupled with marketing automation tools.

Your CRM and Marketing Automation

Computer with CRM

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a technology for managing all of your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. A CRM system helps companies stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability. Most of the clients we work with have some kind of CRM, whether it be Salesforce, Microsoft, SharpSpring or others (we provide a partial list of systems at the end of this post); however, the power of a good CRM is when you connect it with a marketing automation system, which is usually part of a package deal offered by CRM providers.

Tapping into the power of a CRM and its marketing automation system requires that you first have your CRM set up and that your team understands how to use it properly. A lot of salespeople use a CRM as a simple database to track leads for emailing or phone calls. However, your CRM coupled with marketing automation is so much more.

Marketing automation is the use of software to automate marketing activities. Marketing automation allows companies and marketing departments to function more effectively across multiple online channels.

Marketing automation streamlines certain marketing processes such as email marketing, social media posting and even running advertising campaigns. They not only provide efficiency, but also provide customers with a much more personalized experience than they would otherwise have. 

With CRM and marketing automation set up properly, you can track how people behave on your website, what they download, how long they watch a video, when they come back to the site and so on. All of this information is then provided to you in real-time via a sophisticated digital platform that alerts you at the right time. But it also automates simple tasks: for example, when someone downloads your e-book or watches your webinar, they are then put into an email sales sequence to keep the conversation going, but with the ultimate goal of setting up a meeting with sales.

At Curve Communications, we spend a great deal of time developing customer personas for our clients. It is a crucial step as part of your account-based marketing planning, along with defining a unique selling proposition. Surprisingly, when we onboard a new client, we discover many have not created a profile of their perfect customer. Once they do, with our help, so much of their strategy for marketing and sales becomes more clear. With no persona(s) defined, a business can spend a lot of time and money on marketing to the wrong person — and that will not lead to success. In B2B marketing, quality over quantity is the preference.

The process is simple. If you picture your perfect customer, vividly answer the following points, describing them before they purchase your product: their age, profession or job title, background, other demographic information, hobbies, marital status, mental/physical health, what they do online (think of people + public figures, magazines, books and authors, brands, big businesses, organizations, products + services, and more.)

Once you have defined the perfect customer persona, you need to start researching and adding them into your CRM so that you can track the relationships and the success of your ABM strategy.

Ask yourself: 

  • How many accounts/businesses fit your ideal customer profile?
  • Have you been able to identify the decision-makers and influencers in each account?
  • Do you have the data to reach all the stakeholders at each account?
  • Have you properly set up a way to track individuals in each of the right accounts that you are able to reach?

Content is King

Laptop with title content is king

Rather than launching a broad marketing campaign that attracts thousands in an attempt to nurture only the few that express their interest, ABM targets specific companies in a bid to engage with key decision-makers and then build on that relationship to gain their trust and land more sales. You do this with content.

At a trade show, you build trust and make sales because you get the opportunity to interact with a potential lead three or four times throughout the event. It may be at a speaking engagement, at your booth, or afterwards while having a drink at the bar. But when you only have the phone and a computer, the personal touch offered at a trade show is replicated with multiple touchpoints via meaningful content.

In a report from ITSMA, 87% of marketers measuring ROI say that Account-Based Marketing outperforms other marketing investments. Email marketing has an ROI two times higher than cold calling, networking or trade shows. You can generate and use content that can be a replacement for the small talk you will typically encounter at trade shows.

The type of content you create should not only build the level of engagement but also the level of trust with your audience. Content comes in many forms but some are more key than others.

Start with your website. The best way to keep visitors on your site is through valuable content, good organization and attractive design. Keep your site simple and well organized. In the end, it needs to tell your story and sell your product. One thing that really helps with that is having a section of great case studies.

Profiling the successes that you have had with customers in the past to create content that relates to customers in the future, is the key to closing a client. So, these kinds of cases can be written with visuals, they can be video testimonials, or they can be customer-focused testimonials from the customer’s perspective.

Second, you need to make sure you have a profile video of your company or an ‘About Us’ video. The video can either be posted on your site’s homepage or on your About Us page, and it should show the culture of your business, as well as your number one business dream. It should also showcase a couple of case studies that relate to what you do, and how successful you have made your customers. It is always important to remember that your website and your content is not about you, it’s about your customers. It is about their success, not yours; how you are solving their problems with your product or service.

Third, you need to present your product or service offering in a simple but clear way. Visuals are the best way for you to achieve that goal. A one-page sales document is the most common example of doing so. Ensure you fill the page with great photos and detailed information.

Fourth: webinars. Sometimes it is difficult for a customer to understand how your product or service will help them without walking them through the whole process. So that’s why we always recommend webinars, or maybe three individual videos, live or pre-recorded. This approach instills confidence in your abilities. You can show by example and give them an understanding of how you and your business operations help customers achieve the success they so desire.

Fifth is a whitepaper or e-book. The written word is still a very effective manner of conveying information. It doesn’t have to be a 200-page encyclopedia of information. A well-organized e-book of 2000 to 3000 words on a specific part of what you do or what your product achieves for a client will suffice.

As part of account-based marketing, great content helps develop quality customer relationships. It is all about building trust with your customers and potential leads. The more quality content you have, the more you can engage in quality conversations with leads. But successful account-based, content-driven marketing requires automation for scalability and success tracking. To close more deals, you need to reach more quality leads with more content.

With all of this content, a key performance indicator is the quality of engagement. With your CRM platform and marketing automation set properly, you should be able to measure the follow-ing about your audience:

  •   Time spent consuming your content
  •   Volume of content being consumed (how many assets did the audience visit)
  •   Span of the content consumed (did the audience visit your wider digital estate)
  •   Attendance at events, both online and in person
  •   Intensity of the engagement (is it increasing as your programs progress)
  •   The more engaged the lead is with the content — the more likely they are to convert.

What Does the Future Hold? 

The future is always uncertain. However, you can be sure of one thing. If you engage in account-based (ABM), content-focused marketing and you add in a solid CRM with marketing automation, you will be ahead of the curve when the COVID-19 crisis is over.

Trade shows are great. And they will be back once we are through this crisis. If you take the time to develop a solid ABM strategy, you will certainly be better positioned to scale your business with the combination of your trade show circuit and amazing follow-up with high-quality content.

List of CRMs and Marketing Automation Systems

CRM graphic

There are more than 50 platforms to choose from. Below are some of the ones Curve Communications’ clients use. As an agency, we remain agnostic about which one your company should install. We are a partner of the SharpSpring system but we recommend you look and test at least three platforms before making a decision. Think about your budgets and how well your team will embrace the choice based on your own internal systems. 

  1. Salesforce.com coupled with Pardot.com is a cloud-based Customer Relationship Manage-ment (CRM) application and marketing automation system.
  2. Monday.com is a cloud-based Work OS, where teams create workflow apps in minutes to run their processes, projects, and everyday work.
  3. Hubspot.com is a CRM that takes care of all the little details from recording calls, logging emails, and managing data.
  4. Keap.com (formerly Infusionsoft) is an all-in-one sales & marketing software designed for entrepreneurs, startups and larger teams.
  5. Salesflare.com is a CRM solution for small businesses & startups, designed to reduce the time spent on data input.
  6. SharpSpring.com is a comprehensive marketing automation platform with robust features, functionality and performance. SharpSpring is one of the most flexible platforms on the market, offering powerful, behaviour-based email marketing, and native or third-party CRM integration.
  7. ActiveCampaign.com gives you the email marketing, marketing automation, and CRM tools you need to create incredible customer experiences.
  8. Agilecrm.com is a fully integrated CRM with sales tracking, contact management, marketing automation, web analytics, two-way emails, telephony, helpdesk, and a clean modern interface.
  9. ClickDimensions.com is the only complete marketing solution for Microsoft Dynamics, made exclusively for and natively built within Dynamics CRM.
  10. Zoho.com is an all-in-one marketing automation software that helps you successfully manage your marketing activities across multiple channels. Generate more leads, convert them to customers, and retain them longer.

You don’t need trade shows to win at trade show marketing.

Get in touch with Curve and start selling virtually.

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5 Tips and Tricks to Streamline Your InDesign Process – Part 1

When it comes to InDesign, or any of the Adobe products for that matter, if you don’t know the shortcuts, projects can sometimes take a lot longer than they need to. While Adobe InDesign allows users to create eye-catching designs and sleek layouts without extensive industry knowledge, knowing a few tips and tricks beyond the basics can make a world of difference in how efficiently you can get the job done.

InDesign is commonly used for e-books, magazines, posters, and other digital products and doesn’t require a degree in computer engineering to master. Here are a few insider tips that will help you keep your InDesign projects efficient and consistent.

Woman creating design on a laptop

1. Get to know the find and replace function

Looking for small sections of your text in a magazine spread can get old real fast, which is why you need to learn how to use the find and replace function from the start. This is especially useful when you get to the optimization portion of your product and need to switch around keywords and/or keyword phrases.

Simply select the section of text you want to work with, click on “edit” and then the “find/change” option (or, even faster, Cmd+F on Mac / Ctrl+F on PC), and in a few seconds, you will be done and can move onto more complex tasks.

2. Automatically populate text

At first, adding text to your layout can feel like a tedious task. Attempting to get enough text on a page without too much overfill can start to feel like a game of Tetris—one that you are painfully losing. Don’t worry, there’s a fix! Instead of panicking when you see the red plus sign that appears on the right of the text frame to tell you there is overset text (and consequently adjusting your font size to try and make it fit), simply learn to thread frames together. Just click the red plus sign and then line it up with the next frame and your leftover text will automatically populate that next frame.

This is a process known as threading, and you can do it easily at the start of the project. If you’ve added text into a frame and see the red plus sign indicating overset text, click on the plus sign and then, while holding down the shift key, simply click in every single margin and that overflow text will automatically populate into new, connected text frames.

3. Clean up your layout

Your final InDesign layout becomes a big part of your brand identity, so you need that layout to be crisp, clean, and attractive. Spruce up your page content by adding witty captions, centered paragraphs, and key pull quotes that instantly attract readers’ eyes. You may still notice you have some ragged lines that are distracting to a reader, but you can easily fix this by selecting the problem text and then clicking on the “Paragraph” panel. From there, open up the options drop-down by clicking the three horizontal lines in the top right of the panel, and selecting “balance ragged lines.” And voila! The problem is fixed in seconds.

A last note on layout, and we can’t stress this enough: don’t forget about the importance of white space! Once your layout is looking beautiful, it’s crucial that you give it space to breathe.

4. Use the eyedropper colour theme tool

Of course, when it comes to visual appeal, colour is going to play a large role. The eyedropper colour theme tool is designed to help make it easy to sample colours and craft your own palette from which to work. Head to the main “Tools” panel and select the eyedropper icon so that you can sample colours from the images being used in your design, to make your own colour theme panel. These swatches of colour will then automatically pop up any time you click an image, text, or graphic, so you can instantly add a cohesive feel to the entire piece.

5. Maximize Preview mode

Preview mode is your chance to see the way browsers will see your final product, so you want to make sure you get the most out of your review process. The “W” on your keyboard is a quick shortcut that turns preview mode on and off. This allows you to evaluate your work while you’re moving through your design process.

While in preview mode, make sure to hit command (on Mac) or control (on PC) along with the plus and minus (+/-) keys, to instantly zoom in and out to see your designs up close. This is a great way to look for things that might be throwing off your design like bleeds, line blocks, or guides.

Warning: you’ll want to ensure you do not have the Type tool selected when you use the “W” to switch to preview mode, or you’ll end up with accidental, wayward “W”s in your text! (I had a Design instructor once threaten to deduct points from assignments if he ever saw any errant “W”s in our projects.)

There are so many shortcuts and useful tools in InDesign that will help you generate designs in the most efficient way possible, and this little blog was just the tip of the iceberg! In fact, one of the best features about InDesign is the way it relies on outlines and themes to help you produce consistent, streamlined projects. You just need to know how to set things up. (So watch for a future blog on some of the ways you can create styles and master pages to simplify your work in InDesign!)

Have more questions? Need help designing a magazine, website, e-book, brochure…? Curve is more than happy to help. Click here to schedule a no-strings-attached chat with us.

curve blog-marina

Where to Find The Best Free Content/Stock Images

So you wrote an awesome post for Instagram or Facebook, a mind-blowing blog for your website or some incredible copy for an ad… Now you need THE photo to illustrate it, and you don’t want to pay for a single file or for a subscription to a stock website. And now you don’t have to! Because we’ve created a list of some of our favourite websites where you can get FREE images and content.

 A person searching for images

1. Pixabay (https://pixabay.com)

First on our list is Pixabay, which has everything you might need: photos, vectors, illustrations, videos AND music! All high quality and no attributions needed (meaning you don’t have to credit the creator) – simply download the file you want and use it! 

 

2. Pexels (https://www.pexels.com)

Pexels is a photo and video resource near and dear to our hearts. The coolest thing about Pexels is how they organize the site. You can browse by collections (like “The Great Outdoors”), by topics (for example: “Food Photography”), or even by colour!

 

3. Iconfinder (https://www.iconfinder.com)

If you need an icon or illustration, you can find it on Iconfinder. A great feature of this website is that it gives you the ability to customize the icon before downloading it. You can change the colours, add or delete elements, edit the alignment, and more. Iconfinder has both free and paid content, so make sure to filter the results by selecting “free” on the left menu.

 

4. Canva (https://www.canva.com)

Canva is probably our favourite here at Curve. If you don’t consider yourself creative or don’t want to design something from scratch, go with Canva. They have incredible photos that you can add to their many templates. The one downside is that you can’t download the photo itself; it is for use within one of their templates (which you can then download).

 

5. Google Fonts (https://fonts.google.com)

Finally, to find any font you need, use Google Fonts. Not much explanation needed for this one. You can browse by category (serif, sans serif, display, handwriting, monospace), language, or properties (like thickness, slant, width). One awesome feature is the “pairings” option: once you select a font you like, go to the “Pairings” tab and Google will show you a list of other fonts that look good with the one you liked.

Now you have all the resources you need to create the most beautiful design. But be careful: always read the licensing agreement, attribution requirements and modification permissions before using the content!

Want help with your designs and getting your brand out there? Curve is here for you! Contact us today for a free consultation.

Six Secrets (1)

6 Secrets to Work-from-Home Productivity

Six Secrets to Successful Work-from-Home Productivity

Over the past year, our team, like many others, worked remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. What started in March 2020 as a bout of stressful Zoom meetings and Slack messages, is now a well-oiled machine. Even as we begin to work from the office, our team can get into a successful #WorkFromHome groove if need be. 

We understand that everyone has a different setup within their home. Some of us have a dedicated desk or office area, while others find themselves at their kitchen table or even on their couch! While we can’t transform everyone’s work-from-home space, we can offer up our secrets to successful productivity. 

In this blog, we’ve rounded up our top six secrets (we just couldn’t narrow it down to five) to maintain productivity no matter where you’re working. 

That’s right – these tips can be implemented both in the office and at home!

1. Our favourite productivity tools

It’s important for us to start with the productivity tools that we use to stay connected with our team and to keep on top of our important deadlines. By using these apps, we’re able to see who can lend a helping hand on a tight deadline and what level of workload each of us has.

For deadlines and daily tasks, our team loves using Asana and Slack. With Asana, we’re able to see our deadlines in real time and keep our clients up to date on what we’re working on for them. As for Slack, it’s a great way for us to stay connected when some team members work remotely. Every morning we each share our list of top priorities for the day and chat about how we can help each other cross everything off our lists!

Tracking our time is a must and for this, we love to use apps like Xero. It’s the easiest way for us to understand who is spending time on what, and it really only takes five minutes at the end of our workday to fill it out. 

2. Be realistic about time management

We all know that we can get overzealous at times, especially when it comes to our day-to-day tasks during a week full of deadlines. Our first secret to successful productivity is to be realistic and work within your means. Yes, it feels amazing to cross everything off that to-do list, but when you’re cramming to get your work done, the result will often be less-than-stellar work. 

It may be easier said than done, but setting realistic goals at the beginning of your work day will help you allocate the right amount of time towards each task. The best part is when you get MORE than your realistic to-do list done in a day, then you’ll have a little something extra to celebrate! 🥳

3. Make a list, even if it’s overwhelming

To Do List

Being realistic about your time management goes hand in hand with this next secret to successful productivity. 

Here at Curve, we LOVE to-do lists! Seeing everything written out can help you visually block out your days and stop you from spending too much time on one task. We suggest writing out your list and making a note of how much time you’d ideally like to spend on each task. By turning your tasks into a time-based list, you’re able to get more done while feeling less overwhelmed.

4. Designate a workspace

We fully understand that working from home for some of us might not be ideal, especially with kids and fur babies running around. That’s why we’re firm believers that your atmosphere can make or break your productivity.

If you’re working from the couch, or dare we say it, your bedroom, you’ll quickly realize that it’s hard to get in the zone and focus, let alone actually get your work done! We suggest designating a workspace area that has everything you need and nothing you don’t. That doesn’t mean you need an extravagant spare room or completely cordoned-off area of your home to work in, but it does mean that you need a space that is free of distractions and comfortable to work in. 

5. Stick to a routine

Look, we understand that lives have been flipped upside down over this past year. Between working from home, homeschooling, and social distancing, it’s been tough for everyone; but that doesn’t mean you can’t stick to a routine!

Adding a simple structure to your day-to-day routine and your work day can help you feel more productive and cross more off your to-do list. In addition to creating a time-based list, we suggest maintaining a specific window of time for your lunch break, as well as having one or two themed days per week. For example, you could devote a day or two to one kind of task, such as blog writing, or client meetings, and this can really help to open up the rest of your week. 

6. And last, but certainly not least, maintain open communication with your co-workers!

Our final secret to successful work-from-home productivity is to be communicative with your team! This might seem like a no-brainer, but working from home really is different from an office setting. In an office setting, you may not be collaborating with your team all the time, but you can certainly see their social cues, especially when they’re stressed or just having an off day. 

For us, communicating with each other is key to a successful work day. Whether that means having weekly staff meetings to start and end the week, or a daily call where you can list your top priorities, it’s up to you.

Communicate

 

So, now that you have our top secrets to successful work-from-home productivity, what’s the next step? We understand that it’s much easier said than done to change your day-to-day workflow completely, but why not try to incorporate one of our tips each week and go from there. Test them out! Depending on your type of work, your work-from-home space, and your other day-to-day responsibilities, you might find a little change can have a big impact on your productivity.

Interested in learning more about our team, and how we can help your brand succeed? Drop us a note here. We’re always ready to chat!

retargeting ads

How to Use Retargeting Ads to Stand Out

Retargeting ads are a powerful tool in your digital marketing toolbox. They allow you to interact with customers who are at different stages of your sales funnel, so your business stays top of mind. Think about different times you’ve seen a familiar ad while you’re browsing through the internet. That sense of familiarity makes you more likely to purchase that product or service.

This is great for all kinds of products and services, but particularly helpful for B2B sales, where customers often take weeks or even months to commit to a contract. With retargeting ads, you can segment your customers into different levels of interest, from people who have barely interacted with your brand to people who have been loyal customers.

The possibilities are endless! That’s why we’ve made these basic tips and tricks to make sure that your retargeting ads are effective.

retargeting ads

Set up your retargeting

This is the easy part. Every digital advertising platform has some form of trackable pixel that you can install into your website. This bridges the ad platform to your site, so that you can monitor how well the ads perform based on final conversions.

Whether you’re running Facebook, Google, Twitter, or whichever kind of digital ad, just check the back end for a simple html code to install into your website. Once the code is in, a whole world of tracking opens up! You can now segment your audience based on how they have interacted with your website. While the possibilities are endless, here are some examples you can start with:

  • People who have visited your website
  • People who have viewed specific products on your website
  • People who have purchased your products

Ideally, when someone lands on your website, you want them to go all the way to purchasing your product. However, we all know that most people take a little bit more convincing. Tracking your potential customers through these three different stages, allows you to tailor your messaging to nudge them onto the next step.

Figure out your customer journey

An effective campaign always comes back to understanding your customers! After clicking on your digital ad, they will enter the “consideration” stage of their customer journey. Often, this is the longest stage, because people spend time reading reviews, comparing competitors, or just wondering if they need the service at all.

Talk to your current customers and find out what they valued most while they were mulling it all over.

  • Price?
  • Features?
  • Variety?

Sometimes what you think is most important, doesn’t align exactly with what the market thinks is most important. This could be by design, but it never hurts to check in with your customer base.

Get strategic with several campaigns

Now that you’re all set up, you can get creative and strategic! Test out different messaging with your segments. Remember that with digital advertising, the algorithms pick the best performing ad to show, so doing 2-3 variations gives you the best chance of finding the winning combination of copy, image, and target audience.

Do you have any questions about retargeting? We’re happy to help! Contact us today, and set up a no-strings-attached consultation.

Facebook Ads

How to Create Facebook Ads that Drive Traffic to Your Site

In 2021, relying on organic traffic is no longer an option. The on-going Google and Facebook updates make it difficult for your website to be discovered without the help of paid advertising. But don’t fret, this guide will help you create the best Facebook ads to solve that issue and generate the traffic your site deserves.

Facebook Ads

The Ad Creative

The first thing Facebook users see when they scroll on their feed is the image or video you use for your ad. It needs to be compelling enough that it will draw their attention and make them stop scrolling and read the copy of your ad. There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your creative.

1) Use high-quality images

It might seem obvious, but all advertisers do not follow this simple rule. And depending on the resolution of your image, Facebook will limit the reach of your ad. Try to use images with a resolution of 1,200 x 1,200 pixels every time you create an ad.

2) Make fun images and videos

Make your ad stand out by creating designs using fun templates! Canva provides hundreds of templates that are certain to fit your brand and style. Check out our blog post “How to use Canva to stand out on social media” to get started!

Or use the templates provided by Vimeo to create dynamic videos that are sure to catch the attention of your audience.

3) Use limited text

Facebook penalizes advertisers who include too much text on their creatives by limiting the reach of their ads. Although they have started to ease the rule, it is good practice to limit the amount of text on your ads. Use words that will draw attention such as “20% off” or “on sale now” instead of “our products are on sales” for example. Make those keywords stand out by using bold colours and fonts!

The Ad Copy

Now that you caught the attention of your audience with an eye-catchy image or video, converting that attention to a click to your website will rely on a compelling ad copy. Follow these recommendations to craft high-converting copy:

1) Define your offer

The secret to high-converting Facebook ads is having a strong, compelling offer that differentiate your brand from your competitors and will entice your audience to click through.

Try a discount code unique to Facebook to help you track your return on investment for example.

2) Call out your audience

Studies suggest that starting your ad by calling out your audience can increase click-through rates by up to 13%. Try referring to your audience by specific keywords they can easily identify to.

For example, if you are targeting parents, start your ad copy with “Hey parents in Vancouver!”.

3) Determine a strong Call To Action

Your Facebook ads should ALWAYS contain a strong Call To Action. It will help your audience determine what the ad is about, what your offer is and what they get out of clicking your ad.

For example, if you are promoting a 15% off coupon, try a CTA like: “Get your coupon today” instead of “15% off all dresses”.

4) Split-test

When advertising on Facebook, it is important to test a few variations of ad copy and images in order to find out what resonates best with your target audience. What you think will work might not necessarily be true.

By split-testing between two to six ads using different wording, offers, CTAs and creatives, you will be able to determine what your audience is most receptive to. Allow a period of one week to test your different ads before turning off the least performing ads until one or two champions are left.

The Target Audience

You might have the most perfect copy and creative, if your targeting is not set correctly, you will end up wasting precious ad spend on a non-qualified audience that won’t convert into active customers.

It is important to know who your customers are BEFORE you start advertising on Facebook. The more you know about who they are and what they like, the higher the conversion rate. If you are starting from scratch, you can find out who your target persona is by looking at your Google Analytics account to know their interests, their age, their sex, or their location.

Once you have a good idea of who that persona is, simply set your Facebook ad targeting to match those findings. Set an age limit if needed, limit your ad reach by setting borders to the geographical area you want to target, and choose specific interests among the thousands of options available.

For example, if you are a middle school looking for more students, set the demographics to target people aged between 35 to 45, and choose some interests such as ‘parents’, ‘parents of kids aged 10 to 13’.

You can also use the Custom Audience tool available within your Facebook ad account to upload a list of current customers and create a lookalike audience of people who match similar demographics and interests as your list of customers.

Once your ad creative, copy and targeting are complete, you are ready to start advertising! The next step is to track the performance of your ads and the conversion rate. Check out our Beginners Guide: How to Track Conversions on Facebook blog post available here to learn how to track conversions and Return On Investment.

Still need help with Facebook ads? We can help you reach your target audience with unique and high-converting ads! Contact us at contact@curvecommunications.com.