Blog - Rock, Paper, Scissors

Posted 31 Jan 2017

Your 2017 Marketing Plan: It is not too late to start the year off right

Did you miss our marketing plan webinar? Read the recap below or watch the recording to catch up!

We’re almost a month into 2017 and after the rush of the holidays we’re all getting settled back into our normal routines. That also means it’s time to hit the ground running with your 2017 marketing efforts, and those efforts SHOULD begin with a solid marketing plan for 2017.

But what if you don’t have a 2017 marketing plan? 2017 has already begun so it’s too late to worry about it now, isn’t it? Truth be told, it’s never too late to create a marketing plan for your business! Today let’s take a closer look at what a marketing plan is, why you need one, and why it’s never too late to create a plan for marketing your business in order to help it succeed!

marketing plan

First things first, let’s define what a marketing plan is. In short, a marketing plan is “part of the business plan outlining the marketing strategy” (The Digital Marketing Reference). A marketing plan can be created for marketing your entire business, or can be narrowed down for a particular product or service, depending on your needs and business goals for the year. For today’s discussion, we’ll be considering the overall business and its marketing plan.

Now that you know what a marketing plan is, it’s time to talk about why you need one. Your marketing plan will help guide your marketing efforts as well as keep your entire team on track to ensure you are communicating a consistent message to the right audience. However, it goes much further than that. Following are some additional reasons for why you need a marketing plan:

  1. Puts your thought process on paper and showcases the bigger picture
  2. Provides direction and helps you focus in on your customers
  3. Will help define your business’ vision and target audience/client
  4. Allows you to determine where you want to go and maps out how you plan to get there
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  5. Helps you and employees understand business goals and helps everyone make educated decisions on their own that are in line with your business objectives
  6. Allows you to monitor your success as you work toward your goal

So how do you start writing a marketing plan? The first step is to take a look at your overall business goals, as well as your goals for the year. Do you want to increase sales? Expand into a new region? Expand your services? Launch a new product? Once you have determined which goals you want to work toward this year, you’re ready to start defining a strategy for achieving those goals. Think of your strategy as an overall game plan. Then, start outlining the tactics to achieve the strategy.

Once you have your strategy and tactics for achieving your goals in place, it’s time to define the resources you have to make all of this happen. Time and money are your biggest assets, but as we all know, these resources have their limits. That’s why you need to plan wisely when it comes to how you will spend your marketing budget, as well as spread the work evenly among your marketing team members. This will help you maximize every dollar and hour you have. After you’ve determined your resources, you’re ready to convert this into a realistic and achievable plan for your team.

By now, you should have a good picture of what your marketing plan should contain, but you’re probably wondering what it actually looks like. The best advice we can give is to avoid making your marketing plan overly complicated. Start out with a written document that defines your goals, strategy, and objectives. Once these are set, you’ll want to build a calendar and budget. This is an important step to allocate your resources so you are creating a plan that is achievable.

The final document in this mix is your reporting template. It’s always better to map out how you are going to report your return on your investments so that you are building something that you can measure.

As you start to create your marketing plan, there are a few best practices we recommend you keep in mind.

  1. Define what success looks like to you and your team so everyone will know when your plan is succeeding.
  2. Give clear ownership and specific responsibilities to the team members that will have a part in rolling the plan out.
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  3. Set up regular reporting and audits. This will help you see successes, areas in need of improvement or reevaluation, spot trends, etc.
  4. The Marketing Mix: You can use both internal and external resources to achieve your plan.
  5. Have one person oversee the plan.
  6. Be flexible. Don’t stress out if you see something isn’t working out like you had hoped. Use this as a time to readjust based on what is working.

Hopefully you now feel a little more equipped to create a marketing plan for your business. As always, Rock Paper Scissors can help with any questions, so feel free to contact us! Also, be sure to mark your calendar for our February webinar! Join us on February 15 as we talk about taking a “less is more” approach to advertising.

Posted 14 Dec 2016

Branding Case Study: Independence Bank of Georgia

Independence Bank of Georgia was established by Terry Evans, President and CEO, and Martha Brown, Executive Vice President, CEO, and CFO, in 2008. With branches located in Braselton and Gainesville, Georgia, the bank quickly gained many loyal customers in Northeast Georgia for both personal and business banking accounts and has received national attention for its excellence in banking.

We began working with Independence Bank of Georgia in early 2015. At that time, the bank was in need of a branding facelift, so we began with our Brand Immersion process. Through that process, we discovered the branding in place wasn’t immediately engaging and didn’t easily capture the attention of potential customers. It was outdated and it did not capture the unique experience the team at Independence Bank of Georgia offers their customers.

Following the Brand Immersion, we made some recommendations to build a brand that was reflective of the bank’s culture and brand experience. To start off, we recommended the bank use the name “Ibankga” in its marketing efforts as it is approachable, more attractive to customers, and has a modern sound. They already had this as their domain and only used it internally, but we were able to help Ibankga feel more confident in using the name in a more public way through their public website address and marketing materials.

Ibankga branding

Through the Brand Immersion process we were also able to learn a little more about the bank’s customers, which allowed us to create a stronger customer profile and ensure that our branding and marketing goals would reach the right audiences. We also gained a better understanding of the tone and language of the leadership in place. With that information in hand, we worked together to create more engaging copy for the website, marketing materials, and social media content that helped emphasize to customers why Ibankga is the best bank for them.

Our next action was to create a new website for Ibankga. A website is often one’s first impression of a business and we saw a new website as the perfect opportunity to make a change for the better. To make sure it created an impact with current and prospective customers, we worked to make the new website more engaging by creating a more simplified online banking process and implementing a deeper level of branding that was a true reflection of the organization.

Ibankga branding

“Our goal with the new website design was to create a digital environment that matches the bright, welcoming atmosphere experienced in the various branch locations,” said Rock Paper Scissors Designer Kaitlin Henre.

As community involvement is an important part of Ibankga’s core values, we also helped them develop the Denim and Donate campaign. Each month, bank employees are allowed to wear denim on Fridays if they donate to that month’s cause. The bank encourages its customers to contribute to the cause of the month as well. This campaign helped connect the bank to the local community and a very visual and impactful way.

Ibankga branding

We also developed Brand Identity Standards & Guidelines for the team at Ibankga to use in their future marketing efforts, and launched the bank’s new website while the team at Ibankga took over with the implementation of the branding campaign we developed. We continued to provide creative support for stationery, brochures, ad campaigns, signage, and more.

Ibankga branding

Ibankga branding

A solid branding campaign will naturally put a business or organization in a better position for attracting new customers, as well as new business opportunities. There are multiple reasons to rebrand your business,” Amanda Sutt, CEO and Creative Director of Rock Paper Scissors, shares. “You may have a disconnect with your audience that you need to close; you may have had an internal philosophy change so the rebrand will make this shift more public; or you want to reposition your business for growth, whether that is expansion, new products, or merging. Ibankga came to us with the first need and ended up positioning themselves for the latter.” In the summer of 2016, Ibankga announced it would be merging with another local bank, Pinnacle Bank, with the acquisition expected to be complete before the end of 2016.

Is your organization in need of a new branding campaign like Ibankga? Contact Rock Paper Scissors today to learn more about our services. We would love to speak with you about where you are currently with your brand, where you want to go, and how we can help you get there.

Posted 13 Dec 2016
About Us pages

The Most Important Page on Your Website

Get caught up with our latest webinar by watching the video at the bottom of this post, or read the recap below!

Your website is often the first impression a prospective customer will have of your business, and out of all the pages on your website the About Us page is likely to be one of the most popular next to your home page. Your About Us page can set the stage for the experience a customer may have with your brand and affect their decision to choose your products or services over another. This is where you tell your unique story and people are always looking for a good story. With that in mind, it’s important to carefully craft your About Us page in a way that is a true reflection of your brand rather than simply introducing your business and team.

However, that’s just the beginning of what your About Us page should do. In fact, it should be able to accomplish much more than you might think. In the About Page Guide, Bernadette Jiwa writes “The secret of a great About Page is that it’s less about the company and more about the reader or prospective customer and their wants and needs.” An About Us page should accomplish the following:

  • Build trust with prospects – They’ve probably never met you so you need to give them reasons to trust you and your business.

About Us page

  • Show off what makes you different – This page should effectively communicate what makes your brand unique and why it’s worth it to work with you.
  • Demonstrate authority and credibility – Your About Us page can accomplish this if it clearly explains to readers why they should listen to you and why they should want to work with you.
  • Express how you can help customers and explain how you work with them – Telling your customers what you can do for them and even how you’ll do it can definitely impact their decision on choosing whether or not to work with you.
  • Invite visitors to take action – Let your visitors know what you want them to do, whether it’s sign up for your newsletter, make a purchase, read the blog, connect on social media, etc.

About Us page

Now that you know what your About Us page should accomplish, it’s time to start crafting your message. As you’re getting ready to put the pen to the paper (or your fingertips to the keyboard), keep these tips in mind.

About Us page

  1. Write like you speak. Your About Us page should make readers feel like they are talking to you. However, this doesn’t excuse poor grammar, spelling mistakes, etc.
  2. Write in the tone of voice with which you would speak to your customers. This will help your writing reflect the type of relationship you want to have with customers.
  3. The length of the content is totally up to you. Remember, we live in a busy world with many distractions, so it is best to say what you want with as few words as possible.

Finally, there are some items you should include on your About Us page that will further help introduce your business to your audience, build credibility, and set you apart from the competition.

  • A quality, professional looking headshot, as well as photos or a video that show the culture of your business
  • Links to your business’ social media profiles

About Us page

  • Your values and relevant facts about yourself, your life, and your career journey
  • Endorsements – Not to be confused with testimonials, endorsements come from your colleagues and/or industry publications your work has been featured in

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  • The things that set you apart from other similar businesses
  • Examples of how you can help the customer
  • At least one call to action
  • A contact link or form

About Us page

We hope these tips will help you craft an About Us page that helps website visitors connect with your business and brand, as well as understand what you can do for them and how you can do it better than the competition. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions!

Posted 23 Nov 2016

What is a Content Calendar and Why Do I Need One?

Did you miss our latest webinar on the topic of content calendars? Read on for the recap or watch the webinar video below!

Content marketing has been a buzzword phrase for several years now, and just like any other marketing initiatives, it takes some planning to make sure you’re delivering your content to your audience where they are at. That’s why it’s important to take some time to plan out your content marketing efforts in advance, and one of our favorite planning tools can help you do just that. Today, we’re talking all about content calendars!

content calendar

A content calendar, sometimes called an editorial calendar, is essentially a tool that helps you schedule out the content you’re going to post and where you plan to post it. They allow you to visualize not only how the content will be distributed over a given timeframe, but also plan around events, spot gaps that need to be filled, and help you set and keep deadlines. It’s a resource for the entire team to use to plan all content marketing efforts. MailChimp summed it up best when they said “Your content calendar is a framework for the ongoing story you want to tell about your business.”

You may find yourself wondering “Why do I need a content calendar?” For starters, a content calendar helps keep you on track and set up best practices for editorial planning by creating good posting habits with a consistent posting schedule. A content calendar will also allow you to be proactive about your message. As it needs to change, you are being conscious about your message and position, instead of shooting from the hip. Beyond that, a content calendar can:

  • Create a space for all team members working on your content marketing plan a centralized place to keep content ideas and topics together.
  • Let you see opportunities for overlap, such as embedding a relevant tweet into an email newsletter, which campaigns should be posted directly to Facebook, etc.
  • Help ensure your blog content is varied so that you are regularly posting industry news, company updates, how-to and listicle articles, case studies, etc. This helps keep your audience engaged by avoiding redundancies, random content, or a lack of content.
  • Create an editorial cycle so multiple pairs of eyes are reviewing content for grammatical and spelling errors, broken links, etc., prior to publishing.
  • Help you determine what content should be promoted.
  • Allow you to get ahead so you can spend more time listening to and engaging with your audience.
  • Help you establish content policies, and more specifically, social media policies.

Another common question that comes up is “Who will use our content calendar?” The short answer is anyone that’s a part of your marketing team. More specifically, the team members using the content calendar will be anyone that contributes content for your marketing program, which can include not only written content but also video content, photography, and infographics to name a few. With that in mind, in addition to your content writer or manager, you’ll also want to include your social media manager, designer, a designated proofreader, and the project lead or manager.

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Now that you know more about why a content calendar is so important and who uses it, let’s take a look at what you need to get one started. First, you need to determine what type of document you want to keep your content calendar in. There are lots of resources out there. Some businesses simply use a calendar like Google calendar. Here at RPS, we use Google sheets and have tabs for social media content, blog content, webinars, and newsletters. However, there are tons of templates out there you can look at for inspiration, including formats based on Excel, PDFs, and WordPress plugins. Find the one that works best for your team and go with it. (We’ve included a few links to some great resources and templates at the bottom of this post!)

content calendar

From there, you’ll need to determine how you’ll plan things out – monthly, quarterly, or annually. Then, you’ll need to decide the following:

  • A theme – Again, this can be monthly, quarterly, or annually. You may have one main theme for the year and sub-themes to fall under that at specific points. As you choose your themes, you may want to schedule some content brainstorming sessions to help you choose topics and plan out your content.
  • Target posting dates – Tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights will be especially helpful in determining what days and times your content should be published. They can also help you determine which types of content are more appealing to your audience.
    content calendar
  • A key explaining what certain fonts and colors mean – As you’re filling in your content calendar, you’ll want to create a key so that all team members are aware of what certain colors and font styles mean. For example, anything highlighted in yellow is Instagram content, green is blog content, etc., while items in boldface font are approved and ready to be posted or scheduled.
    content calendar
  • Assignments – For larger content marketing teams, it may help to designate which tasks are assigned to certain team members. This not only helps spread the work out, but can also help if a team member is out sick and needs coverage for their posts for the day.
  • Flexibility – Things come up. You may find an opportunity to write a blog on the spur of the moment, or another project may keep you so busy that you may not get to your postings for the day. Unless it’s extremely timely content, you can always go back and post it later.

Hopefully we’ve given you some information that will be helpful as you work on your 2017 content marketing plan. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any other questions about content calendars!

Content Calendar Templates and Resources

Posted 07 Nov 2016

Branding Case Study: Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia

We first came to know the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia (CFNEG) when Randy Redner assumed the role of Executive Director in 2015. We have known Randy for quite some time, having worked with him over the years with various organizations he has been a part of. When Randy first came to the CFNEG, he discovered a few branding and identity challenges that needed to be addressed and, like all nonprofit leaders, knew he had to use his resources wisely while working toward a solution.

To get started, Randy started looking at what the CFNEG had in place. “For our first step we started taking inventory of what we had – a physical inventory of printed materials and of the community to see what they did and didn’t know about us, including our board and fund holders as well as people we thought should know about us,” Randy said. The feedback from the community inventory was consistent throughout in that no one had a clear idea of the goals and mission of the CFNEG. From there, Randy decided to take a step back and start looking at potential solutions to help improve the identity of the CFNEG.

The next steps included the beginning of a collaboration between the CFNEG and Rock Paper Scissors to look at what they did have available and start working on the messaging to ensure that it clearly communicated the purpose and mission of the foundation in a way that appealed to both donors and nonprofits. Of the process, Randy said, “We said ‘Okay, let’s take a stab at what this looks like, sounds like, and feels like.’ I tried using different language and words in my presentations to see what did and didn’t stick. We washed and tested this a few times and eventually came back and started building our marketing materials and created a strategy for marketing and communicating ourselves.”

During that process, we carefully looked over the CFNEG’s marketing materials. The existing brochure seemed to blend into the crowd with a mix of blue and gray tones, so we knew that we needed to work in a color to make it pop a bit more while also working with the messaging to make the concept of what the foundation does as simple as possible. “The blues and greys created a quiet and somber feeling, and after interacting with the team at CFNEG and seeing all of the projects they are working on, this was a huge disconnect. This organization is so full of life, energy, and wanting to build a better world, they needed a brand that reflected that,” said Amanda Sutt, CEO and Creative Director of RPS.

The result was the Charitable Giving Account mailer. We maintained some of the blue tones from the original color scheme and added a persimmon accent to the mix to make it a more eye-catching piece and more reflective of the character of the organization. We started with this color to add energy and excitement, but we did not want something as aggressive and dominant as a true red. We have since added more colors to the brand, but this was our first exploration to get the audience comfortable with this brand refresh and to see what kind of feedback we got.

branding

Next, we moved on to a trifold brochure where we implemented more brand elements, as well as the new messaging. We made the main blue more vibrant and added even more accents than in the previous piece. The more visible brand shift came as we added building block-like shapes to the piece, which gave us the opportunity to add images that would connect with donors and nonprofits alike, as well as the keywords that represent the goals of the CFNEG – give, connect, impact. We changed the colors of the logo ever so slightly. The tagline, “Connecting People who Care with Causes that Matter” remained the same.

branding

branding

Michelle Drehoff, lead designer for the project, said “The building block shapes are a representation of how various types of elements are able to fit together to create a solid foundation upon which the Community Foundation can build on to impact the community in a greater way. As the elements are combined they create something larger than the the individual parts alone. The Community Foundation is like the master architect that is able to place the pieces together for maximum impact.”

Our next project was to create a magazine piece for the CFNEG to be used as the first annual Giving Report. The giving report highlights specific stories from different donors and nonprofits that have found beneficial connections through the CFNEG. For this piece, we chose a design that played off of the angular shapes found in the trifold brochure to enhance the visual appeal and continued using the vibrant blue and persimmon colors to keep a sense of cohesiveness.

branding

While all of this was in the works, Randy worked with the CFNEG’s board of directors to develop a new vision statement, revise the mission statement, and build a marketing plan. “It’s the crawl, walk, run,” Randy explained. “Rock Paper Scissors helped us work through the madness and figure out where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.”

branding

As the CFNEG started using the new marketing pieces and messaging, Randy feels they’ve seen a good response, with increased web hits, better reports from Google Analytics, and their Facebook likes have doubled.

“We’re still building our way out. We’re adding a new client about every three weeks. It’s amazing since we were so stagnant a year ago. We’re just getting started with more to go,” Randy shared enthusiastically.

branding

Two of our goals for our work with the CFNEG were to be wise with our client’s resources, as well as help Randy in his goal of creating a brand that would appeal to the traditional market of donors, as well as the next generation of philanthropists, and nonprofits of all kinds. We don’t do everything for the foundation, but worked together to select strategic pieces that allows us to move the brand over time while remaining within the CFNEG’s budget and make every dollar count. In this case, we added new elements along the way and later refined the plan as we learned more about the current audience and the target audience groups the foundation wanted to reach.

We love working with the CFNEG to help reshape and grow their branding and have enjoyed the continued partnership with them. We look forward to many more years of collaboration and growth through this partnership.

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