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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.

via GIPHY

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.

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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.

Posted 31 Oct 2016
power of color

The Power of Color in Branding and Marketing

Did you miss our recent  webinar on The Power of Color? Read on for the full recap, or check out the video at the bottom of this post!

Fall is one of our favorite times of year because it’s such a colorful season here in North Georgia. The leaves are turning to brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow and you can’t miss the colorful pumpkin patches that seem to be on every street. Drawing from the seasonal color inspiration, we want to encourage you to take a closer look at the importance of color and how it applies to your business’ branding and marketing efforts.

Now some of you may be wondering why focusing on color is such a big deal. Color is a reflection of your brand, and each color tends to be associated with certain characteristics or emotions that can trigger either positive or negative associations with your audience. With that in mind, you want to make sure you’re choosing colors that paint an accurate picture of your brand in your audience’s mind. Consider the following:

  • Blue tends to be associated with feelings of trustworthiness, dependability, and commitment.

color

  • Orange is energetic and warm, but as Sensational Color shares, it is known for stirring up stronger “love it” or “hate it” responses than other colors do.

color

  • Red is naturally exciting and attention grabbing, but can occasionally conjure up negative feelings, especially when related to finances (“in the red”).

color

  • Green is most common color appearing in the natural world and as such is typically associated with the environment and represents freshness and growth, but is also associated with money.

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  • Yellow tends to be related to happiness and optimism.

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  • Black is often representative of authority and power, but can quickly become too overwhelming.

color

Beyond the different associations one can have with a particular color, it’s important to think about the challenges certain colors may present. For example, sometimes red can either be too aggressive or appear more pink than you want it to. Yellow can be a particularly challenging color to work with because there are different versions and because of the way the human eye perceives the color. To add to the challenge, you may see one shade of yellow on one computer screen and it will look very different on another.

Many times, the challenges often come down to individual perception. For instance, men see a lesser range of colors than women do, which is due to evolution and genetics. Women have more alleles that allow them to see different wavelengths of color, thus seeing more colors.

So how do you ensure the particular sea foam green that’s the main color in your branding looks the same from your printed materials to your website and everything in between? That’s where color systems come into play. Following are three of the more common color systems.

  • CMYK, or Cyan – Magenta – Yellow – Black, is a print industry color model that uses these four colors as primary colors.

color

  • RGB, or Red – Green – Blue, is an additive color system that is used in computer monitors, TVs, and in theater. This system only works in devices that employ light.

color

  • Pantone Matching System, or PMS, is a commonly used color standardization system that most printers understand. This system not only offers consistency, but also allows you to use colors that can’t be mixed using CMYK.

color

Now that you know a bit about each color system, you may be wondering when to choose one over the other. As a general rule of thumb, CMYK is best for full color printing and full color photography; RGB is best for web use; and PMS is best to ensure that branding colors are consistent among printed marketing collateral and other items.

We know we’ve given you a lot of information to think about, so feel free to send us any questions you have about the power of color and how it relates to your business’ branding and marketing efforts.

Posted 06 Oct 2016

We Had a Blast at the RPS 30th Birthday Bash!

The RPS 30th birthday bash was a blast! A great time was had by all as we commemorated 30 years in business with our clients, vendors, and friends. We are grateful to everyone that was able to join us and especially enjoyed hearing your memories of RPS!

Here’s a look back at our big night, as well as some thoughts from Amanda as we look to the future.

As many of you know, I was only going to work for the family business for a year after I graduated college, but eleven years later, I have had the privilege to step in and take the reigns. Thirty years may seem like a long time, but it has flown by. It is made up of moments, people, and projects that we put our heart and soul into. We live in the moment when we are creating so this is how we lose track of time, which makes taking the time to celebrate that much more important to realize how far we have come. It is like hiking a mountain; you get to the top one step at a time, and when you get to the top you can just keep on hiking, or you can look around take it all in. On Friday, September 30th, we chose to take it all in.

I was “hiking” to the summit that Friday when I was picking up balloons for the party. I was waiting for the florist to wrap up when the summit came into view for me and I realized what it means to have a family business for this long. It made me so grateful for what my mom set out to do with this business. I also realized how brave she was to do this, even though she would have never thought of it as brave. It was just what she had to do.

It takes a combination of a lot of hard work, trust, and a little luck to make it to 30, and more of the same to make it to the next 30. So today we look at our pictures from the summit to remember how far we have come and start on our next climb. Thank you all for being a part of our journey so far and we look forward to many new adventures yet to come.

Once again, thanks to everyone that came out to celebrate our 30th birthday! Here’s to the next 30 years!

Posted 30 Sep 2016

The Value of Branding

Did you miss our latest webinar on The Value of Branding? Check out our recap below, or watch the video included at the bottom of this post!

Think about the last time you went to a restaurant and were asked what you wanted to drink. You may have asked for a soda or a pop… unless you’re in Georgia, where everything is Coke. That’s an example of the power of branding. People don’t just know or recognize your logo or products; they ask for them by name. However, that’s only a small part of the value of good branding.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s recap what a brand actually is. A brand is more than a logo, tagline, and color scheme. A brand is the manifestation of a business or organization’s beliefs shown through its products and services, experiences, and interactions. It’s how the audience connects to the business or organization and what they think and feel as they experience the brand first hand.

Branding is what differentiates you from the competition. When branding is done right, it brings in loyal customers that come to you day after day, week after week, and year after year. This relationship is what allows you to charge more for your products and services than your competition. Having loyal customers and the ability to charge more for your products and services offer great value to your business and brand, but that’s only scratching the surface. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover that good branding can position you as a familiar and trustworthy brand people love doing business with.

“A brand’s value is merely the sum total of how much extra people will pay, or how often they choose, the expectations, memories, stories and relationships of one brand over the alternatives.” – Seth Godin

There are lots of articles out there about the value of your brand; you can easily do a Google search and find them. We want to look at this from a different perspective and don’t want to just focus on the monetary value of your brand. We want to look at the value of your brand as it is perceived from the people who encounter it. Today we are going to focus on the perspectives of the customer, owner, and employee

20160921_RPS_CustomerPerspective

The Customer’s Perspective: If the value is not felt at the customer level, you are in trouble because you’ll begin to lose customers and miss opportunities to reach new ones. That’s why it is extremely important to consider the customer’s perspective as you establish your brand so you can form strong relationships that will positively impact the value of your brand.

  • Consumers trust companies that have invested in their brand. This trust adds value to your brand because you don’t have to keep winning customers over once trust has been established.
  • They also trust companies that are consistent in their branding and messaging. Inconsistency can create doubt and confusion in your clients and can break down their trust in you, but the familiarity of a business with a consistent brand will keep them coming back to you over and over.
  • With only seconds to connect and grasp a customer’s attention, it’s even more important to remain consistent so you build a recognizable and familiar brand. Over time, the familiarity of your brand creates a sense of ownership in your customers, and you can’t beat that kind of loyalty when you’re building your brand.

Mcdonalds-90s-logo

Consider these examples. Your brand is your company’s uniform, and a uniformed look makes you more familiar and trustworthy to your customers. For instance, bankers are usually dressed in suits and that’s what you’ve come to expect. You wouldn’t feel the same way about a banker if they showed up in their gym clothes. Similarly, McDonald’s is a welcome sign when traveling because you know the burger will taste about the same as it does at home, and the restrooms will probably be clean.

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The Owner’s Perspective: Branding offers tremendous value to business owners. There is a definite monetary value for owners, but a solid brand offers so much more to a company’s leadership. Consider the following:

  • Good branding increases the value of the company. Solid branding can also helps make the business scalable by allowing you to charge a premium for your products or services.
  • Branding also helps make business decisions easier because owners have a clear vision of who you are AND who you are not. It also gives those in leadership positions a direction in which to lead and makes saying “yes” and “no” more streamlined because you know whether or not the opportunity will add value to the brand. It also helps in terms of scalability because you have a shared vision of the brand and can grow the whole culture.
  • Good branding differentiates you from the competition as well as build brand ambassadors that help spread the word about how great you are.

Terry Crews Old Spice

Many brands have set themselves apart through celebrity endorsements, such as Old Spice with Terry Crews, American Express with Tina Fey, and countless others. Having that celebrity status helps no doubt, but when you have easy message and story to tell, people will start sharing it, and that can add exponential value to your brand because you’re not having to pay for all of your advertising.

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The Employee’s Perspective: This is probably the most overlooked aspect when people talk about the value of branding, but the employee’s perspective of the brand can be a make or break point in the success of that brand.

  • Consistent direction and messaging from leadership gives employees a focused direction in which to follow. This perspective and by-in is what will make your brand scalable.
  • Good branding also creates a sense of belonging for employees. When your employees feel that they belong, they’ll likely be happier and more motivated to provide the quality products or services your customers come to you for.
  • Another way branding adds value for employees can be found in how it helps set a new employee’s expectations of the culture of the work environment. For some companies, their branding tells new employees that this is a fun and creative place to work with a more casual environment, while the branding of other companies may set a more serious tone and approach to the work they do.

20160921_RPS_ChickFilA

Chick-fil-A is a great example, especially for employee direction. Like other fast food chains, they hire lots of teenagers but pay attention to the authority and support you get as a customer the next time you walk into your local Chick-fil-A compared to other companies. It’s ingrained in their brand, and their brand in regards to their staff is more than just a logo, uniform, and for some, the cow costume. It’s an attitude as well. This kind of direction definitely improves the customer experience.

To bring it all together, value in a brand is far more than the monetary standing when you start to look at the different players in the game. Branding takes all the parts between a transaction into account to create experiences that stick with people and build relationships that add incredible value to your brand, business, and the experiences that people want to talk about.

Do you have questions about the value of branding? Contact us or tweet us @rps123shoot and ask away! We’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

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