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Aug

30

2017

10 of the Best Ads from August: The Eclipse, Sugar, and the Worst Voice Assistant Ever

Advertisers got creative in August, experimenting with the increasingly popular six-second ad format, contributing to the buzz surrounding the solar eclipse, and building a mountain of sugar in Times Square.

Let’s take a look at some of the last great ads of summer 2017:

Click here to check out the best marketing and advertising examples we've ever  seen.

10 of the Best Ads from August

1) SafeAuto

Say hello to the world’s worst voice assistant: a stylish wooden box named Fârnhäan. In a brutally funny take down of our growing fascination with artificial intelligence, insurance company SafeAuto developed a vaguely German-accented AI device who always gets it wrong — very wrong.

In a series of 30-second spots, Fârnhäan flubs question after question, with hilarious results. “Fârnhäan, what’s in baklava?” one man asks. Fârnhäan responds: “Sugar, cabbage, pickles, and just a touch of toothpaste for color.” Who knew?

 

2) KIND

On August 22, healthy food manufacturer KIND dumped 45,000 pounds of sugar on Times Square to demonstrate how much sugar the average child consumes annually.

Accompanied by several child-shaped statues (made of a sugar look-alike material to avoid attracting swarms of bugs), the art installation was orchestrated by Magnetic Collaborative, a London-based marketing shop.

Photo credit: KIND 

3) Canon

If you follow virtually any media site in 2017, you’ve probably heard the news that millennials are collectively killing everything from diamonds, to fabric softener, to lunch. But if Canon has any say in the matter, this ruthless, avocado-hungry generation won’t do away with point-and-shoot cameras.

To convince twenty and thirty-somethings to put down their beloved iPhones and opt for a real camera instead, Grey NY set up a wacky Rube Goldberg Machine, manufacturing some perfect photo-ops that could only be captured on a Canon — naturally.

 

4) Volkswagen

To showcase the unique design of Volkswagen’s new fastback Arteon, German agency Grabarz & Partner enlisted the help of Pete Eckert — a blind photographer famous for his otherworldly “light-paintings.”

Eckert brought his signature long-exposure techniques to the project, producing a series of mirage-like images of the new model. “The new Arteon represents expressive, avant-garde design. Pete Eckert has presented this design in a unique way,” said Xavier Chardon, Volkswagen’s head of marketing, to Adweek. “The images he has created are genuine works of art and have a very special atmosphere that only he can create.”

 

5) JetBlue

There are now souvenirs for workaholics who never take a vacation, celebrating the very place they never, ever leave.

JetBlue worked with MullenLowe to produce a line of delightfully kitschy keepsakes to remind you of the vacation you need to take. The line of mugs, decorative plates, candles, and other trinkets usually reserved for tourist trap gift shops feature phrases like: “Paper jams are my jam,” and “Remember the free bagels?”

“If your last good memory is that time free bagels were left in the break room, we feel for you,” said Heather Berko, manager of advertising and content at JetBlue. “These Office Souvenirs are just our way of reminding everyone there are blue skies and fresh air waiting to provide much happier memories.”

Photo via: Adweek

6) Carlsberg

This Danish brewery’s founder died in 1887, but that didn’t stop him from hosting a TED Talk in Copenhagen in August — courtesy of FCB agency Happiness in Brussels.

J.C. Jacobsen, who founded Carlsberg back in 1847, showed up (via actor) to give a talk entitled, “Why You Should Answer Every Question With Probably.” The topic plays into Carlsberg’s longtime slogan: “Probably the best beer in the world,” but it ended up being a surprisingly insightful meditation on the value of uncertainty.

 

7) Hitotoki

This just might be the most beautiful clock ever created — and it only took 30,000 objects to make.

To celebrate the do-it-yourself spirit their brand embodies, Japanese stationary company Hitotoki teamed up with agency Dentsu to assemble a 24-hour clock with a hand-crafted set of hands for each minute of the day — 1,440 total. Against a backdrop of lovely Hitotoki paper (of course), the team mesmerizingly assembles each arrangement using every object imaginable — cupcakes, confetti, even a miniature spaceship.

You can watch a real-time version of the Hitotoki clock on their website.

 

8) Chiquita

Is there anything bolder than slapping a logo on the solar eclipse?

Chiquita saw an opportunity that wouldn’t come along for another seven years, and they jumped on it (with help from Wieden + Kennedy). Who can blame them really? It really does look like a banana.

“It took an intense knowledge of celestial bodies and an unrelenting love for bananas, but we did it,” Chiquita wrote on their YouTube channel. “On August 21, Chiquita will move the moon in between the sun and the earth. For a fleeting moment before and after the totally overrated total solar eclipse, the sun will appear to be an enormous fiery banana. This phenomenon shall henceforth be known as the Chiquita banana sun. Please enjoy it.”

 

9) Air New Zealand

A flightless bird might not seem like the most natural spokesperson for an airline, but you’ll change your mind after meeting Air New Zealand’s latest pitchman — a tiny, adorable kiwi.

After getting some devastating news from a doctor (“You’ll never fly … because kiwis don’t have wings”), our fluffy little hero discovers that the convenient flight options from Air New Zealand still allow him to get around in the sky.

 

10) Zappos

In this series of quick, clever spots for online retailer Zappos, the creative team at barrettSF had a little fun with the phrase, “Save the drama for your mama.”

Each ad plays off an alternative version of the saying, e.g.: “Save the drama for your daughter’s diorama.”

What were you favorite ads this month? Talk to us on Twitter.

marketing-campaigns

Aug

7

2017

7 Brands Already Using Chatbots in Their Marketing

By now, you’ve probably realized that the bots have us surrounded. If recent success stories like Arby’s hilarious pizza slider bot are any indication, the future of brand awareness as we know it just might rest in the little digital paws of chatbots.

They might seem like “the simpletons of the artificial intelligence world,” but chatbots offer marketers from any industry the opportunity to engage with consumers on a personal, direct level — as long as they can capture (and hold) users’ attention with an engaging narrative.

The emergence of accessible artificial intelligence gives us unprecedented access to consumers, but the tech needs to be fed by compelling creative work to be used successfully as a marketing tool.

As AOL’s David Shingy writes in Adweek, “The challenge [with chatbots] will be thinking about creative from a whole different view: Can we have creative that scales? That customizes itself? We find ourselves hurtling toward another handoff from man to machine — what larger system of creative or complex storytelling structure can I design such that a machine can use it appropriately and effectively?”

Some brands already seem to be getting the balance right. A bot needs to capture a user’s attention quickly and display a healthy curiosity about their new acquaintance, but too much curiosity can easily push them into creepy territory and turn people off. They have to display more than a basic knowledge of human conversational patterns, but they can’t claim to be an actual human — again, let’s keep things from getting too creepy here.

To inspire your first (or next) foray into the weird and wonderful world of chatbots, we’ve compiled a list of seven brands whose bot-based campaigns were fueled by an astute knowledge of their target audiences and solid copywriting. Check them out below, and start considering if a chatbot is the right move for your own company’s next big marketing campaign.

7 Brands Already Using Chatbots for Marketing

1) National Geographic’s Genius


Image Credit: Top Bots

Who wouldn’t want a little Albert Einstein at their disposal to answer pressing questions about space, time, and the meaning of life?

Back in April, National Geographic launched a Facebook Messenger bot to promote their new show about the theoretical physicist’s work and personal life. Developed by 360i, the charismatic Einstein bot reintroduced audiences to the scientific figure in a more intimate setting, inviting them to learn about the lesser-known aspects of his life through a friendly, natural conversation with the man himself.

“Rather than having the campaign speak for Einstein, we wanted Einstein to speak for himself,” Layne Harris, 360i’s VP, Head of Innovation Technology, said to GeoMarketing. “We decided to pursue a conversational chatbot that would feel natural and speak as Einstein would. This provides a more intimate and immersive experience for users to really connect with him one on one and organically discover more content from the show.”

Unfortunately the Genius bot is no longer active, but apparently he had a pretty good sense of humor — persistent existential dread aside.

2) Whole Foods

Tonight’s dinner plans could be just a single emoji send away.

Whole Foods’ Facebook Messenger bot — launched in 2016 at MobileBeat — lets users search for recipes, products, and food inspiration without leaving Messenger.

The friendly foodie bot was developed by Conversable, and the team plans to expand its capabilities in the near future to include coupons, a saved recipe library, and direct shopping. 

If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for, you can give the bot some details about your dietary restrictions and flavor preferences, and it will serve up some options. And if you’re in the mood to embrace every millennial stereotype, you can just send an emoji of a food item for instant recommendations. The future is truly now.

3) Aerie

Image Credit: VB

With a predominantly millennial and Gen Z target audience, it makes sense that lingerie and apparel retailer Aerie was quick to adopt bot technology in their marketing approach.

Available on Kik, the bot helps users select products with an engaging game of this or that: you’re presented with two product images, and you select the one that most suits your body type and preferences. After a few rounds, the bot is able to make personalized product recommendations based on your selections.

“We worked closely with the Aerie team, including copywriters, designers, and brand voice to create a chatbot with a distinct persona that celebrates body positivity and promotes confidence in young women,” said Lauren Kunze, the CEO of Pandorabots, the company behind Aerie’s bot.

4) Harper Collins

Having trouble finding your next read? Harper Collins’ Epic Reads chatbot is here to help. With a few simple questions about your past favorites and genre preferences, this powerful little Facebook Messenger bot can find a book that matches your unique literary tastes.

The Epic Reads bot caters specifically to teens, but Harper Collins hasn’t forgotten adult readers — in early 2017, they launched a second book recommendation bot, Book Genie, which offers up a broader range of book suggestions for all ages. 

5) Marvel’s Spiderman

You might not ever be able to fight like a superhero, but now you can at least chat like one.

Marvel released a choose-your-own-adventure style Facebook Messenger bot to build hype for the summer blockbuster’s theatrical release.

The good news is that the bot will give you a cool nickname. The bad news is that the nickname it gave me was “The Wobbler.”

Through some urgent back-and-forth with the users, the bot eventually reveals panels of a secret comic. If you share your location, the bot will instruct you to “report for duty” by purchasing the full comic book in stores.

6) Starbucks

Image Credit: GeekWire

Perfect proof that simplicity can be the best route, the Starbucks Barista bot for Facebook Messenger serves a very specific, very important purpose: it orders you coffee.

When you have a desperate need for a java fix with minimal human interaction and effort, this bot has you covered. According to a demo led by Gerri Martin-Flickinger, the coffee chain’s chief technology officer, the bot even understands complex orders with special requests, like “double upside down macchiato half decaf with room and a splash of cream in a grande cup.”

That’s pretty impressive. I, an adult human and problematically frequent Starbucks customer, barely understood that. 

7) Duolingo

Image Credit: Duolingo

Learning a new language takes a lot of practice, and if you’re doing it on your own, you might miss out on gaining valuable conversational knowledge. Enter online language-learning platform Duolingo’s chatbot service.

Available in a wide variety of foreign languages within the Duolingo app, the bot helps language students overcome the fear of embarrassment that often comes with speaking a new language in a conversational setting by providing them with virtual, judgment-free option.

“A very common request that we get is people want to practice conversation,” said Duolingo’s co-founder and CEO, Luis von Ahn. The company originally tried pairing up non-native speakers with native speakers for practice sessions, but according to von Ahn, “about three-quarters of the people we try it with are very embarrassed to speak in a foreign language with another person.”

The chatbot offers the perfect solution: a friendly bot companion to practice with, any time of the day, with no fear of embarrassment. “As far as we can tell,” von Ahn told The Guardian, “computers can’t judge us.”

Which branded bots are you engaging with these days? Let us know on Twitter.

HubSpot Blog Design

 
HubSpot Blog Redesign

Aug

4

2017

How Workplaces Get Diversity Training Wrong

Workplace diversity isn’t just good for your employees’ wellbeing — it’s also good for business.

Back in 2015, a McKinsey report found that companies with management teams in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were also 15% more likely to have returns above their industry means.



Image credit: McKinsey

But diversity isn't a just business play. It's a human play.

But diversity isn’t a just business play. It’s a human play. And as more companies start to incorporate diversity programs into their training and hiring practices, many are failing to develop truly meaningful, empathetic initiatives that go beyond surface-level quotas and checkboxes.

Notice something different? Click here to learn more about the HubSpot blog  redesign process.

A recent investigation by Harvard Business Review found that some common tactics like mandatory skill assessment tests to reduce hiring bias, annual performance ratings to evaluate pay gaps, grievance systems to rehabilitate biased managers, and compulsory diversity training programs to educate employees just aren’t doing enough to bring organizations into the 21st century. In fact, some of these initiatives might even have an adverse impact on organizational health, reinforcing bias instead of alleviating its damage.

Laboratory studies show that this kind of force-feeding can activate bias rather than stamp it out.

According to sociology professors Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev, “Those [diversity initiatives] are designed to preempt lawsuits by policing managers’ thoughts and actions. Yet laboratory studies show that this kind of force-feeding can activate bias rather than stamp it out. As social scientists have found, people often rebel against rules to assert their autonomy. Try to coerce me to do X, Y, or Z, and I’ll do the opposite just to prove that I’m my own person.”

By no means does this study indicate you should abandon your company’s diversity program for fear of failure. It means it’s time for a more empathetic, self-aware approach to diversity — in the workplace and beyond. 

Adam Foss, a former Assistant District Attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston and the founder of Prosecutor Impact, sat down with The INBOUND Studio — an interview series that highlights relevant themes at the intersection of pop-culture, business and advocacy — to discuss diversity, empathy, and the complexity of privilege.

At Prosecutor Impact, Foss builds training programs for prosectors, teaching them to take a more empathetic, conscious approach to their work and the betterment of the communities they practice within. He’s found that cultivating empathy, rather than diversity alone, is necessary for creating real cultural changes.

“Empathy is the ability to share and understand the feelings and experiences of another. That is not what diversity means. Diversity just literally means ‘difference.'” – Adam Foss

“Empathy is the key driver of success in the criminal justice system, because its so devoid of empathy, or anything that requires empathy,” Foss explains in the interview. “I think that’s why we’re in the mess that we’re in now with the incarceration population, the size that it is and who it’s affecting. It has marginalized people — period. To really start turning that corner and succeeding and seeing that change, there’s been a drive to create empathy as part of the education of folks.

The training at Prosecutor Impact focuses on building empathy through both academic and experiential learning, educating prosecutors on subjects that deepen their understanding of the communities they serve, and confronting them directly with the realities of incarceration to strengthen their capacity for empathy. 

“People are on board with that part of it: getting this new visceral experience, learning these new things,” Foss says. “Where it gets difficult is when you have to start tackling harder issues like what is the role of race, what is the role of gender, and religion, and sexual orientation.”

“When you start having those questions, people get defensive, or negate their privilege by talking about how they had [difficulties] and how they made up for them. And both of those things are really dangerous and counterproductive when you’re trying to change culture.

Refocusing Diversity Initiatives in the Workplace

Foss admits that discussing privilege is “a difficult conversation to get started,” but it’s a conversation worth having. Becoming aware of the privilege you possess is the first step to leveraging it in a meaningful way, and many conventional diversity programs fail to address this.

Focusing on empathy and self-awareness over quotas and trainings aimed at instantly stripping away biases is a more holistic, realistic approach to embracing a more diverse workplace and world.

HubSpot Blog Design

 
HubSpot Blog Redesign

Aug

3

2017

16 of the Best Landing Page Design Examples You Need to See in 2017

How do you convince your visitors to take the plunge on your website?

There are so many elements that a top-notch landing page needs, and making those elements the “best” they can be often depends on what your landing page goals are. 

Take form length, for example. It’s just one of the many components you need to optimize, but best practices will tell you that both short and long forms perform well — it all depends on whether you want to generate a lot of (potentially) lower quality form submissions, or a smaller number of higher quality submissions.Click here to learn best practices for optimizing landing pages and generating  more leads.So if you’re looking to up your landing page game, it’s helpful to know what goes into a great landing page and see a few examples of these nuanced elements in action. Surprisingly, when I started doing research into the latter, I realized there are hardly any sites out there with examples of modern, impressive landing pages that are more than just a sign-up form on a homepage. So we decided to compile a list of landing pages we love ourselves.

Big, big caveat here: I don’t have access to any of the stats for these pages, so I can’t tell you how well they convert visitors, leads, and customers. Still, these examples have some of the best combinations of those nuanced landing page elements I’ve ever seen. Obviously, if you feel inspired to try any of these tactics on your own site, the only way to know whether they’ll work for you for sure is by testing them out for yourself.

16 Examples of Great Landing Page Design 

1) Wistia

First up is Wistia’s landing page for their Free Wistia Account. Right off the bat, you notice the one-field form to create your account — the blue, minimally patterned background contrasts nicely with the bright white form field.

The length of the form field combined with the prominent placement eliminates nearly all friction to create an account … but if you’re having doubts, you can always scroll below to read answers to top FAQs. By separating these two sections with stark color contrast, Wistia makes it much easier for you focus on converting.

wisita-landing-page-example.png

2) Unbounce

It’s no surprise Unbounce is near the top of this list — they’ve actually written the book on creating high-converting landing pages. Although there are lots of amazing things about this landing page, the two that I absolutely love are: 1) The use of a chat window instead of a classic form, and 2) the detailed — but well packaged — information below the form. 

The first helps direct attention to the goal of the page — for you to fill out the form — in a way that’s unobtrusive and feels less like a chore. The second gives this page an SEO boost (search engines will have more content to crawl) and assuages any worry from folks who need to know more about a piece of content before handing over their information, all while not distracting people from the chat window.

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 11.21.12 AM.png

3) IMPACT Branding & Design

Full disclosure: IMPACT is a HubSpot partner — but that’s not why they’re included here. IMPACT’s landing pages have long been a source of design inspiration. I love the simple layout of the page, from the large headline copy and detailed featured image, to the outline that surrounds the form, to the colors and fonts that are very pleasing to the eye.

Notice that they’ve included a check box to subscribe to their blog, which is automatically checked. Note that while adding a check box field to your landing page forms is a great way to increase subscribers, it’s better to leave it unchecked and let users opt in. Otherwise, you’ll risk adding a lot of low quality subscribers to your contact base.

impact-landing-page-example-2.png

4) Muzzle

Landing pages help users decide whether or not your product or service is actually worth their precious time and energy. What better way to clearly and straightforwardly communicate your value proposition than by confronting visitors with the very problem your app solves? 

Muzzle, a mac app that silences on-screen notifications, fully embraces this show don’t tell mentality on their otherwise minimal landing page. Visitors to the page are greeted with a rapid-fire onslaught of embarassing notifications in the upper left of the screen. Not only is the animation hilarious, it also manages to compellingly convey the app’s usefulness without lengthly descriptions. 

muzzle-1.gif

5) Bills.com

Often, people think landing pages are static pages on your website. But with the right tools, you can make them interactive and personalized.

Take the example below from Bills.com. To see if you’d benefit from their consultation, you answer three questions before you are shown a form. It starts with this one:

bills-dot-com-landing-page-example.png

Then, you answer two more questions, like the one below:

bills-dot-com-landing-page-2.png

And here’s the final landing page form where you fill out your information:

bills-dot-com-landing-page-3.png

I’m not sure how the algorithm works (or if there’s one at all), but while I was filling it out, I had some anxiety about not qualifying. Once I found out I did, I was excited to fill out the form, which I’m sure most people who are in debt and using this tool are. By making this offer seem more exclusive before the form appeared on the landing page, I’d bet that Bills.com increased conversions pretty significantly.

6) Trulia

Trulia did something very similar to Bills.com with their landing page. It starts with a simple form asking for “an address” (which sounds less creepy than “your address,” although that’s what they mean). Below this simple form field is a bright orange button that contrasts well with the hero image behind the form, and emphasizes that the estimate will be personalized to your home.

trulia-landing-page-example.png

Of course, the address itself won’t be enough to estimate the value of a home. It just denotes the home’s neighborhood. That’s why the next page follows with more questions about the property itself, like number of beds and baths. Below, you see the copy “Tell us where to send the report” — with a disclaimer that, by entering this information, you’re agreeing to connect with a real estate agent. This is a great example of a company giving value to their visitors from the get-go, while setting visitors’ expectations about what will happen as a result. 

trulia-landing-page-2.png

7) Teambit

Whimsical isn’t usually the first word that comes to mind when you think of HR software, but Teambit’s illustration-heavy landing page is exactly that. A simple, one-field form is accompanied by a delighful office full of animal characters — all of whom are very pleased with Teambit, in case you were wondering. An animal cartoon appears beside each informational section of the landing page, keeping visitors scrolling down to learn more.

Teambit’s landing page is perfect proof that you don’t need to have a conventionally “fun” product or service offering to create a fun landing page. 

teambit-1.png

[Click here to see the whole landing page.]

8) Landbot

Landbot, a service that creates chatbot-based landing pages, puts their own product front and center on their chat-fueled landing page. Visitors are greeted by a friendly bot — complete with emojis and GIFs — who encourages them to provide information in a conversational format, instead of via a traditional form. 

landbot.gif

9) Webprofits

For a little contrast … what about long landing pages? With just a few tricks, you can make even the longest landing page feel short. Webprofits’ landing page below shows us how.

Right at the top, there’s a prominent CTA button to learn more — with a nice contrast against the background so it stands out, and a downward arrow to encourage scrolling. By not putting a form field up front, they help reduce friction and create an opportunity for visitors to learn more before being presented with a conversion option.

They also make it easy for you to figure out what Webprofits actually does. The rest of the page offers detailed information about what you’ll get when you give over your information. Plus, it includes strategic CTAs throughout to take you back to the top to fill out the form, like “Let’s Talk.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 1.36.52 PM-1.png

10) Inbound Emotion

Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can still appreciate the conversion capabilities of this HubSpot partner site. My two favorite features of the page? The form stays in a fixed, prominent position as you scroll through the site. I also love the hands that serve as directional cues toward filling out the form and sharing the page with others.

inbound-emotion-1 

11) H.BLOOM

Sometimes, you’ve just got to stop and admire a landing page for being beautiful. Using high-resolution photography and lots of white space, H.BLOOM’s landing page is a pleasure to look at. 

Aside from its beauty, the page has some great conversions elements: an above-the-fold form, clear and concise description of what’ll happen when you fill out the form, and even the bright orange “Submit” button. The only thing we’d change up? The copy on the “Submit” button — that could be more specific to the offer at hand. 

hbloom-1

12) Velaro Live Chat

Sometimes the smallest details make the biggest difference. They’re what make Velaro Live Chat’s landing page awesome, for example.

That small PDF symbol over the feature image helps set expectations for what format the download will be in. The arrow in front of the subheadline helps further direct your attention to important copy they want visitors to read. Like IMPACT, they also have an auto-checked box to subscribe to their newsletter on their form — which, if turned into an opt-in check boxis a great way to increase subscribers. All of these small, seemingly insignificant details help bring together a solid, admirable landing page design.

velaro-landing-page-example-1.png

13) Airbnb

To help convert visitors into hosts, Airbnb offers some enticing personalization: an estimated weekly average earnings projection based on your location. You can enter additional information about your potential accommodations into the fields to get an even more customized estimation. 

If you visit the page already convinced, the clear call-to-action at the top of the page makes it easy to convert on the spot. 

airbnb-5.png

14) Conversion Lab

While I wouldn’t typically include an example of a homepage with a form on it in a post about landing pages, this website is special. The homepage is the entire website — the navigation links just take you to the information below.

When you click “Get Help With Landing Pages,” the entire site moves over to make room for the form. Here’s what it looks like before you click:

conversion-lab-landing-page-1.png

And, when you click that CTA, check out how the form appears: 

conversion-lab-landing-page-2.png

I love how you don’t have to leave the page to fill out the form, yet the form won’t feel intrusive to casual website visitors. 

15) Industrial Strength Marketing

Right off the bat, this landing page pulls me in with a compelling, punchy header: “Don’t Make Me Zoom.” It directly speaks to a common experience most of us have had when we’re browsing on our phones or tablets — and it’s a little sassy, too. 

But that’s not the only thing keeping me interested in this landing page. Notice how the color red is strategically placed: It’s right at the top and bottom of the form, drawing you even closer to the conversion event.

industrial-strength-marketing-landing-page-example.png

Plus, this design is meta to boot: It looks and works great on mobile, too. Keep in mind that a lot of visitors will be accessing your landing pages on their smartphones or tablets, and if the design of your website doesn’t work well for them, they might give up and leave your page.

The folks at Industrial Strength Marketing made the fonts and form field big enough so that visitors don’t have to pinch-to-zoom to read and interact with the content, for example. 

industrial-strength-marketing-mobile-landing-page-1.jpg

industrial-strength-marketing-mobile-landing-page-2.jpg

16) Shopify

Like many of the other landing pages in this post, Shopify’s trial landing page keeps it simple. The user-oriented headline is just a few words, for example, and the page relies on simple bullets, not paragraphs, to communicate the trial’s details and benefits. There are only a few fields you need to fill out before you get started. All of this makes it easier for you to get to the point: selling online with their tool. 

shopify-blog-1.png

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

Free Guide Optimize Landing Pages

 
Free Guide Optimize Landing Pages

Aug

2

2017

Successful Company Logos Have These Attributes In Common [Infographic]

Your company logo might not be a stand-alone indicator of success, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a thoughtful, eye-catching design — especially if you’re an early stage startup attempting to break into a competitive space. 

To see how high-growth companies are approaching logo design, the folks at SmartSign analyzed more than 2,000 company logos from the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies, seeking patterns that might indicate more than just an eye towards popular design trends.Notice something different? Click here to learn more about the HubSpot blog  redesign process.

They collected data on each logo’s dominant attributes (e.g.: minimal, angular), structure (e.g.: icon, wordmark), color scheme, and industry. While some of the findings clearly reflect expected trends (94% of the logos could be classified as minimal), others revealed some interesting insights into patterns across a variety of industries.

Curious to see what these powerhouse startup logos have in common? Check out the infographic below, and start planning your next redesign with this data in mind. 

Logo-Attributes.png

HubSpot Blog Design

 
HubSpot Blog Redesign

Dec

8

2016

6 Steps to Save a Project That’s Gone Off the Rails

No matter how much careful planning goes into a project, disaster can still strike when you least expect it. And when it does, it’s important for project managers to know how to minimize the damage and keep the team moving forward.

Sometimes, the signs are obvious: deadlines are being missed, your communication channels aren’t keeping everyone on the same page, and team members are confused about the scope of their individual responsibilities.

Other times, the signs a project is headed for trouble are more difficult to spot. Maybe team morale is a little lower than usual, or the project’s output doesn’t exactly meet your agency’s quality standards.

If your latest project seems like it’s spinning out of control, we’re here to help. We’ve outlined a basic project recovery plan to stop the bleeding and steer your team back on track. It won’t necessarily fix everything, but it’s a good place to start. 

How to Save a Project That’s Gone Off the Rails

1) Acknowledge that things aren’t going so great.

It might seem painfully simple, but admitting there’s a problem with the project’s current trajectory is the first (and often most difficult) step to getting things back on course.

Whether you’re dealing with a big problem or some smaller difficulties, the earlier you acknowledge them, the better. If you leave those seemingly less urgent issues to fester, they could cause major project disruptions down the line. Be vigilant for signs of potential catastrophe. 

Avoid playing the blame game. Gather your team for an emergency meeting to discuss exactly what’s going wrong and assess the damage. As the project manager, it might mean an ego hit to call out a project’s shortcomings, but it’s a necessary blow to get things back on the right path.

2) Reevaluate the project’s core objectives.

The best way to get things rolling again is to bring your team’s attention back to the project’s original purpose and primary goals. When things get chaotic, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, and people can get bogged down in the stressful details. The purpose can get lost in the frantic shuffle. 

As the project manager, it’s your job to keep an eye on the ultimate goal — especially when the project isn’t headed in the right direction. At the kickoff meeting, you likely went over the project’s targets and milestones with your team — but it might be time for a refresher.

When you meet with your team, don’t just rehash everything from the initial kickoff meeting — make sure you take the time to identify where things have fallen off course. Are there any particular areas of your project plan that now seem unattainable? Any areas that require some careful reevaluation? Maybe something you thought would be a small component is actually demanding a lot more attention. 

At this point, you can’t be afraid to be flexible.

It can seem absolutely terrifying to pull a 180-degree pivot midway through an important project, but sometimes it’s the only way to salvage things. Think about it this way: You know more about the project now than you did at the outset. At this point, you know what doesn’t work, which makes you better equipped to formulate a better — more realistic and informed — approach.

3) Audit your team’s communication channels.

If your project isn’t going as planned, there’s a good chance that poor communication deserves a significant chunk of the blame. It’s pretty simple: For your project to succeed, you need to have a communication infrastructure that allows team members to stay on the same page, even when they’re working on different areas of the project.

Take the time to examine your current communication process and look for any gaps or weak spots. What channels is your team currently using to communicate? How are you sharing information about individual team members’ work? Is there a central place where team members can track the project’s overall progress? How often are you checking in as a group?

One of the easiest ways to keep your team connected is investing in a project management tool. There are a ton of tools available at various price points, making it a great option for agencies of all sizes.

If onboarding your entire team onto a new piece of software midway through a project sounds like it might overcomplicate things, make the best of your existing tools and channels. Create a single place (such as a shared document) where team members can report on their progress and keep track of how the project is doing overall. Establish regular times to meet in person and discuss what’s working, and what isn’t.

4) Schedule one-on-one meetings with team members.

Group meetings are a great way to share information and confirm everyone is focused on working towards the same goals, but individual, one-on-one meetings are still necessary to ensure the project is headed in the right direction.

If you haven’t already been doing so since the outset of the project, set up weekly one-on-one meetings with each of your team members. Regular one-on-ones give your team the chance to discuss how they’re feeling, how their work is going, and what they need from you to be successful.

These meetings also give you the opportunity to get a feel for where the project currently stands and address any concerns directly and discreetly. If a project isn’t going well because a few people seem to be slacking in their contributions, this is your opening to dig into why, and help them start pulling their weight again. 

5) Address stakeholder concerns.

When a project starts going south, it’s your responsibility to keep your client (and any other relevant stakeholders) in the loop. Transparency and honesty are key here. If you attempt to hide the project’s issues, things will only get worse down the road.

Acknowledge any mistakes that might have occurred, and own up to them — don’t try to pass the blame or throw around excuses, because they won’t be received well. Instead, explain the issues straightforwardly and share your action plan for getting everything back on track.

The most important thing to emphasize here is that you fully understand the situation and you’re in control of it. It’s much better to inform your client something will be a little late and explain why, rather than keep them in the dark and have them get frustrated when the deadline is missed.

6) Learn from it.

It’s important to fully recognize what exactly went wrong so you can do your best to prevent it from happening again in the future.

After the project is over, you should orchestrate a project post-mortem with your team. Send out a simple questionnaire before the meeting to give team members the opportunity to reflect and share insights they might not feel comfortable sharing in front of the whole group. This is a great chance for people to dig into both the project’s weak points and successes (however small).

The post-mortem meeting itself should ultimately be a frank but civil discussion of the project from start to finish. Try to acknowledge even seemingly small points of frustration, and plan on putting processes in place to avoid issues in the future.

Remember: This meeting isn’t the time to put anyone on the spot, point fingers, or assign blame. It’s ultimately a chance to unpack the project’s trajectory and make your team is stronger for next time.

website-redesign-cta

Dec

5

2016

Animal Influencers: The Stories Behind 11 Famous Pets on Instagram

They command international attention, have amassed millions of followers on social media, and collaborate with the world’s biggest brands.

But you still have to pick up their poop.

Animal influencers are undeniably on the rise. These pampered pets (and their owners/handlers/entourages) enjoy a level of social media fame usually reserved for well, human celebrities, and bring in real revenue through their high-profile partnerships with brands like Zappos, Mercedes-Benz, Purina, and even Google. 

In other words, these adorable fluff balls make more money on a single Instagram post than you, a human, will probably ever make on a single Instagram post. Let that sink in for a minute.

According to Create&Cultivate, social media influencers (animal or otherwise) can expect to earn around $3,000 per sponsorship deal when they hit between 150,000 and 250,000 followers. Many of the pets on this list have over one million followers.

So why the sudden demand for four-legged brand ambassadors?

“People have this innate perception that pets generate warm, happy, fuzzy feelings,” said Loni Edwards — owner of Chloe (as in Instagram-famous @chloetheminifrenchie) — to Digiday. “Brands are starting to reach out because they make people genuinely happy, and they want their ads to make people happy.”

It turns out people really like cute animals — even if those animals are promoting things. “You don’t notice that you are getting advertised to, or you don’t care, because you’re seeing a super cute dog,” Katie Sturino (owner of another famous pooch, @toastmeetsworld) explained to Fortune

In addition to sponsorship deals, many of these pets generate income from their own branded products, such as books, calendars, apps, clothing, mugs … you name it, and somebody has plopped a cute animal on it and sold it on the internet.

Is this whole thing a little weird? Maybe. Did I follow all of these animals on Instagram? Absolutely I did.

Read on to see how 11 of these furry social celebrities are building their brands and growing their empires.

11 Famous Animal Influencers

1) Harlow, Indiana and Reese: @harlowandsage

Number of Instagram followers: 1.4m

This adorably photogenic trio consists of one very tolerant Weimaraner (Harlow) and two rambunctious Miniature Dachshunds (Indiana and Reese). In what is possibly the cutest rise-to-fame story ever, the three pups became an international internet sensation by snuggling.

Their owner, Brittni Vega, has made sure the cuddly canines use their fame for good. They recently partnered with dog food brand Purina to benefit the Canine Health Foundation, and have worked with Love Your Mellon, a cancer charity.

Harlow, Indiana, and Reese have also worked with Clorox to raise awareness about Parvovirus, a potentially fatal virus for dogs, and Petfinder, to help shelter dogs find homes. Other promotional clients include Petco, Figo Pet Insurance, and the Subaru Puppy Bowl.

Vega even spun the dogs’ popularity into a second Instagram account, @harlowandfriends, which exclusively features photos of dogs available for adoption.

  
 

2) Loki: @loki_the_wolfdog

Number of Instagram followers: 1.3m

When Mercedes-Benz needed a rugged, handsome new spokesmodel for the 2017 GLS SUV, they didn’t reach out to any old movie star — they got Loki, a Husky/Arctic Wolf/Malamute mix, to be the face of their latest campaign (Move over, John Hamm).

“Loki and his story aligned particularly well with our SUV portfolio,” said Mark Aikman, general manager of marketing services for Mercedes-Benz USA, to Digiday. “Our research has shown that a large number of SUV owners have pets.”

Known on Instagram as “Loki the Wolfdog”, this gentle giant spends his days traversing the great outdoors with owner Kelly Lund, who donates the revenue generated from Loki’s merchandise and sponsorships to two animal charities: Canine Support Teams and Eagle Trail Mountain Wolf Sanctuary.

Loki has become a magnet for brands looking to promote an outdoorsy lifestyle, including REI (he’s a social media sponsor for their annual #OptOutside campaign), GoPro, Rigid Industries LED Lighting, and Google Photos.

  
 

3) Nala: @nala_cat

Number of Instagram followers: 3.1m

This cross-eyed feline is closer to matching Kim Kardashian’s 88.3m Instagram follower count than you, probably.

Meet Nala, a six year old Siamese and Tabby mix with baby blue eyes and short, chubby legs. Since she first popped up on Instagram back in 2012, this remarkably photogenic cat has been racking up followers and brand sponsorships left and right.

She’s been featured on media outlets like BuzzFeed and Daily Mail, and has sponsorships with major brands like Friskies, Persil ProClean, and Zappos. She even recently ran a giveaway for Google’s new Pixel smartphone, which the brand gave her as a gift. 

It doesn’t hurt that Nala’s owner, Los Angeles resident Varisiri Methachittiphan (known by her nickname “Pookie”) has an MBA and strong business acumen. She’s even started an empire for her other cat, Mr. White, who has a respectable 1.3m Instagram followers of his own under the handle @white_coffee_cat_.

  
 

4) Pumpkin: @pumpkintheraccoon

Number of Instagram followers: 1m

How does it feel to be less popular than a raccoon? Because unless you have one million Instagram followers, you’re losing the social media rat race to a plump raccoon named Pumpkin. 

Pumpkin is a domesticated raccoon living a charmed life in the Bahamas with her owner, Laura Young, and canine siblings Toffee and Oreo. Her favorite activities include lounging on the couch, eating avocados, and petting dogs.

While her Instagram account is noticeably devoid of sponsored posts for now (besides a few posts promoting animal rescue charity BAARK), Pumpkin is a personal branding machine. She has a book — Pumpkin: The Raccoon Who Thought She Was a Dog — and has been featured on CBS, ABC, EW, and TV specials for BCC and Animal Planet.

And yes, Pumpkin is eating popcorn out of a Pumpkin the Raccoon branded bag in one of the below photos.

  
 

5) Chloe: @chloetheminifrenchie

Number of Instagram followers: 147k

A burgeoning fashion icon, Chloe has been featured in major publications like Martha Stewart and Vogue. She has her own line of fancy dog scarves (a collaboration with luxury human scarf brand Donni Charm) and Pawtty Bags, which her website describes as “essentially little dog purses to hold poop bags.”

For her second birthday, Chloe’s owner/manager, Loni Edwards, went all out, throwing a charity bash to raise money for the Humane Society of NY. The party was sponsored by BarkBox, Kind Bars, and Bloomingdale’s, among many others.

Edwards, a lawyer turned entrepreneur, started Chloe’s Instagram initially as a way to share photos of the ridiculously cute pup with her friends and family. In just a few short years, managing Chloe’s social media presence and endorsements has evolved into her full-time job.

“It became more than me and my friends following her — there were strangers appreciating her cuteness,” Edwards said to Racked about Chloe’s rapid rise to stardom.

  
 

6) Bodhi: @mensweardog

Number of Instagram followers: 289k

Clothing brands like Coach, American Apparel, and Brooks Brothers have a new muse: a gentlemanly Shiba Inu named Bodhi. Thanks to his affinity for perfectly tailored suits and brooding stare, this photogenic pooch has made a big splash in the fashion world, starring in major campaigns and even posing for exclusive fashion spread in the New York Times.

Bodhi’s fame was no accident. His owner and full-time handler, Yena Kim, quit her job at Ralph Lauren to focus on building her dog’s brand online. What seemed like a gamble at first has really paid off for Kim and her husband, graphic designer David Fung. 

Bodhi’s big break came in the form of a viral Tumblr post, and soon brands were reaching out to Kim and Fung as if they were like any other human fashion blogger seeking promotions. Today, Bodhi is sponsored by brands like Rockport Shoes and Gentleman’s Box on Instagram, and has his own fashion book. 

“He’s the dog version of the Dos Equis guy,” Fung said to Business Insider, “the most interesting dog in the world.”

  
 

7) Tuna: @tunameltsmyheart

Number of Instagram followers: 1.8m

Just like many human social media influencers, Tuna, a Chihuahua Dachsund mix with an undeniably endearing overbite, strives to project an authentic image across his many social platforms. And that means being very selective about the brands he chooses to work with.

“It’s enticing when you are offered big posting deals,” Tuna’s owner, Courtney Dasher, told Vice. “But if I’m not at peace with the idea or think it’s not a good fit with Tuna and the brand of Tuna, then I politely decline.”

The pint-sized pup mainly partners with animal rescue organizations and charities, but he also has an online shop that sells mugs, shirts, and other goods emblazoned with his toothy visage. If you’re really feeling that Tuna fever, you can even purchase an oxidized bronze ring shaped like his entire head. Because why not.

  
 

8) Toast: @toastmeetsworld

Number of Instagram followers: 370k

Toast, who is a dog, reportedly wore a custom Marchesa gown and $139,000 diamond necklace to her wedding, which was covered by Newsweek, People, and Town & Country. Toast (who, again, is a dog) married Finn Hearst (also a dog) after the two met at a charity gala and really hit it off, apparently.

The wedding was a charity fundraiser and promotional stunt for Zola, a wedding registry site, and it was hardly Toast’s first foray into the realm of brand promotions. Toast, who is represented by DBA (Digital Brand Architects), is an eyewear spokesmodel for Karen Walker, and has promoted big brands like Febreeze and Swiffer. She’s also currently the face of The Shelter Pet Project’s latest campaign, appearing in print ads and billboards around the country.

The toothless Cavalier King Charles Spaniel — who was rescued from a puppy mill — gained popularity on Instagram for her iconic floppy tongue and apparent tolerance of being dressed up.

Toast’s owner, Katie Sturino, told Newsweek she’s aware some people might find her profession a bit strange, but she’s managed to use her dog’s fame for good, raising awareness for the deplorable conditions at puppy mills.

  
 

8) Hamlet: @hamlet_the_piggy

Number of Instagram followers: 305k

While the vast majority of animal influencers are dogs and cats, some pigs are getting in on the action too. Hamlet, a charismatic mini pig who enjoys wearing wigs and having maple syrup poured directly into her mouth, has found unexpected fame on Instagram and Snapchat.

Hamlet’s owner, Melanie Gomez, adopted the unusual pet as a support companion after her epilepsy became hard to handle on her own (her husband is extremely allergic to dogs, so a pig was the next best option). She began posting Hamlet’s photos online as a way to make others happy, and never expected that the petite piglet would become an internet superstar.

Now a few years into her social media career, Hamlet has been spotted showing off a handful of products on Instagram, including Tostito’s snacks, Bose’s line of NFL headphones, and the Ollo Clip iPhone lens.

  
 

9) Lil Bub: @iamlilbub

Number of followers on Instagram: 1.4m

It would be an understatement to call Lil Bub a viral social media celebrity. The toothless tabby cat — born with a short lower jaw which exposes her tongue — was arguably one of the first big animal influencers on the scene, right up there with the ubiquitous Grumpy Cat.

Just a quick scan of Lil Bub’s extensive Wikipedia page reveals just how weirdly famous the quirky, stubby-legged cat has become. Here are a few highlights:

  • In 2015, a group of scientists crowdfunded $8,225 to sequence Lil Bub’s genome. The project was called LilBubnome.
  • Lil Bub is credited on the 2015 electronic album Science & Magic as a vocalist.
  • Vice produced a feature length documentary on Lil Bub in 2013 called Lil Bub & Friendz. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and Lil Bub got to meet Robert DiNero.

Name any object, and it’s probably sold with Lil Bub’s face on it. The cat has a series downloadable ringtones, a weather app, and a line of watches. Way to go, Lil Bub — you’re more successful than most startups.

  
 

10) Doug the Pug: @itsdougthepug

Number of followers on Instagram: 2.2m

Doug the Pug, the self-declared “King of Pop Culture”, is just like us. He likes to unwind after a long day with a hot bubble bath and a glass of pinot noir.

Unlike us, Doug the Pug has millions of followers on social media, a book deal, and a close friendship with Chrissy Teigen.

Doug’s owner, Leslie Mosier, got her start in the music industry before becoming a full-time “momager” for her dog. She applied her PR background to Doug’s career, and the pug was quickly featured on Mashable and BuzzFeed. One Facebook video in particular — a 16-second clip of Doug playing with a pug balloon — went viral overnight, skyrocketing Doug to 2.2 million followers on Instagram and over five million Facebook likes.

When Doug isn’t promoting his book, calendar, or collection of stuffed animals, he can be found promoting brands like Febreeze and repping Dentastix at the Country Music Awards.

  
 

11) Lionel: @lionelthehog

Number of Instagram followers: 95.9k

Instagram does not discriminate by species. If you are a cute animal and you like wearing little hats or holding little umbrellas, the followers will come.

Say hello to Lionel, an adventurous hedgehog with a taste for the finer things in life. Lionel’s owner, Anna Mathias, works full-time in PR, and began Lionel’s Instagram account as a side project to show off her social media chops. In a few short weeks, he was featured on BuzzFeed, and the rest is history.

On Instagram, Lionel represents brands like The Book of the Month Club, Daniel Wellington watches, and Style&co, a (human) clothing retailer. This year, he even collaborated with West Elm and the ASPCA to release a custom holiday ornament and tea towel.

  
  

Who are your favorite animal influencers? Let us know in the comments.

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Nov

28

2016

Traveling Teddy Bears, Reckless Cats, and Lots of Butter: 10 of the Best Ads from November

The days are getting shorter, the air is getting colder, and the airwaves are awash with holiday spirit (and sales!). 

This month’s ad roundup includes some top picks from the first wave of holiday ads, but there were also plenty of non-holiday gems for those of us that would prefer to keep the pine trees and snowflakes at bay for another few weeks. Subscribe to HubSpot's Agency newsletter today.

Read on to get the scoop on the most sentimental, adorable, and unexpectedly funny ad campaigns from the past month.

1) Temptations

In this clever ad for a brand of cat treats, agency adam&eveDDB created the perfect holiday wonderland — complete with sparkling trees, a Christmas roast, and even an electric train set. Then they invited 22 cats to rip it all to shreds in spectacular fashion.

“The internet is full of cats being cute and fluffy, but in reality cats are incredibly mischievous,” client marketing director Denise Truelove said to AdWeek. “That tension led to something quite fun in this Temptations holiday video and campaign.”

Unsurprisingly, the cat actors weren’t super easy to work with. It took three weeks for handlers to train the feline hoard for their dramatic entrance and exit, and three days to collect shots of them gleefully destroying the set. 

2) Georgetown Optician

In this bizarre but undeniably charming spot for eyewear retailer Georgetown Optician, a family of oddball opticians (inspired by the company’s real founding family) visit their formidable matriarch, Grandma Ida, at her lavish Gothic residence.

When the family’s heirloom pair of glasses suddenly goes missing, a fantastic whodunnit ensues, complete with a pack of evidence-sniffing hounds and plenty of surreptitious sideways glances from the quirky cast.

The meticulously designed ad was produced by DC-based agency Design Army, whose nearly obsessive attention to detail pays off. The Wes Anderson-style characters, wacky, well-paced plot, and wonderfully exaggerated narration combine to create one of the most delightfully unique ads we’ve seen in a while.

3) Organic Valley

This ad from the folks at Tennessee-based agency Humanaut combines two great things: deadpan humor and butter.

When a June 2014 cover of TIME Magazine declared “Eat Butter,” the farmers at Organic Valley rejoiced — their time to shine had finally come. This cheeky spot chronicles the end of the “war on butter,” interviewing farmers about how they’ve cultivated better organic butter over the years when consumers shunned the “rich, creamy semi-solid gold.”

Organic Valley and Humanaut are no strangers to producing quick-witted campaigns. Back in May 2016, the pair parodied artisanal coffee shops by selling $2 shots of half-and-half coffee creamer. The stunt was number eight on our list of creative branded pop-up shops.

4) Les Sauveteurs en Mer (National Maritime Rescue Organization)

Have you ever heard the folktales about beautiful mermaids luring unsuspecting sailors to their death? This animated ad for France’s National Maritime Rescue Organization offers an imaginative spin on the classic legend, inviting us into the mind of a lovesick mermaid. When she spots a drowning sailor, her mind runs wild. 

As the mermaid imagines the perfect life she’ll share with the sailor, she leaves out one crucial detail: He can’t breathe underwater. Luckily for the sailor, he’s wearing a life jacket.

French agency Publicis Conseil worked with a team of graphic designers and 3D animators to create the mermaid’s whimsical underwater world.

5) Ketel One

Agency Barton F. Graf is known for their endearingly unusual campaigns, and their latest spot for Ketel One Vodka is no exception.

In their quest for absolute perfection, the Vodka connoisseurs at Ketel One have a complicated, multi-step approval process in place. It starts with a signature from a member of the distillery’s founding family, and ends with an identity theft expert interrogating the company’s real-life chairman, Carl Nolet Sr.

6) Heathrow Airport

If you’re in need of some warm and fuzzy feelings this holiday season, look no further than this pair of traveling teddy bears. Havas London produced this Heathrow Airport ad, which follows a couple of elderly teddies as they traverse the terminals of the massive British airport, from landing to baggage claim.

When the bears finally meet their family at the arrivals area, they’re magically transformed into real human grandparents. The biggest miracle though is making a journey through the airport look like a whimsical adventure.

7) John Lewis

A roundup of November’s best ads wouldn’t be complete without a much-deserved shoutout to John Lewis. The UK department store just dropped their much-anticipated follow-up to the Cannes Lion-winning “Monty’s Christmas,” and it’s already gained over 17 million views on YouTube since its release on November 9th.

Produced by adam&eveDDB, the ad begins with a dad setting up a trampoline on Christmas Eve for his daughter. After he retires for the evening, a curious parade of suburban critters discover the trampoline, and proceed to have the time of their lives. The only one left out of the fun is the family dog, but — as you’ll see in the spot — he eventually gets his chance join in on the fun. 

8) Poo-Pourri

If you don’t appreciate a good poop joke, stop reading now. Toilet deodorizing company Poo-Pourri released an extended ad that chronicles the evolution of bathroom decorum, lamenting the pungent unpleasantries our ancestors must have endured without Poo-Pourri to mask the smell of, ehem, “Zeus’ thunder.”

Poo-Pourri’s in-house marketing team created the ad as part of their ongoing campaign featuring Scottish actress Bethany Woodruff. If nothing else, the ad gets major points for coming up with some creative euphemisms for going number two. Our middle school selves are very impressed.

9) Alibaba

To remind consumers that they sell thousands of popular brands online, retail giant Alibaba worked with FRED & FARID Shanghai to cram 21 famous slogans into a single ad.

It would be a stretch to say the end result has any narrative, but their use of so many taglines to construct a form of super-ad is inventive and fun to watch. AgencySpy wrote up a transcript of each slogan if you have trouble catching them all in the ad.

10) Lexus

Kids get to ask Santa Claus for presents every year — but where does that leave parents? This ad promoting Lexus’ December sales event finds two mischievous parents cheating the system by forging a note to Santa in their young son’s handwriting. Anxiously scrawling the note out in crayon, they ask Mr. Claus for — what else? — a brand new Lexus.

Produced by agency Team One, the piece is part of a light-hearted series depicting parents asking Santa for Lexus.

Want to see more great ads? Check out 10 of the best ads from October here. If you’ve seen any great ads lately, let us know in the comments or tweet us at @HubSpotAgencies.

market-your-agency

Nov

28

2016

Traveling Teddy Bears, Reckless Cats, and Lots of Butter: 10 of the Best Ads from November

The days are getting shorter, the air is getting colder, and the airwaves are awash with holiday spirit (and sales!). 

This month’s ad roundup includes some top picks from the first wave of holiday ads, but there were also plenty of non-holiday gems for those of us that would prefer to keep the pine trees and snowflakes at bay for another few weeks. Subscribe to HubSpot's Agency newsletter today.

Read on to get the scoop on the most sentimental, adorable, and unexpectedly funny ad campaigns from the past month.

1) Temptations

In this clever ad for a brand of cat treats, agency adam&eveDDB created the perfect holiday wonderland — complete with sparkling trees, a Christmas roast, and even an electric train set. Then they invited 22 cats to rip it all to shreds in spectacular fashion.

“The internet is full of cats being cute and fluffy, but in reality cats are incredibly mischievous,” client marketing director Denise Truelove said to AdWeek. “That tension led to something quite fun in this Temptations holiday video and campaign.”

Unsurprisingly, the cat actors weren’t super easy to work with. It took three weeks for handlers to train the feline hoard for their dramatic entrance and exit, and three days to collect shots of them gleefully destroying the set. 

2) Georgetown Optician

In this bizarre but undeniably charming spot for eyewear retailer Georgetown Optician, a family of oddball opticians (inspired by the company’s real founding family) visit their formidable matriarch, Grandma Ida, at her lavish Gothic residence.

When the family’s heirloom pair of glasses suddenly goes missing, a fantastic whodunnit ensues, complete with a pack of evidence-sniffing hounds and plenty of surreptitious sideways glances from the quirky cast.

The meticulously designed ad was produced by DC-based agency Design Army, whose nearly obsessive attention to detail pays off. The Wes Anderson-style characters, wacky, well-paced plot, and wonderfully exaggerated narration combine to create one of the most delightfully unique ads we’ve seen in a while.

3) Organic Valley

This ad from the folks at Tennessee-based agency Humanaut combines two great things: deadpan humor and butter.

When a June 2014 cover of TIME Magazine declared “Eat Butter,” the farmers at Organic Valley rejoiced — their time to shine had finally come. This cheeky spot chronicles the end of the “war on butter,” interviewing farmers about how they’ve cultivated better organic butter over the years when consumers shunned the “rich, creamy semi-solid gold.”

Organic Valley and Humanaut are no strangers to producing quick-witted campaigns. Back in May 2016, the pair parodied artisanal coffee shops by selling $2 shots of half-and-half coffee creamer. The stunt was number eight on our list of creative branded pop-up shops.

4) Les Sauveteurs en Mer (National Maritime Rescue Organization)

Have you ever heard the folktales about beautiful mermaids luring unsuspecting sailors to their death? This animated ad for France’s National Maritime Rescue Organization offers an imaginative spin on the classic legend, inviting us into the mind of a lovesick mermaid. When she spots a drowning sailor, her mind runs wild. 

As the mermaid imagines the perfect life she’ll share with the sailor, she leaves out one crucial detail: He can’t breathe underwater. Luckily for the sailor, he’s wearing a life jacket.

French agency Publicis Conseil worked with a team of graphic designers and 3D animators to create the mermaid’s whimsical underwater world.

5) Ketel One

Agency Barton F. Graf is known for their endearingly unusual campaigns, and their latest spot for Ketel One Vodka is no exception.

In their quest for absolute perfection, the Vodka connoisseurs at Ketel One have a complicated, multi-step approval process in place. It starts with a signature from a member of the distillery’s founding family, and ends with an identity theft expert interrogating the company’s real-life chairman, Carl Nolet Sr.

6) Heathrow Airport

If you’re in need of some warm and fuzzy feelings this holiday season, look no further than this pair of traveling teddy bears. Havas London produced this Heathrow Airport ad, which follows a couple of elderly teddies as they traverse the terminals of the massive British airport, from landing to baggage claim.

When the bears finally meet their family at the arrivals area, they’re magically transformed into real human grandparents. The biggest miracle though is making a journey through the airport look like a whimsical adventure.

7) John Lewis

A roundup of November’s best ads wouldn’t be complete without a much-deserved shoutout to John Lewis. The UK department store just dropped their much-anticipated follow-up to the Cannes Lion-winning “Monty’s Christmas,” and it’s already gained over 17 million views on YouTube since its release on November 9th.

Produced by adam&eveDDB, the ad begins with a dad setting up a trampoline on Christmas Eve for his daughter. After he retires for the evening, a curious parade of suburban critters discover the trampoline, and proceed to have the time of their lives. The only one left out of the fun is the family dog, but — as you’ll see in the spot — he eventually gets his chance join in on the fun. 

8) Poo-Pourri

If you don’t appreciate a good poop joke, stop reading now. Toilet deodorizing company Poo-Pourri released an extended ad that chronicles the evolution of bathroom decorum, lamenting the pungent unpleasantries our ancestors must have endured without Poo-Pourri to mask the smell of, ehem, “Zeus’ thunder.”

Poo-Pourri’s in-house marketing team created the ad as part of their ongoing campaign featuring Scottish actress Bethany Woodruff. If nothing else, the ad gets major points for coming up with some creative euphemisms for going number two. Our middle school selves are very impressed.

9) Alibaba

To remind consumers that they sell thousands of popular brands online, retail giant Alibaba worked with FRED & FARID Shanghai to cram 21 famous slogans into a single ad.

It would be a stretch to say the end result has any narrative, but their use of so many taglines to construct a form of super-ad is inventive and fun to watch. AgencySpy wrote up a transcript of each slogan if you have trouble catching them all in the ad.

10) Lexus

Kids get to ask Santa Claus for presents every year — but where does that leave parents? This ad promoting Lexus’ December sales event finds two mischievous parents cheating the system by forging a note to Santa in their young son’s handwriting. Anxiously scrawling the note out in crayon, they ask Mr. Claus for — what else? — a brand new Lexus.

Produced by agency Team One, the piece is part of a light-hearted series depicting parents asking Santa for Lexus.

Want to see more great ads? Check out 10 of the best ads from October here. If you’ve seen any great ads lately, let us know in the comments or tweet us at @HubSpotAgencies.

Nov

22

2016

6 Phrases Secretly Sabotaging Your Team’s Productivity

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people working an average 8.8 hour workday are actually only productive for about three hours.

So where is all that wasted time going?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics study, the four most popular unproductive activities were the following:

  1. Reading news websites – 1 hour 5 min
  2. Checking social media – 44 min
  3. Discussing non-work-related things with coworkers – 40 min
  4. Searching for new jobs – 26 min

Given this data, it’s more important than ever before for teams to make the most of their productive hours.

We’ve compiled a list of seemingly innocuous phrases that could be secretly sabotaging your team’s productivity. Read on to learn what to avoid, and what to say instead.

6 Phrases That Secretly Sabotage Productivity

1) “I need that by the end of the day.”

When you tell a colleague that you need an asset by the end of the day, you’re essentially asking them to drop everything else they’re currently working on to focus instead on completing your task. This could potentially throw off their whole day, and lead to a problematic backlog they’ll need to scramble to unearth themselves from. 

Before you set an end of the day deadline, ask yourself: Do we really need this done by the end of the day? Is this a realistic time line? What else does this person have on their plate right now? Try to consider the project’s bottom line. Is not getting this component done by the end of the day really more problematic than pushing back this person’s entire schedule to get it done?

If this phrase pops up regularly in your office, it could be an indicator that your team needs to rethink the way you communicate around project goals and deadlines. A shared work calendar or other project management tool can help your team be more aware of what others are currently working on, and keep everyone on track with a shared time line of the project’s progress.

2) “The project is 75% done.”

This might seem like a productive way to assess the progress of a project, but providing a percentage isn’t the most accurate or helpful way to communicate how the project is really moving along. You might have roughly 75% of a project’s tasks complete, but does this really provide the best picture of where you currently stand? Not all tasks are created equal, and that last 25% could actually take longer and require more effort than the first 75%.

Instead of throwing around a percentage of completed work, communicate your progress more holistically: “Here’s what we’ve done so far, and here is what still needs to be done.” It’s a simple shift, but it gives your clients a much more precise, honest picture of where the work currently stands. It also helps your team more accurately understand the project’s progress.

3) “I’m not sure that’s the best approach.”

Challenging your colleagues’ opinions in a respectful, productive way has been proven to lead to more meaningful discussions and creative solutions. But if you’re going to dissent, make sure you can back it up — or you may just end up stalling progress instead.

Expressing mild dissent or uncertainty without clearly explaining why or offering viable alternatives doesn’t bring anything actionable to the table. It doesn’t give your team a place to start examining potential issues or brainstorming better solutions, since you haven’t really explained the perceived problem in the first place.

Yes, sometimes your gut just tells you something is off — but citing your gut doesn’t give your team anything tangible to go on. Challenge yourself to dig deeper into your own opinions and express the reasons behind them with firm certainty.

4) “Could you finalize the final final version?”

How many designers does it take to approve the final version of a project? In some cases, way too many. The approval process at some agencies is essentially a poorly-planned obstacle course — unstructured, time-consuming, and more than a little exhausting.

Without a formal approval process in place, projects can get stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of revisions and tweaks, resulting in several “final” versions of the same thing. Not only is this a major pain for your team, but it can delay the project and frustrate the client.

If you find yourself sorting through folders all titled with variations of “final_final_16”, it may be time to rethink the way your team finalizes projects. Take the time to agree on a straightforward approval pipeline at your agency, and stick to it. Remember: Abandoning perfectionism is the key to growing your business and producing better work.

5) “Let’s take this offline.”

This commonly used phrase frequently finds itself on management jargon blacklists, but it still manages to sneak its way into everyday office conversations.

“Let’s take this offline” is basically a thinly-veiled way to say, “I don’t want to talk about this right now — let’s deal with it later.” Sometimes, it’s perfectly acceptable and efficient to table a topic until later. Maybe the current setting isn’t appropriate, or there are more pressing matters to attend to.

But this phrase becomes problematic when it’s used to keep putting off more challenging conversations. It always seems easier to tackle the harder stuff later, but it only puts undue pressure on your team to get more done in a shorter period of time.

If you absolutely need to put something pressing on the back burner, don’t just push it away without explicitly planning a time and place to discuss it later. “Let’s talk about this at our morning meeting tomorrow,” is a lot better in the long run than, “Let’s avoid this as long as possible.”

6) “We need to think bigger / better / outside of the box.”

Thinking bigger and better sounds undeniably awesome, but it’s a practically meaningless sentiment. Some variation of this phrase usually gets thrown around at creative brainstorm meetings in an attempt to encourage divergent ideas, but it’s unlikely to spur creative insights or force your team to consider new points of view. Unfortunately, creativity doesn’t have an ON switch.

As an alternative, consider a quick creative exercise to get your team warmed up. Lisa Bodell, the author of Kill the Company, suggests playing “Kill a Stupid Rule” — a team game designed to jump start creativity.

The rules are pretty simple. Give your team 10 minutes to answer the following question: “If you could get rid of any rule, either kill it or change it, what rule would you choose and why?” Have them write their answers on sticky notes. When the time is up, have everyone stick their rule on a whiteboard with two axises: Ease of implementation on the Y axis, and degree of impact on the X axis. Like this:

Bodell recommends having a discussion with your team after all the rules are placed on the grid — Are there any rules you can cut on the spot? If so, do it. It will make your team see you’re willing to get rid of processes that hinder creativity.

For more ideas, check out these science-backed methods for improving creativity.

Are there any phrases that hinder productivity in your office? Share with us in the comments.

website-redesign-cta

Nov

22

2016

6 Phrases Secretly Sabotaging Your Team’s Productivity

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people working an average 8.8 hour workday are actually only productive for about three hours.

So where is all that wasted time going?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics study, the four most popular unproductive activities were the following:

  1. Reading news websites – 1 hour 5 min
  2. Checking social media – 44 min
  3. Discussing non-work-related things with coworkers – 40 min
  4. Searching for new jobs – 26 min

Given this data, it’s more important than ever before for teams to make the most of their productive hours.

We’ve compiled a list of seemingly innocuous phrases that could be secretly sabotaging your team’s productivity. Read on to learn what to avoid, and what to say instead.

6 Phrases That Secretly Sabotage Productivity

1) “I need that by the end of the day.”

When you tell a colleague that you need an asset by the end of the day, you’re essentially asking them to drop everything else they’re currently working on to focus instead on completing your task. This could potentially throw off their whole day, and lead to a problematic backlog they’ll need to scramble to unearth themselves from. 

Before you set an end of the day deadline, ask yourself: Do we really need this done by the end of the day? Is this a realistic time line? What else does this person have on their plate right now? Try to consider the project’s bottom line. Is not getting this component done by the end of the day really more problematic than pushing back this person’s entire schedule to get it done?

If this phrase pops up regularly in your office, it could be an indicator that your team needs to rethink the way you communicate around project goals and deadlines. A shared work calendar or other project management tool can help your team be more aware of what others are currently working on, and keep everyone on track with a shared time line of the project’s progress.

2) “The project is 75% done.”

This might seem like a productive way to assess the progress of a project, but providing a percentage isn’t the most accurate or helpful way to communicate how the project is really moving along. You might have roughly 75% of a project’s tasks complete, but does this really provide the best picture of where you currently stand? Not all tasks are created equal, and that last 25% could actually take longer and require more effort than the first 75%.

Instead of throwing around a percentage of completed work, communicate your progress more holistically: “Here’s what we’ve done so far, and here is what still needs to be done.” It’s a simple shift, but it gives your clients a much more precise, honest picture of where the work currently stands. It also helps your team more accurately understand the project’s progress.

3) “I’m not sure that’s the best approach.”

Challenging your colleagues’ opinions in a respectful, productive way has been proven to lead to more meaningful discussions and creative solutions. But if you’re going to dissent, make sure you can back it up — or you may just end up stalling progress instead.

Expressing mild dissent or uncertainty without clearly explaining why or offering viable alternatives doesn’t bring anything actionable to the table. It doesn’t give your team a place to start examining potential issues or brainstorming better solutions, since you haven’t really explained the perceived problem in the first place.

Yes, sometimes your gut just tells you something is off — but citing your gut doesn’t give your team anything tangible to go on. Challenge yourself to dig deeper into your own opinions and express the reasons behind them with firm certainty.

4) “Could you finalize the final final version?”

How many designers does it take to approve the final version of a project? In some cases, way too many. The approval process at some agencies is essentially a poorly-planned obstacle course — unstructured, time-consuming, and more than a little exhausting.

Without a formal approval process in place, projects can get stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of revisions and tweaks, resulting in several “final” versions of the same thing. Not only is this a major pain for your team, but it can delay the project and frustrate the client.

If you find yourself sorting through folders all titled with variations of “final_final_16”, it may be time to rethink the way your team finalizes projects. Take the time to agree on a straightforward approval pipeline at your agency, and stick to it. Remember: Abandoning perfectionism is the key to growing your business and producing better work.

5) “Let’s take this offline.”

This commonly used phrase frequently finds itself on management jargon blacklists, but it still manages to sneak its way into everyday office conversations.

“Let’s take this offline” is basically a thinly-veiled way to say, “I don’t want to talk about this right now — let’s deal with it later.” Sometimes, it’s perfectly acceptable and efficient to table a topic until later. Maybe the current setting isn’t appropriate, or there are more pressing matters to attend to.

But this phrase becomes problematic when it’s used to keep putting off more challenging conversations. It always seems easier to tackle the harder stuff later, but it only puts undue pressure on your team to get more done in a shorter period of time.

If you absolutely need to put something pressing on the back burner, don’t just push it away without explicitly planning a time and place to discuss it later. “Let’s talk about this at our morning meeting tomorrow,” is a lot better in the long run than, “Let’s avoid this as long as possible.”

6) “We need to think bigger / better / outside of the box.”

Thinking bigger and better sounds undeniably awesome, but it’s a practically meaningless sentiment. Some variation of this phrase usually gets thrown around at creative brainstorm meetings in an attempt to encourage divergent ideas, but it’s unlikely to spur creative insights or force your team to consider new points of view. Unfortunately, creativity doesn’t have an ON switch.

As an alternative, consider a quick creative exercise to get your team warmed up. Lisa Bodell, the author of Kill the Company, suggests playing “Kill a Stupid Rule” — a team game designed to jump start creativity.

The rules are pretty simple. Give your team 10 minutes to answer the following question: “If you could get rid of any rule, either kill it or change it, what rule would you choose and why?” Have them write their answers on sticky notes. When the time is up, have everyone stick their rule on a whiteboard with two axises: Ease of implementation on the Y axis, and degree of impact on the X axis. Like this:

Bodell recommends having a discussion with your team after all the rules are placed on the grid — Are there any rules you can cut on the spot? If so, do it. It will make your team see you’re willing to get rid of processes that hinder creativity.

For more ideas, check out these science-backed methods for improving creativity.

Are there any phrases that hinder productivity in your office? Share with us in the comments.

website-redesign-cta

Nov

21

2016

What Is Whitespace and Why Does It Matter? 8 Websites to Inspire Your Web Design

Empty space is not always wasted space.

In fact, when it comes to web design, it’s a best practice to give your content a little breathing room.

Today’s website visitors are content-scanners. They scroll quickly, skim posts, and get distracted by busy layouts trying to accomplish too much. The key to getting your visitors’ undivided attention is simplicity — and that starts with an effective use of whitespace. Subscribe to HubSpot's Agency newsletter today.

In this article, we’ll take a brief look at why whitespace matters, what it means for conversion-driven web design, and how eight websites are using whitespace to lead their visitors towards a desired action.

What Is Whitespace?

Whitespace refers to the negative areas in any composition. It’s the unmarked distance between different elements that gives viewers some visual breaks when they process design, minimizing distractions and making it easier to focus.

Intentionally blank areas aren’t just aesthetically pleasing — they actually have a big impact on how our brains take in and process new material. Too much information or visual data crammed into a small, busy space can cause cognitive fatigue, and our brains have difficulty absorbing anything at all. It’s information overload at its very worst.

Why We Need Whitespace

To understand the importance of whitespace, think about how difficult it is for your brain to process an entire page from the phone book or white pages. All those columns of teeny tiny text get squished together into one indigestible chunk of information, and it can be a real challenge to find what you’re looking for.

While phone books are designed to display maximum information in minimum space, the majority of print layouts are created to be more easily understood — thanks to whitespace.

To illustrate how effective whitespace is at helping our brains process information in print, check out the example below from Digital Ink:

See the difference? The layout on the left uses the vast majority of available space, but it looks crowded and severe — not exactly something you’d feel comfortable staring at for a long time to read.

In contrast, the layout on the right uses wider columns and more distance between paragraphs. It’s a simple design shift that has a major impact on making the article look more approachable and readable.

In addition to making layouts easier to understand, whitespace can also place emphasis on specific elements, helping the viewer understand what they should focus on. Using whitespace to break up a layout and group particular things together helps create a sense of balance and sophistication.

Take a look at this business card example from Printwand:

The business card on the left does include negative space, but the elements are still cramped into one area, making the whole card look cluttered and unprofessional. The card on the right uses whitespace to a better effect, spacing the individual elements out so the composition is easier to make sense of.

When it comes to designing websites, whitespace is crucial — not only from an aesthetic standpoint, but also from a conversion optimization perspective. Using whitespace effectively can make your website more easily navigable, comprehensible, and conversion-friendly, directing users more smoothly to call-to-actions and encouraging them to convert.

In fact, research by Human Factors International found that using whitespace to highlight or emphasize important elements on a website increased visitor comprehension by almost 20%.

Just take a look at these two website layouts:

On the left, the call-to-action button has no room to breathe — it’s wedged between busy dividers and tightly packed text. There’s too much distraction around the button, making it difficult for visitors to focus on what matters.

On the right, the call-to-action has been padded with some much-needed whitespace. The button now appears to be a focal point on the page, encouraging visitors to stop and take notice.

You’ll notice that adding some whitespace around our call-to-action has caused some of the other content on the page to be pushed down — and that’s perfectly okay. Not everything has to be above the fold (the part of the website that appears before the user starts to scroll). In fact, designers shouldn’t try to stuff a ton of content before the fold of the page, since it will end up looking cluttered and overwhelming.

8 Websites Using Whitespace to Their Advantage

1) Shopify

The homepage for ecommerce platform Shopify has a simple objective: Get visitors to sign up for a free trial.

To direct users to this action, they’ve surrounded their one-field sign-up form with plenty of whitespace, minimizing distractions and ensuring visitors can’t miss it. The site’s main navigation is displayed much smaller than the form text, and placed out of the way at the top of the screen to avoid taking attention away from the central form.

2) Everlane

Whitespace doesn’t have to mean the complete absence of color or pictures — it means making sure page elements are generously and strategically spaced to avoid overwhelming or confusing your visitors.

To show off their latest clothing collection, fashion retailer Everlane opts for a minimal set up: The full page background shows off a photograph of their “Camel” collection, and a small, expertly placed call-to-action appears in the center of the screen, encouraging users to click and “shop collection.” It’s a perfect example of leading users towards an action without being pushy or aggressive. 

3) Airbnb

There are a lot of potential visuals that room share company Airbnb could have included on their homepage, but instead, they went with this straightforward, conversion-friendly design that leads visitors to try their product immediately. 

The minimal layout relies on very limited copy and visuals, placing all the emphasis on the search box. The succinct copy invites users to try searching for a room, and the navigation and logo are tucked out of the way in the corners of the page. 

4) Wistia

Using whitespace strategically can be as easy as making sure your forms and call-to-action buttons are noticeably separated from the rest of your content. This simple change makes a huge difference in how your content is perceived. 

Wistia, a video platform, anchors their homepage with a friendly question and a drop-down form. The form serves as the central focal point of the whole page, and it’s given plenty of space to set it apart from the site’s main navigation and image.

5) Welikesmall

Digital agency Welikesmall proves that whitespace doesn’t have to be boring, empty, or even static. Their homepage displays a full screen demo reel of their recent video projects, filtering through a variety of exciting vignettes to immediately capture the visitor’s attention. 

Full-screen video in any other context could seem busy and aggressive, but since the layout is designed with generous whitespace, it looks polished. With all the focus on the video background, the text is kept minimal. The agency’s logo appears in one corner, and a folded hamburger style menu appears in the other. Welikesmall’s slogan — “Belief in the Making” — is fixed in the center of the screen, along with a call-to-action button linking to the agency’s full 2016 demo reel.  

6) Simpla

This homepage from Simpla demonstrates the power that a relatively empty above the fold section can have. This simple, decidedly minimal homepage uses whitespace to urge users to keep scrolling.

Beneath the logo and navigation, a large portion of the site has been left unmarked. The top of a photo — along with a short paragraph of text and an arrow — invites visitors to keep reading to learn more about the company and their mission.

This unique use of whitespace not only looks sophisticated, but it strategically draws visitors further into the site. 

7) Harvard Art Museums

The Harvard Art Museums might be known for displaying antiquated paintings, but their homepage is decidedly modern. The whitespace here provides the perfect backdrop for the featured art, making sure that nothing distracts from the pieces themselves. It’s about as close to a digital art exhibition as you can get. 

The masonry-style layout gives the user a reason to keep scrolling, and also ensures that none of the images are crowded together. To maintain the minimal gallery aesthetic, the site’s navigation is completely hidden until the user hovers their mouse towards the top of the page.

8) Burnkit

When working with whitespace on your homepage, you’ll have to make some tough decisions about what’s important enough to display, since there’s less room for a pile of cluttered content. This design agency shows us that you can display a wide variety of content in a minimal layout, without squishing things together and muddling the composition. 

Burnkit‘s homepage features blog content, key excerpts from the agency’s portfolio of client work, and behind the scenes looks at the agency’s culture. So how did they manage to fit so much onto one page without overwhelming the visitor? Whitespace. Lots and lots of whitespace. Each article is given generous padding, and the user can keep scrolling to reveal new material. 

How does your website use whitespace? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @HubSpotAgencies.

website-redesign-cta

Nov

21

2016

What Is Whitespace and Why Does It Matter? 8 Websites to Inspire Your Web Design

Empty space is not always wasted space.

In fact, when it comes to web design, it’s a best practice to give your content a little breathing room.

Today’s website visitors are content-scanners. They scroll quickly, skim posts, and get distracted by busy layouts trying to accomplish too much. The key to getting your visitors’ undivided attention is simplicity — and that starts with an effective use of whitespace. Subscribe to HubSpot's Agency newsletter today.

In this article, we’ll take a brief look at why whitespace matters, what it means for conversion-driven web design, and how eight websites are using whitespace to lead their visitors towards a desired action.

What Is Whitespace?

Whitespace refers to the negative areas in any composition. It’s the unmarked distance between different elements that gives viewers some visual breaks when they process design, minimizing distractions and making it easier to focus.

Intentionally blank areas aren’t just aesthetically pleasing — they actually have a big impact on how our brains take in and process new material. Too much information or visual data crammed into a small, busy space can cause cognitive fatigue, and our brains have difficulty absorbing anything at all. It’s information overload at its very worst.

Why We Need Whitespace

To understand the importance of whitespace, think about how difficult it is for your brain to process an entire page from the phone book or white pages. All those columns of teeny tiny text get squished together into one indigestible chunk of information, and it can be a real challenge to find what you’re looking for.

While phone books are designed to display maximum information in minimum space, the majority of print layouts are created to be more easily understood — thanks to whitespace.

To illustrate how effective whitespace is at helping our brains process information in print, check out the example below from Digital Ink:

See the difference? The layout on the left uses the vast majority of available space, but it looks crowded and severe — not exactly something you’d feel comfortable staring at for a long time to read.

In contrast, the layout on the right uses wider columns and more distance between paragraphs. It’s a simple design shift that has a major impact on making the article look more approachable and readable.

In addition to making layouts easier to understand, whitespace can also place emphasis on specific elements, helping the viewer understand what they should focus on. Using whitespace to break up a layout and group particular things together helps create a sense of balance and sophistication.

Take a look at this business card example from Printwand:

The business card on the left does include negative space, but the elements are still cramped into one area, making the whole card look cluttered and unprofessional. The card on the right uses whitespace to a better effect, spacing the individual elements out so the composition is easier to make sense of.

When it comes to designing websites, whitespace is crucial — not only from an aesthetic standpoint, but also from a conversion optimization perspective. Using whitespace effectively can make your website more easily navigable, comprehensible, and conversion-friendly, directing users more smoothly to call-to-actions and encouraging them to convert.

In fact, research by Human Factors International found that using whitespace to highlight or emphasize important elements on a website increased visitor comprehension by almost 20%.

Just take a look at these two website layouts:

On the left, the call-to-action button has no room to breathe — it’s wedged between busy dividers and tightly packed text. There’s too much distraction around the button, making it difficult for visitors to focus on what matters.

On the right, the call-to-action has been padded with some much-needed whitespace. The button now appears to be a focal point on the page, encouraging visitors to stop and take notice.

You’ll notice that adding some whitespace around our call-to-action has caused some of the other content on the page to be pushed down — and that’s perfectly okay. Not everything has to be above the fold (the part of the website that appears before the user starts to scroll). In fact, designers shouldn’t try to stuff a ton of content before the fold of the page, since it will end up looking cluttered and overwhelming.

8 Websites Using Whitespace to Their Advantage

1) Shopify

The homepage for ecommerce platform Shopify has a simple objective: Get visitors to sign up for a free trial.

To direct users to this action, they’ve surrounded their one-field sign-up form with plenty of whitespace, minimizing distractions and ensuring visitors can’t miss it. The site’s main navigation is displayed much smaller than the form text, and placed out of the way at the top of the screen to avoid taking attention away from the central form.

2) Everlane

Whitespace doesn’t have to mean the complete absence of color or pictures — it means making sure page elements are generously and strategically spaced to avoid overwhelming or confusing your visitors.

To show off their latest clothing collection, fashion retailer Everlane opts for a minimal set up: The full page background shows off a photograph of their “Camel” collection, and a small, expertly placed call-to-action appears in the center of the screen, encouraging users to click and “shop collection.” It’s a perfect example of leading users towards an action without being pushy or aggressive. 

3) Airbnb

There are a lot of potential visuals that room share company Airbnb could have included on their homepage, but instead, they went with this straightforward, conversion-friendly design that leads visitors to try their product immediately. 

The minimal layout relies on very limited copy and visuals, placing all the emphasis on the search box. The succinct copy invites users to try searching for a room, and the navigation and logo are tucked out of the way in the corners of the page. 

4) Wistia

Using whitespace strategically can be as easy as making sure your forms and call-to-action buttons are noticeably separated from the rest of your content. This simple change makes a huge difference in how your content is perceived. 

Wistia, a video platform, anchors their homepage with a friendly question and a drop-down form. The form serves as the central focal point of the whole page, and it’s given plenty of space to set it apart from the site’s main navigation and image.

5) Welikesmall

Digital agency Welikesmall proves that whitespace doesn’t have to be boring, empty, or even static. Their homepage displays a full screen demo reel of their recent video projects, filtering through a variety of exciting vignettes to immediately capture the visitor’s attention. 

Full-screen video in any other context could seem busy and aggressive, but since the layout is designed with generous whitespace, it looks polished. With all the focus on the video background, the text is kept minimal. The agency’s logo appears in one corner, and a folded hamburger style menu appears in the other. Welikesmall’s slogan — “Belief in the Making” — is fixed in the center of the screen, along with a call-to-action button linking to the agency’s full 2016 demo reel.  

6) Simpla

This homepage from Simpla demonstrates the power that a relatively empty above the fold section can have. This simple, decidedly minimal homepage uses whitespace to urge users to keep scrolling.

Beneath the logo and navigation, a large portion of the site has been left unmarked. The top of a photo — along with a short paragraph of text and an arrow — invites visitors to keep reading to learn more about the company and their mission.

This unique use of whitespace not only looks sophisticated, but it strategically draws visitors further into the site. 

7) Harvard Art Museums

The Harvard Art Museums might be known for displaying antiquated paintings, but their homepage is decidedly modern. The whitespace here provides the perfect backdrop for the featured art, making sure that nothing distracts from the pieces themselves. It’s about as close to a digital art exhibition as you can get. 

The masonry-style layout gives the user a reason to keep scrolling, and also ensures that none of the images are crowded together. To maintain the minimal gallery aesthetic, the site’s navigation is completely hidden until the user hovers their mouse towards the top of the page.

8) Burnkit

When working with whitespace on your homepage, you’ll have to make some tough decisions about what’s important enough to display, since there’s less room for a pile of cluttered content. This design agency shows us that you can display a wide variety of content in a minimal layout, without squishing things together and muddling the composition. 

Burnkit‘s homepage features blog content, key excerpts from the agency’s portfolio of client work, and behind the scenes looks at the agency’s culture. So how did they manage to fit so much onto one page without overwhelming the visitor? Whitespace. Lots and lots of whitespace. Each article is given generous padding, and the user can keep scrolling to reveal new material. 

How does your website use whitespace? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @HubSpotAgencies.

website-redesign-cta

Nov

15

2016

14 Offbeat, Extreme, and Downright Unusual Ways Brands Have Promoted Their Products

If you’re a marketer of any kind, this phrase is probably lurking somewhere in the back of your mind when you start a new project:

“How do we make this brand really stand out?”

The constant battle to differentiate a brand in a crowded playing field is challenging, and it’s pushing some marketers to the extreme.

We’ve rounded up 14 creative campaigns and promotions that rely on unconventional mediums to spread brand messaging to consumers. Check them out below for some unique inspiration for your next big campaign. Subscribe to HubSpot's Agency newsletter today.

14 Unusual Brand Promotions

1) Nivea Kids Sunscreen

This marketing stunt from Nivea made for some interesting headlines when it debuted at Cannes in 2016: Seagull drone poops sunscreen…uh, thanks (CNET), Nivea’s Drone Bird Poops Sunscreen on Your Kids (Dronelife), How Bad Was This Nivea Bird Poop Sunscreen Project, Really? (AgencySpy). The list goes on. 

The folks at German agency Jung von Matt/Elbe designed this seagull drone to squirt Nivea Kids Sunscreen onto unsuspecting children on the beach. In the case study video below, they explain how the drone can be used to make sure all kids are protected from the sun, even when they refuse to apply sunscreen themselves. It may seem like a parody at first, but make no mistake: This drone is 100% real.

Say what you will about the taste level of the pooping seagull concept — it definitely generated a lot of attention for Nivea and left an undeniably memorable impression. Cannes Lion jury president Sir John Hegarty told a group of journalists, “It’s the most stupid thing I think I’ve seen in my whole life. I actually thought the Monty Python team had gotten together and entered it into [Cannes], to see if we would vote for it.”

Spoiler alert: They didn’t vote for it. Nivea’s well-intentioned pooping seagull flapped away from Cannes without any awards. 

2) Milka Chocolate

When Swiss chocolate company Milka launched in France, they turned to Paris-based agency Buzzman to devise a unique way to introduce their product to the French people. The chocolatiers ended up removing a small square from 13 million of their classic milk chocolate bars, and giving consumers a choice: Do you want the “last square” sent back to you, or do you want to send it to a loved one?

Consumers who received a Milka bar with a missing square were given a code they could enter online, where they could either send a small piece of chocolate — along with a personalized message — to a friend or family member, or enter their own address to have the missing piece returned to them. 

3) Cub Cadet PRO Z Riding Lawnmower

Who says the physical press release is completely dead? To promote industrial brand Cub Cadet’s newest riding lawnmower, agency Colle+McVoy came up with a steel alternative to the classic 8.5-by-11 inch paper document. 

The press release — which weighed in at a hefty 14 pounds, 13 ounces — was made entirely of Cub Cadet’s signature Triple 7-gauge steel, the same material used in their rugged lawnmowers. Outfitted with bolts and shipped to media outlets in a custom crate, the press release also came with a free crowbar (because why not?). 

Image Credit: Adweek

4) The Art Institute of Chicago and Airbnb

Have you even dreamed of walking into one of your favorite paintings? How about staying the night? In this creative campaign to generate publicity for the Art Institute of Chicago’s Van Gogh exhibit in 2016, agency Leo Burnett partnered with Airbnb to create a unique, immersive experience for art lovers.

The agency worked with designers and museum curators to meticulously transform a simple studio apartment in Chicago into one of the Dutch artist’s most recognizable paintings, Bedroom in Arles

As part of the campaign, posters advertising a room to rent and resembling vintage newspaper classified ads were plastered around Chicago, inviting passersby to text “Van Gogh” — aka, Leo Burnett’s clever social media team, who fielded all messages in character. A few lucky early respondents were able to rent the room via Airbnb for only $10 a night.

The campaign was a massive success for the Art Institute, leading to the museum’s largest daily exhibition attendance in 15 years, and earning them national media attention. 

Image Credit: AdAge

5) Tiger Beer’s Air-Ink

Tiger Beer — an American-owned company that operates out of Singapore — wanted to find a way to turn air pollution into something useful and positive. Enter the talented team at Graviky Labs, who devised a scientific process to capture pollution and transform it into Air-Ink — a fluid black paint. The brand then worked with Australian agency Marcel Sydney to put the ink in the hands of influential street artists and film the results. 

It turns out just 40-50 minutes of diesel car pollution can produce a rich shade of black ink, and artists were more than willing to incorporate the paint into their work for the project. 

6) Adobe Stock Apparel

If you’re a marketer, you’ve experienced the pain of sorting through seemingly endless pages of bad stock photos in search of one that just isn’t too awful. To promote their new stock photo service Adobe Stock, Adobe partnered with Swedish agency Abby Priest to develop a tongue-in-cheek fashion line that features outdated, overused stock photos.

“Some stock images have earned their place in the history books,” said Abby Priest’s Creative Director, Oskar Hellqvist, in a Q&A on Adobe’s blog. “Classic motifs that have been overused and established as hilarious clichés, known, loved and/or hated by all … Turning them into a limited edition clothing line is our way to salute them and an attempt to create something disruptive and unconventional in the genre.

You can see the full Adobe Stock Apparel lookbook here.


Image Credit: Adobe

7) UberPOOL

As part of a major advertising push in Latin America, Uber’s in-house marketing team launched a guerrilla campaign in Mexico City, sending out a small army of drones equipped with cheeky signs promoting UberPOOL. Drivers were confronted with the small aircrafts and their mini-billboards while waiting in stagnant rush hour traffic. 

Although they don’t plan to replicate the stunt in other markets (since doing something similar in the U.S. or Europe would require some major bureaucratic hoop-jumping), the stunt gained significant earned media attention for the car service app. 

Image Credit: MIT Technology Review

8) KMFA-FM Austin

How do you get millennials interested in a classical radio station? This Twitter-powered metronome is a good start. Developed by agency Archer Malmo for Austin’s classical music station KMFA-FM, this metronome ticks at a tempo determined by the number of Tweets sent in the Texan city.

“We want people to give KMFA a try — it’s not a stereotypical, stodgy classical music station,” Archer Malmo executive creative director Matt Rand told AdWeek. “That audience happens to be younger and use Twitter more, so basing our ‘heartbeat of the city’ off Twitter volume is a fitting way to connect with them.”

Image Credit: Adweek

9) Laphroaig

Most ads run for 30 seconds. This spot from Laphroaig Whiskey clocks in at three and a half hours — and it was all filmed in a single take.

U.K. agency Multiply was behind the video, which features comedian Andy Daly reading real reviews of Laphroaig in a filibuster-style speech. Ranging from glowing to downright disgusted, the strongly worded and ultimately mixed reviews are intended to highlight the polarizing nature of Laphroaig — you either love it, or you hate it. But the brand wants to hear about it.

10) Lipton Green Tea

To encourage consumers to make healthier choices while shopping for groceries, Lipton Green Tea partnered with agency Wunderman MENA to create a shopping cart that tracks your steps, calories burned, and time spent moving at the grocery store.

Aimed at people too busy for regular exercise, the cart is intended to show consumers how many calories they can burn just by walking around at the grocery store. The hope is that they’ll also think twice about what they put in their shopping cart if they can see the calories they’re burning in real time.

11) Burger King

Burger King and McDonald’s have always had a rivalry, and on Halloween 2016, the home of the Whopper played a prank on the Golden Arches.

A Burger King location in Queens, NY dressed up the entire restaurant as “The Ghost of McDonald’s”, sweeping a massive white ghost costume over the building and adding a saucy message to their sign: “”Booooooo! Just kidding, we still flame grill our burgers. Happy Halloween.”

Although only one location participated in the spooky prank, Adweek revealed that it was a stunt pulled off by ad agency David Miami.

Image Credit: Burger King

12) Paqui

To drum up some buzz for their gourmet tortilla chip brand, Paqui released a fiery chip spiced with Carolina Reaper peppers — the world’s hottest variety according to Guinness World Records. The Carolina Reaper Madness chips are so dangerously spicy, they’re packaged individually and sold for $4.99 each.

So why would you ever want to eat this thing? It’s part of a challenge, naturally. Following in the footsteps of other viral internet food-based challenges — like the cinnamon challenge, which never, ever ended badly for anyone — Paqui’s marketing team launched the #OneChipChallenge.

The premise is simple: eat the the Carolina Reaper Madness chip, post your reaction online. The brand offered prizes to select participants, including a year’s supply of their less-spicy chips.

Image Credit: Forbes

13) South Park Video Game

Add this one to the list of things no one ever asked for, but somebody made anyway: A virtual reality mask that lets you smell farts.

To promote the South Park video game, Ubisoft worked with agency Buzzman to concoct an odor that perfectly mimicked the smell of someone passing gas. It was actually a lot harder than you’d think. Buzzman consulted multiple chemists and perfumers to get the smell right, and worked with a team of software engineers and industrial designers to develop the VR nose mask. They named it — what else? — Nosulus Rift.

The mask (thankfully) isn’t for sale, but Ubisoft uses it at promotional events to build hype for the South Park game, which features a particularly flatulent character.

Image Credit: Buzzman via AdAge

14) Virgin America

Have you ever looked at your shoes and thought, “Man, I really wish they had a phone charger and WiFi capabilities?” Virgin America has heard your very first world cries, and developed these almost comically tricked-out shoes to promote their first class flying experience.

California-based agency Eleven, Inc. designed these extravagant kicks over the course of eight months to mimic the look and feel of Virgin America’s first class cabins. The final product includes mood lighting, WiFi, a USB phone charger, and a small video screen — you know, in case you feel compelled to watch some Netflix on your shoes.

The sneakers sold for $97,877.77 on eBay, and all proceeds were donated to Soles 4 Souls, a charity.

Image Credit: Adweek

Feature image from Air-Ink

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Nov

15

2016

14 Offbeat, Extreme, and Downright Unusual Ways Brands Have Promoted Their Products

If you’re a marketer of any kind, this phrase is probably lurking somewhere in the back of your mind when you start a new project:

“How do we make this brand really stand out?”

The constant battle to differentiate a brand in a crowded playing field is challenging, and it’s pushing some marketers to the extreme.

We’ve rounded up 14 creative campaigns and promotions that rely on unconventional mediums to spread brand messaging to consumers. Check them out below for some unique inspiration for your next big campaign. Subscribe to HubSpot's Agency newsletter today.

14 Unusual Brand Promotions

1) Nivea Kids Sunscreen

This marketing stunt from Nivea made for some interesting headlines when it debuted at Cannes in 2016: Seagull drone poops sunscreen…uh, thanks (CNET), Nivea’s Drone Bird Poops Sunscreen on Your Kids (Dronelife), How Bad Was This Nivea Bird Poop Sunscreen Project, Really? (AgencySpy). The list goes on. 

The folks at German agency Jung von Matt/Elbe designed this seagull drone to squirt Nivea Kids Sunscreen onto unsuspecting children on the beach. In the case study video below, they explain how the drone can be used to make sure all kids are protected from the sun, even when they refuse to apply sunscreen themselves. It may seem like a parody at first, but make no mistake: This drone is 100% real.

Say what you will about the taste level of the pooping seagull concept — it definitely generated a lot of attention for Nivea and left an undeniably memorable impression. Cannes Lion jury president Sir John Hegarty told a group of journalists, “It’s the most stupid thing I think I’ve seen in my whole life. I actually thought the Monty Python team had gotten together and entered it into [Cannes], to see if we would vote for it.”

Spoiler alert: They didn’t vote for it. Nivea’s well-intentioned pooping seagull flapped away from Cannes without any awards. 

2) Milka Chocolate

When Swiss chocolate company Milka launched in France, they turned to Paris-based agency Buzzman to devise a unique way to introduce their product to the French people. The chocolatiers ended up removing a small square from 13 million of their classic milk chocolate bars, and giving consumers a choice: Do you want the “last square” sent back to you, or do you want to send it to a loved one?

Consumers who received a Milka bar with a missing square were given a code they could enter online, where they could either send a small piece of chocolate — along with a personalized message — to a friend or family member, or enter their own address to have the missing piece returned to them. 

3) Cub Cadet PRO Z Riding Lawnmower

Who says the physical press release is completely dead? To promote industrial brand Cub Cadet’s newest riding lawnmower, agency Colle+McVoy came up with a steel alternative to the classic 8.5-by-11 inch paper document. 

The press release — which weighed in at a hefty 14 pounds, 13 ounces — was made entirely of Cub Cadet’s signature Triple 7-gauge steel, the same material used in their rugged lawnmowers. Outfitted with bolts and shipped to media outlets in a custom crate, the press release also came with a free crowbar (because why not?). 

Image Credit: Adweek

4) The Art Institute of Chicago and Airbnb

Have you even dreamed of walking into one of your favorite paintings? How about staying the night? In this creative campaign to generate publicity for the Art Institute of Chicago’s Van Gogh exhibit in 2016, agency Leo Burnett partnered with Airbnb to create a unique, immersive experience for art lovers.

The agency worked with designers and museum curators to meticulously transform a simple studio apartment in Chicago into one of the Dutch artist’s most recognizable paintings, Bedroom in Arles

As part of the campaign, posters advertising a room to rent and resembling vintage newspaper classified ads were plastered around Chicago, inviting passersby to text “Van Gogh” — aka, Leo Burnett’s clever social media team, who fielded all messages in character. A few lucky early respondents were able to rent the room via Airbnb for only $10 a night.

The campaign was a massive success for the Art Institute, leading to the museum’s largest daily exhibition attendance in 15 years, and earning them national media attention. 

Image Credit: AdAge

5) Tiger Beer’s Air-Ink

Tiger Beer — an American-owned company that operates out of Singapore — wanted to find a way to turn air pollution into something useful and positive. Enter the talented team at Graviky Labs, who devised a scientific process to capture pollution and transform it into Air-Ink — a fluid black paint. The brand then worked with Australian agency Marcel Sydney to put the ink in the hands of influential street artists and film the results. 

It turns out just 40-50 minutes of diesel car pollution can produce a rich shade of black ink, and artists were more than willing to incorporate the paint into their work for the project. 

6) Adobe Stock Apparel

If you’re a marketer, you’ve experienced the pain of sorting through seemingly endless pages of bad stock photos in search of one that just isn’t too awful. To promote their new stock photo service Adobe Stock, Adobe partnered with Swedish agency Abby Priest to develop a tongue-in-cheek fashion line that features outdated, overused stock photos.

“Some stock images have earned their place in the history books,” said Abby Priest’s Creative Director, Oskar Hellqvist, in a Q&A on Adobe’s blog. “Classic motifs that have been overused and established as hilarious clichés, known, loved and/or hated by all … Turning them into a limited edition clothing line is our way to salute them and an attempt to create something disruptive and unconventional in the genre.

You can see the full Adobe Stock Apparel lookbook here.


Image Credit: Adobe

7) UberPOOL

As part of a major advertising push in Latin America, Uber’s in-house marketing team launched a guerrilla campaign in Mexico City, sending out a small army of drones equipped with cheeky signs promoting UberPOOL. Drivers were confronted with the small aircrafts and their mini-billboards while waiting in stagnant rush hour traffic. 

Although they don’t plan to replicate the stunt in other markets (since doing something similar in the U.S. or Europe would require some major bureaucratic hoop-jumping), the stunt gained significant earned media attention for the car service app. 

Image Credit: MIT Technology Review

8) KMFA-FM Austin

How do you get millennials interested in a classical radio station? This Twitter-powered metronome is a good start. Developed by agency Archer Malmo for Austin’s classical music station KMFA-FM, this metronome ticks at a tempo determined by the number of Tweets sent in the Texan city.

“We want people to give KMFA a try — it’s not a stereotypical, stodgy classical music station,” Archer Malmo executive creative director Matt Rand told AdWeek. “That audience happens to be younger and use Twitter more, so basing our ‘heartbeat of the city’ off Twitter volume is a fitting way to connect with them.”

Image Credit: Adweek

9) Laphroaig

Most ads run for 30 seconds. This spot from Laphroaig Whiskey clocks in at three and a half hours — and it was all filmed in a single take.

U.K. agency Multiply was behind the video, which features comedian Andy Daly reading real reviews of Laphroaig in a filibuster-style speech. Ranging from glowing to downright disgusted, the strongly worded and ultimately mixed reviews are intended to highlight the polarizing nature of Laphroaig — you either love it, or you hate it. But the brand wants to hear about it.

10) Lipton Green Tea

To encourage consumers to make healthier choices while shopping for groceries, Lipton Green Tea partnered with agency Wunderman MENA to create a shopping cart that tracks your steps, calories burned, and time spent moving at the grocery store.

Aimed at people too busy for regular exercise, the cart is intended to show consumers how many calories they can burn just by walking around at the grocery store. The hope is that they’ll also think twice about what they put in their shopping cart if they can see the calories they’re burning in real time.

11) Burger King

Burger King and McDonald’s have always had a rivalry, and on Halloween 2016, the home of the Whopper played a prank on the Golden Arches.

A Burger King location in Queens, NY dressed up the entire restaurant as “The Ghost of McDonald’s”, sweeping a massive white ghost costume over the building and adding a saucy message to their sign: “”Booooooo! Just kidding, we still flame grill our burgers. Happy Halloween.”

Although only one location participated in the spooky prank, Adweek revealed that it was a stunt pulled off by ad agency David Miami.

Image Credit: Burger King

12) Paqui

To drum up some buzz for their gourmet tortilla chip brand, Paqui released a fiery chip spiced with Carolina Reaper peppers — the world’s hottest variety according to Guinness World Records. The Carolina Reaper Madness chips are so dangerously spicy, they’re packaged individually and sold for $4.99 each.

So why would you ever want to eat this thing? It’s part of a challenge, naturally. Following in the footsteps of other viral internet food-based challenges — like the cinnamon challenge, which never, ever ended badly for anyone — Paqui’s marketing team launched the #OneChipChallenge.

The premise is simple: eat the the Carolina Reaper Madness chip, post your reaction online. The brand offered prizes to select participants, including a year’s supply of their less-spicy chips.

Image Credit: Forbes

13) South Park Video Game

Add this one to the list of things no one ever asked for, but somebody made anyway: A virtual reality mask that lets you smell farts.

To promote the South Park video game, Ubisoft worked with agency Buzzman to concoct an odor that perfectly mimicked the smell of someone passing gas. It was actually a lot harder than you’d think. Buzzman consulted multiple chemists and perfumers to get the smell right, and worked with a team of software engineers and industrial designers to develop the VR nose mask. They named it — what else? — Nosulus Rift.

The mask (thankfully) isn’t for sale, but Ubisoft uses it at promotional events to build hype for the South Park game, which features a particularly flatulent character.

Image Credit: Buzzman via AdAge

14) Virgin America

Have you ever looked at your shoes and thought, “Man, I really wish they had a phone charger and WiFi capabilities?” Virgin America has heard your very first world cries, and developed these almost comically tricked-out shoes to promote their first class flying experience.

California-based agency Eleven, Inc. designed these extravagant kicks over the course of eight months to mimic the look and feel of Virgin America’s first class cabins. The final product includes mood lighting, WiFi, a USB phone charger, and a small video screen — you know, in case you feel compelled to watch some Netflix on your shoes.

The sneakers sold for $97,877.77 on eBay, and all proceeds were donated to Soles 4 Souls, a charity.

Image Credit: Adweek

Feature image from Air-Ink

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Nov

8

2016

The Scary State of Agency Morale, in 5 Charts

The advertising industry has a major morale problem, and it’s not going to go away on its own.

Campaign US recently conducted the Second Annual Morale Survey for 2016, and their findings reveal a staggering decline in overall morale among agency employees. Along with slipping morale, the study also uncovered a troubling host of symptomatic issues, such as talent retention and a decline in employee performance.

So what are the root causes of this morale problem? What impact will it have on talent retention? What areas of employee experience do agencies need to make an effort to improve? Subscribe to HubSpot's Agency newsletter today.

To help agencies tackle these questions and visualize the challenges in front of them, we created the following five charts based on the Campaign US survey results. Check them out below to see the far-reaching effects morale has on the industry.

1) Overall morale among agency employees has steeply declined.

When Campaign US conducted their first Annual Morale Survey back in 2015, only 34% of employees said their morale was either low or dangerously low. Those numbers were alarming at the time, but they haven’t improved — in fact, morale among agency employees has experienced a distressing decline in 2016.

This year’s survey results found that 47% of agency employees report either “low” morale (31%) or “dangerously low” morale (16%). That’s a 36% drop in overall agency employee morale between 2015 and 2016.

Data Source: Campaign US Morale Survey

2) Agency employees with low morale also reported dissatisfaction with leadership and advancement.

So what factors are responsible for this drop in morale? Survey participants who reported having “low” or “dangerously low” morale were asked to explain the reasons behind their responses.

The top factor contributing to low morale was a dissatisfaction with company leadership, followed closely by a lack in advancement opportunities, and a general dissatisfaction with work. Less impactful were overall company performance and diversity.

Data Source: Campaign US Morale Survey

3) Work/life balance is the biggest factor for agency employees with good morale.

Of the 53% of employees who reported “satisfactory,” “good,” or “excellent” morale, “work/life balance” was the biggest influencing factor. The other two big contributors to positive morale were “satisfaction with work” and “creative freedom.”

Data Source: Campaign US Morale Survey

4) Agency employees affected by low morale are ready to walk away.

If any agencies still needed a wakeup call, this is it: 63% of employees who reported low morale were also actively seeking a new job. That means a whopping 29% of agency employees are looking to leave their current positions — which puts agencies in a precarious position. 

Data Source: Campaign US Morale Survey

5) Low morale has a massive impact on agency employee performance.

Unsurprisingly, morale has a major impact on overall employee performance. Regardless of whether they reported high or low morale, 98% of respondents said that morale had an effect on their performance.

If employees don’t feel their needs are fully supported, their performance takes a hit. With nearly half of all agency employees reporting low morale, this could spell disaster for the ad industry’s bottom line.

Data Source: Campaign US Morale Survey

How is your agency planning to boost morale this year? Share your advice in the comments.

creative-brief-cta

Nov

7

2016

15 of the Coolest Agency Offices We’ve Ever Seen

cool agency offices

If you’re spending over 40 hours a week in a single location, shouldn’t you at least be comfortable?

Our offices are often our homes away from home, and a good office environment can help employees stay engaged, productive, and happy throughout the day. In fact, a 2003 study from the California Energy Commission found that just giving employees access to a window in the office had a significant impact on their work performance.

If just providing a window can make a difference, imagine what intentionally designing an office space with employee comfort in mind can do. Subscribe to HubSpot's Agency newsletter today.

To showcase how marketing and advertising agencies around the world are accommodating their teams, we’ve compiled a list of 15 amazing offices. Ranging from minimal and clean to downright kaleidoscopic, these agency work environments are sure to inspire some office feng shui (even if that just means getting a new desk plant).

15 Examples of Cool Agency Offices

1) Leo Burnett Moscow

In early 2016, global advertising agency Leo Burnett found an unexpected place to house their new Moscow digs: a former Bolshevik confectionery factory. They converted the historic factory — originally opened in 1885 — into a sleek, modern space for their Russian team.

“We envision our office space as а modern art gallery,” the folks at Leo Burnett wrote in a blog announcement. “We wanted to keep everything simple. Every design element is integrated naturally into the space.”

The new space is anchored by an enormous sculpture of Leo Burnett’s iconic glasses — an homage to their founder and namesake, the late Leo Burnett.


Image Credit: Leo Burnett

2) Mono Minneapolis

When Minneapolis-based advertising and marketing agency Mono grew too large for their old office, they converted a 20,320 square foot urban space into a stunning open-concept location for their entire team.

The new Mono office balances industrial elements with cozy, collaborative spaces, such as a design library and kitchen.


Image Credit: Office Snapshots

3) 22squared Tampa

22squared wanted their new office space to be reflective of Tampa, so they made a point of using as many Tampa-based services and supplies as possible during the design process.

“It was crucial that this was a Tampa-led, Tampa-inspired space,” 22squared’s chief administrative officer Mike Grindell said to Adweek. “All of 22squared’s design partners were local Tampa companies, other than national suppliers like Knoll.”

The end result is a beautiful space with lots of natural light and comforting, casual elements like hammocks, bean bags, and womb chairs.


Image Credit: Adweek

4) 360i London

Collaboration is key for creativity, and 360i’s London location was strategically designed to encourage cross-departmental interactions and the exchange of new ideas.

The agency’s 11,000 square foot space is set up without permanent desks for employees. Instead, team members are free to roam between the office’s modular work spaces, which include noise-cancelling felt booths and a community kitchen.

“It might sound obvious, but it makes our staff so much more mobile than before,” James Townsend, 360i London’s CEO, said to Digiday. “When you’re anchored to a desk, often you feel you can’t get up.”


Image Credit: Digiday

5) TBWA Los Angeles

This is about as far from a traditional office space as you can get. TBWAChiatDay’s Los Angeles home is decked out in otherworldly details, such as a massive gargoyle sculpture, a 1,000 gallon fish tank on wheels, and a bar made entirely of surfboards.

The eclectic space isn’t just fun to look at — it also suits a wide variety of working styles. Employees can work everywhere from recycled shipping containers to an expansive atrium nicknamed “Central Park.”

The agency converted this former pharmaceutical manufacturing plant into an unconventional daydream with help from Clive Wilkinson Architects.


Image Credit: Where We Design

6) Bubble Prague

Bubble, a content agency, might be on the smaller side, but their Prague office makes a major statement. The open, 3,552 square foot space used to be a printing press before it was converted into Bubble’s offices in 2016.

They retained many of the original area’s industrial touches, such as exposed beams, recycled wood, and massive double-pane windows that allow for free-flowing natural light. Chalkboards suspended from the ceiling offer employees daily inspirational mantras. 


Image Credit: Office Snapshots

7) M&C Saatchi Mobile New York

M&C Saatchi Mobile’s New York office may look spare compared to some of the other offices on this list, but it was designed with “brutal simplicity” in mind.

“It’s not about cluttering the space with more things but keeping it simple, and that’s reflected in our culture too,” Eric Mugnier, the senior vice president of M&C Saatchi Mobile North America told Digiday.

The 8,000 square foot open office space includes minimal furniture, neutral colors, and exposed brick walls.


Image Credit: The New York Egotist

8) TM Advertising Dallas

This Dallas-based agency needed a fresh, flexible work environment for their growing workforce, and the architects at Gensler and HKS Architects, Inc. certainly delivered.

The bright, sprawling, 46,000 square-foot space is lit mostly by natural light, and features open, collaborative spaces conducive to employees who are always on the go. Pops of unexpected color on staircases and furniture contribute to the office’s aura of “casual, creative professionalism”.


Image Credit: Work Design Magazine

9) BICOM Communications Montreal

When this Canadian PR agency needed a new look for their office, they turned to Montreal-based designer Jean de Lessard.

The unique space is populated with house-shaped work pods that provide employees with a wide variety of different work environments. The houses, according to de Lessard’s website, “were customized according to their specific function, and randomly positioned to break the monotony and encourage spontaneous interaction.”


Image Credit: Creative Bloq

10) Zion & Zion Arizona

Zion & Zion’s office creatively balances industrial elements like concrete floors and unfinished wood with playful touches, such as a chalkboard wall, florescent pink panels, and vivid, minimal decor.

“This was an amazing opportunity to collaborate with a diverse creative team to design an innovative and energetic space,” said Rachel Usher, the lead designer on the project.


Image Credit: Zion & Zion

11) RPA California

RPA’s Santa Monica, California office is chock full of quirky details intended to inspire their creative staff, including a hanging cloud sculpture that lights up whenever an RPA client is trending on social media.

“We’re a creative agency, so we looked at the redesign of our space as an opportunity to provide inspiration — even in often overlooked areas like hallways and meeting room walls,” RPA’s COO Pete Imwalle said to Adweek. “Our favorite parts are the small details that you sometimes don’t even notice right away.”


Image Credit: Adweek

12) CP+B London

This stunning office in the heart of London was designed to accommodate CP+B’s busy creative team, with plenty of space for communal work, a mezzanine cafe, and quiet lounges complete with cozy, whimsical furniture.

The cavernous King’s Cross location underwent a major redesign in 2014 by the talented workspace designers at Trifle Creative. They replaced the flooring, designed a new seating system, and refurnished the space to better suit the agency’s needs.


Image Credit: Office Snapshots

13) FoxP2 Johannesburg

A departure from the bright and minimal aesthetic becoming common among agencies, FoxP2’s Johannesburg office takes full advantage of the building’s spatial limitations and quirks. Narrow rooms were converted into areas for library-style desks and vintage lockers for employees to store their belongings. Ceilings were left with their original piping and outfitted with exposed-bulb fixtures.

The core design inspiration behind the space was Thomas Edison’s research and development laboratory.


Image Credit: Office Snapshots

14) Merkle / Periscopix London

Merkle / Periscopix wanted to create an environmentally friendly space that also impressed visitors, clients, and prospective employees. The new entryway features reclaimed timber paneling, poured concrete floors, and places for potted plants. The unfinished wood is incorporated throughout the office’s many communal spaces to continue the environmental motif.


Image Credit: Office Snapshots

15) Dentsu Aegis Network Shanghai

Walking into global communications group Dentsu Aegis Network’s Shanghai office is like stepping into a kaleidoscope. Every inch of the space is covered in bright, inviting color, from the boldly patterned floors to the vibrant hanging light fixtures.

To prevent the color from appearing gaudy, designers added plenty of neutral elements into the mix, including polished wood floors and walls covered in high oxygen-omitting plants.


Image Credit: Office Snapshots

What elements do you think are important in an agency office? Share with us in the comments.

social-networks-ads

Nov

1

2016

How to Present a Compelling Argument When You’re Not Naturally Persuasive

Has this happened to you before? You come up with a great idea for a new project, but when it comes to explaining to your colleagues why it deserves their attention, you just can’t seem to generate the necessary excitement or buy-in.

Coming up with a good idea is only half the battle. If you ever want to see your ideas implemented, you need to back up your plan with a stellar argument. As you probably know, this is much easier said than done.

Crafting a compelling argument can seem like an elusive art dominated by the naturally charismatic and extroverted, but it really comes down to a basic awareness and application of what Aristotle called the modes of persuasion.

In the 4th Century BC, the Greek philosopher defined three fundamental types of persuasion techniques:

Ethos refers to arguments grounded in the speaker’s credibility, e.g., You are more likely to believe the claim: “This new phone is innovative” if Steve Jobs said it versus if Charlie Sheen said it.

Logos refers to arguments grounded in logic and reason, e.g., “This phone is innovative because it has a battery that was scientifically proven to last 500% longer than any other phone battery on the market.”

Pathos refers to arguments that appeal to our emotions, e.g., “This was the last phone Steve Jobs created before his death.”

To help you begin developing more engaging, sophisticated arguments, we’ve taken Aristotle’s modes of persuasion and explained how you can best leverage each one. Whether you’re pitching a new idea to a client or giving a presentation to your colleagues, these tips will help you take your case up a notch.

Ethos 

Give yourself a credibility audit.

Your reputation really does precede you.

Before you even walk into the conference room, your audience will have preconceived notions about you, and about the presentation they’re about to receive. What do they currently know about you? What don’t they know? Is there anything about your reputation (or your agency’s reputation) that could potentially support your argument? Anything that could potentially hurt it?

The degree to which preconceived notions will influence your actual argument depends heavily on the situation at hand, but it’s not a bad idea to think critically about the way you initially come across to your audience. You could present an otherwise flawless argument, but if there are any external credibility issues that aren’t addressed, you could be looking at an unswayed audience.

Credibility issues aren’t always the massive, obvious problems you’d expect. When I say “credibility issue,” you probably think of something dramatic, like a history of pathological lying or ponzi scheming. More often than not, credibility issues come in the form of subtle inconsistencies. For example, if you’re trying to sell a client on a new SEO strategy, but your agency’s website isn’t ranking for a single keyword, then you may have a credibility issue on your hands.

So what should you do if you discover a potential credibility issue? Don’t panic. You don’t need to directly address every potential controversy (your audience probably doesn’t want to hear about the time you accidentally threw a plastic cup in a paper-only recycle bin) — but you should address the ones that are relevant to your argument.

Going back to my earlier example, you should explain why your agency isn’t focusing on SEO right now, but point to some examples of other businesses you’ve helped with SEO.

It’s better to control the conversation around potentially touchy subjects than wait for someone in your audience to bring them up on their own. If that happens, you could be looking at an even bigger credibility issue: They might wonder if you were being willfully ingenuous before, and if you’re hiding anything else.

Logos

When it comes to supporting facts, focus on quality over quantity.

More evidence equals a better argument, right? Not quite. While it can be tempting to put together a presentation with 15 statistic-heavy slides worth of supporting evidence, this isn’t likely to have a powerful impact on your audience. In fact, overwhelming them with an onslaught of facts and figures will probably make them tune out — even if your facts are all logically sound and supportive of your main premise.

Just because a fact technically lends support to your claim doesn’t mean it will sway your audience. The best evidence needs to not only support your claim, but also have a connection to your audience.

Say you’re pitching a digital ads project to a small business, and you mention that 25% of Fortune 500 companies have seen a direct sales increase from using full-page mobile ads. Yes, that statistic shows mobile ads can have an impact on sales, but it doesn’t connect back to your audience in a meaningful way. Small businesses and Fortune 500 companies don’t approach advertising from the same perspective, so this piece of evidence isn’t likely to make a compelling case to your audience.

As a general rule, focus on finding a few relevant pieces of evidence to support your claim, rather than a slew of facts with loose ties to your main point. A small handful of strong facts are more likely to stick with your audience than many loose claims, so choose your supporting evidence selectively, always being mindful of the connection back to your audience. If you can’t draw a line back to your audience, toss that piece of evidence out of your argument. 

Pathos

Focus on the story, not just the logic.

When sitting down to develop an argument, most people fall into the logic trap: They put the vast majority of their time and resources into making sure each of their main points is followed by a list of bullet points to back up their claims. When the presentation rolls around, their audience is uninspired, and the speaker is confused: “Why didn’t they love my logically-reasoned and perfectly valid arguments?”

Your audience isn’t grading your presentation for logical validity. Don’t get me wrong, logic and structure are important to the foundation of an argument — but they can’t stand on their own. To craft a truly compelling argument that incites action from your audience, you need to inject a hefty dose of emotion and narrative. Good storytelling is what separates impactful arguments from mediocre ones.

You might be thinking: “But I’m writing a budget proposal — how am I supposed to make an emotionally-appealing narrative out of that?

It’s actually a lot less complicated that you’d expect. Start by sketching out a simple emotional map of your presentation. How will your audience feel before the presentation even begins?

Maybe you know morale has been low lately at your agency, and the team needs a reason to feel optimistic about the future. Maybe you know that your budget proposal presentation isn’t a hotly anticipated meeting, and you need to give your audience something to get excited (or even just mildly amused) about.

Identifying the preexisting mood of your audience will help you figure out what emotions you’ll need to incite to keep their attention and pull them into your story. Once you’ve figured out how they’ll feel at the outset, determine how you want them to feel at the end. What emotions will make them more likely to support your argument? What story can you tell to lead them towards these emotional conclusions?

For example, if you’re pitching a website redesign project and you know that the client doesn’t currently think it will make a difference to their marketing efforts, you’d want to incite excitement and optimism in your presentation.

To do this, you could weave in a narrative that focuses on how the website redesign will lead towards a better future for the client’s business. It’s not about forcing a narrative onto your facts, it’s about finding the story that already exists and running with it. 

Know Your Audience and Setting

So how do you know when to appeal to ethos, pathos, or logos? The key is understanding your audience, and considering what form of appeal is most likely to resonate with them at that particular time and place.

Don’t stress about including all three modes of persuasion in every presentation. Feel out your audience beforehand and determine which types of arguments are most likely to appeal to them in the given setting. For example, a budget meeting will definitely call for some strong logical appeals, but adding in an emotional appeal might beef up your claims and result in a more compelling claim. It’s all about striking the right balance of appeals for your particular audience and circumstances.

creative-brief-cta

Oct

31

2016

From Hilarious to Heartbreaking: 10 of the Best Ads from October

A dancer sweeps gracefully through a deserted London cityscape. An dinosaur bursts through the ceiling of a night club. A particularly unintelligent looking cat contemplates jumping to a nearby perch.

What do all these different tableaus have in common? They’re all featured in creative ads from the past month.

If you’ve been out of the loop, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Read on to see ten of the most creative, inspiring, and just plain weird ads from the last month. Subscribe to HubSpot's Agency newsletter today.

1) Bose

This mesmerizing spot for Bose’s new QuietComfort 35 headphones focuses on a lone dancer (Maëva Berthelot) entrancingly freestyling her way through completely empty London streets. The ad is set to “Alchemy” by London-based electro R&B artist TĀLĀ.

So how exactly were they able to film in some of London’s busiest areas, completely devoid of people, cars, and other distractions? Grey London, the agency behind the ad, managed to block off pedestrians and traffic flow for a few minutes at a time — just enough for them to film the takes they needed. They used an aerial helicopter for the sweeping images of the city, which was understandably subject to strict airspace regulations.

“This wasn’t easy to produce,” Grey London’s executive creative director Dominic Goldman told AdWeek. “Most of this was captured in camera with minimal clean-up in post.” The end result is a truly magnetic, gorgeous ad you’ll definitely want to watch more than once.

2) Chatbooks

The agency behind the explosively viral Squatty Potty pooping unicorn ad has struck again. This time, the Harmon Brothers are lending their unique comedic perspective to Chatbooks, a subscription-based photo printing service that converts your smart phone snaps into photo albums.

The extended spot is intended to introduce consumers to Chatbooks for the first time, but the Harmon Brother’s wanted to steer clear of a typical infomercial tone. Instead, the product is explained by a hilariously “real” mom (played by actress Lisa Valentine Clark), who juggles garbage disposal mishaps, potty training, and crossbow-wielding children with unflappable optimism.

3) Gusto

Being an HR manager at a small company is hard. Gusto, an HR software startup, wanted to give a shout out to all the HR managers who deftly manage 100+ responsibilities on a daily basis in their first ad campaign. They enlisted the help of Erich & Kallman, a new ad agency based in San Francisco, to make that vision come to life.

In a spot-on casting choice, actress and comedian Kristen Schaal was hired to portray the typical HR manager. Her quirky charm and self-possessed nature perfectly encapsulate the profession, and she hilariously swaps into different outfits and personas to accommodate various employee requests.

4) The Hospital for Sick Children

Canadian agency Cossette produced this captivating and emotionally powerful extended ad campaign for The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Set to a pounding anthem (“Undeniable” by Donnie Daydream), the spot imagines sick children as fighters — medieval warriors, comic book heroes, athletes — combatting their illnesses with an unparalleled ferocity and unshakable spirit.

Part of a larger fundraising campaign for the Canadian hospital, the ad stars over 50 actual patients, along with their families, doctors, and nurses. It’s an inspiring departure from traditional ads concerning childhood illness, and is perhaps even more forceful for it.

5) Canary

Imagine you leave the kids with a babysitter to go see a movie — what could possibly go wrong? This ad for home security startup Canary imagines exactly that.

In the spot, one messy disaster strikes after another. The babysitter invites her sketchy boyfriend over for a make-out session, the girls run an overflowing bubble bath for the family cat, and one of the kids decides it’s the perfect time to take the car out for an experimental spin — which, as you might imagine, doesn’t end too well for the garage door.

Developed by CP+B Miami, the ad gets a boost from director Peter Atencio’s eye for perfect comedic timing (he directs Comedy Central’s sketch show Key & Peele). It’s a disastrously good time.

6) Dollar Shave Club

This spot for Dollar Shave Club presents more a palatable, normal-guy alternative to the hyper-masculine products that dominate the male grooming industry.

In the ad, a man shopping with his girlfriend picks out a shower gel called “Massive Hero,” which promises “a fully jacked amino protein delivery system.” With perfect timing, a body builder enters the same aisle — the ideal consumer for the ultra-manly product. He picks up “Massive Hero” and inexplicably begins to flex and scream.

The hilarious, 30-second spot was created in-house at Dollar Shave Club by Alex Karpovsky (a writer/director/actor you might have seen on HBO’s Girls) and designer/musician Teddy Blanks.

7) The Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

It’s rare that an ad makes us stop for a minute in silent contemplation, but its impossible to come away from this short film for The Wildlife Conservation Film Festival without a lump in your throat.

Set to “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables, the film was created pro-bono by DDB New York as part of a larger campaign to raise awareness for wildlife conservation and global biodiversity protection. Zombie Studio produced the animation for the spot, which features a cast of uniquely expressive animals and sinister humans.

Warning: This will make you cry.

8) Pine Sol

In this new series of spots for Pine Sol cleaning products by experience design agency Critical Mass, the cleaning product company sticks to what they know: how to clean things, and nothing else.

Each of the campaign’s 16-second ads highlight a brief moment of uncertainty: Will the cat jump on the table? Will the big date go well? Will Jared meet his 401k goals? The narrator makes it clear that Pine Sol definitely doesn’t have the answers to these questions — but they do know how to clean your stuff (hint: with Pine Sol).

9) Asus ZenFone 3

What happens when you ask ordinary people on the street to direct a commercial for your product? Well, it starts on a beach, and then things get pretty weird.

The folks at creative agency SuperHeroes enlisted the help of Matt Rubano and Betsy Kenney (members of Upright Citizens Brigade, the famous improv troupe) to ask random people on the street to come up with the plot of an ad for the new Asus ZenFone 3. The resulting spot includes dinosaurs, aliens, and an international car model named “Renaldo” saving the day at a night club.

10) Hornbach

If you’ve ever attempted a big do-it-yourself project, you know there are usually some big ups and downs. In this ad for German home improvement chain Hornbach, agency Heimat presents an unexpected metaphor for big DIY undertakings: rolling down a mountainside, naked.

The ad starts with a man beginning to dig a pond in his backyard, and we simultaneously follow his progression sliding through varied mountain terrains. At times, the grass is soft and inviting, and his progress is smooth — but there are some definite bumps along the way.

Have you seen any great ads lately? Let us know in the comments.

market-your-agency

Oct

25

2016

6 Client Onboarding Mistakes That Ruin Relationships Before They Start

You nailed the pitch, closed the account, and now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Everyone on your team is ready to dive in, and the client couldn’t be happier to have an agency bringing fresh ideas and new energy to the table.

What could possibly go wrong? Subscribe to HubSpot's Agency newsletter today.

As you probably already know, quite a lot. The client onboarding process might seem cut-and-dried, but there are a lot of moving parts to manage to ensure the relationship gets off to a solid start. The groundwork you and your team lay in the first 90 days with a new client will either support a profitable long-term relationship, or lead to frustration and flopped projects.

To help you avoid the financial and psychological pain of a botched relationship down the line, we’ve put together a list of common client onboarding missteps to avoid at all costs. Read on to make sure your agency is doing everything possible to prevent the new relationship from going sour before it even has the chance to get off the ground.

6 Client Onboarding Mistakes to Avoid

1) You don’t set realistic expectations or goals.

Right from the start, agencies need to manage expectations with their clients — even (or perhaps especially) when it feels uncomfortable. Remember: It’s always better to under-promise than to over-promise.

Setting reasonable expectations begins with discussing what your client wants to achieve, and comparing it to what your agency is actually able to deliver. Think of it like a venn diagram: In one circle, you have your client’s dream website, and in the other circle, you have your agency’s area of expertise. During the kickoff, it’s up to your team to find the overlap between the two circles, and set goals around that.

If you don’t set reasonable, attainable goals from the get-go, your clients will fill in the blanks themselves — and you’ll find yourself being held accountable for achieving too much in too little time. It’s better to explain from the beginning that it isn’t realistic to build a fully-functional lead-generating powerhouse website in 2 weeks, rather than explain why your team couldn’t deliver later down the line.

2) You aren’t transparent about your team’s process.

During the kickoff meeting, it’s typical for agencies to provide a estimated timeline of the project — usually explaining the different phases or components that the team will be working on. This gives the client a good idea of what to expect during the process, but it might leave some critical information gaps.

To make sure the client fully understands all the work that goes into the project, it’s beneficial to give them some basic information about your team structure, and go more in-depth on how your team actually functions.

It might seem unnecessary at first to get into these nitty gritty details, but full transparency about your team’s process and work schedule will make the client more understanding if anything goes wrong — such as a deadline being pushed back or a request taking longer than expected to be addressed.

Transparency also means telling the client upfront how your team handles uncomfortable issues like out-of-scope work and billing, so it isn’t a surprise to them if these issues arise in the future. It’s always better to address these details as early as possible to avoid potentially relationship-killing drama in the future.

3) You don’t build rapport with the client’s team.

Amidst all the housekeeping, scheduling, and project management that goes into onboarding a new client, it can be easy to forget that your new clients are just people — and people like to converse and connect.

The key to establishing good rapport is to keep momentum going after the initial meeting or call. Starting with the kickoff, make a conscious effort to establish common ground by asking open-ended questions and learning as much as you can about your new client. Once you have a feel for how your client likes to communicate, focus on keeping that positive energy going through subsequent meetings and check-ins.

Developing a positive rapport doesn’t just make meetings less awkward, it also helps foster an early sense of trust and understanding between your team and your new client. If you stick solely to the technical details of a project and fail to relate on a social, human level, you could be setting the relationship up for avoidable tension or stress.

Any project setbacks or other potential issues that arise in the future will be much easier to diffuse if you’ve already put in the work to cultivate an authentic connection from the beginning.

4) You under-communicate in the first few weeks.

Over-communication is better than under-communication — especially in the critical first weeks of a new client relationship. If you under-communicate or lag in your responses early on, you’re basically saying that the project isn’t a priority for your team.

During the kickoff meeting, establish how your client prefers to be contacted (Phone? Email? Carrier pigeon?) and who your main point of contact will be. It’s important to decide on a clear communication framework right off the bat, so there’s no confusion about who will be contacting who, and when/how the check-ins will take place.

In the early stages of the project, keep your new client consistently in the loop — even on decisions that seem minor to your team. This shows the client that you’re fully committed to providing clear, actionable information throughout the project.

Worst case scenario? The client asks you to update them a little less frequently. At least they know now the project is meaningful to you, and you’re taking it very seriously.

5) You don’t ask useful questions.

You probably already learned a lot about your new client during the pitching process — whether through research or directly interviewing them — but once the deal is closed, there’s still a lot more to learn.

Now that you’re essentially part of the client’s team, you might be privy to more sensitive information about their business — information that can help you better understand and accommodate their needs and goals. The key is asking the questions that get you the relevant information you need.

Start by asking questions to assess the client’s existing marketing assets, e.g.: What marketing tactics have you found success with in the past? How do you currently generate leads? If you’re working on a website redesign project, check out these 90 questions to ask before getting started.

If you don’t use the onboarding period to ask insightful questions, you could encounter information gaps further into the project. Ask your questions upfront to get a clear picture of your client’s business and marketing program before diving into the project.

6) You don’t provide immediate value.

Never underestimate the positive impact a well-executed quick win project can have in the early stages of a new client relationship. As you probably know from experience, real marketing results can take a long (long) time to see, and all the time spent waiting for numbers to rise can make clients restless — particularly when they’re fresh off the exciting promises of your agency’s winning pitch.

A quick win project in the first few weeks of the relationship can demonstrate your agency’s capacity to provide value, and validate the client’s decision to pick you. It can also help clients feel more comfortable when bigger projects take a longer to produce tangible results, since they’ve already seen your team succeed before.

A quick win project doesn’t have to be a big strain on your agency’s time and resources. Consider developing a content offer or auditing the client’s existing marketing assets to identify new opportunities. For more advice on creating a quick win project early on, check out this article.

What client onboarding mistakes has your agency made in the past, and what did you learn from them? Share with us in the comments.

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