Designing for Prospective Students

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Designing for Prospective Students

Designing for prospective students can be as fun as it is tricky.

Prospective students can tell how adaptable and up-to-date an organization is within seconds of visiting their site or interacting with them digitally. How an organization presents itself online almost certainly mirrors what’s going on behind the curtain, and it’s pretty obvious. There are several basic things to consider when designing for prospective students:

Function and Content is Key

An organization has to be accessible and the interface has to be easy to navigate. Nothing is more frustrating than being unable to find basic information. These prospects want to know what you have to say and they want to be able to access the most information easily. Putting the most important information up front and making is easily digestible is a great way to get students interested in finding out more about the organization.

Good UI Design

Some say that the best design is invisible. At the very least, don’t let the design dictate the function. Design around the user interface and make it as clear and easy to navigate as possible. You want to be able to outline a clear path through the site for the end-user, while allowing them the freedom and flexibility to explore.

Social Media

Incorporating social media can add some honesty and even brevity to a website. It shows that other REAL people are interacting with the organization and may provide a glimpse of what it’s like to be involved. It also gives the end user the ability to share their own opinions about the organization.

Be Honest

No one has a more finely tuned BS meter than young adults. The best thing an organization can do for itself is be completely honest and transparent. In turn, the quality of people you’re trying to reach will be enhanced. This starts with research on the part of the prospect. If they are getting mixed signals on what is being presented digitally, they will find it pretty easy to move on.

Want to talk more about design? Fill out the form below or email us at [email protected] and we will lend our time to discuss your communications and design needs.

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When Subpar Branding Just Won’t Fly

The Blog

Randy Micheletti
VP, Director of Brand Strategy

When Subpar Branding Just Won’t Fly

For horse owners, summer is the time for peaceful, early morning rides before the sun heats up the day. It’s a time to spend washing, treating and connecting with your horse. Unfortunately, it is also the season of the most heinous insect on the planet…flies!

And, as all horse owners know, it’s a never-ending battle. You try everything and they just keep returning. Not only are they frustrating to you, they’re even more irritating to your horse. Imagine the way the horse feels as the summer heat kicks in and these pests will not leave them alone.

As we’ve learned from recent client focus groups, many horse owners are convinced there’s not much that can be done to effectively repel flies. Sure, some have regiments that are partially effective but many said during the heavy summer season protecting their horses from flies and other biting insects was a “losing battle.”

Here are a few tips on becoming more effective in the battle against flies and other insects:

  • Eliminate places where flies and insects inhabit and breed such as standing water, old water in a bucket, dirty gutters, or road ditches.
  • Provide your horse with additional protection during peak fly season and avoid being outside during these times.
  • Limit your horse’s exposure to flies and insects by using a fly spray specifically designed to kill and repel a broad spectrum of insects on contact.
  • Implement a fly control program that uses multiple products. Combining fly sprays, fly masks and premise concentrate and bate can provide complete protection for your horse.

Manna Pro partnered with Geile/Leon to introduce a complete line of equine fly control products for all applications, including sprays, masks, face and body wipes, and premise protection. Our knowledge and expertise within the equine category provided the framework to help us build a memorable brand, increase awareness of the new line, and drive sales of Force products.

Check out the launch campaign and the results generated: Drop Dead Powerful

Geile/Leon is a brand-driven marketing agency based in St. Louis, Missouri that specializes in equine marketing and new product introductions. If you’re looking to refresh a brand or launch a new one, let’s chat.

Trending from G/L: The Big Mac’s Big Birthday Campaign

The Blog

Meg Strange
Senior Account Executive

Trending from G/L: The Big Mac’s Big Birthday Campaign

Do you remember your first Big Mac? I can’t say that I do, but depending on who you ask, others may have an answer that dates back half a century! That’s right, the Big Mac, the Mac Daddy, the OG ultimate 100% beef burger, is 50 years old this year.

Ben Affleck Salley Omalley GIF by Saturday Night Live - Find & Share on GIPHY

If I dig into my own mental archives, I remember a period between the ages of 3 and 5 during which the Big Mac was my McDonald’s meal of choice. Why settle for a measly single-patty hamburger or five little nuggets when you can have the real deal: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun. Despite the fact that I had to cut that sucker in fourths and fully dissect it in order to consume it, my fandom of the Big Mac has not waned in 25+ years (although my adoration is nothing compared to this guy who’s eaten 30,000 of them).

At 850 calories, 29 grams of fat and nearly 1,000 grams of sodium, this mammoth burger doesn’t mess around. And McDonald’s isn’t taking its anniversary lightly, either—the American fast food brand has launched an equally massive global campaign to remind people that, while many things have changed in 50 years, the Big Mac you know and love remains the same. So let’s celebrate! Promotions include:

Go big or go home, am I right? Big Mac, you’ve aged like a fine, calorie-laden, artery-clogging wine—happy 50th and thanks for the memories.

Trending from G/L: How the #NeverAgain Movement is Working Like an Agency

The Blog

Meg Strange
Senior Account Executive

Trending from G/L: How the #NeverAgain Movement is Working Like an Agency

Over the past year and a half, buzz words in media and marketing have revolved around one thing: “social.” Social media, social commentary, social movements… we like to talk about things. And given the number of momentous events that have transpired over that period of time – the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly – we’ve had plenty to talk about.

Brands and media outlets can draw criticism when they get involved with the discussion surrounding some of these heavy, sensitive topics. Whether it’s being ill-informed, or being accused of exploiting controversial subjects for personal gain, we’ve all seen PR disasters happen on social media. But when brands and media outlets really listen to what’s going on in the world, they can provide a megaphone to individuals who, up until this point, may have felt voiceless – an incredible success not only for the brands and media outlets, but for our community as a whole. Often, this megaphone manifests itself as social media.

The tragedy that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida stunned and saddened people all over the world. But somewhere in that tragedy, a group of teenagers found enough strength and determination to take charge of one of the most vexing and controversial debates in the United States. And they’re using social media to make it happen.

This movement, aptly titled #NeverAgain, has played an integral role in organizing possibly the largest single-day protest in the history of our nation’s capital, has core leadership that has amassed over 2 million followers on Twitter and has changed the gun conversation in America… and it’s made up of two dozen young adults ranging in age from 17 – 20 operating out of a Florida strip mall. Welcome to the 21st century.

According to an article by Vanity Fair, the atmosphere in the #NeverAgain headquarters is akin to the vibe of the Saturday Night Live writers’ room. It’s a social media think tank where a group of animated and highly driven high school (and some college) students gather to strategize the content, tone, messages and tactics that will continue the movement’s momentum that has amassed in the past few weeks.

The group is made up of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and talents, all collaborating to cultivate engaging and easily shareable social content that will continue to captivate and earn support from our country and, possibly, the world. They vet creative ideas, develop memes, write and shoot short-form video, draft event speeches and more. They constantly consider their key audiences and the best ways to attract and engage them. They brainstorm, concept, debate and create.

Wait a tick…that kind of sounds like…an agency. As I read this article, I was amazed at the knowledge, skills and level of thinking these kids seem to possess. The conversations they’re having, the questions they’re asking, the work they’re doing and the energy they’re creating is comparable to what professionals across our industry have spent years developing and perfecting. This group of adolescents is operating a content studio, PR firm, social media agency and non-profit organization all at once and all while still in school! As industry professionals, we are often quick to criticize the notion that anyone can become a designer, content creator, strategist—but these kids are challenging the status quo and proving that, with enough tenacity and grit, they can achieve anything.

So, is it just plain luck that they’ve formed the perfect team to carry this movement? Or, is their competence in capturing our attention just the reality of a generation who has been reared in the digital age? Or, is it simply a group of passionate young people who realize they have the power and the resources to create real change? Either way, whether or not you agree with their message or this movement, I believe we can all agree that what they are doing is equal parts impressive and inspirational.

Trending from G/L: Ads in Colombia Sell Peace

The Blog

Randy Micheletti
VP, Director of Brand Strategy

Trending from G/L: Ads in Colombia Sell Peace

So let’s face it. When you think of advertising, you usually think of highly egotistical, Mad Men-style executives, or a bunch of overconfident hipsters sitting around their offices thinking of ways to push products on people. And yes, some of that is true. But in Colombia, advertising’s being used to save a country and its people.

It’s the power of changing minds that’s being used to try and put an end to a 50+ year war that’s killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions of others. Yes, advertising is being used to help stop a revolutionary army hell-bent on overthrowing the government.

“This gives us the ohance to apply our skills to something that is fundamentally important to us, to our kids, to our country. We created campaigns and TV commercials that were all build to convince guerillas to surrender and, as important, to help the Colombian people accept them back,” Jose Miguel Sokoloff, Co-Chairman and Chief Creative Officers at MullenLowe SSP3 said in a statement.

Here are several campaign videos that show the amazing work that Sokoloff and his team are doing – and talk about results that truly count:

  • Over eight years, 18,000 guerilla fighters have put down their weapons and came home.

  • Negotiations between the fighters and Colombian government have started

  • The overall energy and spirit in Colombia is back again. Per Sokoloff, “If you had been there 10 years ago and you go today, you would say, this is a completely different planet.”

This quote really sums it up nicely:

“You have to find a truth in what you’re saying,” Sokoloff says. “And when you get there, when you find something, that’s something that you can actually hold onto and you can actually communicate, that’s the salvation.”

Pretty cool, right? Let us know if you have anything awesome you’d share with our team!

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Geile/Leon Marketing Communications Wins New Business and Awards

The Blog

Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications Wins New Business and Awards

The year 2016 has been busy for Geile/Leon Marketing Communications so far as we proudly work with our great long-term clients and welcome a pair of terrific new clients – LCN, an industry leader in door control and Upper Iowa University, a private institution of higher education.

LCN Products, of Carmel, Ind., is an international brand of door closers and hardware that specializes in safety and security challenges. For LCN, G/L is providing strategic planning, marketing, branding and new product introduction services.

For Upper Iowa University, located in Fayette, Iowa, G/L is developing a strategic positioning and branding program that will be the basis for the institution’s future marketing and communications.

“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with our newest clients primarily because they’re great organizations to work with,” said Tim Leon, President and Lead Strategist at Geile/Leon Marketing Communications. “It’s our goal that every new client we bring on is the beginning of a long, productive partnership that will make both organizations stronger now and long into the future.”

And, while we don’t work for awards, it has been gratifying this year to be recognized for our efforts.

For instance, we are very pleased to have been named in the Small Business Monthly’s annual reader survey as one of the best businesses in the area. Readers named us as one of the Top 5 Marketing Firms in St. Louis.

The St. Louis Business Journal lists St. Louis advertising, marketing and public relations firms by number of employees. We’re in the Top 30 this year… not the biggest of the firms, but we’re proud of the capabilities we have to offer. Our clients know that we have most of the capabilities of much larger firms, but provide them unparalleled service, creativity and attention.

Have any questions about what we’re working on? Shoot us a note anytime:

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You’re Never Too Small for Inbound Marketing

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

You’re Never Too Small for Inbound Marketing

So much has been written about using social media to support inbound marketing. Day-to-day I speak with all size marketers, and I understand that the use of inbound marketing for smaller companies gets a little confusing. Because of this, I thought I’d pass along a real world example that was successful.

I was conducting an interview to prepare for a meeting with a manufacturer who was considering working with Geile/Leon. The prospective client provided me with several distributors to talk to, and all but one were well established in their territories and had a steady line of business generated from the traditional sales process.

One distributor I spoke with told me he contracted to sell this manufacturer’s product line two years ago. His assigned territory had not been a hot sales zone for many years, so in a way it was similar to the challenges of a new market for the manufacturer.

His first year was tough. The manufacturer’s brand wasn’t very well known in the territory—mostly due to a lack of advertising support—so it was up to the distributors to build the brand. Another issue was that there is little difference in quality, cost, and performance of this brand and the other comparable products in this category. He had considered adding more sales people, but worried about adding this additional expense while waiting for sales to grow.

Then, over the Christmas holiday he was talking to his son who was home from college. They discussed the challenges he was facing and his son said, “Most people go online to find stuff, so why don’t you do something to get them to find you?”

This was an epiphany for him – as a small marketer in a very specific business, he didn’t consider this option.

After doing some research, he decided to take the plunge and create an inbound marketing strategy, despite the fact that his distributorship is small, with just one location serving a two state area. With some marketing agency help, an inbound  marketing strategy was outlined that includes:

  • Developing personas of his customers so he had a clear understanding of who he was targeting
  • Using online ads to drive traffic to his site and increase his search placements
  • Incorporating the appropriate social media sites to promote content and interact with the target audience
  • Developing a list of key words and phrases and constantly monitoring how they are performing
  • Creating content (videos, blogs, white papers) about issues important to his target audience
  • Making the website more user-friendly, allowing customers to easily respond to offerings
  • Initiating a sales strategy to turn prospects into customers

After just six months, his new program began to bear fruit. Website visitors increased 300%, while leads from visitors resulted in increased sales – in fact, many of those leads were from companies he hadn’t pursued. And now, thanks to increasing content and improving online traffic, he has reduced his spend on online ads and pay-for-clicks because search engines are listing his site on the first page now.

This is just one example of how success can come from inbound marketing – even if you think your business is too small to benefit from it. If you dive deeper into who your audience truly is and what they are looking for, a strategic digital marketing strategy takes shape.

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Trending from G/L – Selfridges takes stand for body positivity

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending from G/L – Selfridges takes stand for body positivity

The fashion industry is an incredibly difficult place to differentiate your brand. With so much competition, there are so many different directions to potentially go in. And yet, the beauty standards portrayed throughout the industry in media tend to strive for an ideal of beauty that is somewhat unrealistic for a majority of their audience. Body positivity is something that is discussed, but is oftentimes shuffled off to the side.

One of the first major forays into body positivity from a large brand perspective came from Dove and their Campaign for Natural Beauty. Indeed, Dove took a gamble in promoting the campaign during a Super Bowl ad, hitting audiences on one of the nation’s largest stages. The campaign evolved and had numerous offshoots and viral videos, which elevated the Dove brand to legitimately arguing for a discussion on the way we view ourselves.

And yet, for every positivity-focused campaign like that, there were moments that seemingly moved the needle backwards. An example of that came in 2013 when Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries made additional statements regarding his desire for A&F to be exclusive for the “cool kids” by limiting the sizes their clothes were offered in. Perhaps not so surprisingly, Jeffries stepped down from the company only a year later.

But the struggle for fashion-focused brands to target a wider audience has continued. People with certain body types feel excluded. Runway models continue to show that divide. And being able to tell stories of different body types is a very tricky area for a brand to hit the right tone.

Selfridges, a large British department store, seems to have hit that body positivity message in a short film that produced that focuses less on the products they offer and more on the women who wear them. It’s a very vulnerable look at five women don’t seem to fit the mold of traditional beauty, but speak eloquently on why they’re happy in their own skin.

Again, it’s a very difficult message to tell, but by allowing the women interviewed to be shown in such an uncut fashion allows us to connect with them and feel their personal body positivity. The film’s director has this to say about her inspiration:

“For so long underwear advertising has been dominated by sexualised imagery of women in heightened poses and impossible designs. When in reality, this is worlds apart from the everyday act of putting on your pants and the choices we make in the morning. I hope the film helps to cut through the noise and show amazing women appearing stripped back, as they are, speaking truthfully. All five have achieved great things and for that reason I wanted to go back to basics – finding out how they felt about themselves. I would love people to feel inspired by these women; leaving them more positive and celebratory of their own bodies.”

What did you think about the film? Let us know your thoughts here or via social media and we’d be happy to hear it.

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The Value of a Strong Brand

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

The Value of a Strong Brand

As we continually tell clients: Even the best products and services often get lost in a crowded marketplace. Trends come and go but a strong brand plays a vital role in a company’s long-term success.

But what is the value of a strong brand?

We who work in marketing already know that companies that work to build a distinct and strong brand enjoy many benefits. These include how customers feel about the organization, reasons why the company’s products/services are distinct from the competition, and even how it affects employee morale. But these are intangible benefits and their values are often hard to measure.

However, there are tangible values associated with a strong brand, according Trevor Hulett, Managing Director of Investment Banking for R.L. Hulett, a well-established financial services firm that offers a variety of services including assistance with mergers and acquisitions. Simply put, Trevor says a stronger brand leads to a higher gross margin on sales of products/services which equates to a higher valuation of an enterprise.

For example, to determine the value of a business to sell or purchase, Hulett considers the enterprise value. The enterprise value includes asset value (tangible values) plus working/current liabilities and all intangible goodwill, which may include its brand, a strong management team, unique technologies or innovations. A major aspect of goodwill comes from its brand.

Hulett says that a company’s enterprise value is increased through a strong brand, as well as its value in attracting potential investors or buyers. These investors and buyers are willing to pay more for a company with a strong brand because after all, a strong brand leads to: better name recognition that breaks through a cluttered market; “word of mouth” endorsements; better customer loyalty; and an engaged and excited workforce. These benefits add to a company’s success and therefore, the overall value.

Companies, regardless of size and industry, that have services or products that are perceived as being higher in the value chain in terms of strong brand, can charge more. That enhances the gross margin, according to Hulett. Strong brands are good for ongoing business, therefore, but they are also advantageous when it attracting and negotiating with investors, he explains.

Brand is a major aspect of the goodwill or “multiples” that can be assigned to company’s worth in addition to the EBITA (earnings before interest taxes depreciation amortization). A higher gross margin attracts more potential buyers, which will drive a higher multiple on the earnings and a higher purchase price.

Companies who can position themselves better than their competitors will benefit from better pricing leverage. And, as buyers conduct their due diligence with customers, good brand feedback can drive up the multiple on a higher EBITA.

While having a strong brand can add to a company’s value, it is important that be “institutionalized” and not too dependent on the founder or other individuals, so that it can be transferred to new owners with minimum interference.

Hulett cites the importance of companies partnering with strategic marketers who can help to create and shape their brands so that they can be leveraged to grow and enter new markets and new relationships. Successful brands should be clearly defined and well communicated, he says, but also should be “scalable” so that a local brand can grow nationally, or a national brand can become a global brand.

And, like tangible assets, brands must be continually monitored and maintained. They are dynamic, not static. If the opinions of industry leaders and customers change in a negative way, the value of a brand can be reduced.

If you are considering selling, purchasing or investing in a company, I’m sure Trevor Hulett could offer you some good advice. He can be reached at 314.721.0607.

And if your company has the best products and services but is lost in a crowded marketplace, we’d be happy to share our approach to building strong brands. Give me a call at 314.727-5850 or fill out the form below.

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How to fight Ad Blockers? More Quality Content and Native Advertising

The Blog

Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

How to fight Ad Blockers? More Quality Content and Native Advertising

While in the past, some companies and publishers have scoffed about advertorials, or sponsored content that is designed to look like editorial, now there is a renewed interest in native advertising. Ad blockers are changing the entire equation of how to reach consumers.

According to a report commissioned by Adobe and conducted by PageFair, the number of consumers using ad blockers in the U.S. increased 48 percent during the last year. There are 198 million active adblock users around the world.

With Apple announcing that they are allowing ad-blocking apps, digital advertising is on the verge of being turned upside down. Consumers want to avoid advertising as they listen to music, stream videos or check their mobile devices. They’ll download apps and pay extra for services that block ads.

PR and social media practitioners have been counseling companies that “content needs to be a priority” for all marketing efforts. Now, ad blockers are driving home the necessity of producing entertaining or educational subject matter that provides a positive end user experience.

With native advertising, the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience. The intention is to invite the consumer to be engaged.

Native advertising is everywhere online, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, YouTube and Buzzfeed. Good native advertising, like good public relations, should be informative and relevant to the reader.

A consumer might be more than happen to read a story sponsored by a consumer packaged good company if she can obtain an easy dessert recipe. Likewise, a pet owner looking for grooming tips might gladly watch sponsored instructional videos. Whether you have a B2B or B2C company, you will need to be promoting your product or service in a new way to effectively utilize native advertising.

For years, online marketers watched as banner ad clicks plummeted and then disappeared. Marketers followed up with a variety of other methods to squeeze their message onto a given page, but consumers became fed up with cluttered websites, obtrusive videos and interference to what they want to see.

It’s time for marketers to realize that if they want to get their brand message through to these folks, native advertising presents great opportunities. It is a combination of PR and advertising that can be tremendously leverage through social media. Content that is engaging, enlightening and/or entertaining can be shared with ease, and provide the marketer with huge audiences.

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