Posts Tagged ‘Force 5’

Force for Good Contest!

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 by Deb DeFreeuw

FFG_logo_Final_smallCalling all Non-Profit organizations (NPOs) located in St. Joseph County! Nominations are now open for our Force for Good contest. You could win $5,000.00 in brand development and marketing communication services.

We know times are tough for NPOs and part of our brand is a commitment to doing good work for people who do good works. We would like to empower one local, non-profit organization and help them let the community know who they are, what they do, and why their work matters. Heartland Small Animal Rescue was the winner last year and their new website should be going live any day.

So, help us spread the word to our local NPO heroes!

Print Is Here to Stay

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 by Aaron Greene

Over the past few years, I have been hearing more and more that print is a dying medium and that it is slowly being replaced by advances in digital technology. Companies such as Google and Toshiba have launched national campaigns to go paperless by switching to digital means of marketing communication and recent studies in print advertising have shown that current revenues are at their all time lowest. But does that mean print will one day be a “dead” medium? Far from it…

When was the last time you’ve stumbled upon an article on the web and thought, “this would be much easier to read if it were in print”? Holding that tangible copy in front of you and being able to feel it, smell it, and observe it is all part of the print experience (You can taste it too, but I wouldn’t strongly recommend it). Not to mention, you start to go cross-eyed after reading from a screen for more than a few hours. There are things that you can achieve through print that is not possible when viewing something online.

As for print marketing, this idea also holds true. While we rely on websites, banner advertising and social media to market our companies, print marketing can be just as effective if done correctly. With print, you are able to reach a different audience or demographic that you may not encounter on the web. And you give that audience the physical satisfaction of holding on to and retaining the information you’ve supplied them, whether that be through a brochure, postcard, business card, or packaging.

Since print and online marketing will always have their strengths and weaknesses, I do not believe print will ever be a dead medium. Although you have the ability to immediately update, modify and target online marketing, print has a tangibility that customers are looking for and will always want. Marrying the two is what creates an extremely effective integrated marketing campaign.

At Force 5 we offer graphic design services for all of your printing needs (business cards, brochures, letterheads, etc). We can also work with you to develop an integrated marketing campaign that can tie your website and print material together as one. If you’d like to see examples of our work, check out our portfolio. For more examples of effective print marketing, you can also check out sites such as For Print Only and Print Magazine.

Small Facts about Print:

  • CO2 emissions from making a cd are 4 times higher than from printing a 100 page, 4-color annual report (ED #13, Balance, NewPage)
  • 76% of small businesses state that their ideal marketing mix is a combination of print and digital communications. (Pitney Bowes Survey/Choose Print)
  • Printing is the only medium with a one-time carbon footprint – all other media requires energy every time they are viewed. (2010 PrintCity report on Carbon & Energy)
  • 63.5% of all paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered and recycled in 2010. Paper recovery and recycling has increased 77% since 1990. (Ibid/Choose Print/AF&PA)

Can you Insure Me from Myself?

Monday, November 7th, 2011 by Jason Stratton

Setup Picture – I am sitting at the Apple Genius Bar, ya I know they call it a “Bar” but not a drink in sight, working through my iPhone issues with the savvy, half shaven, twenty something, blue t-shirt wearing apple genius who is just about finished with my antenna issue.  When to my surprise the next customer introduces himself to my genius with the problem of “Dude, my iPhone was only in the washer for just enough time for me to realize it wasn’t in my hands” – Yes, I am quoting his first sentence, I can’t make this up any better than reality.  These folks really are geniuses of not only apple stuff but of multi-tasking, the proof is that my genius finished my issue while keeping a straight face and not laughing at the laundry dude.  I have to admit that for the sake of all our Force 5 readers, I just had to stick around to hear the rest of the laundry story – You’re sitting on the edge of your office chairs, Right?

Laundry dude continued to explain how his iPhone was in his favorite jeans pocket and probably didn’t get that wet.  He showed some smarts and called Apple before turning on his now sparkling clean iPhone.  Apple instructed him to go to the nearest store and ask the genius to turn the phone on for him – Do Not Try This At Home should apply here.  The genius listened and was very sympathetic to laundry dude.  But, when the laundry dude finally confessed and said that this was his “THIRD” iPhone within the past year, the conversation was at a cross roads.  In my opinion, the genius could have said “Sorry Charlie” and had every right to do so. But, to my surprise he offered laundry dude a new iPhone 4 at a greatly reduced rate of $199.00.  Of course, laundry dude asked “Isn’t there any kind of insurance or care plan I can purchase that will cover me from stuff like this?”

Lesson of the story, we all have done some silly things in our lives and careers.  So, what makes you different is the ability to ask yourself “Ok, that marketing effort was a flop and WHY?”  If you can’t ask the question, you can’t learn the answers of tomorrow’s successes.  Need someone outside of your organization to ask that tough question? Force 5 can help and we promise not to wash your cell phone.

10 Quick Facts You Should Know About Consumer Behavior on Facebook

Monday, September 12th, 2011 by David Morgan

10 Quick Facts You Should Know About Consumer Behavior on Facebook

This study is from CMB Consumer Pulse and Constant Contact and focusing on consumer behavior on Facebook. It was just published this week, and reveals some very interesting factoids. As Marketers, we realize that Facebook is among many social media tactics that should be part of your marketing strategy. However, some of these facts show that getting folks to interact with you-to become friends of your page-creates brand ambassadors that propel your brand to new heights. Look at the stats below and see if you agree. Are you more likely to recommend a brand that you have become a fan? I think I am.

One of the most revealing stats to me is that 76% of people have never un-liked a brand. I can see that if a customer is extremely un-happy with a recent transaction, they might do that – but for the most part, people that become fans are brand ambassadors from day one.

How’s your fan base? What are you doing to take care of your ambassadors? Take a look at the stats below, and see if you agree. If you need help with integrating social media into your marketing strategy, Force 5 can help. Give us a call.

* 52% of Americans over 18 spend at least one hour a week on Facebook
* 58% of users “like” a brand because they are a customer
* People interact with their favorite brands on Facebook far more than other social networks
* Engagement is real: 78% of people who “like” brands on Facebook like fewer than 10 brands
* Most fans “interact” with brands, primarily through reading brand’s posts and newsfeeds
* 76% of people have never “un-liked” a brand
* 56% of fans say they’re more likely to recommend a brand to a friend after becoming a fan
* 51% of fans say they’re more likely to buy a product since becoming a fan
* 45% of Facebook users’ time is spent in the newsfeed
* 69% of Facebook users want to hear from some brands more than others

Here’s the study:
http://www.slideshare.net/ConstantContact/10-quick-facts-you-should-know-about-consumer-behavior-on-facebook

Pent Up

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 by Butch Whitmire

I read in a brief  from Ad-ology that nearly 35% of U.S. adults said they intend to buy a new or used car in the next 12 months. One explanation is pent up demand.  This means consumers have been holding back on their spending  like a corralled stallion and now they are finally going to let that stud burst out of its pen in a money-spending whirlwind of hooves and mane.

I am hopeful this is the reason that people will be buying cars this year.  Pent up demand suggests that consumers who were once caution-filled about the economy are now optimistic enough to let go of their cash or comfortable enough to take on debt.   This type of demand reflects consumer confidence. 

Another explanation as to why consumers will purchase cars this year is simply because they have to.  That is, they are neither confident nor do they have any greater belief they will remain employed long tern or have more disposable income; they must buy a car.  Their current car is just too old and worn out and to get to work, or to the unemployment office, they need a car.  This type of demand, a replacement demand, reflects consumer fear.

Now don’t get me wrong, regardless of the reason, people buying cars or any product or service will be good for our economy.  Demand creates production, which creates jobs, which encourages spending which creates more demand.  Wonderful!

The challenge for marketers will be determining the latent, emotional cause for their customer’s demand:  do customers want to buy or do they have to buy?   The marketing message you send to someone who is afraid should be much different than to someone buying eagerly.  Helping our clients determine their audience and the message they should send them is part of our  Soul Searching™  process here at Force 5 and we’d welcome the opportunity to talk with you about our methodology. Feel free to contact us.

So, will your customers be buying from you like an unleashed stallion this year, or like some other creature?  We’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Cost of Free

Thursday, June 16th, 2011 by Butch Whitmire

I emailed a respected marketer and he made a statement that was quite profound.  He said, “Free stuff we’ll take all day long.  But I also don’t want to work with somebody who gives away their products or services too cheap – if they can’t sell their own stuff, how can they help me sell mine?”

I loved his perspective in a time when open source code, free downloads, Groupons, free newsletters, “kids eat free,” are running rampant.  People seem to crave “free” and statistically, they move in big numbers when the see the word “free” attached to a marketing campaign.  However, I have big concerns with “free” (or the ridiculously reduced.)

As I wrote in an earlier post about scarcity, for things to be valuable people must perceive them as both a) useful and b) scarce.  So, when we say something is “free” (meaning zero monetary value) people intuit that the service or good is either not very useful to them or it is abundantly available to all.  Free lowers perceived value.

Another reason I am concerned about free is that people intrinsically intuit that “nothing is free.”  So, clients assume there are strings or other cost attached.  For example, our developers utilize an amazing open-source CMS/CMF called Drupal.  This PHP-based code is available to us and everyone for no cash outlay.  However, learning Drupal has been anything but free to Force 5.  Our team has invested scores and scores of unbillable R&D hours to learn this protocol.  “Free” usually has a cost attached – somewhere.

So, why are so many sales people and marketers using  “free” (or ridiculously under-priced)  to gain business?  For me, there are only four plausible explanations:

1) You are lowering the barrier to entry.  Free trials can lead to sales but they must be made scarce; meaning they are limited.  Free one time to get to know your product or service.  After that, it’s time to charge – drug dealers have known this for years.

2) You are relying on the social norm of reciprocity.  (You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.)  This is a risky approach.  As I mentioned, people usually assume “nothing is for free” so they will take and take from you with little compulsion to give you anything in return.

3) You don’t believe your product or service is really very valuable.  If this is the case, it’s time for a gut check.  It’s time to evaluate and change your product or service to meet the demands of a crazily competitive market.

4) You’re a little lazy or at least not very creative.  Free is easy.  Free is fast.  Free is simple. Free creates a lot of activity.  Free doesn’t require you to make a compelling case for your product.  Maybe it’s time to work on your marketing or selling skills, at least a little. 

So the question must be asked:  Are you overusing “free” and at what cost?

The Value of Small + Smart

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011 by Butch Whitmire

Whenever I’m asked about Force 5, one of the things I say about our company is that we are“small and smart.” Most people understand immediately what half of that means. We have only a handful of people on our staff – so, we’re small – pretty easy. Small is good these days. That means we don’t carry a lot of overhead so we can be competitive. Being small also means that we can be pretty agile, too. There aren’t too many people or committees required to make decisions. We can quickly decide what to do and move – and that’s a good thing for our clients.

When I say “We’re smart,” I think I run the risk of sounding arrogant. Granted, there are some pretty sharp people I get to work with here (me – not so much.)  The “smart” part is really about bringing in the right resources when we need them. This allows us to assemble the best possible talent for a specific need and remain laser-focused on the client.  Being smart also keeps us fresh and creative. 

From a personal standpoint, being “small and smart” forces me to be more rounded as a business person. It’s made me realize that client issues are most often multi-faceted and that one area of expertise is seldom the cure for a particular issue. This regularly pushes me outside the limits of my capacity and into the realms of more capable people in specialize areas. The results are: wins for the client, wins for Force 5, wins for freelancers, and wins for me.   And who wouldn’t want that?

Web of One

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 by David Morgan

The Filter bubble by Eli Pariser

I was listening to a TED talk yesterday from Eli Pariser, who just wrote the book “The Filter Bubble”.In his talk, he tells of the personalization taking place on the web. Everything is filtered before it gets to us. I have an interest in sailing, and listed that on my facebook. And lo and behold, I see ads and articles on Sailing. Google Ad words looks at blogs, and then show ads linked to key words found in the article.

In fact, Google uses 57 different criteria to filter content to you. This might include your location, you age, gender, and whatever else they know about you.

Is personalization a good thing? In most cases, sure. I don’t mind seeing ads on sailing, but what am I missing? Eli’s premise is that you start to see only your filter—a filter that’s not necessarily controlled by you. So if I’m conservative, I may not see liberal points of view. If I like dogs, I might not see cats…Get the picture?

Some argue that most people lack the time, motivation and self-knowledge to customize their filter, if they are given the chance. But others think that automatic personalization severely limits the power of the net to stretch our minds.

Do you want to see opposing views on a subject? Do you want to see challenging and contrary viewpoints? Is your filter relevant, important, uncomfortable, challenging, other points of view? Again, as we’ve noted in previous blogs, its all about data mining.

As a brand development and marketing communications firm, Force 5 is always interested in metrics. We want to know if our target audience for any given product or service is seeing (and responding to) our message. But has data mining and filtering gone too far—limiting our selections, making a “web of one”—instead of a “web of many”? What do you think?

Information Overload

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 by Deb DeFreeuw

Facing information overload

Information - Fast and Furious

I recently read an article from the Center for Media Research that had some very interesting statistics on digital consumption.

76.7% read email and respond evenings and weekends
43.2% answer texts or emails on date/social occasion
57.4 % never turn off phone
33.0% check email middle of the night
35.2% answer work emails while with children
46.9% unable to answer all email
41.4% miss important news
39.9% ignore family and friends
16.9% miss appointments
62.5% wish they could filter out the flood of data

Honestly, I was not at all surprised by the last statistic. The tidal wave of information can be overwhelming. This article also stated, “64.2% said that the information coming at them today had grown by more than 50% compared with last year.”

Do the statistics above resonate with you? How do you filter out what is useful? Managing the tide of information has become a necessary part of our daily lives.

Because consumers are actively managing their digital lifestyle, it is more important than ever that you understand your audience, where and how they get their digital information and then provide them with useful content so you don’t get filtered out. If your company is struggling to be heard, Force 5 can help you reach your audience.

Mobile Health Seekers

Monday, April 25th, 2011 by Deb DeFreeuw

I recently read an article in MediaPost which had some incredible stats on the mobile users consumption of health information through apps and browsers.

  • 38% of cell phone owners access the Internet using mobile phone — up 52% year over year
  • 55% of cell phone Internet users go online daily from their mobile phones
  • 30% of mobile subscribers use search, 29% use downloaded apps
  • 26% of apps downloaded in 2010 were used just once
  • I think one of the key points of the article had to do with the idea of not just condensing an entire website into an app. Consider the difference of mobile health info seekers and the content which is most sought after (as a proportional of total traffic); sexual health topics (HIV/AIDS, pregnancy and STDs). These users are understandably concerned about privacy, and likely in an urgent and emotional state – make content straightforward, useful and easy to find.

    When creating mobile content we need to follow the same rules as we do with any other media. Define your audience, determine what are they looking for – then deliver it efficiently and effectively!

    We’re diving into all kinds of mobile projects here at Force 5 and can help your company make smart decisions about moving forward with mobile content.