Coffee’s Effects on Productivity

Coffee is the most popular drink at the workplace, by far, with 38 percent of workers saying they “couldn’t live without it.” But coffee is much more than an addictive drink that we Americans know and love. Coffee can improve productivity at work in several different ways.

  1. Coffee improves alertness.

Caffeine stops adenosine production and actually blocks adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine is a chemical produced by our bodies throughout the day, preparing us for sleep, and much of it remains in our systems in the morning after we wake up. This is why we feel sluggish for the first few hours of our day. Caffeine can stop adenosine in its tracks, waking us up in the morning and preventing a four o’clock slump.

  1. Coffee strengthens our brains.

Oils in the coffee bean itself are anti-inflammatory, acting as antioxidants in the brain. These anti-inflammatory agents are called kahweol and cafestol, and their properties can help protect DNA and protect the brain from free radicals. A protected brain is a productive one: preventing inflammatory stress keeps us in tip-top shape throughout our working lives.

  1. Coffee increases creativity.

Stimulating the brain with caffeine can help to blow out the figurative cobwebs, allowing for creative thought and freewheeling workplace conversations that can give birth to the next big idea.

  1. Coffee increases sociability.

Research suggests that the simple act of holding a cup of coffee makes you seem more approachable and friendly. Additionally, the office coffee pot serves as a kind of social nexus, allowing for increased social interactions with colleagues and better workplace bonds. This allows for better relationships and more productive teams.

  1. Coffee increases learning speed and short-term memory.

A study done on college students showed that they were able to learn faster after having a cup of coffee. This can enable faster turnaround times in the workplace, as the learning curve will last for a much shorter amount of time.

Another study showed that caffeine improved short term memory, with the subject given caffeine able to recall more words that were quickly shown to them than the control group. This improved working memory can help when workers are asked to multitask and quickly recall information.

Coffee, then, can be considered the miracle elixir of the workplace. Now that you know all the benefits, you’ll be able to put coffee to work for you!

You Need To Use This Old-School Marketing Trick

During the holiday season, standing out in a flood of marketing can be extremely difficult. Consumers are inundated with marketing emails and other forms of advertising throughout the month of December. That’s why you need to stand out from the noise.

Direct marketing through the mail is a good trick to have up your sleeve. A physical item that audiences can touch increases the likelihood of getting a return on your investment. In fact, according to the Direct Mail Association Factbook, the average success rate for direct mail is 4.4%, about 10 to 30 times higher than direct email marketing.

So, does it make sense to send mailers? Not every product or service does equally well through the mail. With direct mailing, you can target specific geographic zones that are close in proximity to your business.

For example, real estate is a good product to market geographically. You can target your mailings to neighborhoods that are in your price bracket, and close in proximity to your development. Other products that are predisposed to direct mail marketing are restaurants and events. Informing the community about your restaurant or event is easiest through a geographically targeted campaign.

When you are sending direct mail to your audience, you’ll want to take advantage of special occasions like the holidays. Throughout the month of December, you’ll be able to use holiday cheer in your marketing, and you can strategically place inserts for events and products. If you have a special deal, you should print that deal on an insert for your larger mailing. This way, the deal on the insert will jump off the page – literally!

One example is a direct mail campaign that Targeted Persuasion created. The developers of Hidden Lake wanted to draw potential home buyers into the community. Because of the nature of the real estate business, it can take a while for leads to convert. We sent multiple mailers to potential customers over the course of several weeks. ‘Drip’ campaigns like this have been proven to convert: sending one ad is good, but reminding potential customers about your product again and again can increase your customer base over time.

Our first mailer establishes what Hidden Lake looks like, where it is located, and outlines some amenities, all in a well-designed, attractive foldout.

In real estate, it is vital to get these potential buyers to come physically see the development and the homes. So, when December hit, we took advantage of the holidays. We created a marketing mailer for the drip campaign representing Hidden Lake, filled with holiday cheer.

The mailer is a thick, glossy foldout, filled with photos of snow-covered front lawns and holiday meals in pristine kitchens. It represents all that the holidays can be if you move into one of the homes at Hidden Lake.

And amidst the attractive photo spread, we attached an invitation to a holiday party held at the Hidden Lake clubhouse. The insert is pretty enough to place on the fridge or a bulletin board in a prospective buyer’s home.

With Christmas and New Year’s Day fast approaching, you’ll want to get started on creating your direct mail campaign today. It takes time to design, print, and physically distribute mailers, so the time is now.

Top 5 Brands to Follow on Instagram this December

As we begin our countdown to the holidays, so do brands. Vying for eyes in a saturated market, holiday marketing campaigns must stand out in a big way. To get that engagement, brands need a fun, festive, and cohesive plan for their holiday marketing.

We’ve highlighted five of the top brands to follow on Instagram this December. Because who can resist puppies and delicious recipes?

1. Starbucks

Starbucks has done a fabulous job positioning themselves as the most festive coffee company around. Their viral holiday cups are a big deal, and a large amount of their holiday marketing plan centers on posting pictures of their seasonal drinks in the holiday cups, not to mention the cozy aesthetic they cultivate.

2. Food Network

The time for food to shine is during the holidays, and Food Network knows it. Their marketing plan involves lots of how-tos and recipes for seasonal meals and desserts. Having recipes of the day guarantees engagement from fans who follow the brand on Instagram.

3. LL. Bean

LL. Bean is a cult cold-weather apparel brand, but their marketing strategy on Instagram centers around adorable puppies. Cute animals are a guaranteed win on Instagram, and LL. Bean has the engagement to prove it.

4. Macy’s

During the winter, NYC turns into a holiday themed wonderland, and Macy’s wholeheartedly embraces this aesthetic with their holiday marketing. Beginning with the Thanksgiving Day Parade and running through Christmas, they have plenty of NYC-centric material to post on their social accounts.

5. J. Crew

J. Crew’s preppy aesthetic works well over the holiday season. Last year, their campaign featured “holiday pairs” of the day, highlighting two things and illustrating how they can work together. Each post featured a holiday-centric color palette as well, helping to continue the consistency.

Now that you know the best Instagram accounts to follow, you can fill your feed with holiday spirit, and maybe learn a little something about holiday marketing along the way!

5 Marketing Tips This Holiday Season

Whether attending events, giving to charity, or spending on gifts for family and friends, people are eager to engage during the holidays. Their wallets are open and they are full of the spirit of giving. No matter what your industry, this time of year can be a great opportunity to reconnect with old customers and reach out to new ones.

That’s why we’ve compiled some ways you can stand out on social media and marketing emails by tying your cause, service, or product to the holidays.

1. Tailor your campaign for specific occasions.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday – there are a ton of occasions around the holidays that give you the opportunity to create tailored ad campaigns. Aside from these staples, the holidays are a great time to create your own event (think 24 hour flash sale or donation drive).

For small businesses and local organizations, look for events in your community that you can use to engage. The holiday tree lighting in your town is just one example.

This ad was created for Black Friday, and does a good job of promoting Macy’s handbag sales specific to the occasion.

2. Create a sense of urgency.

People will respond when they sense that they have limited time to do something or buy something. You can use this to your advantage by highlighting limited time offers in your ads. This technique works year-round – not just during the holidays – and is a useful tool for any call-to-action or advertisement.

“Only 24 hours left to cash in on these savings!”

“City Council votes on December 1. Make your voice heard today!”

This technique is so effective, it even helps Groupon sell ugly Christmas suits – which are an actual thing that you should totally buy.

3. Focus on driving site traffic.

This is especially important for ecommerce businesses. This may seem basic, but remember to include as many links to your site as possible in your ads and marketing emails. If they click the picture, they should go to a landing page on your site. If they click your site name, they should be directed to your homepage. List your link in the actual ad copy as well.

Your call to action should be clear in everything you post or send. Keep the call to action simple, and include the link to the page where it is easiest to fulfill.

US PIRG provides a good example here: they provide information about the problem and then a large link to their website, which takes users to a page where they can contact the Governor-elect.

4. Create holiday-specific messaging.

Keep your messaging festive, and give people new ideas for product uses. The best holiday ads include recipes, tie-ins with traditions, and emphasize family and togetherness.

If you’re a local political, business, or community leader, you may want to talk about how your family engages with the community during the holidays. Highlight a local charity or event to tie in with holiday traditions and remind folks how much your city or state means to you.

If you’re marketing a product, talk about how perfect your product is for gifting. For example, the below ad talks about how the Kohl’s Cares books and toys are ideal as stocking stuffers. Giving out ideas like this can help your audience think of uses for your products.

5. Keep an eye on engagement.

If you’re scheduling many holiday posts, it can be easy to “set it and forget it.” But don’t! Watch for engagement. If someone has a question, you’ll want to quickly and helpfully respond. If you don’t, you could lose a customer!

Below, Wander Beauty has someone responding to customer questions that can crop up on their product ads. Make sure you have notifications enabled, and a dedicated team member to respond to concerns. Great customer service is responsive and has the answers that people need.

Hopefully our holiday ad tips will help you to promote your product, service, or cause. Whether you’re a big retailer working the Black Friday sales, a small town politician trying to make an impact over the holidays, or a charity trying to raise awareness, these social tips will come in handy from now through the New Year.

14 of the Best Advertising and Marketing Campaigns of All Time

Calling a marketing campaign one of top campaigns of all time can seem subjective at best, and reductive at worst. But going into this year’s holiday season, it’s worth looking at the highlight reel of some of the most insanely successful and memorable advertising campaigns in history.

Some of these campaigns are so widespread you may not even think of them as advertising anymore, like Dos Equis’s “most interesting man in the world,” who is now mostly an internet meme. Or like Nike’s Just Do It campaign, which entered the vernacular of most Americans.
Click here to read the full article from Hubspot.

Branded Merchandise: Physical Strength in a Digital World

In a world where we encounter hundreds of online advertisements per week, it might seem like standing out in the crowd is a near impossibility. While digital marketing can be cheap and easy, it is also easily forgotten by your audience.

This is where physical marketing comes in. Consider the trade shows or job fairs you’ve visited. You probably took home a whole “swag bag” full of branded merchandise and happily put some of it to use in your everyday life. Personally, I have at least two pieces of promotional merchandise in my bag today: a branded pill case and a branded pen.

These promotional products have a huge return on investment, according to a study done in 2012. Out of the people surveyed, 66% recalled the brand name on the product they received in the last year. 87% of people keep the items longer than a year, and the majority kept the items because of their usefulness. In fact, the return on investment (ROI) for promotional products is higher than radio and outdoor advertising, and is on par with TV advertising.

Mugs are the item kept the longest.

Targeted Persuasion’s take on a promotional product came about while we were working on passing the NC Brunch Bill, which would allow restaurants to serve alcohol before noon on Sundays. We needed signatures on a petition and social media support for the bill, so we wanted to put our message in front of people who would be likely supporters. What better place to find drinkers than at bars and restaurants? So we created a branded coaster, below, and distributed them to North Carolina drinking establishments.

The coasters are useful to our target audience, and sat in front of them in the restaurants where they will drink at Sunday brunch. The brunch bill, of course, was a smashing success, with no small thanks to the power of physical object marketing.

The coaster was useful and it provided a strong call to action. It was related to the cause- allow these restaurants to serve alcohol on Sundays- and it told the audience what to do to support the initiative, and the two hashtags to use. The best branded merchandise will provide a call to action and perform a function related to the thing being sold.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best and some of the weirder examples of physical object marketing. 

  1. Rimmel Quick Dry Nail Polish: Fast

Rimmel’s new quick dry nail polish is advertised with a sculpture installed in an urban public space. The function of the product is clear- it dries extremely quickly, and the sculpture is fun and interactive.

  1. Save Memories with Alzheimer’s New Zealand

This one is both functional and contains a call to action. The outside of the memory stick is a working eraser, which says “Alzheimer’s Erasers Your Memories. Save Them,” with a link to their website.

  1. Dogs are Stronger with Iams

These are frisbees made to look like barbell weights, and the message is clear: with Iams dog food, your dog will be stronger. This one is particularly neat due to its functionality- you use it while playing with your dog, and you’ll be reminded of the food every time your pup brings it back to you.

  1. Y+ Yoga Centers and Straws

These bendy straws were given away at a juice bar in close proximity to the Y+ Yoga Center in China. They are fun and functional, and were given to health-conscious consumers who are more likely than most to attend one of the yoga classes.

  1. Abbott Vascular: Heart Shaped Stress Ball

Abbott Vascular’s anatomically correct heart shaped stress ball has an obvious message: keep your stress down to take care of your heart. Stress balls are a fun choice for professionals because it can be kept on desks as a functional trinket.

Keep branded merchandise in mind for your marketing. Bring a useful object to your target audience that they’ll keep and remember. Include a call to action if you can, even if it’s just a website link. You can also take this opportunity to be creative and have some fun with your advertising, keeping it relevant to your brand, of course.

What Makes a Strong Call to Action?

A strong call to action (CTA) is vitally important when you are trying to get your audience to do what you want them to do. Without a strong CTA, your web copy or email can fall flat. If readers don’t know what to do, they most definitely won’t do it!

Make sure you have goals for each piece that you write. Do you want your readers to sign a petition? Sign up for a newsletter? Buy a product? Have a clear vision for the outcome of your piece. You want to guide people to take the action that you need them to take.

Here are the three elements for a great call to action:

  1. Your CTA should be simple.

Don’t confuse your readers by including multiple calls to action. Even if you want them to buy your product and sign up for your newsletter, choose only one single action for them to take (and choose carefully!). The best way to do this is to have a big button for them to click, saying “click here to order” or “sign up for our newsletter!” (not both).

       2. Speak directly to the reader.

Make it clear that it is the reader you’re talking to. Specify exactly what they can do. Avoid using the passive voice: “the audience was moved by our call to action” (passive) versus “our call to action moved the audience” (active).

For more details about the passive voice, click here.

       3. Create a sense of urgency.

You want your audience to think that there’s a time limit on the action, so they won’t think “oh I’ll come back to this email later.” More often than not, they’ll forget about you. Use words like today, now, or limited time to incite a sense of urgency.

A Strong Call To Action, In Action

Below is an example of Targeted Persuasion’s call to action on our highly successful Free The Mimosa campaign. Notice how the email tells readers to do one thing: email their legislators. It speaks directly to the readers, using words like “you” and avoids the passive voice. There’s a sense of urgency, and the vote deadline is highlighted.

call to action email example

The keys to creating a strong CTA are now in your hands. Want to continue the conversation? Contact us today and find out how Targeted Persuasion can help your organization create a successful campaign.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

In a world where consumers are increasingly wary of traditional advertising, marketers are searching for alternatives to expensive and ineffective traditional marketing campaigns. Even if you are having success with more traditional marketing, sometimes you need an extra tool in your kit to push your marketing to the next level.

We’re talking about influencer marketing.

Chances are you may have heard of influencer marketing, but unless you’re an industry expert, you may not know much about it. Let’s break it down with a short example.

Think about how effective word-of-mouth recommendations are to you in your purchasing decisions. If your friend tells you their personal experience at an awesome restaurant, you’re much more likely to visit the restaurant than if you’d just heard an ad on the radio or scrolled through sponsored content on social media.

Influencer marketing harnesses the power of word-of-mouth marketing by placing a focus on influential people. These people are connected trendsetters who have engaged social media followings and credibility. By recruiting them to represent your brand, you can get your message out to their entire following.

Influencer marketing enables you to amplify your brand’s voice. More people will see and respond to your marketing, because the message is going through an influencer your prospective customers already like and trust.

Here’s the best part of influencer marketing: it works. Here’s the proof.

Earned media values have significantly increased with the use of influencer marketing, as shown in this study from 2013-2014. Earned media values reflect influencer sales, as opposed to paid media (traditional advertising) sales. The highest earner was consumer packaged goods in the food industry, with $14.29 earned for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. Other high earners were travel and beauty products.

And marketers understand this changing tide. 60% of marketers, according to one article, said that they planned on increasing their influencer marketing budgets for the next year.

How Can Influencer Marketing Help You?

There are several areas in which influencer marketing excels.

  1. Public affairs

If you’re in public affairs, you’re trying to get your message out to the political movers and shakers in the community. If you don’t want to spend all your time attempting to contact individual lawmakers yourself, look no further than influencer marketing. A good public affairs influencer will already be connected with the politicians in your area. You can harness their network and focus more of your attention on your message.

  1. Political campaigns

For political campaigns, it’s imperative to find an influencers that are followed by your target voters. If they already trust the influencer, then it’s a much easier lift to gain win votes through this connected individual, especially if your target voters are active on social media. The influencer can rally voters through preexisting social networks.

  1. Brands

As we discussed earlier, influencer marketing can help your brand to bypass the white noise generated by traditional advertising. From the right trusted influencer’s mouth, your brand will stand out. You can harness their networks to grow your brand’s reputation.

How do I get started?

First, you’ll need to correctly identify influencers that serve your target market. This can be done using market research to find activists, trendsetters, or authorities in your demographic target.

Once you identify the influencers, you’ll want to connect with them on a personal level. They need to buy into your brand. If you have a product or service, let them try it for free. If you have a cause, get the story in front of them and let them know why it’s important and why they should care. You can connect over social media, blogging, or best yet, face to face.

Once you have influencers on board, you’ll need to create content or promotions that your influencers can easily share. This could be articles, product giveaways, limited time offer coupons, or just give the influencer a sample so they can publicly review it.

If all this seems a bit daunting, try hiring a public relations or marketing firm (cough, cough).

8 Social Media Holidays You Need to Take Advantage Of

Did you know that every day is a holiday if you check out the National Day Calendar? This can be a great source for fun and engaging content for your brand’s social media feed. Below are just eight examples of holidays you can recognize on social media. Make sure you hashtag the holiday so your audience can join in on the fun!

1. Star Wars Day – May 4

“May The Fourth Be With You” is the rallying cry for this popular social media holiday. Big brands and fans alike take to social media to express their love for the franchise. Below, GameSpot shares a video related to Star Wars and asks a question of its fans.

2. Talk Like A Pirate Day – September 19

Talk Like a Pirate Day only happens once a year, and it’s your chance to have a little fun with your copy! Here’s a good example from Marketspace Vendor.

3. National Sarcasm Awareness Month – October

The best way to celebrate National Sarcasm Awareness Month is to make sure everyone knows you’re being sarcastic, so be sure to hashtag it #nationalsarcasmawarenessmonth, like Elly Jays did, so you don’t alienate any of your followers.

4. National Black Cat Day – August 18

National Black Cat Day piggybacks off of Halloween’s popularity, and it gives you an opportunity to post pictures of cute cats on your feed! A post like WOOD TV8’s can even help to find homes for adoptable pets.

5. National Men Make Dinner Day – First Thursday in November

Here’s another chance to have some fun! National Men Make Dinner Day is a golden opportunity for any food brand or cleaning supply brand. Below, Marigold takes full advantage of this holiday.

6. Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day – December 8

December 8 is Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day, a perfect day for your imagination to run wild and to learn about history. takes full advantage of the holiday on Twitter as seen below.

7. Library Shelfie Day – January 26

Library Shelfie Day is a great one to celebrate with social media because it always involves posting a photo! Libraries across the country posted shelfies, along with other companies or site with a book collection. Below, we can see the University of Waterloo’s more historic take on a shelfie.

8. National Tell a Fairy Tale Day – February 27

National Tell a Fairy Tale Day is great because it facilitates teaching and learning, and you can target parents. Scholastic’s Twitter post below is a great example.

Armed with a calendar containing all of the “national days,” you’ll be on your way to creating engaging and fun content for your audience every day of the year!

Which Social Media Site Makes Us Feel the Worst (Probably Won’t Surprise You)

It probably comes as no surprise that one third of all respondents in a consumer study run by Hubspot said that social media makes them “feel awful” or close to it. In a world where everyone and their grandma has a strong opinion – and a Facebook page – posts about current events and news are ubiquitous.

62% of US adults are getting their news through social media. These news articles are primarily being shared on Facebook. In fact, Facebook is the favored source of 66% of all adults who consume news primarily through social media.

Given the current political and social climate, many of these news stories tend to be negative. In contrast, respondents said that positive content from friends and family can provide an escape from negative news stories. Non-news posts made by family and friends are familiar to the viewer; they make them feel at home and less unsettled by the goings-on in the news.

So, how can your brand stand out among the negative posts and unpleasant emotions associated with Facebook? The key lies in identifying why people are drawn to your brand. What positives can you bring to their life? Be familiar, like the posts they see from friends and family. Have a cohesive brand voice and be conversational with your audience. Keep your content upbeat, and even if posting about something unpleasant (ie a hurricane), stick to the positive impacts your brand is making (ie, donating to the Red Cross).

If you keep things upbeat and familiar, you’ll begin to stand out from all the negatives and keep people happy to view your content.