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Darcy Grabenstein Feb 23

Make Your EMBA Program Stand Out from the Crowd

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Transformational. Life changing. Experiential. Professional development. Leadership potential. Executive coaching. Career advancement.

These are all words/phrases used to describe most Executive MBA programs. Could they be used to describe your Executive MBA program?

Therein lies the problem. Most EMBA programs end up sounding and looking the same. How is a prospective student expected to distinguish between your program and that of your competitors?

Think of your EMBA program as a product. Then you must determine its unique selling proposition (USP). This marketing concept was first put forth as an advertising theory back in the 1940s, yet it still remains relevant today. A USP is what makes your product/service different from all the others out there.

Domino’s Pizza does a great job of incorporating its USP into its marketing communications:

“You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less —  or it’s free.” Like a good tagline, a good USP is specific to your business and/or industry. In other words, it’s not enough to simply say, “We provide great value.” How do you provide great value?

Following are other ways you can make your EMBA program stand out from all the rest:

  • Exceptional ROI. Is your EMBA program the least expensive in your city? region? state? the nation?
  • Fabulous faculty. Are your faculty members noted for their research or publications? Have they received awards? Do they have industry experience? Students want to learn from those who’ve “been in the trenches,” so to speak.

  • Innovative curriculum. Most EMBA programs cover business fundamentals. But what types of electives are available? Do you offer specializations in or tracks according to areas of interest?

  • Impressive cohort. Is the caliber of your cohorts head and shoulders above the rest? EMBA students learn from each other as well as from their professors. This could be a big selling point.

  • Brand equity. Is your program ranked? Does it have exclusive accreditation? Is it part of a business school that is ranked or widely acclaimed? Is it part of a prestigious college or university? It’s OK to piggyback on the brand of your parent organization.
  • Program format. Many schools tailor their program schedules to meet the needs of working professionals. Is there anything about your program that is especially flexible? Do you offer a hybrid of learning environments or formats?

  • Leadership development. Do you go above and beyond basic executive coaching? Do you go the extra mile when it comes to careers and placements? Do you take leadership development to the next level? What about executive education?

  • Global reach. Does your EMBA program have an international component? If so, how does it differ from all the rest? The University of Texas at Arlington, for example, is known for its China immersion and Asian Business Studies Graduate Certificate.

  • Alumni network. This extends the value of your program beyond graduation. Where are your alumni now? We’re talking both geographically and in terms of positions at their respective companies. You might just find a trend to capitalize on, such as a track record of success in a particular industry.

Another way you can distinguish yourself is through your advertising. Think about foregoing the traditional students-in-classroom imagery and use an image totally unrelated to academia. This will make your ads eye-catching, which is the first goal of any ad. Your messaging, however, will still resonate with your audience.

If you’ve read the above bullet points and still are scratching your head over how your EMBA program stands out, this could be a wake-up call. Perhaps you need to revisit one or more elements and tweak them to make your program more enticing to prospective students.

Annodyne can help you determine your USP with services such as brand identity and messaging workshops, competitive intelligence and communication assessments.

Visit us at

. . .

Darcy Grabenstein is senior copywriter at Annodyne.

Darcy Grabenstein Feb 1

How to Shorten the EMBA Decision-Making Process & Increase Your Program’s Bottom Line

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The decision-making process for a prospect to enroll in an Executive MBA program is painfully long. Statistics show that this process can take up to two years. So what can you do to speed up the process? Develop —  and implement —  a pull-through digital enrollment marketing strategy.

EMBA Decision-Making Timeline

                      Source: GMAC Prospective Students Survey 2014

Audience targeting is a key component of any successful marketing strategy, online or offline. Don’t throw a wide net; targeting will produce better results. Why? Because you will be delivering relevant content. If you bid on keywords that are too broad, you may be wasting your online advertising dollars. To promote a Healthcare EMBA program, for instance, both the keywords and the ad messaging must be specific. Otherwise, you may receive a great quantity of leads but not quality leads. Quality leads will be more interested in your EMBA program and, therefore, more likely to commit sooner.

Timing is everything. While you want your online ads to appear prior to your program deadlines, you also want prospects to see them at key stages in their decision-making process. Keep in mind that, although these two timelines may intersect at certain points, the overlap may be minimal. That’s why you should schedule ads throughout the calendar year, not just based on the academic calendar.

So what are some of the stages that prospects will go through on their path to enrolling? Here are a few common stages:

1. Considering an EMBA
2. Deciding what type of EMBA program
3. Seeking information
4. Applying
5. Enrolling

The Adult Audience Journey

Just because you get a prospect into the funnel, that doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing. Bottlenecks can pop up anywhere:

• Cost of program (more important to self-financed than employer-sponsored prospects)
• Concerns regarding work-life balance
• Questioning ROI of EMBA degree

Your program positioning and digital marketing strategy must address and overcome these and other obstacles. You can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, by offering incentives for early enrollment. First, financial incentives will help to bring down the overall cost of an EMBA. Second, incentives can help shorten the decision-making process.

What kinds of incentives can you offer? That depends on your program’s pricing and operations budget. Some programs offer scholarships, waive application or GMAT fees (some programs waive the GMAT altogether), or pay for textbooks. Other programs offer incentives to specific groups, such as military veterans.

If you find that work-life balance is an issue for prospects, take a look at your program format. EMBA programs must be willing to rethink traditional models in order to appeal to professionals with limited bandwidth. Programs with flexible scheduling will have an advantage over those with rigid formats, and may prompt commitments earlier in the decision-making process.

Your digital marketing strategy must demonstrate program ROI. How? Include testimonials on ROI from current students and alumni. If favorable, compare your tuition to that of other EMBA programs. Survey your alumni to find out how they moved up the career ladder (and how quickly) and how much their salaries increased post-graduation. Collect stats, and then use them to your advantage.

Digital enrollment marketing is more than just “setting and forgetting” a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign. Your strategy should be made up of many components: keyword optimization, banner and search ads, landing pages, search engine optimized (SEO) web content, social media advertising, retargeting campaigns and more. Your online campaign also should be consistent in visuals and messaging with offline marketing.

Don’t forget to monitor your campaigns. Tracking results will reveal which components worked best, and which fell flat. Then tweak your campaigns for optimal results.

A coordinated, consistent, ongoing marketing effort will produce the best results and, ultimately, shorten the prospect’s decision-making timeline.

Darcy Grabenstein is senior copywriter at Annodyne.

Darcy Grabenstein Jan 3

8 Trends Destined to Impact Marketing in 2017

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Annodyne T-shirt design

Yes, it’s time for the obligatory end-of-year trends blog post. Typically, these posts focus on topics such as marketing trends for the coming year.

I’d like to take a slightly different approach. I’ll be looking at upcoming trends and their impact on marketing.

1. Virtual Reality

Like it or not, virtual reality (VR) is here to stay. So are its counterparts, augmented reality and mixed reality. If you’re confused, you’re not alone. This video explains the difference between all three concepts.

How this impacts marketing:

For travel marketers, VR can be at once a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, VR can be used to give prospective visitors a real taste of what they can experience at a tourist destination. On the negative side, prospects who “visit” a place via VR may feel they can skip the real thing. It’s up to marketers to use VR selectively, giving prospective tourists just enough of a preview to make them want to see it all in real time.

2. Anonymous Consumers

TrendWatching refers to this as Incognito Individuals. Lest you jump to the conclusion that big data is “so yesterday,” think of it more as a deconstructing of data. On the one hand, the article notes, you’ve got non-traditional audience segments. On the other hand, you’ve got companies marketing to a “segment of one” at a mass scale.

 How this impacts marketing:

Non-traditional audience segments (TrendWatching cites the first male face of Covergirl as a case in point) must be taken into consideration when developing marketing campaigns. Once you’ve defined your segments, then you need to create ultra-targeted content to meet that segment’s needs. With all the data at our disposal, you’re doing your audience a disservice if you rely on mass marketing.

3. Love for Millennials

Inc. magazine says that businesses will begin to embrace Millennials instead of rejecting them. The stereotypes of selfishness and materialism will fall by the wayside.

This mindset is particularly important in higher ed marketing, where Millennials make up a majority of the audience. And in terms of graduate education, where Millennials are becoming a larger part of the demographic, marketers must shift gears in order to appeal to this segment.

4. Drones

Fortune predicts that drones will be increasingly used to make deliveries of fast food and similar items. While the FAA has eased up on restrictions for drone use, companies still face significant limitations.

How this impacts marketing:

For companies that deliver products, drones take quick, personal service to a whole new level (pun intended). Careful messaging will be needed to overcome consumers’ fears of drones, particularly fears surrounding privacy and safety issues, and focus on how the benefits far outweigh the risks.

5. On-demand work

According to a Forbes article referencing a prediction by the World Economic Forum, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is underway. Both workers and customers are freeing themselves from the traditional 9-to-5 workday.

How this impacts marketing:

There will be an abundance of freelancers, available to agencies and other businesses that typically hire them. A glut of freelance talent could cause rates to drop, and agencies can pass those savings along to their clients. Agencies that once shied away from hiring freelancers might find it cost-effective to do so. In addition, remote employees will be more commonplace, allowing agencies to remove geographical constraints, expand their staffs with top candidates and hire talent with the skills that match specific projects.

6. Patients as partners

Pharma will have a new strategic partner: patients. PwC Health Research Institute’s annual report says that pharmaceutical companies will better engage with patients in the coming year. Patients, faced with higher medical insurance deductibles, will be demanding better value from their prescriptions.

How this impacts marketing:

Pharmaceutical companies will need to forge more meaningful connections with patients. In order to do so, they must better understand their customer base. At Annodyne, we’ve helped pharma clients do this by mapping the customer journey and launching social listening initiatives. We’ve also created closed online communities that serve as a support group and a three-way source of information among the pharma company, patients and healthcare providers.

7. Less is more

Call it what you want — retro, nostalgia, form simplification, minimalism — the more people are
inundated in their lives with technology, the more they retreat to simplistic themes. Annodyne’s most
recent T-shirt design, shown above, is a nod to the nostalgic look. And it’s no surprise that logo design trends for 2017 harp on simplicity.

Pantone Greenery

Even Pantone’s color of the year for 2017, Greenery, reflects this trend. In choosing this color, Pantone noted: “The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world.”

How this impacts marketing:

For marketers of environmentally friendly products and services, this trend is good news. Marketers of any product/service should use technology prudently, not just for the sake of technology itself. Designs should be clean, copy clear and concise. The glut of promotional content people are exposed to on a daily basis means that advertisers who cut back on bells and whistles may garner more attention in the long run.

8. The voice of Middle America

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the election’s impact on marketing. If we learned anything from Election 2016, it’s that Middle America — which felt marginalized for a long time — finally found its voice and is demanding to be seen and heard.

How this impacts marketing:

Marketers must understand the pain points of this segment of American society and address them in an authentic manner. Anything less will be looked upon with disdain.

So there you have it. The upcoming year will be filled with immense challenges and opportunities for marketers. Let the games begin.

Darcy Grabenstein is senior copywriter at Annodyne.

Darcy Grabenstein Apr 12

Empathy Key to Successful Healthcare Outcomes — and Successful Advertising

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Holding handsAs someone who has dealt with health issues for both my parents, who are now deceased, I can attest to the import-ance of empathy in healthcare settings. However, because
my personal experience with health issues is, fortunately, rather limited I cannot understand exactly what others are experiencing when they face their own mortality.

This is the premise behind the Cleveland Clinic’s focus on empathy. To get an idea of how the Cleveland Clinic makes patient empathy a priority, check out its empathy video series on YouTube. The underlying theory is that, beyond medical intervention, the human connection is what makes a difference.

Empathy is more than just a buzzword at Cleveland Clinic. Empathy is part of the employee culture, as evidenced in this video.

The Cleveland Clinic shares its focus on empathy with other professionals in its annual Patient Experience: Empathy & Innovation Summit. This year marks the summit’s seventh year. More than 2,100 people attended the 2015 Patient Experience Summit, from 45 states and 37 countries, representing hundreds of hospitals, healthcare systems and businesses from around the world.

There’s something to be said for a doctor’s “bedside manner.” Studies have revealed that physician empathy is linked to improved patient outcomes. Nurses’ empathy has been shown to affect distress levels in patients.

Paul Rosen, clinical director of service and operational excellence at Nemours, delivers a compelling TEDx Talk on The next revolution in healthcare? Empathy. “My loved one,” he said, “does not feel he’s being treated like a human being. Something is broken.”

It should be no surprise, then, that empathy is equally important in healthcare marketing. Empathy is a powerful emotion, one that helps brands connect with their audiences. Whether you’re advertising a hospital and its renowned doctors, a cutting-edge pharmaceutical drug to relieve pain or say, a home for first-time homebuyers, empathy goes a long way in conveying your message.

So how do you express empathy in healthcare promotions if you haven’t had the same experiences as patients? It’s all about storytelling. Let the patients and caregivers tell their stories. Note that patients’ stories are not necessarily the same as testimonials. Patients’ stories give a glimpse into their lives and their outcomes. In short, storytelling should be about the end consumer, not about the organization or product you’re promoting.

Empathy can have an impact across audiences. Empathy addresses a patient’s or loved one’s pain points (and we’re not only talking physical pain). For a parent, it could be how to protect a child. For a spouse, it could be advocating for one’s partner. For an individual, it could be the fear of the unknown.

Empathy in healthcare advertising not only recognizes these pain points, it validates, addresses and never dismisses them. Empathy begins with really listening to patients, understanding their concerns, discovering how to allay those concerns and then communicating this in a caring way.

Approach all communications from the patient perspective. It’s a tall prescription to fill, but it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Darcy Grabenstein is senior copywriter at Annodyne.




Darcy Grabenstein Jun 30

Declare Independence from Complacency – Brainstorm Your Way to Boldness

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Red, white and blue balloons

Throughout my career, I’ve heard stakeholders say, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” To be fair, from the agency perspective, I’ve also heard coworkers say, “Well, it worked for [insert client name] before.”

Let’s face it, the world of marketing is constantly evolving. What worked last year (or last month or last week) may not produce the same results today.

That’s why we in the advertising industry have to continually launch campaigns, analyze them and apply our learnings to the next project or client.



Even if your campaigns are working (and especially if they are working), you might want to set aside some time for brainstorming. In order for a brainstorming session to be successful, and avoid the same-old-same-old routine, following are a few guidelines to get you started. After all, we’re an ad agency. We get paid to brainstorm on behalf of our clients.

Designate a facilitator.

Aim for cross-departmental or cross-divisional participation. Eliminate silos. Choose participants carefully, avoiding any negative personalities.

Go low-tech. That means no mobile devices or laptops. Period.

Encourage “wild and crazy” (a la “Saturday Night Live”) ideas.

Focus on quantity initially, not quality.


Here are a few more tips from the gurus at TED:


Share the topic/question in advance of your session. That gives participants a chance to think about it ahead of time.

If possible, seat everyone at a round table. This eliminates any hierarchy.

Keep it short, silly! (my version, of K.I.S.S.).

Start with a goal of “X” number of ideas. Of course, it’s OK to keep going once you’ve met that goal.

Build on others’ ideas. “Yes, and” should be your mantra.

Write down everything. Share the unfiltered list of ideas with participants as a follow-up.

After your brainstorming session, you need to develop actionable items. You may find that you need help implementing some of the ideas that were generated.

So ask yourself, particularly if you handle your marketing in-house: Is my marketing in a rut? If the answer is yes, it may behoove you to enlist help from outside your organization. Sometimes, just an impartial perspective is all it takes to propel your marketing to the next level. This does not mean your previous marketing strategy has failed to meet the mark; it means that you have the foresight to know when to call upon expert resources.

You know where to find us.

Darcy Grabenstein is senior copywriter at Annodyne.

Balloons image courtesy of: Elvis Santana
Goals image courtesy of: Hubspot

Diana Altobelli Jan 22

The Struggles With Higher Ed Marketing and How To Overcome Them

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As if digital marketing weren’t already tough enough, the search engines don’t seem to be easing up any time soon. Not only that, but higher education keywords and phrases are getting to be quite expensive. Here at Annodyne, we service many higher education institutions. Using online marketing strategies such as search engine marketing, we have seen great success with our clients in filling the seats of MBA and EMBA programs.


With that being said, it can be even more difficult for institutions with small to medium-sized programs to gain online recognition and traffic. The price tag for higher ed to attract potential students via paid search continues to increase, costing anywhere from $50 and up per click.

As paid search becomes more expensive and with limited budgets, it is important to spend your marketing dollars wisely and in a space where you can compete. Let’s talk about content marketing, for example. If you ask me, the term is getting a bit irritating at this point but bear with me.

Institutions are challenged to come up with a great key message that will stand out among the rest, one that will resonate with potential MBA and EMBA students (or any student, for that matter). Only a fraction of colleges and universities are nationally ranked, or have the funds to pay for rights to use the badge signifying their ranking.

All the rest must determine what makes their program truly unique. Why not start with alumni and faculty? Learn what professors and teachers at the college are doing internally, then create stimulating ad copy that will resonate with students. Whether you create case studies, white papers or even infographics, you will engage the end user and capitalize on your marketing efforts by providing relevant information.

What would be even greater is if the potential student engaged with that content. Micghael Schrange from MIT sums up what engagement is really all about. “Engagement is smack at the intersection of commanding attention and taking action.”


For example, views and traffic are great, BUT… that does nothing for your campaign if no one is interacting with your posts, photos or videos. Let’s think of it in reference to search engine optimization. You are getting tons of traffic to the website, but no one is filling out lead forms. You might want to check your bounce rate; is there enough content to keep the reader engaged for awhile? These are all questions you need to ask yourself when looking to keep the end user engaged.

The same goes for social media. You can post 2-3 times a day, but if no one is sharing, liking or commenting on your material you may want to think twice about what you are doing. Or if you are just starting out maybe you want to assign some team members as social media ambassadors to help increase the engagement with like users who may be interested. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Now since, search engine marketing maybe not be the greatest avenue to bring in leads for your Executive MBA programs, leveraging your social media pages might do the trick. Yes, it is becoming even more of a struggle to gain the reader’s attention, but having an active presence on a platform where a majority of users spend their time can create conversions.

As with Google AdWords, you still have the ability to target your audience on social media. With Facebook, you can target by interests, behaviors, location, age, gender and more. This not only allows for more effective targeting but can be much cheaper than the search giant.

The bottom line is developing an end goal, a marketing strategy so that you can properly measure, track and gauge how your social media or search engine marketing campaigns are doing. Once that is laid out, it can be much easier to determine which tactics and platforms to use when it comes to higher education marketing. Make sure they are aligned with the institution’s objectives as a whole!

Diana Altobelli is a search marketing coordinator at Annodyne. 

photo credit via AZ NetMarketing

The Social Network gif via The Other Hubby

Crewe Fox 

Phil Heness Jan 14

Challenges in Advertising During The Super Bowl – Items to Ponder Before Choosing The Big Game

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Inflation is evident in our daily lives, from the cost of a cup of coffee to the asking price for the house down the block. However, there may be no better example of inflation than the escalating cost of Super Bowl ads.

Look at this five-year comparison of the average cost to run a 30-second spot (and this doesn’t include production costs):

2011: $3 million

2012: $3.5 million

2013: $3.8 million

2014: $4 million

2015: $4.5 million

That’s a lot of money to plunk down for a single 30-second spot. And that’s why the folks at Newcastle Brown Ale have, for the second year in a row, tried their best to be a player, so to speak. They have thumbed their collective nose at the powers that be. Last year, Newcastle’s entire media budget was equal to about half the cost of a 30-second spot, so the brand launched the “If We Made It” campaign (Adweek’s choice for the No. 1 ad campaign of 2014). The campaign was just that: If Newcastle had made a Super Bowl ad, how epic it would have been.

This year, the brewer created a fake Doritos ad, its tongue-in-cheek attempt to enter Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” ad contest so that it could get on the Super Bowl for free.

So, if you’re still considering forking over the cash for 30 seconds of fame, you’ve got to ask yourself the following questions:

1. How will I quantify ROI from this campaign?

According to industry estimates, a Super Bowl ad generates an ROI 250 times greater than that of an average TV ad. So compare the $4.5 million price tag of a Super Bowl ad to the $627,300 average cost of a :30 TV spot. You do the math.

Sometimes, however, running a Super Bowl ad is more about sending a message to your competitors than about engaging your audience. SodaStream first advertised in the big game in 2013. “It’s really a statement that we are playing serious,” CEO Daniel Birnbaum told Adweek.

2. What is the goal of this ad? Is it brand awareness? Lead generation? Sales?

Think about it. Of all the memorable ads from previous Super Bowl matchups, do you remember which brands they represented? Or do you simply recall the ads themselves?

Do you provide a service, such as GoDaddy, and want to generate leads? Or do you have a product, like Coca-Cola, and hope to boost sales? As in the game itself, Super Bowl advertising is all about goals.

3. How do social media engagement and website traffic assist in determining the success or failure of the ad?

In 2012, only 7 percent of Super Bowl ads contained hashtags. reported that number climbed to 50 percent in 2013 and, according to, last year hashtags outnumbered corporate website mentions.

Oreo demonstrated the power of social media during Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. When the game experienced a blackout, Oreo capitalized on the occasion with this memorable tweet that was retweeted 15,663 times. Oreo’s social media strategy was deliciously on target.

Keep in mind, too, that if your ad is being seen by 100 million viewers (give or take a million or so), your web servers better be prepared to handle a huge influx of traffic. In fact, the football playoff has been renamed The Second Screen Super Bowl by Adweek and others, as viewers multitask during the game by using mobile devices and laptops.

4. Are you capable of properly collecting and aggregating the data associated with ad?

See question 1 above. In order to determine ROI, you’ve got to be able to collect and analyze the data associated with ad viewership and real or perceived results.

5. Could the sum of the dollars spent on the ad be implemented differently with better overall results based on profitability targets?

In other words, are you better off by not putting all your eggs in one basket?

If you’re able to answer the questions above with certainty, and all responses point to placing a Super Bowl ad, there are a few items still to consider:

1. What type of ad resonates better with viewers? How does your product match up with the themes below?

• Serious/Emotional
• Family
• Entertainment

2. How will you, the advertiser, persuade the viewer to buy your product/service or learn more about it on website, landing and social media pages?

If your goal is brand awareness, taking the viewer to your home page may suffice. But if you really want to move product or push a service, you may need to create a dedicated landing page to create a seamless experience for the consumer (and, in turn, increase conversions).

3. Can the ad be used for future ad placements rather than one and done?

You must determine how you can get the most bang for your advertising buck. If the ad is football-specific, it might be difficult to find an appropriate slot until next football season. If the ad is more generic, it could appeal to a broader audience.

4. Can your media/production costs be mitigated with the inclusion of a sponsorship from another company or organization (i.e., movie release, auto-collaboration, product tie-in)?

While the Newcastle Brown Ale example above is an ad spoof, the idea of a co-op ad would spread out the cost of the ad over several brands. Look at Target’s TV ads, for example. They often feature numerous products, each of which most likely contributed toward the cost.

Let’s face it, only a handful of companies can actually cough up the money for a Super Bowl spot. However, the same questions should be asked before launching any advertising campaign, regardless of channel.

 I’m rooting for the advertisers in this year’s Super Bowl matchup. Who are you rooting for?

 Phil Heness is digital marketing manager at Annodyne.

Molly Hafner Nov 21

Giving Thanks for the Small Agency

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In this month of giving thanks for the things in life that may otherwise be overlooked, I started thinking about how thankful I am to work for a small marketing agency like Annodyne.

Many clients decide that a large agency is the way they would like to go. I respect their decision. A large agency tends to be a one-stop shop; larger agencies tend to have a department for everything, and a specialist on staff who can meet every need. However, in my 12 years in marketing and communications, I have worked for/with both large and small organizations. Here is why the small agency is my number one choice:

1) We are agile

Have a new idea? A shift in business goals? Change in management? We can react in days, even hours. We can adjust our budgets, our marketing strategy, and our tactical plan to accommodate. There is minimal red tape and access to all levels of management that is unprecedented in a large agency.

2) Each employee is indispensable

In a large agency, the skills and talents of each individual can get lost among the masses. In a small agency, there is no hiding. In fact, each person’s skills are necessary for the success of the whole agency. Even though someone may be hired as a copywriter, his or her skills in PR, research and proofreading will be indispensable. There are no silos; every person is required to be at once creative, strategic, organized and solutions-oriented.

3) We are resourceful

In a large agency, there are often many people working on your business, with big budgets and high hourly rates. There is little motivation to take the time to find a lower-cost solution when a higher-cost one is available. At a small agency, we know your business intimately, we understand the limitations of small budgets and constantly seek out ways to find solutions to the challenges at hand in the scrappiest, most cost-effective way possible.

4) We value you, the client

It’s no secret that in a small agency, every single client is valuable. You will see that in the way that you have full access to the account, creative and media teams as well as upper management. The whole agency knows your “business.” And that is a good thing for you, the client. It’s as though you have an entire extension of your team providing insight and strategy as to how to best drive your business forward.

If I were the brand manager on the client side, I know what size agency I would choose to be my partner and drive my business goals. Thank goodness for small agencies.

Molly Hafner is an Account Manager at Annodyne.

Darcy Grabenstein Oct 29

Don’t Be Afraid of Breaking the Rules

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I’m in Halloween mode, so here’s another post (see my first one here) on something not to be afraid of, from a marketing standpoint.

In life, there are plenty of things to be afraid of: global warming, the Ebola virus, an alien invasion. One thing you shouldn’t be afraid of—at least in terms of marketing—is breaking the rules.

In advertising, doing exactly that is what can separate you from the rest of the pack and make you stand out from the crowd. At Annodyne, that’s what we’re talking about when we say you’ve got to “Change the Conversation.”

That’s what we did for one of our clients, the Ann Arbor Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. The tagline we developed, “Doing Life Different,” breaks a basic rule of grammar. “Different” should technically be “differently” (an adverb as opposed to an adjective).


Because we broke the rule, however, the tagline stops you in your tracks. It makes you pay attention. As we like to say at Annodyne, it makes you heard above all the other white noise that’s out there. And there’s a lot of white noise out there.

I think we’re onto something here at Annodyne. We’re not content with breaking the rules. We’re not only changing the conversation, we’re changing the rules.

As a member of the creative team, I’ve also got to remember that it’s OK to break or change my own self-imposed rules. Those rules, because they are so ingrained in us, are often the hardest to shake (or break).

And, as a copywriter, I’d like to break from topic and turn the focus of this post around. When it comes to “rules,” the client rules. Or does the client rule? Actually, if you ask me, it’s the end-client (the consumer) who rules.

A final note: To my kids, if you’re reading this, be advised that this topic does not apply to you. (Remember, there are exceptions to every rule.)

Darcy Grabenstein is senior copywriter at Annodyne.

Diana Altobelli Aug 8

How to Build a Successful YouTube Brand

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Millions of different websites, Facebook pages, and YouTube channels are used to leverage building brands. However, only a few are great at making an impact on either one or multiple social media platforms. So great, in fact, that these brands can make a living off their YouTube profits.

Being that I am a product junkie myself, I tend to follow style bloggers and “beauty gurus” on all media channels. Analyzing probably way more than any other subscriber does due to my background in marketing, I admire the strategies they use on each platform. These individuals are building a brand, not based on a logo or a service they offer, but simply using their personality, sense of style and product knowledge.

1.   Brand Your Image: In order to build a successful YouTube brand, it’s important to decipher how you want to be perceived. Do you want to be a search engine marketing specialist, or a style blogger who just so happens to send out email blasts of the latest discounts and sales? You want to make sure you choose a proper name from the get-go. Do you have a brand or do you want to represent yourself? This is crucial, considering you can’t change your vanity URL once it has been selected.

By staying consistent, you will help users find you across all social networks. For example, Nicole Guerriero uses the same vanity URL on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter so that her followers can easily find her.




2.  Time to Get Creative: We’ve all heard it by now: Content is king. Well, even though there may not be a lot of text on YouTube, you still must publish something worthy of spreading. Typically if you were a search engine marketing coordinator like me, you might share educational insight on how to pass the Google Adwords Fundamentals test. If you’re an aspiring comedian, you’d want to post some skits you’ve been working on. Don’t just publish to publish. Choose quality over quantity and STAY CONSISTENT. There is nothing more agitating than following someone you admire and seeing the same videos all week long. (I know, how demanding of me!)

The content doesn’t stop there. For professional videos, investing in some camera equipment can help you produce high-quality videos, provide better lighting (making yourself look better) and amplify the sound system.

3.  Let’s Get to Promoting: Once your video is done and edited to the point where you are more than satisfied, it is time to let the world know you published a video! It will take more than writing a description, creating a catchy headline and optimizing the video to take off. YouTube has made life a bit easier with the ability to share videos across a majority of social networks.

In all honesty, the only reason I will know a new YouTube video has been posted is because I follow the person or company on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Being that I am not on YouTube daily checking for recently uploaded videos, it makes life easier to follow them on other networks. This is just a prime example of how promoting works.

Full-time YouTube users might already have a blog, so publish on your blog page and be sure to link your YouTube channel everywhere! You can put the URL on your Facebook fan page, Twitter page and Google+. The more links you have out there to your channel, the greater chances it will appear in search results, get retweeted, re-shared and potentially go viral.

In the end, these are all ways to build the brand and come full circle. It’s not just about choosing a catchy name, having a great sense of style, or to be extremely intelligent about Internet marketing. It’s about showing your personality, giving your opinion, and providing valuable insight in hopes of reaching X amount of views.

As with most things in life, building a brand takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not a get-rich-quick kind of scheme. So if you are passionate about what you do, stick with it and follow these basic beginner fundamentals to build a successful YouTube channel. The Google predecessor isn’t going anywhere and is the second largest “search engine” utilized in the world. So if you’re thinking about starting a channel, take it one step at a time — starting with your objective.

Diana Altobelli is a search engine marketing coordinator at Annodyne.