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Fame Foundry seeks out bold brands that wish to engage their public in sincere, evocative ways.

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Fame Foundry puts the racing experience in front of millions of fans, steering motorsports to the modern age.

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Providing more than just web software, our management systems enhance and reinforce a variety of services by different racing organizations which work to evolve the speed, efficiency, and safety measures, aiding their process from lab to checkered flag.

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Setting the pace across 44 states.

With over 1100 locations, thousands of products, and millions of transactions, Shoe Show creates a substantial retail footprint in shoe sales.

The sole of superior choice.

With over 1100 locations, thousands of products, and millions of transactions, Shoe Show creates a substantial retail footprint in shoe sales.

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The contemporary online pharmacy.

Medichest sets a new standard, bringing the boutique experience to the drug store.

Integrated & Automated Marketing System

All the extensive opportunities for public engagement are made easily definable and effortlessly automated.

Scheduled promotions, sales, and campaigns, all precisely targeted for specific demographics within the whole of the Medichest audience.

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Home Design & Decor Magazine offers readers superior content on designer home trends on any device.

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January 2020
Noted By Joe Bauldoff

The Death of Advertising and What Will Rise From Its Ashes

Some pardonable future-shock forecasting in this article, but what remains clear is that the internet changed the advertising pursuit—bridging chasms between niche buyers & sellers—and that we have yet to find out what betides us beyond The Algorithm Age.
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070 - Tribes in today's marketing: Interest-based tribes vs. relationship-based tribes

So far in our series on tribes in today's marketing, our focus has been primarily on interest-based tribes, which form when peo

775 Boost email open rates by 152 percent

Use your customers’ behavior to your advantage.

774 Feelings are viral

Feelings are the key to fueling likes, comments and shares.

November 2014
By Jeremy Girard

Let’s Talk Turkey: The Five Most Important Things Visitors Want from Your Website

Find out the must-have elements that will have your customers giving thanks for a great user experience.
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Let’s Talk Turkey: The Five Most Important Things Visitors Want from Your Website


What do your visitors want from your website?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including the nature of your business, the type of person who typically visits your site and what they hope to accomplish while they’re there. However, there are certain basic needs and expectations that transcend these specific circumstances and are universal to all visitors.

Over the past few months, I’ve conducted an informal survey of clients, coworkers, friends, family and others that I’ve encountered, asking them this one simple question:

“What do you want when you visit a website?”

While there were many different responses to this question, there were five that I heard again and again. Each person I spoke with mentioned at least one of these five, and many cited more than one.

Let’s take a look at these five critical elements that visitors want from your website:

1. Ease of use

Without a doubt, the most common answer I heard was that people want websites to be easy to use, and this makes perfect sense. After all, it’s 2014. We’re all well versed in using the Web to conduct the business of our day-to-day lives. There’s no reason your website should require a learning curve just to get from point A to point B. Yet, far too many sites are guilty of presenting visitors with an experience that’s confusing, frustrating and completely unsatisfying.

The definitive guidebook of usability, Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, asserts that web applications must explain themselves. When a visitor looks at a web page, the next step should be obvious and intuitive. With the world of options available at their fingertips, visitors have next to no patience when it comes to dealing with sites where there are any sort of obstacles standing in their way. If they can’t figure out where to go and what to do next in as little as three seconds, it could well be a deal breaker that causes them to abandon your site – and by proxy your business – altogether.

Navigation menus that are difficult to use, important content that is buried deep in your site and nearly impossible to find or a design schema that does not provide visitors good visual cues and clear calls-to-action to direct their experience are all pitfalls that must be avoided if you want to ensure that your site meets the acceptable threshold for ease-of-use.

2. Good information architecture

Just as nearly everyone I talked with said they want a site that’s easy to use, many also said that they want information to be easy to find. The key to achieving this is by creating a concise, logical navigation structure. If your site encompasses a large repository of information and content, it’s a good idea to include a search tool that lets your visitors to use keywords to drill down to the information they’re seeking right away rather than hunting and clicking through the site page by page.

There is a long-held myth of website design that claims all content on a site must be able to be reached in no more than two clicks. While that might sound great in theory, in reality, the task of developing an effective navigational structure is rarely that straightforward.

For example, if you had a website with a hundred pages of content, you could theoretically have direct links to each one of those 100 pages right on your home page in order to allow visitors to access all of your content in only one click. Awesome, right? No – not awesome at all. While that massive menu of links might offer one-click access to your site’s entire content catalog, it will also be a confusing, gargantuan mess that provides visitors with little in the way of clear direction.

Remember, visitors to your site are making instinctive decisions in as little as three seconds. They do not want to sift through a laundry list of dozens of links in order to find the one that’s relevant to them. Rather, they want to make easy, logical choices that get them to where they want to go without a lot of guesswork and back-button clicking.

3. Fast load time

Another popular answer I heard in the course of my survey was fast load time. A webpage that takes too long to fully load is major source of frustration for visitors. After all, if they want to make a decision in as little as three seconds, and your site takes seven seconds to load, chances are good that they’re going to choose to navigate away from your site before they ever even see it. Seven seconds may not seem like a long time, but in the instant-gratification-driven world of the Internet, it’s practically an eternity.

If your site is slow to load for visitors who have a fast Internet connection, you’re really going to be in trouble with users who don’t have the benefit of a lightning-speed connection, including those on mobile devices who might be in a location where network coverage is slow or spotty.

Ensuring that your site loads quickly is crucial to providing an optimal experience for all visitors, regardless of their device or quality of connection. After all, no one has ever complained that a site loaded too fast for them!

4. No ads

Advertising is a necessary evil for many websites. If your business model depends at least in part on revenue generated by ads on your site, then removing those ads simply because visitors don’t care for them is probably not a realistic option. Still, the fact that ads offer little more than an annoyance to most visitors is something that you should be aware of.

When considering ads for your website, you must take into account not only the needs of your business but also the needs of your customers. Ads that make your site more difficult to use should be avoided at all cost, especially intrusive ads that take over the screen or obstruct areas of your content with over-the-top, in-your-face animation or video. These “take-over” ads are impossible for website visitors to ignore; they have to interact with them on some level, even if it’s just to hit the “close” icon, in order to achieve their purpose in coming to your site. Of course, the inability to disregard these ads is why advertisers love this format, but if you use them on your site, you’re running the risk that your customers and prospects will quickly tire of the hassle of dealing with them and seek out a competitor who will offer them a more user-friendly browsing experience.

Ads may be a fact of life for your website, but the types of ads you allow is well within your control. Listen to your customers, and make sure you choose advertising display options that do not compromise the overall quality of their user experience.

5. No bugs

One of the worst experiences a user can have online is when they have invested time in a site, gone through the necessary steps to complete a transaction – whether it’s to make a purchase, sign up for a membership, complete a request form, etc. – only to have the site crash and burn during the final steps of that transaction. This is a soul-crushing experience and one of the best ways to drive customers away for good!

Make sure that your website is working as expected at all times. If you’ve recently incorporated new features into your site, thoroughly test not only those new features but also all other existing subsystems within the site to ensure that no problems have been introduced along with the new code that has been added to the site.

Even if you’ve not recently added any new features or functionality, you should schedule routine testing to make sure the site is operating as expected and does not crash just as your visitors are about to cross the finish line and complete a successful transaction.

What I didn’t hear

The five elements covered in this article are ones that I heard again and again during my experiment. Of course, I heard many other answers as well, including “works well on my phone,” “good prices,” “information in Spanish” and “easy-to-find contact information.”

One of the most interesting discoveries to come out of my survey process was the answers that I didn’t hear. Not one person said that they wanted a site that “looked good” or had a “nice design.”

Nor did I hear any comments that people wanted features like “live chat” or “contact forms.” Does this mean that visitors do not want an attractively designed site or access to helpful features? Of course not – it means that those things should already be a part of a good site by default.

Great design is unobtrusive; it provides elegant yet simple visual cues that make the site easy to use and make information easy to find – two of the most commonly mentioned things that people want from a site. So, while the participants in my informal survey may not have cited beautiful design explicitly, they were, in fact, asking for it by proxy.

Great design and helpful features are not only important; they are expected.

In summary

It should come as no surprise that visitors want a site that is easy to use, loads quickly and works seamlessly. All of these should be par for the course for any site, which makes it all the more surprising to see so many sites that fail in even these most basic areas.

When evaluating the effectiveness of your site, start with these fundamentals. If your site fails the test in any one of these areas, then no amount of flashy features or advanced technology can compensate for the poor experience you’ve provided for your users. First and foremost, master the basics that visitors demand and then work up from there!

June 2010
By The Architect

Shaping Business for the Tribe

The key to owning your market in today’s trust-based economy is to identify, locate, join and lead your tribe. However, in order to sustain growth and continue to evolve, you must allow the tribe to transform your business operations from the inside out.
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Shaping Business for the Tribe

Shaping Business for The Tribe Previously, in our articles Tribes in Today’s Marketing and Mastering Tribe Marketing, we explored how the marketplace is represented by countless networks of people who are connected by a common interest or goal – known as tribes – and how successful business growth is rooted in attaining leadership in those tribes and putting the principles of trustcasting into practice. Now we shift our focus to an outside-in examination of how the influence of tribes extends beyond promotion to shape how today’s businesses operate and evolve.

The old way

For any organization large or small, achieving a thorough understanding of its target market has always been fundamental to growth and long-term success. However, the task of gaining this knowledge has historically been a difficult process. It required a significant and ongoing investment of time and resources in fact-finding through surveys, focus groups, opinion polls and demographic studies – all in the name of formulating a more detailed profile of the customer, their attributes, their needs and their preferences. But in the same way that old advertising has been rendered ineffectual in today’s consumer-centric marketplace, these types of market studies have likewise become obsolete. Such disconnected, impersonal methods of information gathering are often too skewed, too broad or based on too thin an audience segment, ultimately falling short in delivering the depth of insight needed to engage in meaningful, trust-based relationships with the customer. More importantly, these outmoded forms of market research are not taken seriously by the majority of participants and thus fail to elicit the honest, thoughtful responses needed to understand what they really want, what truly drives their decision making and what actually motivates them to action. However in today's tribe-driven marketplace, the answers are right there in front of you.

Know thy customer, the tribe way

Simply by being an active participant in the tribe, you will gain an intimate understanding of your customers.If there is one thing that tribe marketing affords today's business, it is the ability to identify, engage and lead the community of customers that exists around it. You must understand that your tribe represents your customer base. While every one of your customers may not be active in the tribe, its membership is a reliable sample of all customers – especially those that can be the most passionate evangelists for your business. Therefore, attaining membership and demonstrating leadership in your tribe gives you invaluable access to your customers. Simply by being an active participant in the tribe, you will gain an intimate understanding of your customers, their lifestyle, their wants, their dislikes and their needs. It’s a deceptively simple concept: earn your place in the tribe by being one with its goals and serving its interests, and you will achieve unparalleled insight into the marketplace where your customers exist because you yourself are a part of it. However, it is then that the real work begins.

Listen, learn and integrate

When you’re a member of your tribe, you will be exposed to brutal honesty. The tribe is not there for you; they are there for the tribe. They will discuss their issues candidly and openly. They will likely complain and may at times be crass. This is not the type of polite, shallow input you receive from a survey or a customer comment card that is filled out hastily under the watchful eye of the clerk at the front counter. These are real issues being voiced by real people with real needs. You must be prepared to have your feelings hurt and develop a thick skin. However difficult it may be, it is important to absorb these opinions in their most raw form. If you’ve made the investment in earning your place in the tribe, you can take this process one step further and engage its members in your business operation. Let the tribe know what you are doing. Ask for feedback. Ask for honesty. Ask what’s wrong and how you can do better. Whatever you do, don’t attempt this unless you are a bona fide member, or you’ll find yourself being ignored, being fed ineffectual information or even being ousted from the tribe for conducting market research as an outsider. Ultimately, the benefit of being in the presence of such brutal honesty is that it often brings to light problems or weaknesses within your organization as well as untapped possibilities for growth. These may come in the form of an employee that they dislike, a product feature that they hate, an inconvenience you should correct or a void in the marketplace that is ripe for a solution. You may even find bigger issues to address: Maybe your product isn’t what’s needed. Maybe it needs to evolve. Maybe you need to rethink everything. Whether big or small, the problems and obstacles that you uncover by listening and engaging are invaluable to long-term success when you use what you’ve learned to direct the evolution of your organization in order to continue growing with your tribe.

Letting go and following the tribe

As the one charged with growing your organization, you’re probably used to doing things your way. However, if you are going to serve the needs of your tribe, you must take a step back and re-examine every aspect from the perspective of its members. You must not only preach the mantra, “The customer is king,” but live it through and through. You must not only preach the mantra, “The customer is king,” but live it through and through. It’s important to understand that your tribe represents the loudest, most opinionated and most critical subsection of your customer base. The honest, unfiltered information to which you have access as a member of this inner circle allows you to make changes to your product or service that will satisfy your most demanding customers. If you can placate these early adopters, loyalists and core users, then you will be ahead of the curve in not only meeting but exceeding the needs of your greater customer base. Should you give them what they want, they will wave the flag for you, giving you invaluable PR and unbiased word-of-mouth marketing the likes of which no amount of money can buy. This is not to say that you should make sweeping changes to your products, services, operations or processes based on the fleeting whim of each and every vocal customer. Quite the opposite is true, in fact. This is about getting to know the whole of your tribe – identifying the desires, problems and goals that are common to the greatest number – and applying your own ideas and innovation toward reshaping your product or service offering to provide solutions that address these needs.

Setting your tribe on fire

People instinctively long to be a part of something meaningful. Another aspect of reshaping your business around your tribe is finding a way to inspire them. The members of your tribe have the greatest potential to become your most ardent evangelists, but only if you can connect with them on a deeper level. People instinctively long to be a part of something meaningful. They crave outlets that allow them to engage in their passions. They are ready to carry the torch for those who they see doing good. Let’s say you own the corner coffee shop. Who is your tribe, and what is it about your offering that inspires them? Perhaps your tribe is made up of people who are passionate about organic or fair trade coffee. Or maybe the atmosphere of your store represents the culture and sophistication of urban lifestyle, and that’s what excites them. It could be that your tribe feels strongly about patronizing locally-owned businesses, and you offer Charlotte’s best coffee, so they find meaning in supporting your shop with their dollars. It’s possible that inspiring your tribe will require you to tell a story that’s greater than your direct product or service offering. Perhaps the members of your tribe are highly attuned to social and political issues that affect their community. Let’s say you decide to raise $50,000 this year to support local charities that assist homeless families, and you pledge that 25 cents from every cup of coffee you sell will be applied toward that goal. People will be proud to be seen carrying your cup because of who you are and what you do. The logo on that cup then becomes the secret handshake for the members of your tribe. There’s no advertising campaign, no marketing gimmick and no customer rewards card that can rival a tribe that is inspired. If you attach greater meaning to what you do, you give your tribe a reason to shout your message from the rooftops and proudly embrace your identity as part of their own. In this way, you’ll become more than a brand, you’ll become a revolution.

Tribes crave ideas

If you find that what you’re doing doesn’t light a tribe on fire, it’s time to invest in the white space of creating ideas. Today’s business is idea-based. Great ideas require a willingness to take a risk, to challenge the status quo and to do something revolutionary. This runs counter to traditional business thinking, which tends toward minimizing risk whenever possible. However, a tribe-driven marketplace has no tolerance for those who play it safe. Apple has sold two million iPads within the first 60 days of launch in the midst of an economic downturn because they hit on an idea for a new category of mobile device that set their tribe on fire. Great ideas require a willingness to take a risk, to challenge the status quo and to do something revolutionary. Amélie’s in Charlotte has achieved monumental growth because they took a concept usually found in much larger metropolitan locations – a 24-hour authentic French bakery and cafe – and brought it to a tribe of urban foodies that were primed for something new and different. Bucking conventional restaurant industry wisdom about the necessity of turning tables quickly, they instead welcome the members of their tribe to stay and linger, transforming their offering from a commodity to a culture and winning a following of loyal and vocal evangelists as a result. Tribes are ready and waiting for the next big thing that is going to solve a problem, meet a need or make their lives better. If you’re the one that delivers that idea, they’ll rally around you, spread your message like wildfire and fan the flames of your success.

There’s no shame in being small

The downfall of many small businesses when it comes to advertising and business growth is trying to act like a large business in order to increase their perceived legitimacy and trustworthiness in the eyes of the customer. However, in today’s tribe-driven marketplace, small businesses actually have a clear and distinct advantage. In fact, more and more, it is the large business that is trying to emulate and keep pace with the local mom-and-pop operation. Trust is earned when real people connect with real people. It is very hard for a large corporation to be real to anybody. In fact, when it happens, it’s because they have found a way to provide the level of personal service and engagement with the tribe that would typically be expected of a small business. In today’s tribe-driven marketplace, small businesses actually have a clear and distinct advantage. AT&T tried this with “Seth the Blogger Guy.” Recognizing that they couldn’t just run ads saying that they were working on the problem, they crafted a fake persona to represent AT&T to its tribe. They thought presenting customers with an unassuming-looking character on a first-name basis with the audience would be sufficient to cultivate trust-based relationships. This is false tribe leadership, and tribes are not so easily fooled. Conversely, Frank Eliason of telecommunications giant Comcast has established a customer service program that offers the kind of highly personalized touch that would ordinarily be more characteristic of the neighborhood florist. He has built a reputation for approaching problems with a genuine passion for resolving problems and following through on what is promised to achieve a positive outcome. As a result, over time people have given Frank and his team their trust, and they trust Comcast more as a result. Another great example is Mellow Mushroom – a very successful pizza restaurant chain with sales in the millions. However, their success is due in no small part to the fact that when you enter a Mellow Mushroom, nothing – from the menu to the decor to the staff – resembles a chain. They have identified their tribe, and they are catering to it. If Mellow Mushroom suddenly decided that they needed to look more sophisticated, more polished and more corporate, their tribe would quickly abandon them and follow the next place to come along and offer the casual, unrefined ambiance of a college dive bar. In this way, there is great possibility for small businesses. Your tribe inherently expects you to be real and to be personal, and as a result, they are predisposed to trust you. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to force your organization to be something it’s not. Remain focused on listening to your tribe and molding your operations around what you see and hear as an active member of your core customer base.

All for the tribe

The facts are simple: if you want to grow and thrive in today’s marketplace, your organization, your business operations and your products or services must be shaped by and around the tribe. If what you have to offer doesn’t fit your tribe, you have an obligation to listen to them, identify their needs and grow your business in that direction. If a competitor does it before you, you’ll be facing a mountain that’s immeasurably harder to climb.