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crafting brand experiences
for the modern audience.
We are Fame Foundry.

See our work. Read the Fame Foundry magazine.

We love our clients.

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

WorkWeb DesignSportsEvents

Platforms for racing in the 21st century.

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

“Fame Foundry created something never seen before, allowing members to interact in new ways and providing them a central location to call their own. It also provides more value to our sponsors than we have ever had before.”

—Ryan Newman

Technology on the track.

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.

WorkWeb DesignRetail

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.

  • By selectively curating the very best from their individual markets, each localized catalog comes to exhibit the trending, pertinent visual flavors specific to each region.

  • Beside the swaths of inspirational home photography spreads, Home Design & Decor provides exhaustive articles and advice by proven professionals in home design.

  • The art of home ingenuity always dances between the timeless and the experimental. The very best in these intersecting principles offer consistent sources of modern innovation.

WorkWeb DesignSocial

  • Post a need on behalf of yourself, a family member or your community group, whether you need volunteers or funds to support your cause.

  • Search by location, expertise and date, and connect with people in your very own community who need your time and talents.

  • Start your own Neighborhood or Group Page and create a virtual hub where you can connect and converse about the things that matter most to you.

January 2018
Noted By Carey Arvin

Laws of UX

'Laws of UX' is a collection of the maxims and principles that designers can consider when building user interfaces. It was created by Jon Yablonski, Design Lead at Vectorform, creator of the Web Field Manual, and contributor to Storytelling.design.
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352 Tech trends to watch in 2012: Content remains king

Content marketing isn't shiny and new, but it gets the job done every time.

December 2016
By Kimberly Barnes

Going the Distance: Four Ways to Build a Better Customer Loyalty Program for Your Brand

Loyalty programs are no longer a novelty. That means that yesterday’s strategies won’t work moving forward, so look for ways to rise above the noise, setting yourself apart from the cloying drone of countless other cookie-cutter programs.
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Going the Distance: Four Ways to Build a Better Customer Loyalty Program for Your Brand

article-thedistance-lg It’s easy enough for a customer to join your loyalty program, especially when you’re offering an incentive such as discounts. All your customer has to do is give out some basic information, and voila! They’re in the fold, a brand new loyalty member with your company. From there, it’s happily ever after. You offer the perks; they stand solidly by you, bringing you their continued business. Simple. Or is it? In reality, just how many of those customers are act ively participating in your loyalty program? Do you know? Sure, loyalty program memberships are on the rise according to market research company eMarketer, having jumped 25 percent in the space of just two years. However, that figure may be a bit misleading. The truth is that, while loyalty program sign-ups may be more numerous, active participation in such programs is actually in decline. At the time of the study, the average US household had memberships in 29 loyalty programs; yet consumers were only active in 12 of those. That’s just 41 percent. And even that meager figure represents a drop of 2 percentage points per year over each of the preceding four years, according to a study by loyalty-marketing research company COLLOQUY.

When discounts just aren’t enough

So what’s a brand to do? How can you make your loyalty program worth your customer’s while—as well as your own? After all, gaining a new loyalty member doesn’t mean much if your customer isn’t actively participating in your program. Consider this: Does your customer loyalty program offer members anything different from what your competitors are offering? Chances are your program includes discounts. That’s a given. And what customer doesn’t appreciate a good discount? But when every other company out there is providing this staple benefit in comparable amounts, it becomes less and less likely that customers will remain loyal to any one particular brand. Frankly, it’s all too easy for customers to get lost in a sea of loyalty member discounts. They’re everywhere. In fact, just under half of internet users perceive that all rewards programs are alike, according to a 2015 eMarketer survey. The key to success, then, is to differentiate your business from the crowd. If you can offer your customers something unique and valuable beyond the usual discount, chances are they’ll be more likely to stick with your brand. Here’s some inspiration from companies who get it.

Virgin: Reward more purchases with more benefits.

That’s not to say you need to get rid of discounts entirely. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Customers still love a good discount. The goal is to be creative in terms of the loyalty perks you offer. Take the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, for example. As part of its loyalty program, the airline allows members to earn miles and tier points. Members are inducted at the Club Red tier, from which they can move up to Club Silver and then Club Gold. Here, it’s not just a discount. It’s status. And people respond to feeling important, elite. Still, even where the rewards themselves are concerned, Virgin is motivating loyalty customers with some pretty attractive offers. At the Club Red tier, members earn flight miles and receive discounts on rental cars, airport parking, hotels and holiday flights. But as members rise in tiers, they get even more. At the Club Silver tier, members earn 50 percent more points on flights, access to expedited check-in, and priority standby seating. And once they reach the top, Club Gold members receive double miles, priority boarding and access to exclusive clubhouses where they can get a drink or a massage before their flight. Now that’s some serious incentive to keep coming back for more. Discounts are still part of the equation – but they are designed with innovation and personal value in mind, elevating them to more than just savings.

Amazon Prime: Pay upfront and become a VIP.

What if your customers only had to pay a one-time upfront fee to get a year’s worth of substantial benefits? It may not sound like the smartest business idea at first glance. But take a closer look. Amazon Prime users pay a nominal $99 a year to gain free, two-day shipping on millions of products with no minimum purchase. And that’s just one benefit of going Prime. It’s true that Amazon loses $1-2 billion a year on Prime. This comes as no surprise given the incredible value the program offers. But get this: Amazon makes up for its losses in markedly higher transaction frequency. Specifically, Prime members spend an average of $1,500 a year on Amazon.com, compared with $625 spent by non-Prime users, a ccording to a 2015 report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

Patagonia: Cater to customer values.

Sometimes, the draw for consumers isn’t saving money or getting a great deal. The eco-friendly outdoor clothing company Patagonia figured this out back in 2011, when it partnered with eBay to launch its Common Threads Initiative: a program that allows customers to resell their used Patagonia clothing via the company’s website. Why is this program important to customers? And how does it benefit Patagonia? The company’s brand embraces environmental and social responsibility, so it was only fitting that they create a platform for essentially recycling old clothing rather than merely throwing it away. The Common Threads Initiative helps Patagonia build a memorable brand and fierce loyalty by offering its customers a cause that aligns with deep personal values. OK, so their customers get to make a little money, too. Everybody wins.

American Airlines: Gamify your loyalty program.

If you’re going to offer your customers a loyalty program, why not make it f un? After all, engagement is key to building a strong relationship with your customer. And what better way to achieve that goal than making a game of it. American Airlines had this very thing in mind when it created its AAdvantage Passport Challenge following its merger with USAirways. The goal: find a new way to engage customers as big changes were underway. Using a custom Facebook application, American Airlines created a virtual passport to increase brand awareness while offering members a chance to earn bonus points. Customers earned these rewards through a variety of game-like activities, from answering trivia questions to tracking travel through a personalized dashboard. In the end, participants earned more than 70 percent more stamps than expected – and the airline saw a ROI of more than 500 percent. The takeaway: people like games.

Stand out from the crowd.

Your approach to your customer loyalty program should align with your overall marketing approach. Effective branding is about standing out, not blending it. Being memorable is key. To this end, keep in mind that loyalty programs are no longer a novelty. That means that yesterday’s strategies won’t work moving forward, so look for ways to rise above the noise, setting yourself apart from the cloying drone of countless other cookie-cutter programs.

June 2016
By Jeremy Girard

Small Changes, Big Impact: 5 Things You Can (and Should!) Do Today to Boost Your Website’s Performance

There’s no time like the present to implement these quick fixes and reap the rewards for months to come.
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Small Changes, Big Impact: 5 Things You Can (and Should!) Do Today to Boost Your Website’s Performance

artice-smallchanges-lg Every spring it happens like clockwork: the temperatures get warmer, the days get longer and everything in nature becomes more vibrant and colorful. Along with these changes in the great outdoors comes the irresistible urge to clean house and embrace a fresh start. Why not keep that motivational momentum going and apply it to your business – and, more specifically, to your website – as well? After all, there’s no time like the present to sweep away the old and outdated and bring in fresh new ideas and technologies. But you don’t necessarily need to dive head-first into a full redesign and all of the time and expense that entails to reap measurable results. Instead, here are five small steps you can – and should! – take today to ensure that your site is up-to-date, relevant and doing all it can to bring you new customers and grow the community around your brand:

1. Reposition your contact form.

For most website owners – especially those in service-based businesses such as law, accounting, consulting, real estate, etc. – the key “win” for their site is when it motivates a visitor to request more information or schedule a meeting. Contact forms are a ubiquitous website staple intended to provide a convenient – and highly measurable – avenue to initiate communication between an interested prospect and a company. However, perhaps because they are so commonplace, all too often these forms are given little strategic thought, resulting in a cookie-cutter name/email address/phone number format that yields more bogus spam submissions than legitimate new business opportunities. However, there is one simple change you can make that has been shown to get better results: reposition your standard “Contact us” form as an “Ask our experts” feature. By doing so, you shift the focus of the form to providing your visitors with an opportunity to submit a question that is specific to their needs and concerns. Rather than feeling like they are opening themselves up to an endless barrage of solicitation calls and emails, your visitors will sense that they are initiating a dialogue with an expert who will help them solve their particular problem. Make sure to respond to all inquiries within 24 hours, provide helpful advice that is free of charge and tailored to your prospect’s situation, and leave the door open to continue the conversation in a future meeting or phone call. By doing so, you will establish an important foundation of trust and confidence with your potential new client that will make them more inclined to engage your professional services. expert I have personally seen the submission rates on these types of forms increase dramatically. On one site where this small change was implemented, form submissions jumped from one or two per week to one or two per day – all legitimate business opportunities that were sparked simply by repositioning the focus of the form.

2. Productize your offering.

Another challenge that professional services organizations face in creating a website that works as an effective customer conversion engine is that they do not sell a specific product but rather a suite of services that can be customized to each client’s specific needs. This makes it terribly hard to market to visitors who come to their site and simply want to know “What exactly does this company sell, and how much does it cost?”. Because there are so many variables to the company’s offerings, there is not a quick and easy answer to these questions. If this challenge sounds familiar to you, one approach you can try is to “productize” what you have to offer. Create a bundle of services with a fixed price, and market that package on your site in a simple, straightforward manner that makes your offering easy to understand and helps visitors feel like doing business with your company is as simple as buying a product off the shelf at a store. package This is exactly what my company did with some of the technology consulting services that we offer. Instead of only listing the array of services we provide, we also created a product that representing a very specific offering. This made it so much easier to answer the “What do you sell?” question, and it gave us something tangible to promote in our marketing campaigns. In reality, this approach in no way limited the range of services we are able to offer our clients; rather, it merely served as a vehicle to open doors to new opportunities and made it easier to start conversations with new customers for whom we could ultimately provide a custom-tailored solution. Examine the services that you offer, and work with your marketing team to create an appealing package that you can market – understanding all the while that this “product” is really just a means for you to connect with customers and begin the sales process with something tangible that they can easily understand.

3. Lose your home page carousel.

One simple change that I have seen many websites make in the past year or so is to remove animated image carousels from their home pages. These carousels have long been a popular fixture of website design, but the reality is that they can sometimes do more harm than good. Home page carousels typically feature giant, screen-spanning images which carry with them heavy download requirements both for the images and for the scripts that power the animation sequences, thereby creating a potential stumbling block in performance for users on mobile devices or with slower connections. Additionally, studies have shown that click-through rates on animated carousels are extremely low, and they drop significantly from the first slide to the subsequent ones. This is why many companies are replacing rotating carousels with a singular static message instead. This one change can greatly reduce a page’s download size (when my company did this on our home page, its file size decreased by 75 percent) while having little to no effect on actual user engagement or click-through. In fact, because the page now loads more quickly, many sites actually see an uptick in user engagement because fewer people are abandoning a site due to poor performance. image Do you have a carousel on your website? If so, do you know whether or not it is working well for you? Your marketing team may be able to do some A/B testing between a version of your site with this animation feature and one without it to see which performs better. Since carousels do work well for some sites (like news organizations or sites with lots of frequently updated content), having this data can help you determine whether or not it’s time to ditch the carousel.

4. Update your image(s).

Stock photography is something of a necessary evil of website design, as more often than not, companies don’t have the budget to execute a full-fledged custom professional photo shoot. However, not all stock images are created equal. Stock photos that are overused or that look so obviously staged that they scream of their “stockiness” can cheapen a site’s design and leave visitors with a negative overall impression of the site. Replacing those images can make a big difference in a site’s visual appeal. If your site’s imagery is stale, you can make some simple image swaps to freshen it up. If you are going to change out old stock images for new stock images, make sure to seek out photos that feel fresh and that are not terribly overused (most stock photo sites will tell you how many times an image has been downloaded). An even better option is to try to add some unique imagery to your site. This could be photographs that you hire a professional to take or – in keeping with one of this year’s hottest trends – custom illustrations that you commission from an artist. illustration If your budget is tight, incorporating even just one or two such one-of-a-kind images in key spots on your site can really boost its visual impact. For instance, if you lose that aforementioned carousel on the home page and replace it with one truly compelling static image and message, it can make a really powerful first impression on your visitors.

5. Publish less.

Most experts agree that publishing original, value-add content on your site on a regular basis is key to optimizing its success – both from a sales and marketing standpoint and as an advantage in the never-ending battle of SEO. While I agree with this approach in principal, for many companies, the drive to publish regularly has resulted in putting out mediocre content simply to meet an inflexible standard of frequency. This is often an entirely counterproductive effort, as content that lacks in quality, original thought or value for the reader reflects poorly on the organization and its perceived level of expertise. Publishing original content to your site on a regular basis is still a best practice, but that content must offer value for it to succeed. Let’s say a visitor comes to your site and is impressed to find that you publish new articles weekly or monthly; however, once they click through the headline to see what they can glean from your writing, if what they find is mediocre at best, what motivation do they have to return to your site again in the future, let alone entrust you with their hard-earned dollars? If, on the other hand, you publish new content less frequently, but everything you produce is of the highest quality, then that same visitor will know that the time they spend on your site will always be worth their while, and they will look forward to the next time you post something new. Re-examine your current content marketing strategy, and ask yourself whether you are focused on quality or frequency. If it’s the latter, commit instead to writing less but to improving the quality of what you offer on your site. While this change may not have an immediate impact, it will absolutely yield long-term results that your visitors will appreciate and respond positively to.

In closing

Eventually, your website will need a redesign, but in the meantime you can make small, strategic, surgical changes that will pay immediate dividends in your site’s success. This approach of implementing gradual but regular modifications will also benefit you when it does come time for that full redesign. By making intelligent improvements over time, you will ultimately be closer to your end goal, leaving less to accomplish with the redesign and thereby paving the way for a smoother and less costly project.

524 The three Cs of effective website navigation: Why navigation matters

Your site's navigational structure is your first line of defense in preventing your visitors from abandoning your site and seeking out your competitors'.

February 2012
By Kenneth Vuncannon

Building a Thriving Community Ecosystem: The Five Essential Elements

Forget Facebook. If you want to own your market, build your own community ecosystem.
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Building a Thriving Community Ecosystem: The Five Essential Elements

What is an ecosystem?

In nature, an ecosystem is defined as “a system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment.” In today’s culture of the Web, an online ecosystem is essentially the same thing – the organic result of the interactions that occur between the members of a community and the environment that they live in. It cannot be defined in and of itself but only as the sum of its thousand moving parts. For brands that exist in today’s culture of the Web, there is no higher echelon of marketing than establishing your own community ecosystem. Why? Well, it’s one thing to interact with your customers and fans in an ecosystem that someone else has built (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.). However, because you didn’t build the ecosystem, you’re limited to one-off interactions that are structured according to the framework defined by the architects of that community (140 characters, anyone?). On the other hand, however, when you’re the one that builds the sandbox, it’s your party. Your website becomes the place where members of your tribe choose to hang out, to debate, to share and to be inspired by their peers – who, incidentally, are other members of your tribe. Most importantly, their identity as a member of this community is inextricably linked to your brand. It’s a marketer’s wildest dream come true. The process of building a thriving ecosystem is no small feat. Here are the five essential elements that you must have if you want to create a real, organic online community that simultaneously exists for and is a product of your tribe:

Earth: The foundation

earth Before you can build an ecosystem, you have to lay the foundation. But where do you begin? In our series on understanding and marketing to tribes, we established that tribes form around a shared passion for a specific idea, lifestyle or movement. Therefore, for your ecosystem to thrive, there must be a common thread that draws people in and binds them to the community and its members so that they identify themselves as part of your tribe. Your goal is not to build the next Facebook. People don’t need just another broad-based social network where they can set up a profile and post their thoughts. That already exists in any number of places where they already do those things. What people are yearning for is to be among and connect with other people who share their passions. When you build a community around that passion, they’ll come there knowing it’s a place where they can satisfy that need to belong, where they’ll be among others who speak the same language and where they’re free to obsess over something with like-minded people who won’t mind if they talk ad nauseum about that one particular thing that really stokes their fire. So how do you find that common thread? Think about your customers. What do they love? What excites them? What challenges do they face day in and day out? What do they worry about? How can you tap into those things? The answer to those questions is the foundation for your ecosystem. By identifying the common passion that unites your tribe, you can begin to build a community where great interactions will thrive. Even if your brand only ever lives at the periphery of those interactions, that’s okay. Remember, too, that among those who populate your ecosystem there will be individuals who are already your customer, might someday be your customer or may never be your customer, and that’s okay, too. The fact that you exist at the root of all of it will yield greater rewards than you could ever imagine.

Air: Sharing

air The ability to interact with other members in meaningful ways is as critical to the life of an ecosystem as the air we breathe; in its absence, the community suffocates. An ecosystem is not a blog with comments. While commenters may well respond to one another on occasion, these interactions are limited in scope to the content to which they are attached. There’s nowhere else for these commenters to go to keep the conversation going or to talk about a different subject entirely. An ecosystem is not a message board where people come to get help or resolve a problem. Once that problem is solved, they move on and never come back; they don’t identify themselves with or feel any lasting ties to the community. An ecosystem is a place where people can share the things matter to them in ways that are meaningful to them. It starts with being able to establish a profile – one that’s more than simply a name and a photo. You need to give people the ability to define who they are in the context of that community and its foundation. Then they need outlets to share their own ideas, photos and videos and to interact with others around that shared content. It’s this level of highly personalized sharing that forges deep, persistent bonds among members of a community. NASCAR driver Ryan Newman’s Fan Club site is built around keeping its members engaged and active by giving them many different ways to share and interact. They can post their own videos, build photo albums, join the conversation on community message boards and even chat with other members in real time. Again, keep in mind that all the sharing that takes place in your ecosystem may have very little to do with your products or services. And that’s exactly what you want because a community that will thrive over the long haul is one that exists to serve its members, not your brand and your business. As long as you’re the one providing the arena where these exchanges are taking place, you’ll benefit immeasurably from constant exposure and engagement.

Water: Leadership

water Good tribe leadership is the water that helps a fledgling ecosystem grow and keeps an established ecosystem strong and thriving. The task of providing good leadership is actually more challenging than it may at first seem. In the traditional world of marketing, everything was centered around presenting a carefully cultivated message and never allowing the customer to see any cracks in the perfectly polished veneer of a brand’s image. But that approach doesn’t work in the world of the online ecosystem. You must be comfortable walking among the members of your community and interacting with them on a human level. You must be willing to drop the corporate mask and be authentic. Think of your role as the leader of your community as being the host of a party. It’s not your job to dominate every conversation or to restrict what your friends are and are not allowed to talk about. It is your job to provide good fodder for discussion, to fill in the gaps when you sense a lull in the conversation and to help everyone feel at home and included.

Fire: Rewards

fire The members of your ecosystem that make the wittiest comments, spark the healthiest debates or share the most interesting content are the ones that keep the community vibrant. So how do you motivate them to keep doing what they do best? In today’s fame-obsessed culture, everyone wants their 15 minutes of notoriety, and everyone wants to feel like a celebrity in their own circles. People are driven by the opportunity to be elevated to a position of higher esteem among their peers. Therefore, if you want to stoke the fires of participation in your ecosystem, recognition is the name of the game. Give the members of your community ways to participate that are all about them, and then reward them for that participation. Distinctions such as “photo of the day” or “most viewed video” reward the creator by putting him or her in the spotlight. Call them out from the crowd, and you'll feed their craving for more recognition. The key to establishing an effective reward system is knowing what motivates the members of your community. For example, because racing fans thrive on competition, the Ryan Newman Fan Club community is built around a points system. Members who start discussions or who post photos and videos can earn points – or votes – from other members that put them in the running for a spot on the fan club’s leaderboard. Points are tallied throughout the racing season, with prizes awarded to the top performer each month as well as the top overall points earner for the season.

Aether: The essence

aether Aristotle defined aether as the quintessence – the immutable substance that makes up the heavens and stars. When it comes to online ecosystems, the aether is the intangible element – the sine qua non – that makes being a member of your community something to be desired. Think about the most popular nightclub in town. Why do people go there? It’s not just to listen to music. It’s not just to drink a martini. It’s not just to hang out with their friends. They could do all of those things in any number of places. There’s something in the atmosphere – an indefinable quality – that propels them to go to that one club rather than any of the dozens of others in the same vicinity. Perhaps it’s that when they go there, they’re surrounded by people just like them. Or perhaps they’re surrounded by people that they aspire to be like. Maybe it’s the bragging rights that come with being “seen” in the place that everyone’s buzzing about. Your ecosystem needs the same thing. There has to be some sense of status or value attached to being able to claim membership in your tribe. This is the one element of your ecosystem that you have the least control over. You simply can’t manufacture the essence, nor can you make a proclamation that this is what makes your community special. In fact, the essence can only emerge when it’s allowed to develop organically. When you see members of your community sharing inside jokes, developing their own language, even making plans to meet up offline – that’s when you’ll know you have the essence. The best thing you can do when you recognize it is to subtly encourage those members or activities that you see happening around it so that it continues to flourish.

It’s your sandbox.

The prospect of building your own community ecosystem is certainly daunting. There’s much at stake and many unknowns that you must contend with. In sharp contrast to the world of traditional marketing, there’s a distinct lack of control. An ecosystem can only thrive when allowed to develop and grow naturally and on its own timeline. As soon as you start to restrict or interfere too much, it will wither on the vine. Entering the realm of ecosystem building requires a leap of faith. However, just as building the trust that your customers have in your brand is paramount to the growth of your business, putting trust in your customers is essential to the growth of your ecosystem. If you can relinquish the need for control and truly let the members of your community take ownership of it, you’ll be amazed at the results that unfold. Interactions will become vibrant and nuanced, natural leaders will emerge and the community will truly take on a life of its own. And in today’s marketplace, there is no more powerful force for business growth than a large and engaged community that’s homed around your brand.