Category: Tips and Tricks

Welcome to another entry in our Tips & Tricks series. In this post we will be cover tips to help with your digital services.

Every year during the weekend prior to Labour Day, Canada’s largest, and North America’s third largest, pop culture event takes over downtown Toronto. If you are unexpectedly caught in the horde, sometimes literal horde depending on the cosplay, you might think that Toronto has been taken over.

At its heart, FanExpo, which covers nearly every square foot of the north and south buildings of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, combines comics, sci-fi, horror, anime and gaming (video and otherwise).

The event attracts more than 120,000 people. They come to shop for artisan jewelry, original pieces of art for all the genres, collectibles of every form. They come to meet the comic book artists that inspired them. Most of all they come for the celebrities. Autographs of Hollywood celebrity or the sci-fi elites are extremely popular. Between $40 and $100 means about a minute of time while talent pen their names. Want a photo? That will be another $100, more for group shoots. The thousands of dollars an hour celebrities earn is nothing compared to the earned media that brands generate.

This year, Cards Against Humanity who are famous for their Black Friday “deals” had people lined up and taking photos of their booth titled “Apologies from Americans” while other attendees snapped shots of those in the line-up. The upcoming film Thor: Ragnarok featured actor costumes in front of a movie poster wall, which drew the attention of fans who captured the image and shared it. The upcoming TV show of Star Trek: Discovery gave fans the chance to play “phaser Tag” while other shared photos of a wall well-branded with the show’s logo.

Competing for each and every dollar are the independent artists as they hustle to position themselves as the next hot property, but these new talents lack the big budgets of the established players.

Here are four tips for low-budget hustle tactics used by the independents.

1. Know your audience, and know what they like. Artists recognized how popular the video game Overwatch is and recognized how loyal their fans are. When the lone voice actor, Charlet Chung from the game with 30 million players came to sign autographs, artists created prints for her to sign. A majority of artists promoting their own original art also featured many renditions of the popular Overwatch character D.Va. The booths that had prints had line ups of fans eager to buy which drew in potential fans for their original material.

2. Be everywhere. Most brands social media extends to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Independents need to be everywhere and their business cards prove it. The majority had at least five to to 10 social network icons highlighted: Google+, YouTube, Twitch, Tumblr, Behance, Pinterest, Dribble, DeviantArt and Patreon on top of the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

3. Employ a three step approach to acquisition: interest, entice, engage. The real hustle of the art occurs when artists start selling themselves. They have a few square feet to claim as their own, and they lay it all bare to the world, that is step one, gain interest. Once they have a moment of attention they entice. They know they are surrounded by passionate fans, they quickly identify their realm of fandom and sell directly to it and they do it hundreds of times per hour. Thirdly they engage with the soft sell, offering package deals or simply handing out their business card. These artists sell on all platforms and realize that physical sales are not the only source of income.

4. Be the source. Artists don’t only sell art, they sell knowledge and experience. Patreon has made it easier for artists to receive a monthly income from people that appreciate their art as well as share how they make it. YouTube and Twitch partners share revenue with the content creators that populate their networks.

Keep these tips in mind if you’re an artist or even an established brand. If you would like any help with your digital presence, ask us how we can help you.

“Strategic communicator.”  It’s  a ubiquitous moniker in the PR industry. In practice,  strategic communications plans are anything but consistent. So, what should one expect from a communications expert or agency when one requests a result’s-oriented plan? Here’s our take on the four key components:

Situation Analysis

Before a plan can be devised, a thorough audit of a client or project environment should be taken.  This is a situation analysis and is the foundation from which plan recommendations are made.  

This process incorporates research,  audits, risk assessment and analysis  in order to gain insight into the current landscape. It should also include thorough briefings with you, the client, and with relevant stakeholders so that business goals, objectives, and target audiences are understood.  A solid comprehension of a client’s position in the marketplace from differentiators, marketing strategies, and public perceptions to market conditions, and an analysis of stakeholder communities all contribute to an insightful situation analysis.

Strategic Approach

Once the situation analysis is complete, your agency should have the information required to make recommendations that forms an overall strategic approach in a summary.  You should expect goals, strategies, objectives and program specific tactics within a defined scope of responsibilities. It also entails confirmation of target audiences.  

Goals are higher-level concepts about what needs to be achieved, a strategy is the approach, objectives are the steps to accomplish a strategy and a tactic is a tool used to achieve the objective.  

To be successful in supporting goals, your agency should commit to objectives that are specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive (as well as consider overall strategy). And, tactics should consider an integrated mix of activities that ladder up and support the strategy and will reach target audiences, such as media relations, experiential marketing, influencer campaigns, digital and social, events, community outreach, government relations, and employee and internal communications initiatives, etc.

Scope & Budget

It’s important that your agency defines scope.  This allows a client and the agency to understand the roles and responsibilities associated with executing the strategic plan.  Within the scope are detailed timelines, human-resource allocations, program guidelines and key milestones/deliverables.

Strategic communication plans should also include budget detailing costs for all recommended tactics as well as any administrative outlays, third party costs, and out of pocket expenses. Budgets should also be able to scale up or scale down given that communications planning process is often fluid and may require periodic adjustment.

Measurement and Reporting

An approach to measurement and reporting should be set during the planning process and take into a consideration a regular cadence throughout a campaign in order to monitor and assess continuously. Successful communicators do not wait until the end of campaign to evaluate. Reporting could include feedback from research, audits, surveys and focus groups to digital and social data (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter all provide activity and engagement reports), as well as media relations analysis and event management metrics. If possible, integrating business results such as sales or engagement results is a terrific way to connect communications objectives with business objectives.

To find out more about how Mansfield Inc. can create a successful strategic communications plan for you, click here.

When it comes to creating images to represent your brand, you want to make sure they are aesthetically pleasing. These images can be used on various platforms, such as YouTube, blog posts, Instagram, Facebook, website pages, videos and even logos. To create images that please the eye there are some basic principles of art that are easy to understand and fundamental to create an attractive image; these include colour, composition and text.

First, use colours that complement each other: the colour wheel.

colourwheel

The simplest way to do this is to use colours at the opposite ends of the wheel (as shown above). These are called complementary colours. For example, yellow is complementary to purple, as green is complementary to red. Another option is to use three colours that are an equal distance from each other, such as red, green and blue, or orange, purple and turquoise.

In the image below, you can see where complementary colours are used. The green and red trees complement each other, the same way that blue complements the orange.

Other tactics you can use are to use all different shades of the same colour such as light blue to dark blue (called analogous) or create a black and white image with a strong accent colour.

colour

Second, use strategic composition: the rule of thirds.

ruleofthirds

Have you ever seen the grid on Instagram before you upload an image? This is a common practice used by artists and it is called the rule of thirds. It is a grid placed over the image that is made of three horizontal and three vertical lines. The theory behind it is that the subjects of your image should be in a box or on the line. Using this principle makes the image more pleasing to the brain and makes it appear balanced. Notice how in the image they are also using complementary colours- blue and orange.

Third, do not use more than two fonts and make the size legible.

guinness

Using one to two fonts will make your text easy to read. Too many fonts will be distracting to your audience.

Keep in mind the destination of the image. If it is a picture going on Instagram where people will be seeing it on a smaller screen, the font should be larger. However, if this is for a poster, the text can be smaller relative to the image. For example, Guinness used smaller font in this image as it was going to be printed large for distribution. They also included only two types of font on their image, incorporated the rule of thirds and complementary colours (although muted, the yellow Guinness symbol complements the purple undertones of the image)

Finally, listen to your gut.

These principles are great tools to creating a pleasing image, but ultimately it must look right to you. Do not be scared to try new things.

Happy designing!

Find out more about how we can help with your social media accounts here.