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Winslow Marketing and Design
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Digital marketing needs, covered: social networking, business writing, web design and more.
Digital marketing needs, covered: social networking, business writing, web design and more.

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The term content marketing is red hot these days. Seemingly, every 2014 wrap-up and 2015 preview highlighted content marketing as a major business trend, like Forbes, Social Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post.

But for those of you more focused on the day-to-day logistics of your business, you may not have spent much time digging into this buzzy term. Now is the time to take it seriously.

For my part, I think the heart of content marketing is context marketing. By that I mean, putting your product or service in context. How does your business fit into people’s lives? How is it meant to be used? What are new ways it could be used?

A few years ago, when I first became acquainted with the term content marketing, I didn’t fully understand what it was or how to use it until the next time I went to bake a dessert. I love trying the recipes printed on the packaging of bags of sugar, flour, and chocolate chips. As I made the cookies according to the back of the Nestlé’s Toll House wrapper, I finally appreciated content marketing for what it was. These food companies had taken the extra step to show me new ways I could use their products by giving me something valuable—a new recipe—for free. Through their creativity and generosity, I could become better at my hobby of baking, and in turn become a more loyal and customer than ever.

So, what do you have to offer that will empower your customers to get more out of your product? How can you make your customers better informed and more passionate about your product? When you have some ideas of what to share, how will you decide to share it: blog posts, slideshows, photos, videos, social media posts? Or good old fashioned additions to the packaging?

The terminology may be new, but the concepts behind content marketing are no passing trend. It’s time to embrace this promotional method, and to think creatively about how to apply it to your business.

From my blog: http://winslowmktg.com/content-marketing-context-marketing/

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Be Careful on Social Media
For starters, I think social media is a great thing. It is a huge part of my job, and it is quite possibly the main way I stay in touch with the people in my life. For commercial use as well as personal use, there are many amazing benefits to the existence of social networking.
That being said, some common sense is still required to maintain safety in this place where real criminals, pranksters, and data-collecting bots reside, shoulder to shoulder with friends and relatives.
Internet safety means a lot to me, but a social media post I saw recently from a prominent author particularly inspired this blog post. This writer is a member of Oprah’s inner circle, and well known enough to be considered famous, I think, at least in the wellness industry. I will decline to name her or provide a link, because I don’t think the photo is something that the public should see.
The photo in question was a close-up shot of her young son’s student ID card from his private school, including his picture, full name, birthday, the school’s name and contact info, and his student ID number. The picture appeared as a post on a public Instagram account. It makes my stomach turn just thinking about what someone with bad intentions could do with all of that information. Why would a parent willingly share all of that with the whole world?
And my point is not to pick on this author. Why do we all let our guard down sometimes on the internet? I think we can be lulled into a false sense of security. I know that when all of the interactions I have with other users are neutral or positive, I can begin to adopt the mindset that my social networking experience occurs in a safe, cozy bubble. But the truth is, unless your account is set to private, that impression of secluded safety is an illusion. All it takes is a rude comment or a new follow from a spam account to pop my bubble, fast.
So what do we do? Think of it this way: when you’re about to post something of a personal nature, imagine saying it out loud (and/or showing the photo, etc) to the people around you in line at the grocery store. Would it feel friendly and comfortable?
What about if one of those people in the hypothetical line with you kept looking at you while you shopped, and stood within your personal bubble, and gave you a bit of a creepy vibe? Would you still want that person to know your personal thought that you were about to share?
I don’t mean to be alarmist. I think that personal touches really bring social media accounts to life, especially those used for corporate purposes. Why not share information about your latest meal, the music you’re listening to right now, the last movie you saw? There’s no harm at all in sharing those sweet, everyday experiences with the world.
Maybe let’s say we should all avoid posting things with numbers: street addresses, private phone numbers, birthdays, social security numbers…that sort of thing. Agreed?

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Book jackets carry a lot of weight. Teams of editors, marketers, publicists, and designers agonize over creating just the right imagery (not to mention all that you brought to the table). Multiple artists often contribute elements to the final product. In the end, that one jacket image represents all of the blood, sweat, and tears of bringing your book into the world.
So, why do some authors leave this valuable marketing tool on the shelf? Are you making the most of your book jacket?
Utilizing the book jacket is key for maximizing visibility and reader recognition. These are the most important places for your book jacket to appear:
Author Website
On your website’s home page for one month before publication and a year after/until your next book comes out
On the book’s dedicated interior page on your website
On every page of your website as a thumbnail, either in the header or sidebar
Facebook
Your Facebook fan page cover photo, always, either the latest cover (like Neil Gaiman) or a montage of all of your book jackets
Your Facebook fan page profile picture for the month before and three to six months after publication
In a post on your Facebook wall once a week or so, with buying info
Twitter
Your Twitter cover photo (like Jackie Collins)
Your Twitter profile picture for the month before and three to six months after publication
In a tweet often enough so that it stays in your profile’s gallery of recent images (on your Twitter profile page, under your profile picture, name, and bio)
Search for your book’s title and retweet whenever anyone else has tweeted about your book
Goodreads
Make sure your publisher posted the book jacket correctly on your book’s page
Make sure your book’s page is connected to your author page, so the book appears under the Your Books header
Instagram
Photos of the publishing process: your book jacket mock up, your galley, opening your box of complementary author copies, your book on the shelves at your favorite bookstores, etc (like Ally Carter)
Regram other peoples’ photos of your book by searching the title and using a screenshot or regram app
Merchandise
Customized smartphone cover (like this Gatsby one)
Postcards, bookmarks, and other paper products
Coffee mugs
Business cards
Tee shirts
Tote bags
Bumper stickers
Total car makeover (like children’s author Brian Lies)

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There are a million bells and whistles that can be added when building a website – at this point, the variations are endless. But sometimes it helps to go back to basics. With that in mind, here is my most basic and most crucial advice about your website:
Your contact information should be as easy to find as possible.
This might sound obvious, but you would be surprised by how many businesses bury their phone number, address, email, and hours of operation deep in their website on some internal page – or, worst of all, the businesses that blanked and didn’t include any contact info.
It can be easy to be dazzled by web design and mobile functionality. It can be easy to feel intimidated by the cyber geek hot shot who is throwing jargon at you and asking your opinion on web design issues that you couldn’t care less about. In the midst of so much big-picture decision-making, sometimes the obvious things get overlooked. Such as, what is the point of creating a website for your business? Answer, so that more clients call you up, drop by your location, shoot you an email, and take whatever steps they need to in order to purchase your wares or services.
Contact info should be visible on every web page, in the header, the sidebar, or the footer (like mine!). This goes double for a brick and mortar retail business: the address should be one of the first things that you see when the page loads, front and center. (Or maybe, on the right side of the header, if we’re being literal about it.) Additionally, a “contact” page can be a nice touch, especially if it includes additional information like parking guidelines, a map, a feedback form, or similar.
So, with fresh eyes, go back to your website and track how long it takes and how many clicks are needed to get at that vital contact information. If any extra effort is required, you should really think about making a change!
http://winslowmktg.com/contact-info/

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Alexandra March 17, 2014
In-World Author Websites
Author websites create an opportunity to bring the fictional world to life.
They don’t need to be plain, linear, just-the-facts corporate sites. They can be playful, inventive, and wholly belonging to the world within the author’s novels. The amazing coding and animation opportunities in web design right now allow for some pretty stupendous sites! And in case you haven’t already figured it out, I am a sucker for a hyper-designed author website. I really enjoy it when designers push the various languages of website coding to make something that is not only functional but beautiful, and some of the best examples of such sites belong to authors.
Unfamiliar with what I’m talking about? Spend a couple of minutes perusing Marisha Pessl’s old site for her first book, Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Not your typical home page by any stretch of the imagination – the whole site is actually a moving, animated rendering of the main character’s bedroom. The cursor turns into her favorite butterfly, and as you click on different items, like a map or a scrap of paper, pop-up windows tell you more about the clues, the plot, the characters, the author, and so on.
JK Rowling’s website followed a very similar concept for years, with an illustrated version of her writing desk. Clicking on her coffee mug or paperclips would reveal information about herself and the series. JKR’s site took all of this to the next level, as any die-hard Harry Potter fan knows, because around certain dates (Christmas, Harry’s birthday) JKR would add hidden messages on the site, and turn unlocking the clues into a game. For example, a key would appear on the desk one day, and clicking on it would take you to the office door, which would lead to a hallway with three more doors to choose from, and so on. Part video-game, part website, and her dedicated fans were only too happy to play along! Now, JKR’s website is a hyper-designed timeline, making room for her newer projects and accommodating her sophisticated post-Potter image.
When it comes to sites like these, I think you either love them or you hate them. Putting aside my aesthetic glee and technical marveling, I have to admit that they are not the most pragmatic choice. They’re a bit silly. What about the things I usually advocate for in an author website – strong bio, good images of you and the book, purchasing info for the book, contact and media info, all clearly laid out and only one or two clicks away? I can only imagine the frustration of a journalist in a hurry, trying to find out an author’s contact details, having to navigate a semi-video game website with no discernible main menu. In the fall of 2007 it started to feel like I was seeing these hyper-designed sites everywhere, starting with children’s/young adult authors’ sites and expanding to those of singers, actors, stylists, even retail stores, but in the years since many have reverted to normal formatting.
All the same, as changing technology allows for easier hyper-design and animation, I can’t help but wonder if all entertainment industry websites will start to look a bit more like this: flashy, moving, interactive, welcoming you into the narrative.

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From the Winslow Marketing and Design blog: Let’s Talk Headers, Footers and Sidebars

Let’s Talk Headers, Footers and Sidebars Winslow Marketing and DesignMost websites today have a pretty predictable structure: a header, a footer, and often a skinny sidebar. Likewise, every internet user has expectations of the important info that will likely be found in these places.

These three pieces of your website shouldn’t be neglected. After all, they appear on every single page. So what exactly belongs in these prime location spots? The things that you never want a customer to have to go searching for. I’ve broken my thorough checklist into two categories, Essential and Optional.

Essential

Social media links
Site search
Your site’s name
Your logo
Blog feed
Quick links to your hottest product for sale
Contact info
Newsletter sign up box
Privacy policy, disclaimer and terms of use
Site map
Optional

RSS feed
Twitter feed
Facebook feed
Pinterest feed
Instagram feed
LinkedIn feed
Other social network feeds and buttons
Quick links to your other top products for sale
Quick links to your hottest freebies for download
Upcoming event feed/calendar
Your slogan
Your short bio/company description
As you can see, I’ve kept my header basic (name, slogan and logo) and packed a lot into my sidebar: site search, social media links, short bio, service packages links and blog feed. In my footer you can find my Twitter feed, contact info, newsletter sign up link, site map and Pinterest feed. I might play around with it further, especially swapping in different social media feeds, but I like the way it looks right now!

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From the Winslow Marketing and Design blog: It's Time to Question Your Navigation

File navigation under parts of a website that get totally taken for granted.

Even I had gotten into a rut with my navigation until a client recently started questioning everything about the concept.

Did it have to run along the top? Should we display everything, and use no dropdowns? Or should we use an intricate series of drop downs?

Like so many aspects of design, it’s fascinating to see the trends come and go with website navigation layouts. Way back when, sidebar navigation was all the rage. Now, if you stumble upon a website with Times New Roman 12 point font and a left sidebar navigation menu, it’s a clue that the site hasn’t been updated in about eight years. (Or maybe it’s ironically outdated? ‘90s nostalgia, anyone?)

I think it’s a good thing that navigation has switched to the top of the page. For one thing, it’s reliable. For another, website are almost always narrower than they are long, so a top navigation menu is forced to be brief. And there’s nothing better than a thoughtfully organized cascading drop down menu when you’re looking for a specific page in a hurry.

Her most important challenges concerned the word choice for the navigation items. I’ll admit, it had been a long time since I had thought critically about “Home,” “About” and “Contact.”

The whole experience was very refreshing. Being a word lover, I especially enjoyed brainstorming alternative phrases for the menu. How could we convey, “All of the contact info, including email address and phone number, are on this page,” without using the tried-and-true Contact label? How could we indicate, “The history of the project and the client’s professional biography are on this page,” without relying on the admittedly vague word About?

We decided on “Connect” for the contact information page and “Life Story” for the biography page. The words are a little unusual for web design, but I’m confident that the readers will still understand what the pages will contain.

Sometimes, questioning the basics can offer a fresh perspective!

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I've dished up the best advice (and warnings!) about choosing your social media account names all week long. Follow the link for tips on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr.
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