Check out these buns.

With lots of hype surrounding Burger King’s latest rebrand, how could one not step back and take a closer look as this evolutionary change? Those buns were 20 years old, so it’s no surprise they’ve now gone flat, friends – albeit in a sophisticated, bold way.

Burger King Rebrand
The new logo does away with the blue swish (Image credit: Burger King Corporation)

How about this custom-made font appropriately named “Flame”? I mean come on!

While I’m not a fast food lover of sorts, I cannot deny wanting to experience this new set of playfulness that has been not only been integrated into packaging (that font just makes it look oh-so-good), but carries over into uniforms and the overall experience from drive-thru to restaurant interior.

Burger King Rebrand - Packaging
Image credit: Burger King Corporation

It’s also interesting to note, there is something a little bit old in what’s new again when it comes to Burger King’s rebrand. Gen Xer’s may find that they have a fondness for those new buns – and that may be because, in part, that they’re reminiscent of the buns in the BK logo from their childhood. While the logo and font treatments aren’t entirely the same, there’s no doubt that the rebranding may just bring up some fond fast food memories for the latchkey generation.

Burger King Throwback
Burger King advertisement, circa 1976

Overall, props to Burger King for a thoughtful re-brand that changes not only how people may feel about their brand and the experience, but how stepping outside of the (cardboard burger) box, while respecting the Burger King of the past, can really pay off.

If you really want a blast from past, where did the Burger King mascot go?

Top 5 Reasons to Write a Top 5 List: Getting Straight To The Point With “Listicles”

The success of marketing relies on a number of factors working together as a cohesive unit – media placement, cost efficiency, branding, and of course, the right messaging presented in the right format. We want messaging that can be consumed by key viewers and absorbed easily.list-articles

Enter the “listicle”.

For those of you who haven’t heard the term, a listicle is an article written in the form of a list. “10 Quick Tips for Diet Success”, “8 Fool-proof Ways to DIY Your Kitchen”, “Top 5 Reasons to Write a Top 5 List”, etc.

So, why do we write this way? What makes it effective?

1.) Avoid Information Overload
Messaging is dictated by the way the audience digests information, and particularly in this era of information overload, the only way to cut through the clutter is to make it clear and concise. A listicle forces the writer to choose one specific topic, stick to it, and simplify it into a numbered list.

2.) People are Busy, Lists are Not
Listicles have become incredibly popular over the last few years for this reason. Admit it, you would absolutely read the 10 Quick Tips for Diet Success before you read the Big Book of Diets (ain’t nobody got time for that). It’s not as detailed, but it gets you what you need to know – fast.

3.) Easy to Understand
Before you even start, you know exactly what you’re going to learn. The information is organized and curated to provide a simple introduction to the topic, digestible by a person at any level of familiarity with it.

4.) Applicable Across Multiple Platforms
We can use listicles like this for many applications, from search engine optimization and social media engagement, to videos and collateral pieces. They’re shareable in the digital age, but also easily adapted to print.

5.) Low Commitment
People prefer not to get too invested with their time or their effort until they know what they’re getting into. This applies to big things like a home purchase or college decision, as well as something mundane, like reading an article or watching a video. In this format, it’s a lower commitment. It gives the reader the option to get the gist with as little time and effort as possible.

Don’t Get Scammed by Spam

credit-card-invoice-scamRecently, we have had a local client who received an invoice for SEO services from a company called “Delta SEO”. They had never used this company, but checked with us to make sure it was nothing from our end. It wasn’t.

After doing a quick Google search on this supposed company, nothing seemed to be reputable – a bunch of 404 error pages, and redirected pages that just had the keywords “delta” and “seo” somewhere on the page. I changed the search to “Delta SEO Invoice” and immediately got a hit leading to more information. Thanks to a blog on Sky Tide Digital we quickly found out that our client wasn’t the only one to receive this “invoice”.

Unfortunately these scammers are popping up more and more and prey on small local businesses who potentially just receive a relatively small invoice and pay it. Luckily our client noticed something was off, and reported it to us. If you receive an invoice that looks off or is from a company you don’t remember doing business with, trust your gut. Doing a quick search to look for a reputable website, reviews or possibly other people who have also received these fraudulent invoices could be the difference between protecting your company or dealing with a headache with your finances.

MPW Marketing Brings Home Silver ADDY

MPW Marketing, a full-service advertising and marketing agency located in Clinton, N.Y., is pleased to announce their recent win of a Silver ADDY award from the Albany Ad Club for their radio campaign for Vince’s U-Pull It. Although Winter Storm Riley prevented them from attending the actual awards ceremony, the agency is thankful to the Albany Ad Club for this honor.

Conceived and performed by MPW Partner and Creative Director Geoff Storm, the radio spots were created to generate awareness of the benefits of choosing Vince’s U-Pull It for replacement auto parts. The engaging radio campaign provided listeners with creative narrative that offered a dose of humor for audiences as well.

“I’m extremely pleased that our creative collaboration with Vince’s U-Pull It was recognized by our peers,” said Storm. “I could not be happier to accept this award on behalf of MPW Marketing.”

In addition to winning the Silver ADDY for the Vince’s U-Pull It radio advertisements, MPW was also ADDY-nominated for their campaigns with clients HealtheConnections and Nascentia Health.

Listen to the radio spots here:

To check out MPW’s other nominated work, please visit:

Should My Business Blog? Here are Some Reasons Why It’s Important.

blogging Joe owns a small business, Joe’s Cabinets. He’s already wearing 10 different hats at his company. Creating content for his website is likely the last thing on his mind. Unfortunately for Joe, websites aren’t just set-it-and-forget-it. In order to keep it relevant, and continue being found in searches, Joe will need to prevent his site from stagnating. And, the best way he can accomplish that is through blogging regularly. An article published on the Forbes website offers insight into why blogging is so important. Here are a few of the key take-aways from that article.

Search Engine Optimization

It seems like every cabinet installer out there has a website nowadays. That means Joe has to work a little harder to keep his website at the top of searches. Blogging regularly keeps sites visible and rank for relevant keywords. And, blogging helps generate inbound links. Here’s an example – say Joe blogs about how bleached cabinets are trending for 2018. Then, a designer references Joe’s content in his or her own blog article. Boom! Joe has an inbound link! That can equal significant traffic to his website – and traffic translates into possible conversions and leads.

Blogging can also help Joe get found for what’s known as “long-tail keywords.” Unless someone is specifically looking for a particular business (for instance, Joe’s Cabinets), they’re probably typing something into the search bar more along the lines of “cabinet installers in Kalamazoo.” Blogging offers the opportunity to add those types of long-tail keywords to site content, increasing the website’s chance of coming up in searches.

Brand Building

Nowadays, people tend to take heed when they visit a website and find the design outdated and the content scarce. That’s why it’s so important for small businesses like Joe’s Cabinets to have a reputable, trustworthy web presence, and blogging often can facilitate that. Blogging helps businesses build their brand, and offers customers a clear, consistent presence that allows them to recognize and trust you.

Blogging helps people like Joe show the more personal side of their business, too. For instance, Joe might write a blog article to highlight a charity event he and his employees participated in, or share insights he gleaned after attending a tradeshow. He might discuss some of the techniques he uses, which will help identify him as an authority in the cabinet installation field. Blogging creates a venue for people to get to know Joe, understand what he does, and develop a trusting relationship with him – before they even meet him.

Social Media Presence

If a small business wants to make their presence known, then they also need to show up on social media. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and even Snapchat are all platforms that most successful businesses today use to get their name out there. Of course, one of the struggles of having a social media presence is having enough content to share. Businesses that blog, however, have content built right in that directs consumers back to their website.

Sending out e-newsletters to customers is another form of social media, but one that should not be overlooked. And just like with social media platforms, blogging provides relevant content for e-newsletters as well. E-newsletters can also help to identify the content clients are most interested in. For instance, Joe adds two blog articles a month to his website – one is about different types of cabinet woods, and the other is about accessorizing the kitchen. He puts both articles in his e-newsletter, and the kitchen-accessorizing article gets the most clicks. He now knows that his customers are interested in this, and might decide to add kitchen accessories for purchase in his showroom. Blogging has allowed Joe to understand his customer base and what they value and, in turn, that can help him enjoy greater success.

Blogging helped Joe stand out from his competitors and organically increase traffic, build a repertoire with his customers and, in the end, grow his business. Want to learn more about how it can help you, too? Contact us here and we’ll be glad to get you started.

Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO

As you can probably deduce from the category names, there are two different strategies SEO specialists can use, White Hat & Black Hat. White Hat SEO practices are favored because of practical approaches that focus on the user’s experience on a site as well as how the search engine views the site. Whereas, Black Hat SEO features practices solely focused on how the search engine perceives the site with the goal to only move higher on the rankings.

Black Hat SEO is a way of using shady SEO tactics in order to move quickly on the rankings, but will almost always hurt your SEO in the long run.

Common Black Hat techniques include:

  • Hiding text on a website – whether it is hiding it within the code (or in spammy structured markup), or just making it the same color as your background so it’s ‘invisible’ to the naked eye.
  • Link farms and Paid Links – Typically automated, a link farms is a group of sites that all link within each other, which may or may not have anything to do with each other. Paid links are exactly that – links that are purchased to achieve a higher ranking and gain link-popularity.
  • Keyword Stuffing – Adding keywords into the content, meta, titles, and tags, to the point where it doesn’t sound natural.
  • Scraping – Copying of content from a site or topic, just to have currently popular and ranking content available.

While Black Hat SEOs may see a quick ROI when they first implement these practices, it almost always catches up with them. When search engines find these techniques being used, the sites are promptly penalized and face a very hard uphill battle to earn that trust again.

White Hat SEOs typically have the longest turnaround times to get noticed by search engines and attain higher rankings, but there is also no risk involved, unlike Black Hat strategies.

Common White Hat techniques include:

  • Guest Blogging – Guest blogging is when a person separate from the site, writes and posts a blog for you. This is a win/win for everyone involved. The guest blogger receives a link to their own site, and you will receive links to the blog from the blogger promoting their work.
  • Quality Content – Content is key. With White Hat practices, the strategy isn’t just to get noticed and rewarded by the search engines, but also your users. It’s important that when visitors come to your site that they are finding the information that they want and need, and it’s written in a way that is understandable and easy to read.
  • Linking – Both internal and external linking is a big part of White Hat SEO strategies.
    • Internal linking helps to show the search engine a functional way to navigate and crawl the site, as well as helps the user experience find what they need. Nothing is more irritating than landing on a webpage, and having no idea how to find the next bit of information. Linking helps to ease that process.
    • External linking not only provides additional resources to your user, and backs up your claims, but it also shows the search engine that you’re an equal player in the online world. Just like you may ask for people to link to your site, you’re spreading the wealth and giving other reputable sites quality links, too.
  • On-Site Optimization – By far one of the biggest cornerstones in the SEO world is optimizing your site. Whether it’s updating content to reflect new changes in the industry or reworking your menu navigation to make more sense for the user, on-site optimization is what will help your site and hopefully keep people browsing for longer.

As with most things in life, nothing is ever just black and white. Even in SEO, there are also Gray Hat SEO practices. Less risky than Black Hat, but without the wait for updated rankings with White Hat, Gray Hat techniques still should be avoided, as they are still not in line with Google’s algorithms.

Common Gray Hat techniques include:

  • Three way link exchange – Different from a link farm, where all the sites link to each other, a three way link exchange is more of a link “chain”. For example, Site A will only link to B, Site B will only link to C, and Site C will only link to A.
  • Article Spinning – Article spinning is a technique where instead of directly plagiarizing a relevant article, it’s slightly tweaked or “spun” to avoid a penalty. Its far better to write a new article, than to tweak an existing one, to guard yourself from potential copyright infringement.

Just like you wouldn’t take your car to a shifty mechanic because you can’t fully trust what they are doing, you shouldn’t leave your website in the hands of Black Hat SEO tactics.

And if you’re a more visual learner, or just looking for a TL;DR, here’s a helpful infographic from CognitiveSEO.


Black Hat vs White Hat SEO
Original Infographic @ Black Hat vs White Hat SEO / Provided by cognitiveSEO

The Life Cycle of Junk Mail

junk-mailYou pull in the driveway after a long day at work. Hands full with bags of groceries, you grab the mail and make your way into the house. Flip through the envelopes, the bills, the magazines, toss aside anything that doesn’t look immediately important, and move on with your life.

But every now and then, one catches your eye, and it makes you think. When we’ve done our job right, it makes you care enough to take the next step and take action.

There is the advertiser’s challenge: How do we find a space in your life and make an impression? How do we make our product matter to you through a piece of paper you might only glance at?

Let me tell you, creating something that doesn’t become “junk mail” is the result of hours of meetings, production work, and research. From the time we begin to the time it reaches your home, it’s likely already been in the works for over a month.

It starts with the creative strategy and writing team. What are we selling? Why? Who are we selling it to? What’s the headline? What’s the special offer or message? A strategically sound creative foundation is imperative, and it usually takes a lot of misses to find the one direction that might be a hit.

Then, the designers get their hands on it, making sure the piece incorporates all the important text, cohesive and consistent branding elements, uses quality paper/print media, and has the proper messaging hierarchy. That’s where simple words are transformed into a compelling visual – never underestimate the power of a great design.

The media buyers have to scout out the right audience, buy or curate the right lists, and negotiate the best prices. Successful marketing comes down to the numbers, and great results don’t always have a hefty price tag if you have the right media placement and savvy buyers.

After rounds of revisions, tweaks, and approvals, it finally goes out to the client who also has rounds of revisions, tweaks, and approvals to go through.

The result is a simple postcard. Every word is carefully selected, images meticulously created, and consumers specifically targeted to get the results our clients are looking for.

The surprising part? More often than not, it works.

Taking it Easy with Ad Messaging

“I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see – it’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me.”

I’ve never been a big fan of the Eagles, but that line from their 1972 hit “Take it Easy” recently made me think about the similarities between songwriting and copywriting. I was watching the documentary “History of the Eagles,” in which Jackson Browne and the late Glenn Frey of the Eagles discuss the song and how Browne had come up with the first part of the line – “I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” – but was having trouble finishing it until Frey suggested the ending of the verse. Browne marvels: “Girl, lord, Ford, I mean, all the redemption, you know, girls and cars and redemption all in this one line. It’s very mercurial.”

Now, I’m not a songwriter by any means, but writing advertising copy is a big part of my day-to-day life. Brevity is essential in writing advertising copy because you’re always working within parameters. Some are fairly rigid: space if you’re writing something that will appear in print, or time if you’re writing for broadcast mediums. Some are less clearly defined. For example, in an age when we’re when we’re all exposed to hundreds of advertising messages daily, a copywriter has to compete for an increasingly limited amount of his or her audience’s time and attention. You have to engage your audience quickly. And when I thought about it, I was amazed by what Frey had done in just 24 words.

First, Frey clearly understood his audience and was able to relate to it. I could argue that the key elements of the line (girls, cars, redemption) are everything you could have wanted in an early 70s rock song with a presumably male audience. There’s also an emotional cue (“such a fine sight to see”), which anybody can relate to. Relatability is something copywriters strive for, too. Every time I sit down to write an ad I start with the same basic questions: who am I talking to, and what do I need to say to them? Compelling copy appeals to the audience’s interests, experiences, emotions, needs, and desires.

Good copy also sparks the audience’s imagination. It’s important to write visually, especially if you’re writing for a non-visual medium like radio. I think Frey succeeds here, too. I can picture that street corner. I can see the girl (she’s blonde), and I know what type of truck she’s driving because Frey told me (in two words). And because the writers immediately set the scene (we’re in Arizona), I imagine the Ford is a little bit dusty. Oh, and it’s an early 60s model.

I’m glad Netflix kept insisting that I’d like “History of the Eagles” and that I finally broke down and watched it, because the film’s dissection of that one line reminded me of the things I try to do when I’m writing copy: engage the audience with emotion and imagery, make it relatable, and keep it brief. I now admire that lyric, when previously I’d never given it a second thought. It’s won me over, the way good advertising can.

How to Efficiently Media Buy on TV

Media-ChartsThere are many questions we’re asked when placing a media buy for a client. One of the most frequent questions is…

How do you measure success on a media buy?

One major way we measure the success of a media buy is through the cost per point (CPP) – a ratio based on how much it costs to buy one rating point, or one percent of the population in specified market or area. The CPP is calculated by taking the total amount spent on a specific television station and dividing it by the total number of gross rating points (GRPs). GRPs, pronounced “grips”, are a standard measure in advertising denoting the advertising impact. GRPs are calculated by the total number of spots that you have running in a specific daypart (timeframe) on a TV station, multiplied by that specific daypart rating. Daypart ratings are determined by how many people in the market tuned into that show, or timeframe.

Nielsen and Rentrak are two major global information, data and measurement companies. They create ratings books that will give a rating to every program that runs on TV. Some of our clients advertise all 12 months of the year. So, to get a better idea of how the program we are buying did, we might ask that the TV station rep uses a 4 book average for all 4 seasons of the year. The ratings will be different for whatever age group you decide to use as your demographic. This way, if a November book performs exceptionally, but a July book does not do nearly as well, they would be averaged together and that would be the rating given to that program. This is very important because it affects your cost per point. Whatever the average rating is of all four books is your rating for that program. If we divide the program rating into the spot rate, we get the cost per point.

All markets are different sizes, especially in population. The size of a market typically impacts the cost per point. For example, smaller markets in rural and upstate New York would have lower cost per points than markets of a much larger size like, metro (NYC) area, Buffalo and Albany. Our goal as a media buyer is to reach our audience demographic at the lowest cost per point we possibly can.

Confused yet? Don’t worry… here’s an example:

Station A is #1 in the market (in ratings/viewership). Station B is #2 in the market.
We have a budget of $1000 to advertise with. I receive one proposal from each station using a 4 book average from Rentrak.
Station A’s proposal:
5am-6am morning news – $50 per spot for 4 spots – Rating 2.8
6pm-7pm evening news – $200 per spot for 4 spots – Rating 12.1

So for $1000, I would receive 4 spots in morning news and 4 spots in evening news. If I multiply the rating of 2.8 x 4 morning new spots, this gives us our GRP’s total, which is 11.2. Doing the same thing for evening news, it’s another 48.4 GRP’s. So total for $1000, we would receive 59.6 GRP’s. If we divide the $1000 into the total GRP’s 59.6, we get our cost per point, which is $16.78.

Station B’s proposal:
5am-6am morning news – $25 per spot for 8 spots – Rating 2.2
6pm-7pm evening news – $100 per spot for 8 spots – Rating 8.6
The total GRP’s with the same calculations above would be 86.4 GRPs. And if we divide to get our cost per point, it is $11.57.

As you can see, the #2 station, station B costs $5.21 less to buy one rating point. This example shows you just two dayparts (time slots your ad has to run in), now imagine a cable buy when you are buying 15 different networks and 4 different day parts per network?! Things get crazy. That’s when a media buyer can be essential to ensuring you get the most bang for your buck. The best part, media buying is typically a free service provided by agencies like MPW. You don’t pay extra for this service. A typical 15% commission is paid directly out of your intended media investment. So, you get more value out of the media outlets and don’t have to pay a dime to do it. Now THAT is a win-win.