Shout Out Studio - Marketing That Motivates

Brand Marketing Strategy and Execution

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Photoshop AI

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Photoshop AI 900 1150 The Design Team

You can’t open your eyes or ears these days without crossing paths with the term AI. It’s a hot-button topic, and for good reason. The slope is slippery and steep regarding what can be (or should be) created with the use of AI tools. 

Our team has spent minimal time with tools like MidJourney, but when Adobe introduced Generative AI in the latest version of Photoshop, we began to explore. 

Adobe describes generative AI like this, 

“Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can translate ordinary words and other inputs into extraordinary results. While the conversation around this technology has centered on AI image and art generation, generative AI can do much more than generate static images from text prompts. With a few simple words and the right AI generator, anyone can create videos, documents, and digital experiences as well as rich images and art.” 

It’s worth noting that Adobe has integrated generative AI into several of its products, but for this write-up, we’ve focused on Photoshop as it’s arguably Adobe’s most widely used program. 

Here’s a rundown of our experiences: 


Sure, you can use generative AI to add a rainbow to your photo or replace your father-in-law with a juggling clown. But I was more interested in how generative AI could improve production processes and provide flexibility with image assets. 

For example, say you snapped a photo or sourced one (that allows for alterations), and this photo in question is in portrait format but you’d really like to use it in a square or landscape aspect ratio. With the right steps and prompts, generative AI can help you “expand the content” of the photo, essentially creating the world outside of your photo frame. Below you’ll see the simple steps I took to do just that. 

As with most things in Photoshop, there’s more than one way to get where you’re trying to go. One option would be to expand the canvas using the crop tool, then use the marquee tool to highlight the area you would like to complete and use Generative Fill.

But, if you’re only looking to complete the image outside of the original frame, Generative Expand seems to be the way to go. Simply select the crop tool to expand the original canvas and background layer, then click Generative Expand and let AI determine the most appropriate variations. As with Generative Fill, in Generative Expand, you can provide a prompt or leave the field blank and let AI determine the most “logical” course of action. 


Generative AI in PSD has me tripping. But it might just be a “me problem.” After playing around with these images and trying to add realistic elements to the photo on the right, I’ve realized that writing successful prompts is a skill to be mastered.  

This may seem stupid but the first time I got in there, I selected the whole canvas, wrote “Add flamethrowers behind the guy in this image” and got some very wacky results that eliminated the guy and created a whole new scene entirely. 

The AI algorithm is designed to analyze composition, framing, and cropping but it can only do that when a partial area is selected. 

The trick behind it is specific area selection and descriptive prompts that help the AI understand what you want. They give you tips like, “Avoid using words like add, fill, change, and instead describe exactly what you want generated. “ Doing this helped me get results that were closer to what I was envisioning. 

It isn’t a science, so it takes a lot of experimentation to get the right image and style. 


Take AI for what it is at this moment. AI right now is great for helping expand backgrounds, creating some beautiful scenery, or adding an occasional element. There’s a lot of fun to be had with adding accessories, or maybe even changing what you’re wearing.

If you take the time to figure out how to prompt the program, it can be a great tool. Use smaller selections to fill in the background pieces and overlap your marquee with the current background just enough to give AI something to work with.

Another tip for better results – unless you’re a fan of a few extra phalanges – steer clear of adding humans!

Have thoughts on AI design?

Breaking Bad Marketing Header

Breaking Bad Marketing Habits

Breaking Bad Marketing Habits 1920 703 Nathaniel Seevers
Updated 9/13/23


We get it; you have goals to meet, there’s a lot to do, and there are only so many days in the week. The boss wants to see strong numbers in the next report. You’ve heard, “we need to move the needle,” among other trite business phrases. That sense of “do what it takes” urgency can, over time, instill bad marketing habits that are based on a short-sighted view of progress.

Despite the best of intentions, a large number of companies are using new technologies with old methodologies. From tactical to philosophical, here are 7 marketing bad habits every company should break if they want to see better results. read more

Outsourcing Social Media

Benefits of Outsourcing Your Social Media

Benefits of Outsourcing Your Social Media 1920 700 Isabell Gruetzner

You don’t have to be an expert in social media to capitalize on its benefits. A dedicated team specialized in social marketing can help navigate the many social platforms, rules, opportunities, and content types. 

Social media can be useful for many things, but above all, it should motivate. At the end of the day, a collaborative social media partner should not only help your business connect and engage with your audience in authentic and meaningful ways but develop and execute marketing that benefits both your business and your consumers.

Here, we explore five examples of how the right social media partner can help grow your business — new or old.

Outsourcing Your Social Media

Knowing vs. Communicating

Knowing something and the ability to communicate something are two very different skill sets. While you know your brand best, effectively communicating its message can be a different story. 

Whether you’re a startup still finding its voice or an established business adhering to set standards, establishing a consistent and authentic tone and voice is crucial for connecting with your audience. 

The right social media partner can help you maintain a consistent brand voice, ensuring that every update, post, or image aligns with your brand’s attributes and resonates with your target audience.

Finding Time To Keep Up

Social media is a dynamic medium. While staying up-to-date on new trends and platform innovations is crucial, it can be incredibly time-consuming. 

Like it or not, keeping up with the ever-changing social media environment is only possible for those who can immerse themselves in it daily. A team of individuals who live and breathe social media is your all-in-one resource for assessing the landscape, testing new platforms, understanding opportunities, and identifying fleeting trends — saving you time and enabling you to focus on… you guessed it… whatever it is you do best. 

Audience Monitoring

As your business grows, so too will your audience — leading to increased activity and the need for more monitoring. The cycle goes on. 

Managing social media might be feasible initially, but it can become overwhelming as you continue to expand and see success. Partnering with a social media team will ensure that you have experts available to respond to customer inquiries, establish new customer connections, strengthen existing ones, and revive fading relationships.

This sort of support and attention is also typically required to keep a close eye on and get ahead of any negative reviews, complaints, or public relations crises. 

Investing Where It Counts

Not all social media platforms are made equal. Certain platforms like Yelp, LinkedIn, TikTok and Instagram typically require additional investment to reach new audiences or even maintain an active presence.

This is your social media partner’s time to shine — saving you time and money by identifying which platforms are worth investing your resources into! Once you’ve set your goals, the hard work is done; leave the budgeting, strategizing, and execution to your social media sidekicks. 

Outsourcing Your Social Media

Analyzing Your Efforts

We all know that in order to gauge success, you need to benchmark and analyze key metrics. In the case of social media, this primarily includes followers, reach, engagement, and impressions.

The other half of the story is what most don’t know: how to interpret the data, let alone how the heck it relates to your goals. Needless to say, it can be challenging if you’re unfamiliar with the metrics. 

Outsourcing your social media to a quality partner who will not only interpret your data, identify trends, determine what drives changes in metrics, and suggest appropriate actions to optimize your social media efforts… but will also educate your team on how to do so, if desired. 

Never be afraid to seek outside help regarding your social media strategy. After all, A social media partner can be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal — helping you to effectively communicate your brand message, navigate the ever-changing social media landscape, scale your efforts, allocate resources wisely, and optimize your performance.

Still looking for help, advice, or just have a question? Let us know! No sales. No B.S. Just good, honest answers meant to help you or your team truly understand the value of working with the right social media partner. 

Mobile Design

Cracking Mobile Design: Supercharge Your Business

Cracking Mobile Design: Supercharge Your Business 1900 700 Soteria Mathewson

That feeling when you create an awesome full-width layout for your website. 🙂
And then you look at it on mobile. 😐

When I first started creating for the web, mobile design gave me a reality check. I treated it like an afterthought, something I could clean up later. But I’ve come to realize that this system is not ideal! 

According to Statista, “Over 53% of global website traffic comes from mobile devices.” That means more than half of people will see my “good enough” mobile website and maybe never even visit my perfected, overthought, full-screen design. 

Mobile Design Matters

No matter how spectacular your full-screen design is, if it doesn’t translate to a smaller device, people will hop off before they can scroll to the content they came there to see. Websites that fail to deliver a seamless experience on mobile devices will lose valuable traffic and conversions. 

This isn’t something that consumers take lightly. According to Think With Google, a digital marketing resource, “Mobile-friendly sites have a 67% higher chance of converting users into customers.”

The facts speak for themselves. Optimizing your mobile design allows you to capitalize on this potential for business growth and create better relationships with your customers.

How Can I Fix My Current Website?

If you’ve neglected your brand’s mobile experience, don’t fret, hope is not lost! Many companies are still working toward a seamless mobile experience while testing the boundaries of what people can do on their devices.

Amazon, the top e-commerce provider in the world, has always focused on mobile optimization. In recent years they have implemented responsive design principles, simplified navigation, and enhanced checkout processes to provide a seamless shopping experience on mobile devices.

Ten years ago, making your website “mobile-friendly” was about making sure text and images fit properly on a smaller screen. Nowadays, we are perfecting the use of AI chatbots; testing augmented reality, and using geolocation data to target people personally–all to improve the experience from a mobile device. This may seem like big talk for big brands, but businesses of every size can benefit from improving their mobile device experience.

macbook pro 2018 laptop mockups Vol 13 D

Getting Started

1. Check the Data
We recommend getting started with a Mobile-Friendly Assessment. Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Tool and Google Search Console to evaluate your website’s mobile performance. These tools provide insights into potential issues and technical suggestions to enhance your site’s mobile compatibility and visibility in search results.

2. Once you have the data, think like a user.
Step into the mindset of a first-time visitor and consider their needs and expectations. Evaluate the user journey and identify pain points. Ensure that key elements such as contact information, customer support, and calls to action (CTAs) are easily accessible and prominently displayed.

3. Optimize Viewing
View your website on various mobile devices, including phones, tablets, small laptops, and desktops. Assess how your site adapts to different screen sizes and identify any usability or visual issues. Determine which device your site looks best on and make necessary adjustments to improve the experience across all devices.

4. Streamline and Prioritize Content:
The biggest red flag I get when visiting a new site on my phone is information overload. Don’t be afraid to condense your mobile info, hide unnecessary visuals, and direct people to their desktop for a full viewing experience. Eliminate excessive clutter and distractions that can obscure smaller screens. Streamline your content to prioritize essential elements for the user journey, such as CTAs, forms, and posts.

5. Enhance Loading Speed:
Slow loading speed can significantly impact user experience. Use the Google Page Speed Tool to assess your website’s performance and identify areas for improvement.
And if you are more familiar with the technical side, or have a web design resource handy, consider using these other speed optimization techniques:

  • Utilizing the srcset attribute ensuree optimal visual quality and faster loading times.
  • Explore next-generation image formats like WebP, which offer better compression and quality.
  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to cache and serve your site’s files more efficiently.
  • Load specific JavaScript and CSS files only when needed, reducing unnecessary resource loading.
  • Caching plugins like WP Rocket improve page load times by pre-loading resources.

You may think that speed is only a tech problem, but in fact, it is the designer’s job to ensure that the photos they choose are properly formatted to work with the website. Designers can optimize images by paying attention to the export settings. Photoshop’s Save for Web function for example, is perfect for exporting images with the right balance of file size and quality.

6. Upgrade Your Hosting:
If you’re experiencing persistent performance issues, consider upgrading your hosting provider. Popular shared hosting services like GoDaddy or Bluehost may not always offer optimal performance. Explore reliable hosting options that prioritize speed and reliability to ensure a smooth mobile experience for your visitors.

Maximize Your Mobile Design

Improving mobile design on your website is no longer a luxury but a necessity in today’s mobile-centric world. By implementing some of these tips and techniques, you can create a compelling mobile experience that enhances brand visibility and engages and converts visitors. 

Versa VideosTall 1

Size Matters When Filming Interviews

Size Matters When Filming Interviews 960 1200 Jared

Whether you’re interviewing a coworker for their expertise, a client for their testimonial, or a consumer for their experience, when filming interviews, the video setup will immediately determine the comfort level of your interviewee during your conversation.

With over a decade of client work clocked in, our team has heard all the horror stories. While there are likely multiple companies near you offering professional video services, there’s one thing they ALL bring to the table: The Fear Factor.

If your interviewee is like most people, odds are those bright lights, long mics, and big ‘ol cameras are going to be the first and only thing on their mind until the moment they walk out the room.

Intimidating your interviewee is one of the best ways to tank the quality of their responses before even asking your first question!

Talk about blowing an opportunity — with 79% of consumers claiming to watch testimonials to learn more about a company, product, or service, and 66% reporting they’re more likely to make a purchase after watching testimonial of how a product/service has helped someone else like them. Those are not numbers to ignore.

While a smaller setup, like a “SmallRig,” may not look like much, that’s the whole point now, isn’t it? With a tool like this, your team has everything it needs to film a quality interview… without the whole fear factor!

{ To clarify, this is NOT an ad. We are just adamant believers in quality content marketing and speak from experience that this is a great tool to help teams capture high-quality content. }

The SmallRig includes:

👉 A mount for your phone (easily adjusted horizontally + vertically)

👉 Mounted light (with adjustable brightness + color temperature)

👉 Mounted microphone (that links to your phone’s camera)

👉 Mounted battery pack

👉 All housed on tripod legs with easy-to-hold handles

To clarify, a camera is not included. The SmallRig is intended for use with a phone as the camera. That’s right, no big, expensive cameras required — nearly any smartphone camera captures high-resolution video!

Remember: The less-intimating your setup, the more comfortable your interviewee will be — meaning better conversations, and better marketing materials.

Original: 572w, 3,406c

Smart: 392w, 2,350c

How to Lose a Sale article

How to Lose a Sale in 5 Easy Steps

How to Lose a Sale in 5 Easy Steps 1920 703 Marsh Williams

Ah, the life of a salesperson – endless pitches, countless presentations, and a never-ending quest to hit those quotas. It’s no wonder they spend so much time honing their skills in the art of persuasion. But what about the lesser-known talent of completely missing the point when a customer is ready to make a purchase? Fear not, dear readers, for we have compiled a comprehensive guide to ensure that salespeople everywhere can continue to sabotage their own success.

Step 1: Preparation is Overrated

Why take the time to research your client’s needs or learn about their pain points when you can wing it with a generic pitch? Who cares if you’ve been handed a golden opportunity to customize your approach and demonstrate that you genuinely understand their needs? The key here is to focus on what YOU want to say rather than what the customer needs to hear.

Step 2: Monologue for Maximum Miscommunication

Nothing says “I’m not interested in your opinion” like a good old-fashioned monologue. To truly excel in not listening, be sure to talk non-stop and avoid pausing for breath. As your customer’s eyes glaze over, you’ll know you’ve reached the pinnacle of missing the point, and no matter what, don’t ask the customer what they want because that might distract you.

sales call

Step 3: Fully Embrace the Art of Interruption

Listening is overrated, and there’s no better way to prove this than by interrupting your customer every time they try to speak. After all, how can they possibly contribute anything valuable to the conversation? You’re the expert, and they should be grateful for your insights..

Step 4: Ignore Those Bothersome Buying Signals

Is your customer nodding along in agreement? Are they asking for pricing or delivery details? Whatever you do, don’t acknowledge these buying signals! Instead, plow ahead with your pre-rehearsed script, oblivious to the fact that you could be closing the deal.

Step 5: Power Through Those Questions & Concerns

When a customer asks a question or raises a concern, it’s a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your lack of interest in their needs. Try to brush off their questions or change the subject to something you’d rather discuss. Who knows, maybe they’ll eventually give up on getting their questions answered and just buy out of sheer frustration.


A customer can’t possibly buy until you’ve finished selling. You have an agenda, and you have to get through what you want to say. How could they possibly be qualified to buy when they haven’t heard your presentation, watched your demo reel, or glazed over at your PowerPoint?

Simple Messages Header

Why Simple Marketing Messages are So Darn Effective

Why Simple Marketing Messages are So Darn Effective 1920 703 Marsh Williams

Well, well, well. It turns out that all those fancy marketing techniques, buzzwords, and jargon that you learned in your MBA program aren’t so effective. According to some painfully obvious statistics, simple marketing messages are actually the most effective way to reach customers. Who knew? Let’s take a look at some of these stats.

Attention Span

Attention spans can range from 2 seconds to over 20 minutes, but the average human attention span is mere 8.25 seconds. Oh, and it’s getting shorter. The average human attention span decreased by almost 25% between 2000 to 2015. Humans currently have shorter attention spans than goldfish (9 seconds). So, it makes perfect sense to cram as much information as possible into those precious few seconds, right?

Wrong. In fact, a study by Google found that ads with simple messaging performed better than ads with complex messaging, even when the latter had longer viewing times. So, it seems like customers actually prefer a clear, concise message over a convoluted one. Who would have thought?

simple sign

Clarity is Key

Another study, this time by Nielsen Norman Group, found that users on the Internet tend to scan content rather than read it in full. In fact, they typically only read about 20% of the words on a page. So, if you want to get your message across, you better make it simple and easy to scan.

But why stop at clarity? According to the same study, users also prefer websites with simple, clean designs. So, if you want your marketing message to be compelling, just make sure it’s easy to read, easy to scan, and easy on the eyes. Simple as that.

People Like Brands They Understand

Communications firm, Edelman, found that customers are more likely to trust a brand if they understand what it stands for. In fact, 89% of consumers said they would stay loyal to a brand that shares their values. So, if you want to build a loyal customer base, make it easy for your audience to connect with who you are as an organization.

simple shopping

Let Me Tell You a Story

A guy enters a store to buy a sweater. The shopkeeper starts telling the customer all about the ranch where the wool comes from, how well cared for the sheep are, and the fact that the wool is transported by electric vehicles charged by energy from wind farms. The shopkeeper is thrilled to tell him all about what differentiates his sweater from all the others.

After five minutes, the customer walks out. The shopkeeper follows him and asks why he left. The customer responded, “I don’t care about your sheep. I just want a f*cking sweater.”

The next shopkeeper simply says, “our sweaters are great quality. What size and color would you like?”

Whether by stories or stats, it’s pretty clear that simple marketing messages are more effective. The goal of marketing is to increase awareness of your brand or generate leads; it’s to get the conversation started. The actual conversation is where the marketing handoff to sales takes place. So many companies have so much to say that the tendency is to try to tell a person everything in marketing. So, just stick to the basics, keep your messaging concise, and understand where sales and marketing meet.

Or, you know, don’t. It’s your business, after all.

CG PiinterestTall 1

Building B2B Brand Awareness with Pinterest

Building B2B Brand Awareness with Pinterest 960 1200 Soula Spanorigas

What’s one way to get 1.5 million impressions? How about 3,000 outbound clicks? Don’t sleep on Pinterest for your B2B brand. We leveraged Pinterest to grow Chute Gerdeman’s audience on the platform by using the following approach: 

Set Clear Objectives

Our primary objectives for Chute Gerdeman’s Pinterest are to enhance brand awareness, maximize impressions, and also drive clicks to their work pages. Our goal was to create a holistic and impactful Pinterest presence that not only boosted immediate engagement, but also contributed to the long-term growth and recognition of the brand. 

Know Your Audience

Before developing any boards, we had to deeply understand Chute Gerdeman’s audience and what they searched for. We conducted keyword research related to their work to gain insights into their audience’s interests and understand whether our content would stand out among pins in similar categories. 

Follow Through With Your Approach

Through visually engaging content, our aim was to establish a strong and recognizable presence within the Pinterest community. By leveraging the platform’s visual appeal, we sought not only to attract attention, but also to foster a connection with our target audience. We determined what content we would share, how often we would share, and which categories would resonate most with their audience. For Chute Gerdeman, the primary focus is showcasing their design projects. We crafted Pinterest boards with the themes of grocery store design, restaurant design, retail design, with a look inside the process with sketches and renderings. 

Use Vertical Imagery

The majority of users browse Pinterest on mobile, so it is important to create pins that are formatted vertically. Utilizing vertical imagery aligns with the visual nature of Pinterest, enhancing the user experience and increasing the likelihood of content being noticed, engaged with, and shared. We see most of our success with the use of vertical idea pins. If the photo was not originally taken vertically, we resize and re-crop as needed. 

Go High Quality or Go Home

Aim for the highest quality image possible. Image quality is extremely important on a visual platform like Pinterest. High quality images are important for increased visibility and engagement as well as the optimization of your pin. Pinterest favors the highest quality images. 

Use the Right Language

Put in the effort to ensure there are complete descriptions in your idea pins. Most of the time, we use language from Chute Gerdeman’s website that describes exactly what the images are and how each design was carried out. This can help improve SEO and encourage users to click on links leading back to the website. 

Double Check Links

Make sure the links all work. Every pin should lead to the original source. In our case, this is Chute Gerdeman’s work pages. 

Track Metrics

Pinterest makes it super easy to see which pins are resonating with your audience. Use this information to inform your Pinterest strategy going forward. We saw that restaurant design pins performed particularly well, so we started to pin more in that category. 

Don’t Stop

Consistently pinning is what ultimately led to our client’s success on Pinterest. Daily consistency in pinning will lead to your pins getting more views, and in turn, more clicks to the website, and conversions.

Rewarding Results

Since we began managing Chute Gerdeman’s Pinterest account, their engaged audience on the platform has increased 39% year-over-year. Total impressions increased 27% year-over-year and total outbound clicks have increased 32% year-over-year. 

A combination of consistent pinning, high-quality vertical images, and compelling copy is critical to increasing overall brand awareness each year. 

Stats as of May 2022 to now:

Screen Shot 2023 11 08 at 10.59.09 AM

Think Pinterest might be a good fit for your business? 

architecture 1

Considerations for Marketing Your Architecture Firm

Considerations for Marketing Your Architecture Firm 1700 537 Shout Out Studio

You’ve worked hard to build your firm’s reputation in the architecture industry. But now, you may want to enter a new market—or simply grow your business. As competition increases, you may be finding it harder to rise above the noise. 

Whether your key challenge is attracting the right types of clients, closing sales, growing a new line of business, entering a new market, or moving into a niche, strategically marketing your architecture firm can help get you to where you need to be. But, like with the spaces you design, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Let’s explore a few areas of opportunity where you can get more from your marketing.


Branding vs. Marketing

If marketing is the what and how, branding is the why—why you exist, why clients should believe in you, why first impressions lead to RFIs and RFPs. Brand is more than a name or logo; it’s the firm’s values, philosophy, positioning, and promise–the foundation upon which effective marketing is built. 

For architectural firms, a clearly defined brand that accurately reflects the people and purpose behind the work can fuel marketing communications and attract more of the right kind of client partners. Brand perception may feel abstract, but the results are quite real.

A recent BCG + Google study revealed that “companies with strong brands show a
74% higher return on their marketing investment,and hold a 46% larger market share,
than weaker brands.”

The case for strong branding is clear—it helps connect with your clients emotionally, can create clarity for your internal team, and, most importantly, gets you recognized by potential customers.


Be Where The Search Begins

More than 60 percent of all B2B relationships begin with an online search. Do you know where your firm ranks in Google’s search results? Pull up an incognito tab in Google and search “architecture firm” and “your city.” If you aren’t on the first page, there’s marketing work to be done, and that work begins with the right SEO (search engine optimization) strategy. A marketing partner can create a customized plan that considers all of the factors that influence SEO ranking including content, links, domain authority, and more. Improving your ranking for searches related to your firm’s services can help drive high-quality leads at certain points in the decision-making cycle. 

Important Note: Marketing is not a one-time thing you do–it’s a long game. It doesn’t happen overnight or with the click of a mouse. It takes sustained effort to see results. For sustainable growth to occur for your architecture firm, you have to keep your marketing engine running. But the good news is that you don’t have to waste time on tactics that won’t be effective. 

Let’s work together to craft a
custom marketing plan!


Build an Audience

So where can you build your audience? The better question is: Where should you build you audience? The answer to that will depend on your brand positioning, target audience, and many other factors. Maybe Architectok needs another star. Then again, LinkedIn tends to work best to engage B2B audiences. Choosing the right social media platforms to engage your unique audience and drive them to your website is essential. 

You may be wondering if your firm needs a social media presence. Regardless of how you feel about using it in your personal life, when you look at it through a business lens, it’s valuable, as 40% of B2B buyers use social media to help inform their purchasing decisions, according to a recent Gartner Digital Markets Insights.

While your business won’t be a fit for every social platform out there, the visual nature of your business makes social an ideal place to give your audience the first look at a new design and to show off your completed projects. Building your audience, learning what resonates with them, and doing more of it is how to nurture your audience and move them closer to contract.


Educate Your Prospects

If your architecture firm is like most, at any one moment in time, about 90% of your prospects are in the information-gathering stage. We know that, from years of marketing research, this is the most critical time to engage your prospectand not with a hard sell. 

Most architects don’t long to be salespeople in addition, but one thing we find that many architects loveand are usually really great atis educating. Audiences love to hear architects discuss their philosophy, their process and share details about the projects they have brought to life. Digital marketing can bring these personal stories to the masses and promote your firm simultaneously. For architects resistant to appearing on social media, it may require a simple mindshift from thinking of marketing as selling to thinking of it as educating. This shift has made the difference for many architects who struggle with the “s” word (selling). Marketing is educating! Say it with us!  

Now that you have your educator’s hat on, think about the questions that your prospects have while gathering information online. What can you teach themthat they want to knowthat could make your firm stand out? That information can form the basis of your firm’s new content (articles, videos, social media posts, blogs, etc.). If done correctly, all of that educating will drive new traffic to your website, increase your rank in search results and land you more of the right kind of inquiries. 

Just by sharing the information prospective clients want to know (and some things they haven’t thought of yet), you will have gotten them to your website, where the right conten

Marketing Your Architecture Firm

Wow Them with Your Website

Your website should accurately reflect your brand and your work and encourage prospective clients to reach out for a conversation. It’s important to note that the nature of your business carries higher expectations for the website experience. Much like successful architectural design, the website should strike the right balance of form and function, and the quality should align with the quality of the work you produce for your clients. It’s an opportunity to translate your firm’s brand values to digital.

In this industry, proof points are important. Your website is the ideal place to showcase large, quality images of your work, speak to process and approach, as well as highlight the talent behind the output. An experienced marketing agency will ensure your website not only reflects your brand, but is also user friendly, visually appealing, and informational.

Choose The Right Partner

In the end, marketing is just like any other aspect of your business: it takes time, effort, and resources to succeed. That said, the rewards of successful online marketing can be great. The right marketing agency can help you boost your brand, grow your business, and generate leads to change the trajectory of your architecture business.

Whether your marketing team needs support or you are the marketing team, a highly skilled, knowledgeable marketing partner can tailor a custom strategy to your firm that aligns with your business goals.

Let’s discuss how we can create a tailored marketing strategy together. Contact us.

pexels tranmautritam 326502 1

Refresh or Rebrand?

Refresh or Rebrand? 1920 594 Soteria Mathewson

Refresh or Rebrand? When is it time to change, and how much?

In 2012, Proctor & Gamble launched TidePods, a revolutionary dissolvable pod with multiple cleaning solutions that worked to clean and fight stains without pouring or spills. This invention helped P&G reach a new market and gain a competitive advantage.

Who knew that the “Tide Pod Challenge” would emerge in 2018 and spread like a wildfire as adolescents across the country were “dared” to eat them like a tasty snack. 

You can’t prepare for the stupidity of future generations, and you must always be ready to problem solve. After the “Tide Pod Challenge,” Tide went into crisis management mode and rethought its messaging and packaging. They used a public relations campaign to validate concerns, show action and control the narrative.

When it comes to your business and brand, adaptation is key

In 1994, when eCommerce was officially introduced, it was revolutionary for the shopping experience and terrifying for the design community. Until this point, most agencies and designers focused their creativity solely on print, and television advertising. The online platform introduced a new advertising spot, a smaller canvas, and a more significant challenge for creative professionals. The design industry was forced to adapt to meet the changing needs of the consumers and businesses they worked for. 

That’s how design works.

Values change, needs arise, and design helps us problem-solve. Whether driven by the introduction of new technology, the change in consumer preferences, or the desire to stand out, there’s never a wrong time to evaluate how your company has evolved. And when your company evolves, so should your design. 

This begs the question…

The question is ambiguous because it depends wholly on the state of your company. 

Many companies are scared to overhaul their brands completely. Whether they’re afraid of the backlash or losing the loyalty of their customers, they’ve spent time and money on the old one, or they just don’t think this is necessary, we’ve learned that there is a proper time to rebrand entirely, and a proper time to simply refresh the design elements. 

Even the strongest brands have a shelf life. According to Brand Leader, “Even household names go through a brand overhaul every 7 to 10 years.” 

You know it’s time for a complete rebrand when:

  • Your branding no longer reflects the core values of your company
  • You’re failing to differentiate yourself from competitors
  • Your business model/strategy has changed
  • You’re undergoing a merger/acquisition 

When doing a complete rebrand, it’s not just about visuals. By contrast, a rebrand is a complete repositioning of your brand. With a rebrand, you leave everything about your current brand in the past.

This means re-considering your company, Strategy, Positioning, Personality, Voice & Tone, etc.

Clean Slate.

A great example of this, an impressive rebrand is Burger King

Realizing that they were falling behind in their market and struggling to compete, Burger King began making internal changes to improve the quality of their products and eating experience. They changed their recipes to move towards healthier, more desirable food, refreshed their store design to create a more enjoyable eating experience, and improved the accessibility of their restaurant with curbside pickup spots, a walk-up window, and multiple drive-through lanes. 

To express these quality and structural improvements, they also completely overhauled their brand and visual identity. In 2020, Jones Knowles Ritchie, Executive Creative Director Lisa Smith, and Burger King’s in-house design team worked together to strategize a rebrand that came out in early 2021.

Inspired by the logo roots, they designed a bold and retro logo that better communicates the “best of Burger King” and the energy behind this rebrand.

burger king logo rebrand bk jkr dezeen 2364 col 0

In addition to the logo redesign, they introduced more “in your face” photography and an illustrative style that aims to make the brand appear less synthetic and more desirable. 

burger king rebranding cover 1024x425 1

Burger King has re-evaluated its place in the fast-food industry. They have seen where they are falling short and have overhauled their brand to improve their place in the industry. Much needed and well respected by many renowned agencies, the Burger King Rebrand is an excellent example of the right time and way to Rebrand your company. 

Learn more about the refresh from the design firm here.

The changes made by Burger King were necessary and vast. But perhaps the need for large-scale change isn’t that evident at your company. 

You’re not falling behind, you’re not restructuring, but you simply feel your branding doesn’t quite fit with the world around you. 

This is usually a sign that you may not need a complete overhaul but simply a refresh. 

Reasons to Refresh:

  • To correct out of date trends
  • To showcase core values that arent being appropriately showcased
  • To reflect the evolution of your business
  • To help showcase new product lines

A Brand Refresh is more of a cosmetic solution to a problem; rather than starting from scratch, you’re simply giving the brand/design a facelift. 

When doing a brand refresh, start with the essential core values and evaluate how they are expressed in the visual identity. From there, we find places to improve, whether in typography, spacing, balance, or contrast. In a similar but less dramatic way, The J.M. Smucker Co completed a brand refresh in late 2020 that got some controversial feedback. 

Rather than a complete overhaul, Smucker simply refreshed their identity to reflect the evolution of the company and its products. 


The primary purpose of the Smuckers facelift was to accurately accentuate the company’s diverse portfolio of brands. Although the feedback from this update varied widely. Everyone considering a refresh or rebrand must understand going into it that the changes made will not always be liked. 

Change requires disruption. People hate change. 

Don’t be scared to refresh or rebrand. As your company evolves, so should your design.

See our article, “How to work through a brand refresh,” to learn more about refreshing YOUR logo to match your changing company.

alphagamma Content Marketing World Conference 2020 opportunities

Content Marketing Is No Longer A Luxury

Content Marketing Is No Longer A Luxury 2048 945 Soteria Mathewson

Recently three of our team members attended the annual Content Marketing World Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. They came back energized and excited to share takeaways from this year’s conference.

20220914 073338 1 scaled e1664984755299

What Is Content Marketing?

More than just specific content for your brand, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that aims to distribute valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and nurture audiences, drive profitable customer action, and ultimately help you meet business goals.

Content marketing, like other industries, is constantly changing as technology develops and consumer preferences shift. As leaders in the field, it’s important for us to stay ahead of critical changes and insights that impact our clients’ content marketing efforts.

Here are some takeaways from Content Marketing World 2022 that any business creating content (and that should be all of you!) can use to develop more effective and engaging content.

Double Down On Empathy

Post-pandemic, many people have a heightened sense of uncertainty, vigilance, and distrust. As marketers, empathy and transparency should be the foundation of all of our work. An honest and unexpected approach gains trust and shares an authentic version of ourselves and our businesses that consumers can connect with.

Strategy Is Significant

Many agencies offer the same services. So what sets them apart? It’s not just the social media or web content they create; it’s the content strategy. Anyone can create content, but a valuable agency partner communicates a consistent stream of meaningful information across all channels. Look for a strategy-first agency to ensure your marketing dollars are used most effectively.

Play The Long Game

Content marketing, done right, takes time. Sure, we can see an immediate impact from campaigns, but for a long-term, sustainable marketing program to be successful, a patient approach is needed. You need time to build an audience that knows, trusts and likes you and to see results that will move the needle.

Audience First

Creating content that your audience connects with is not as simple as it seems. Gain an understanding of your customer rooted in data and insights—not just demographics, but how and why they buy, what they hope for, and even what they fear. Craft content in your sweet spot—the intersection of your expertise and what buyers need and want to know. Test your content with a small audience segment and revise the content strategy as needed based on their response.

Content marketing is just one important piece of the marketing puzzle. If you’re creating content without an integrated marketing strategy, you’re left wondering if your content (and dollars) are making any meaningful impact. Need help connecting the dots and upping your marketing game? We’d love to help. Helping is our favorite.  and let’s chat about how to put our expertise to work for your business.


Announcement Header

Announcements, Announcements, A-n-n-o-u-n-c-e-m-e-n-t-s

Announcements, Announcements, A-n-n-o-u-n-c-e-m-e-n-t-s 1920 703 Shout Out Studio

Shout Out Studio Acquires Good Clover Communications

June 14, 2022, Columbus, OH – Shout Out Studio, a full-service brand marketing agency based in Columbus, Ohio, has announced the acquisition of Good Clover Communications, a marketing and communications agency also based in the Columbus area. The acquisition positions Shout Out Studio for continued growth within the Columbus market and beyond.  

“Bringing Good Clover Communications into the Shout Out Studio fold will allow us to offer bolder strategies to help our clients continue to connect to their audiences in meaningful ways,” said Shout Out Studio CEO Marsh Williams. 

Melissa Braithwaite, the owner of Good Clover Communications, joined the Shout Out Studio team as Director of Client Marketing in May.

“We are thrilled to welcome Melissa to the Shout Out Studio leadership team,” Williams said. “From the first time we met, there was a foundation for a great relationship. We know she will be an incredible asset to the team, and mostly, to our clients.”

Braithwaite brings nearly 20 years of experience in marketing communications, public relations, and content creation to Shout Out Studio. Her passion lies in creatively approaching marketing problems to engage, connect, and drive business. Two of her associates from Good Clover, Christine Bryant, and Dani Goodman, will join the Shout Out team.  

“I am blown away by the amount of talent at Shout Out Studio, and I am humbled and excited to join their ranks. I am thrilled to join this highly creative team as the Director of Client Marketing and look forward to helping to drive the agency forward,” Braithwaite said.   

About Shout Out Studio

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Shout Out Studio is a collaborative group of thinkers, creators, learners, doers, and partners to our clients. Though our work connects us with folks across the country, we’re proud to call Columbus, Ohio, our home. We feed off of our city’s creative energy, caring nature, and sense of collaboration. 

Collectively, our group has developed brand communications for global, national, and regional brands, executed marketing campaigns for tens of thousands, and increased digital effectiveness for scores of companies, both large and small.

For more information, contact us. 

group of people sitting around a conference room table talking about SEO

Understanding SEO, What Senior Executives Need To Know

Understanding SEO, What Senior Executives Need To Know 1440 773 Shout Out Studio

If they haven’t already, someone is going to tell you, “We need to spend money on SEO to improve our search rankings on Google.” There are a few things you need to consider when that happens.

Understanding SEO; in a nutshell, SEO does two basic things. First, it ensures that your website can be seen by search engines and technically matches what those engines expect to find; the technological crossing of T’s and dotting of I’s.

It’s the second SEO function that people are usually more interested in— : achieving higher placement in search engine results.

Understanding SEO

What really helps boost Google rankings is not SEO–it’s content marketing!

When businesses want better search rankings, they usually look for a quick fix. There isn’t one. The only way to get the Google placement you want is to consistently create valuable content with which your target market regularly engages.

That means, to achieve better Google rankings, you must commit to regular, ongoing content creation like blog articles, social media posts, and publication outreach. That commitment means you must have—or find– the resources to sustain it all.

This is where SEO really contributes to its own success. It provides answers to the following key questions: What content does my target market want? What relevant Google searches should include my company in the results? What searches are my competitors capturing? And what content will it take to “out-Google” them? SEO research can give you those answers and more. It’s the have-to-have tool to inform your content strategy.

Successful content marketing involves incredibly detailed planning.

Effective research is the key, but it takes the right software, clear goals, and the know-how to analyze the data and make a plan to achieve the results and better rankings you want. The right tool (we use SEMRush) in the experienced hands of the right team can take you where you want to go, delivering both upfront research and follow-on analytics.

Through research you’ll learn:

  • Phrases/words your potential customers use to search for your product or service.
  • How many frequently those keywords/phrases are used, in each search engine, in your country, state, and/or city.
  • The competitive landscape for those keywords. You can bet there are others who are intentionally or inadvertently drawing traffic by using the same words you are targeting. Which words/phrases are less competitive? Let us tell you.
  • Which keywords are your competitors using and how to best co-opt them for your purposes
  • Which keywords have the highest probability of leading people to your website?

Like content creation, effective SEO research is an ongoing process of discovery and analysis. Trends will emerge over time, and with the right resources in place, your position in Google’s results will improve. (By the way, if you’re into techno-lingo, they’re called SERPs: Search Engine Results Pages.)

Optimizing the content you create is also a must to improve search engine rankings.

A lot of technical details matter here – where your keywords fall on a page, how many times they are used in an article, more specifics than you could possibly keep track of — and they’re all important. Once again, the right tools allow us to guarantee that all content is optimized for every page, blog article, and image on your website.

Understanding SEO

A brief message about Organic vs. Paid Traffic, or Content vs. Ads

Ads, particularly promoted posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram ads, or Google ads, should absolutely be included in your content marketing strategy. Just remember that they have little-to-no shelf life. The second you stop spending money on them, they disappear.

Great content, however, can have an incredibly long shelf life and will continue to draw search engine traffic for as long as it is on your website. Knowing this is essential to understanding SEO and how it works.

While Google Ads can be a shortcut to the top-of-the-page it just will not perform as well as organic in terms of CTR (click-through rate). With 80% of all searches on Google leading to a click on pages one, two, or three, that means all those Google ads are fighting for the remaining 20% of traffic.

My final comment on organic versus paid traffic depends on the users’ intent. When people go to Google, they search with specific intent. Conversion rate data show a big difference between ad results (1.5% for B2B) and organic content results (2.6%). That difference translates to a 73% better conversion rate for organic traffic.

The End Game, Understanding SEO

Many executives and their well-meaning advisors misunderstand where and when to fold SEO into the marketing mix. While it plays a valuable role in effective marketing planning and execution, SEO is not some magic silver bullet guaranteed to get you the highest search engine results. SEO is part of the puzzle, a tool, for defining the correct content in your overall marketing strategy.

Interested in a cup of coffee and a conversation?

Every client relationship we have started with a simple conversation, usually over coffee, we love to brainstorm and answer questions. If you have any please let us know…we’ll spring for the coffee.


Local Search & the Link to Online Reviews

Local Search & the Link to Online Reviews 1920 703 Shout Out Studio

For most companies, it’s not so much a question of if managing your brand’s online reputation is important; it’s more a question of “where does online reputation management fall on my list of priorities?” It’s a fair question. To which the answer is, while there are many facets to reputation management, the best place to start is the area with the greatest opportunity.


More than 10 billion searches are conducted on Google every month. That’s a monster number, and many of those searches involve someone looking for a particular type of business or service. In fact, 92% of consumers regularly read online reviews to learn about a business,1 but here’s the catch; 94% of people only look at the first page of Google search results. 1 It’s easy to see just how crucial that first-page ranking can be, and therein lies the opportunity–on the first page of all those local searches.

Consider this scenario. It’s a Friday evening, and you’re craving sushi but want to change it up from your local go-to spot. You search online, “sushi restaurants near me.” Essentially your goal is two things: determine what’s near you and what’s good.

An ad appears and a few initial listings. Instinctively you start scanning the listings to help make your selection. You start at the top browsing ratings and reviews, likely the pictures too. You notice Akai Hana with 1,102 reviews and a 4.7 rating. Good, right? You scan a few reviews and see someone recommends Sukiyaki, and you’re sold at that point. Problem solved, dinner ordered. What you didn’t notice, had you kept scrolling, was restaurant X with only two reviews and a 3.0-star rating. And that’s not uncommon.

There are several reasons for the search results you receive, but research suggests online reviews are now the second most important factor for local rankings.2  Much like fresh content is vital for SEO, so are reviews. Search engines factor in your review profile (including quality and quantity) when calculating where your business will show in the search results. Obviously, the higher the rating out of 5 stars, the better. What most folks don’t expect is that your reviews need to be recent and high volume as well, especially in comparison to your competitors. “When you acquire [reviews] regularly, they provide a constant influx of fresh content for the search engine spiders to digest.”2


More than ever, consumers are looking for signals of trust, and what people say about your brand builds credibility. Often, companies fail to cultivate their good reviews and what remains online as a representation of the business are those few negative experiences. Train staff and team members to ask customers in-person. Provide links on your website, email signature, newsletters, thank pages, or on receipts. You can even ask for feedback on social media.

Want to continue the conversation on customer feedback? Reach out to learn more about our review generation process.

Sales postheader

Why Sales is No Longer About Selling

Why Sales is No Longer About Selling 1920 703 Nathaniel Seevers

My wife and I leased a new car recently. Pre-COVID. We don’t change cars often, but it was time. We settled on a budget-friendly, Ohio winter-friendly, grown-up, anti-college-car car.

This was the first time at a dealership in a while. For some reason, I guess I expected the approach had changed since so many other consumer interactions have. But nothing seemed that different.

I spent some time in new car sales during college. People who know me know how ridiculous that sounds. Not because there’s anything wrong with car sales. There are absolutely great dealerships out there filled with honest, attentive sales associates. More so, because I’m what you might call a fumbling introvert.

It all got me to thinking about sales today. How it’s not really about selling at all if you’ve grown and evolved along with purchasing habits and consumer expectations.

It’s not hard to find biting stats like these when it comes to sales:

  • 7 out of 10 customers believe that the sales reps are product-focused rather than customer-focused
  • Only 13% of customers believe a salesperson can understand their needs.



Externally it’s about:

  • Teaching: not the feature-benefits but teaching what to expect in the process and after.
  • Clearing the misconceptions: allowing for transparency in who is involved, how the service/product compares, and how there’s a real possibility that it doesn’t fit with the customer’s needs.
  • Acknowledgment of reservations: hearing the customer and talking with them not talking around them.
  • Anti-segmentation: less lumping into groups, more individualization. What’s that you say? You can’t “scale” like that? Focus your processes on quality over quantity.
  • Being a trusted advisor instead of a “consultative salesperson.” Here the conversation starts at a higher level instead of a transaction.

Internally it’s about:

  • A seamless connection between marketing, brand management, and the “sales” interaction
  • The right mix of Direct and Indirect (inbound, content-driven) Lead Generation
  • The beginning of your customer retention efforts. Even before the first sale is complete you are building credit toward return and/or expanded business.

A recent Salesforce Research study shows that “84% of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.”


Sales is not about selling anymore. When organizations consider the sales process part of the experience, everyone wins.

Thoughts or experiences on the subject? Share them with us on social.

photo credit: Unsplash


Mass Market Emails: Why You’re Doing It Wrong

Mass Market Emails: Why You’re Doing It Wrong 1920 703 Shout Out Studio

E Blasted.

306.4 billion emails are sent and received daily as of this year (2020).6 Don’t worry; we’ll give you a minute.  Because if you haven’t heard that statistic before, it’s likely to floor you. Three years ago, 74% of consumers were already overwhelmed by “Email Overload,” according to a study released by Edison Software.2 In that same year (2017), the number of emails sent and received each day was 269 billion.1

Thereafter until now, we have seen a nearly 14% increase of emails flood both personal and professional inboxes around the world. And that’s not even getting in the weeds of how Covid-19 has pushed email to become one of the most used forms of communication. As the boundaries between homes and offices continue to overlap, we expect the fatigue of ‘email abundance’ (for both professional and personal inboxes) to become inexorably linked.


Email: Dead Or Dying?

Doubtful.  We asked ourselves if people still wanted to receive emails anymore.  And on the surface, one would expect that the answer is no. But hold on, 99% of consumers say they check their personal email every single day3. Chances are when you’re conducting an email campaign, you’re going to be sending at least a few emails to personal email accounts. So, given that the open rate is about 15%4 for Mass Market Emails, there seems to be a huge disconnect.  Should businesses give up on appealing to and communicating with consumers via email if such a small percentage of Mass Market Emails are being opened? We don’t think so. Brands like Rivaltech suggest making a full switch to social media messaging from email, but we think there’s another way.5 People do still want emails from the right sender, with the right message.


Empathize, Then Engage.

So how can you increase that open rate as a small business owner or entrepreneur?  Essentially it boils down to two points. Point 1. Respect Your Audience: the details matter.  Do the little important things like keeping your word count concise: 50 to 125 words boasts a 50% email response rate.  Or making sure consumers can read your email on mobile.4 “Over 70% of consumers read their emails in a mobile app, and just under 70% delete the email if it displays poorly.” Yikes.

And Point 2. Deliver Value.  Make the emails you send, count. Quality over quantity. “69% say they unsubscribed because of a high frequency of email.” If 99% are checking their personal email daily, those consumers are looking for something to catch and keep their attention.4 Don’t send out a flurry of emails you would be overwhelmed by as a consumer, which would ultimately lead you to unsubscribe if you were the recipient.

Email will work, but only when done right.

Have questions about email marketing? We’re here to help. No sales pitch just honest answers. Reach out here>

Creating effective social media posts

Getting Beyond Meh…Creating Effective Social Media Posts

Getting Beyond Meh…Creating Effective Social Media Posts 1920 703 Shout Out Studio

Creating social media posts is really easy, creating effective social media posts that actually accomplish something isn’t.

What are you doing?

This is the question I have started asking myself with every post created for our company or our clients. This gives fundamental guidance, and it’s helping.

I also think of a post as a type of Mad Lib.

These are my questions:

I want to __________________ with this post?

  • share something interesting
  • share knowledge
  • share a fact
  • share point of view
  • teach something
  • promote our company or services

I’m writing it for people _____________.

  • who already follow our company on social media
  • who already know of our company
  • people who are looking for information related to the services we provide
  • people who may be looking for knowledge we are sharing
  • people who are trying to learn about a topic

When a person reads it I hope they will ________________.

  • be glad they took the time to read it
  • learn something
  • laugh
  • find it interesting enough to share
  • remember it

If the goal is to get someone to complete an action make it easy for them, tell them what you’d like them to do:

  • encourage them to respond with a comment
  • give them a link to the intended destination
  • give them relevant details for planning
  • It’s important to remember the context of the platform…
  • embedded links are always helpful
  • if you want to provide links on Instagram, use LinkTree or Later as a means of providing multiple links not just a single profile link
  • each social platform should have its own voice, tone, and purpose in your efforts
  • know your followers, can you post the same content on each platform or is there so much overlap in followers that each platform has a unique place in your plans

Also, consider that, while most organizations undoubtedly publish more than one piece of content on a topic, a single post may be all one person sees. In creating a post, does it stand alone and provide enough information to be of value; it should. Organizations cannot, and should not, assume that people will see the entire body of work on a topic, nor that people should need to, to gain an understanding of your message.

Finally, we use Agora Pulse for all social media, it has definite advantages, but one of the biggest is that it works with Grammarly and lets us get two sets of eyes on every post. Agora or not, always have someone else look at your post if you can.These are my rules, and while they don’t have to be yours, it’s always good to have some in place to help everyone understand what your organization is trying to achieve with social media messaging.


If you’re a small business or non-profit and you need help, advice, or you just have questions, let us know. We will set up a call or video chat to walk through your questions and provide counsel free of charge. Contact us here or on social.

No sales, just good honest answers to help. We’re all in this together.

VirtualWork postheader

Tips and Tools for Virtual Work

Tips and Tools for Virtual Work 1920 703 Shout Out Studio

It’s a brand new world and for the first time many are finding themselves working in a comfortable, but unfamiliar space; at home. While we have been fortunate enough to experience this before we also realize it is new to many so we’ve put together some of our top tips for being productive while operating in this new era.


To us “Social Distancing” means be physically apart but socially connected…our primary ally in that approach is Slack.

Staying in touch is one of the biggest issues for teams, learning to work apart but still needing to feel connected by purpose and personal exchange. We use Slack as our mainstay to address this. Many people are aware of Slack and live by it, yet many are not.

In its simplest form, we use Slack to facilitate day-to-day communication around the needs of our clients and our projects on their behalf. The company describes it as an alternative to a crowded inbox, a description that does not do it justice. It is an incredibly more efficient than email for our purposes it also allows us to aggregate data, files, and conversations into a single “channel,” as they call it.

We’ve also gone as far as using it to replicate office dynamics by creating a channel we call #watercooler, for jokes, office conversations, and miscellany.

If you have the professional version, once a channel is set up you can easily call all of the “members” with audio or video conferencing and screen sharing. It really is a no brainer. If you are unsure they have a great free version which we used for months before we upgraded; it’s about $7.00/month/person.

It integrates with many apps:

  • Calendar
  • Project Management
  • Time Keeping
  • Google Drive
  • Box
  • DropBox

This page probably gives the best overview

…and yes Micorosft has what they call “teams,” but it’s not as user friendly and after all it is Microsoft.

Slack mock


Working from home has been a learning experience for me from the beginning. A trial and error process where I am continuously finding new things that work and others that don’t. Let’s start with the latter.

When I first took on this role, we began working from home more than I was used to, I had to adapt quickly to the new work pace. I found myself so concerned with productivity that I wouldn’t leave my workspace for hours at a time. I would dive into work and not pick up my head until the late afternoon. While that may sound great, more than a day or two of it left me feeling burnt out. I was sick of looking at the same room and always desperate to get out of my house, but too exhausted to do so. Not the right fit for me.

The solution? A schedule that included valuable (and mandatory) breaks, healthy snacks, room changes, and exercise. I start work before breakfast. By the time 10:30 am rolls around I have gotten two hours of extremely productive work in and I am hungry! I take a break to make a quick breakfast, I change my environment and I start on my next work block of time. This block I let myself tell me when it’s time for a break. Sometimes it’s another two hours, other times it’s three. I use my lunch break to get in a quick workout and a small meal, allowing me to have the energy to finish the day strong. I then change rooms again and work until 4, and spend the rest of the work day taking stock of what I completed that day and plan for the next usually with my dog by my side and ready for a walk.

Dividing my day up into three sections makes me feel energized and accomplished at the end of the day. I am able to close my laptop, and have valuable hours of “me time” before it’s time to wake up and start again.


One constructive thing I’ve learned is that I need to set rules for my virtual workspace. If the strategy is to work productively, two items are more significant than others. Tactics for managing time, and boundaries for anything outside of work. Work needs to be separate from your television, games, and ideally social media for example. I believe the best way to implement these tactics is to set a timer for blocks of time, on your phone or on your computer.

Scheduling specific blocks of time manages focus, and gives a sense of urgency that may otherwise be lacking from your home environment. In a big way, it provides more freedom with structure. When structuring my day, I usually focus on two hour chunks at a time. If I know I’m working on a project, I’ll schedule for 4 hour blocks. No matter what, I’m loosely giving myself a deadline for what I want to accomplish. Once I’ve accomplished what I want, that’s where the boundaries come into play. If I do everything I set out to do within the timeframe I allot, or faster, I’ll allow myself a 20 minute break or so (until my next block of time) to do something I enjoy – taking a walk, reading a bit, video games, or fictional writing.

If using your computer to set a time, just type “timer” into a Google search, or find it here. The Google timer has a pretty unpleasant sound when the time expires, so you may want to go with your phone. Either way, the goal is to set those blocks of time to do a task or project. And be honest with yourself. We’re human, we’re going to get off track. So if you set a two hour block of time until you’re setting yourself a 20 minute break, but end up only working for an hour and a half, skip the break. Whenever possible, avoid deferring any unproductive work time to “after work hours.”



As countless memes have highlighted, those of us on the more, let’s say, hermit-like end of the spectrum, are less freaked out by social distancing and an abundance of home time.

I work well from home. I’ve done so for years, in some capacity or another. My home office is comfortable, it’s filled with natural light, my favorite books, my favorite records, and often a snoring dog. So I wasn’t too concerned about working from home full-time. What I didn’t account for was my wife also working from home full-time.

Ours is a small place with old walls. Sound absorption is not its strong suit, to say the least. After a couple of days haphazardly working from the couch, stumbling through the hours of the day, and taking video calls, we realized that getting back to some resemblance of a routine was important.

Now, as if it were a normal day (or world), we wake up, (sometimes) work out, shower, make coffee, have breakfast, and arrive at our laptops prepared to work at a normal work time. We’ve designated two separate workspaces that don’t involve the couch. My wife got the office this week and I set up shop in the dining room for now. To mitigate the noise, we’ve shared our work calendars with one another and we try to stagger video conferences.

We still ask one another about the day ahead over breakfast. We still meet up for lunch, it just happens to be in the kitchen instead of a local restaurant. We take an afternoon break to walk the dog. We make plans for dinner then try to create some separation between work and everything else. We’re doing what we can, and a smart work routine that somewhat resembles our pre-COVID19 daily lives helps.

If you’re a small business or non-profit and you need help, advice, or you just have questions, let us know. We will set up a call or video chat to walk through your questions and provide counsel free of charge. Contact us here or on social.

No sales, just good honest answers to help. We’re all in this together.


Targeting Has Changed – And So Should You!

Targeting Has Changed – And So Should You! 1920 703 Shout Out Studio

The Most Effective Way To Connect:

For marketing to be effective, a business must target.  This isn’t a new concept; but why is it important? Consumers don’t want companies to make broad assumptions and treat them like the masses. Consumers want brands to dive deeper, and make an effort to speak to them in unique and meaningful ways. Targeting is a careful, measured approach to finding your preferred client.  Ideally, we want consumers to know that we want to understand them, and want to connect authentically.

In many ways, targeting hasn’t changed: we still want to pinpoint an archetype.  But there’s another, highly significant layer now: connection.  That variable, connection, used to be a cherry on top of a metaphorical ice-cream sundae, but now it’s the expectation.  However, the return on investment of consumers who appreciate our significant and genuine connection with them, is invaluable.


Calculating… Targeting Refined

So how should we alter our approach?  When consumers are successfully targeted by a company, they feel like that company cares about who they are individually; that they’re more than just a number or email address in the database.  This is because, when done right, the way we target should discover more than demographics data.  We want to aim to consider all of the pertinent information of the group we wish to pursue.

For example, if you’ve determined that a group of the population has an unmet need for kitchen knives you could immediately begin with an age demographic (independent adults perhaps), combined with location, and possible gender needs; standard targeting.  In addition to that, let’s start with questions to understand our consumer better. We might ask something like:

  • Why do they need or want sharp cutlery?
  • What do they intend to do with their cutlery once received?
  • What other household products might they also be buying?

With this, maybe we discover that the consumer doesn’t just want cutlery, they want a faster, easier way to prepare their vegetables.  We may come up with a product that can create this effect instantaneously – a knife that steams vegetables as it slices.  The important thing is that we’ve humanized our consumer more than the collective demographics could. We care about the what and the why.  Now we can garner the additional pieces of information we need. That’s how we connect.


Adjust Your Aim Like Scotts Did

Scotts Miracle Grow
Targeted Segment:

  • Male
  • Homeowner
  • Limited product knowledge *
  • 27 – 35
  • Earning 50,000 + per year
  • Sports enthusiast

When the 2016 earnings reports came across the desk of retailers, many were panicked, struggling to determine how to continue reaching their existing target audiences in the ways that matter.  A lot of millennial bashing occurred, because frustrated companies could not understand what had changed.  Instead of adjustments, judgements were made.

Not Scotts.  In fact, since 2006, Scott’s reported yearly earnings have been consistently above 2.6 million in annual revenue.  That is, with the exception of the period between 2014-2016 where revenue hovered around 2.5 million or lower.  Scotts was not impacted quite the same way some other retailers were, but there was a clear, industry wide consensus that “reaching millennials,” was imperative.  Scotts was no different.  They effectively had two choices.

They could have chosen to change their formula entirely by choosing a different target.  Instead, they chose to keep their existing formula, but tweaked it so that it embraced the parts which were now different.  In 2015, they likely asked themselves:

  • Are all our criteria for our target market still relevant?
    • Yes except for age.
  • How are 27 year old’s different now than they were 10 years ago?
    • Many grew up in an environment not prioritizing lawn care and maintenance.

It’s no secret that millennials have presented a uniquely complex set of obstacles for most retailers. After researching the parameters it had once set for itself, Scott’s understood at least one of the very distinct differences – the lack of product knowledge.  Thus, they made it a point to incorporate instructional videos for all things lawn-care related, right down to the mulch calculator.  As of 2019, Scotts enjoyed its record high revenue of 3.15 million for the year.


Aim True

Your target can be the same, but the variables required to hit the target may change.  Any marksperson who participates in trapshooting knows that you can’t ignore the wind.  For that matter, any sailor trying to reach land on a sailboat must acknowledge the same variable.  Whether the target is a skeet, an island, or a person, variables will shift, and you have to be accepting of that.  You still want to strive to hit the target, of course, your business depends on doing just that. It’s fine if it’s the same target every single time.  Just don’t expect to be able to hit the same target in the same way when the wind changes.

Your consumers are people after all, and people change.

InstagramTheft postheader

Instagram is Facilitating Theft from Users

Instagram is Facilitating Theft from Users 1920 703 Marsh Williams

The Problem

More and more companies are stealing from Instagram users, and Instagram is driving the getaway car.

Over the last few months, I have noticed, as an Instagram user, many suspicious-looking ads on the platform, and recently these ads have moved from suspect to outright fraudulent. Ads showing one product and shipping a far inferior version are commonplace, and as a target of these ads, all I can do is report them and hope Instagram will review them.

Recently, I’ve noticed a new trend of companies that advertise nonexistent products going as far as creating websites to support their fraud only to disappear a few weeks later. That leaves Instagram purchasers to navigate the complexities of refunds from their credit card companies or, God forbid, PayPal.

F5745514 8ECB 4CA2 B516 97F9CEACFF06 1 105 c
ss ad 2

To be completely honest, I fell for a couple of these. One was for a Nano Screen Protector, which would allow your iPhone to crack walnuts and not be scratched. The other was a carbon fiber camera tripod I’ve been coveting from Peak Design. The tripod retails for about $700 (I know I have a problem, I’m in a group for that), but when I saw it advertised on Instagram for hundreds less, I bought it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until later that the synapses fired off.

After some research and communication with Peak Design, it was clear that the ad and the supporting website were utterly false. The thief had simply stolen all of the content from Peak’s site and pretended to be a reseller. I’m still going through an incredibly draconian process with PayPal to get my money back, but the counterfeit seller has really figured out how to game the system and make that almost impossible.

Subsequently, I have gone through a period of about four weeks looking for suspect ads, researching their offerings, and reporting the advertisers to Instagram when warranted. To their credit, I have received several responses from Instagram stating that “The ad you reported violated our Ad Guidelines and has been removed;” however, in most cases, this just initiated a game of “Account Whack-a-Mole.”

The underlying problem is that Instagram has zero incentive to stop this type of activity; in fact, they have an incentive to perpetuate it since they make money on every click.

F899428E 5FC2 4BC4 A95B 0F1FC4060C6D 1 105 c
72B54978 161C 414D 856D D5A8C6E23E21 1 201 a

Instagram’s Celebrity Solution

For celebrities and brands, Instagram offers a verification process that yields a coveted “verified” checkmark next to the account name indicating its legitimacy. The process is well documented, and all parties take it very seriously.

This verification process has been in existence for an extended time, it keeps unscrupulous people from impersonating others, and helps verified accounts protect their brand from those who might use their name or image for an illicit activity or ill-gotten gains.

So here’s the real question, if Instagram has a process for verifying celebrity accounts, why can’t they have a process for verifying legitimate advertiser accounts?

Why doesn’t Instagram create and apply an advertiser verification process for those who want to become verified and give themselves an advantage in the “click” game?

There is no reason Instagram can’t do this; they just have to “want to,” and there’s the rub. They make money from every click even if the sponsor is stealing from their users.

What Should Happen?

Instagram should take the side of their users and intervene. There should be an opportunity for Advertisers to become verified and display that they have been vetted. As part of this, Instagram should create a standard that requires all verified advertising to adhere to all government regulations regarding claims of product performance or benefit.

The outlines for this process are already set forth by the FTC and the FDA. This brings Instagram into the general realm of compliance, where other publishers and media outlets live. It may not be a perfect step, but is it a step forward.

The real problem for Instagram: we are the product; they are selling access to our eyeballs and bank accounts. I’m by no means the first to float this assertion, but viewing the relationship this way makes it is easy to understand why the platform has little incentive to address this issue.

How about it Instagram…you willing to step up?

© 2023 Shout Out Studio, LLC
Skip to content