More to Come

The CMW Food and Drink Guide to Cleveland

If you’re anything like me, the first step in planning a trip is deciding where to eat. So if you haven’t already developed your Content Marketing World eating agenda, you’re already behind schedule. But it’s ok. I’m here to help.

When Cleveland started to shake off its worn-out rest belt ruins image a few years ago, food was a big part of the transition. In fact, one of our best restaurant neighborhoods only happened because it was a place where chefs could get cheap rent in the early 2000s.

Our restaurant scene rivals any city out there and we have Iron Chef Michael Simon and recent James Beard Award winner Jonathon Sawyer to prove it.

Now that you’re convinced, let’s talk about some of True’s favorite spots. Let me start by saying, just because something isn’t on the list doesn’t mean we don’t like it. We can only cover so much, so these are just our favorites by proximity to the Convention Center. From near to far, wherever you are – whether you want 4-stars or a cozy bar:

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Downtown/Gateway/Civic Center District – 5 minutes walk south of convention center

This is the heart of downtown. This is where you will see people coming to/from Indians games, shopping, headed to concerts. Make sure you walk around a little bit. See the casino. Check out Tower City.

Nice dinner | East 4th

There are a several great restaurants on East 4th St. This short pedestrian street is as far as a lot of tourists dive into Cleveland’s food scene. All great spots, but it’s the tip of the iceberg. If you’re eating here, my favorites are:

  • Chinato – Outstanding Italian – Far beyond meatballs and red sauce. See what I mean . Chef Zach Bruell is among the best in the city. Of his eight restaurants in Cleveland, this is definitely my favorite.
  • Butcher and the Brewer – Unique setting, great brewery, lots of meat. Think bone marrow apps, lamb ribs and dry-aged beef.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | Barrio

Barrio started as a little taco shop a couple years ago. Now, they have three shops across the city with the recent addition of a downtown location. The big idea: tacos your way. You choose the meats, toppings and sauces on a tear-off ticket and turn it over to the waitress. The only possible mistake is a burst shell due to overstuffing. Recommendation: Opt for the stoner shell. It’s a hard shell fastened to a soft shell with chorizo and queso.

Dessert | Colossal Cupcakes

There are cupcakeries all over this city, but this one stands out. For two reasons: One, amazing cupcakes inventions like s’mores and strawberry french toast. Two, it’s in the 5th St. Arcades – a historic hotel/shopping center hybrid you have to see to believe.

Downtown/Flats – 5 minutes walk west of convention center

Full-disclosure. This is the part of town I eat the least often. There’s a lot of new stuff going in to this part of town right now. There’s also a certain amount of construction. More stuff is constantly opening up so I’m not fully up to date on what’s good here. Please… don’t hold it against me.

Nice Dinner | The Willeyville

This place has a really unique menu. Something for everyone – from a burger to ramen bowls with house-made noodles. They describe their food as “handcrafted” and they mean it. If it can be made in-house, it is.

Drinks | Portside Distillery

This place is becoming one of my favorite breweries in Cleveland. You can find a few of their beers throughout the city, but the pub-exclusives are top-notch. Not the type of place to rage until 2 a.m., but a great place for a quiet beer.

Ohio City – $5 Uber West

This is still Cleveland. I only state this because the question always comes up. Ohio City is a little walkable neighborhood just west of downtown with some of the best bars and nightlife in the city. If that’s not enough, there are three breweries less than a 5-minute stumble apart. But on the food side, there are a few standouts.

Nice dinner | Black Pig

Expertly prepared French-inspired food. I have never had a bad meal at the place. From daily pastas to short ribs to some of the most adventurous charcuterie in the city. As one of the better seasonal menus in the city, you can pretty much shut your eyes and point and end up with an amazing meal.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | ABC the Tavern

Don’t be alarmed by The Misfits playing on the jukebox. This is some of Cleveland’s best food served out of paper boats. Daily specials, lamb quesadillas and atomic dogs (split hotdog, stuffed with jalapenos, wrapped in bacon, deep-fried, finished with Sriracha aioli – enough said).

Drinks | Nano Brew

Originally it was a pretty small space, but “Nano” brew has taken over adjoining real estate. They still specialize in nano (smaller than micro) batches of beer. Beyond house beers, there’s a great selection of crafts. Also, the rooftop patio has an unbeatable view of downtown.

Dessert | Mitchell’s

The word’s “Mitchell’s” and “ice cream” are synonymous to a lot of Clevelanders. Great seasonal flavors. Plus, the Ohio City shop has a full view of their state-of-the-art kitchen so you can see where the magic happens.

Tremont | $5 Uber South

Remember that thing I mentioned about the food neighborhood with the cheap rent? This is it. It is nearly impossible to have a bad meal in Tremont. In its rise to Cleveland food stardom, the cheap rent thing is no longer true, but it is chalk full of great restaurants.

Nice dinner | Lolita

A lot of people would disapprove of leaving Iron Chef Micheal Simon’s Lola out of the Downtown East 4th section, but I’m a big fan of his original place in Tremont. Much more intimate and laid back. All great food, but he has the best prosciutto in the city and his fried Brussels sprouts are always a crowd pleaser.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | Edison’s Pub and Pizza

Cleveland is not a city known for its pizza. That said, this place makes the meanest, greasiest, tastiest slice of pizza in the city. Sometimes I go out to dinner in Tremont and end up at Edison’s having pizza and a beer for dessert. Yes, I know I have a problem.

Drinks | The Spotted Owl

I’m not a huge fan of craft cocktails, but this place does it right. It’s in the basement of an old university turned swanky apartments. We’re talking exposed brick, stained glass and a classic lounge feel. A craft cocktail is mandatory in a place like this. These guys go far beyond your standard sazerac and old fashioned for some truly unique cocktails.

You can’t go wrong with any of the above choices. And as always, if you have any questions, or need more recommendations of what to do during your time in Cleveland, tweet us @TrueDigitalCom and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!

 

 

Google Trends: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

 

I’m often asked by other communications friends what digital marketing tools I’d recommend for them. It’s a fair question. I do work for a very good digital marketing firm. Shameless plug I know. And we do use some really cool tools every day. Some are free and others are very expensive. I do pay the bills here. There are so many wonderful tools that make us smarter, faster and more insightful. The key here is finding ones that are simple to use and easy to engage with throughout a busy workday.

One of my favorites is Google Trends. It’s tools like this one that make me sound really smart in client meetings. Who am I kidding? And cocktail parties too. Google Trends is a searchable tool that allows you to determine how much interest there is in a topic by showing past and current search behavior. You may remember that Google first tested its Trends tool by predicting the severity of the flu in the U.S. a few years ago by tracking searches regarding flu-related topics. I don’t even like to search for the flu on Google. Since then, Google Trends gave the flu its own site. So hypochondriacs all over the world can decide if they want to ever leave their homes again?

While the data science isn’t exact, it does provide interesting and useable data that can be filtered by time, geography and by Google search features like news, images, shopping, YouTube and other key categories.

Is Google Trends perfect? Far from it. Is anything perfect other than a sunrise or the sound of a baby’s laugh? Our search engine marketing and analytics team refers to Google Trends as Google Adwords Keyword Planner for Dummies. I’m never sure if they’re serious or just making fun of me?

Give Google Trends a try. It’s easy to use and provides a quick report on the relevance of a specific or related topics. We’ve used it when developing key messages for clients and when determining marketing angles. And at cocktail parties when people ask me if I’m on Facebook all day.

 

5 Easy Ways To Tackle Your Inbox

Does your email inbox make you want to pull your hair out? Does it immediately cause you anxiety when you log on in the morning?  (Maybe avoiding it at all costs, for that matter!)  Or do you find yourself constantly checking your inbox when you get a notification of a new email? We’ve all been there. But the challenge is to find a solution that will help you hate your inbox less, and instead embrace the power you will feel when you take control of the situation! Following some (or all) of the following tips for tackling your inbox:

1. Turn off email alerts: I know- call me crazy. But having little bubbles pop up alerting me of new emails in real-time is enough to cause a panic attack. When the notifications become nuisances and takes me away from my task at hand, it’s counter-productive. Yet, without fail, I have to check it. So, my suggestion- simply turn off the alert feature. Schedule times to check your email throughout the day- it’s a much more productive use of your time!

2. Keep mails short: Let’s face it- no one wants to read a long email. I try to keep my emails to under 5 sentences to help save my time, and the recipient’s time! If an email needs to be longer than 5 sentences, my thought is that a phone call is probably best anyway.

3. Take an email break: If you have a deadline or a huge project that needs your undivided attention- I highly suggest turning on your vacation response with a simple note to say you are away from your computer for the day. (Even if you’re actually still on it.) I also suggest giving a phone number for absolute emergencies- but this will do the trick if you really need to focus.

4. Unsubscribe to pointless subscriptions: Everyone has subscribed to emails, but do you really find them beneficial? If you answered no, Unroll me is your solution. All you do is sign up, check out the list of your subscription emails and unsubscribe from the ones that no longer serve you. Similarly, this feature can also solidify all of your subscriptions you find useful into one convenient email a day.

5. Color coding: Last, but certainly not least- color coding your inbox. This is my personal favorite and I have been doing this for years (even though my co-workers think I’m crazy.) But once you get a system in place, it really is the most effective thing I’ve found that works for me. Each of my clients have a specific color and as soon as I receive an email, I label it accordingly. Similarly, I will move any particular email to it’s designated folder once I have responded and taken care of what is needed.

So, there you have it! My top 5 tips for making your email inbox more manageable! Do you have any other tips that aren’t on the list? I’d love to hear them!

 

Can We Truly Be “Unplugged”?

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Street art in NYC from my vacation.

Reflecting back to last week when I was on vacation, I really thought I would keep my iPhone usage to a minimum. At least that’s what I told myself before I left. Realizing now that I failed miserably has made me question if in 2015 and beyond, can we ever be completely unplugged?

From taking pictures, to posting on Facebook and Instagram for family and friends to see, to using the GPS more than I’d like to admit and relying on alarms to signal where I needed to be next- and let’s not forget listening to Spotify- I’m pretty sure I used my iPhone more on vacation than when I’m at home.

If you are going on a late-summer vacation, or just trying to limit your daily screen time (a digital detox if you will), here are some things to consider:

  • Pick a time to check your notifications: Research shows that the majority of mobile phone users check their devices up to 150 times per day- on average every six minutes. I’ve found that it’s easier to set aside certain times throughout the day where you check your email, social, news, etc. You will know the best times to set for yourself more than I do- but for me, checking once in the morning, once after lunch and once in the evening have proven best for my sanity!
  • Manage the biggest “time wasters”: If you don’t have the willpower to *not* check your phone, there are several tools that can help! Selfcontrol will block access to specific websites like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail- all set by you, for whatever period of time you think will be best for your productivity. And if that’s not enough, Freedom will disable your Internet connection completely for the specific time frame you choose.
  • Power down for one hour a day: If you read this and thought, only one hour? Then by all means, power down for more! But if you’re constantly connected- start out by taking an hour, either the first hour of your day or the last hour of the day, and enjoy some peace and quiet without the digital distractions. Use this time to do something that makes you happy- take a walk, do yoga, play with your kids, read a book, meditate, cook– whatever happiness looks like for you– just do more of that! I promise you won’t regret it.

I hope these suggestions help you to appreciate the people and places around you. And who knows- you just might start to see the world a little differently when you put your phone down and keep your head up!

Tips for Working Remotely

IMG_7404One of the biggest advantages of working in marketing can also be one of the biggest disadvantages. With today’s technological capabilities, we marketers can pretty much work wherever the Wi-Fi takes us. The capability of working remotely has its obvious advantages, which is very convenient for a person like me who now works from home most days of the week, however there are some definite hurdles that can be hard to overcome. The disadvantages of this luxury come into play when you’re working from home and that productive energy cultivated in the office environment is missing or your mid-day errand runs longer than it probably should have. Over the course of my young professional career, I’ve developed some helpful tips to stay motivated and on-task in a remote-location environment.

  1. Set a strict, reasonable to-do list of tasks you want to get done before the end of the day and don’t let yourself finish working until you’ve checked everything off your to-do list.
  2. Create a designated workspace at home to help separate your work life from your personal life.
  3. If you’re feeling tired and unmotivated, get up and walk around your house. Take 15 minutes to jumpstart your brain with physical exercise and then get back to it.
  4. If or when cabin fever sets in working from home, take that opportunity to work from a local coffee shop or food spot with free Wi-Fi. If noise is an issue, local libraries work as well.
  5. Leave personal, non-urgent calls and visits for after-work hours. It’s easy for family and friends to assume you’re available if you’re home, so set a designated work and social time for them.
  6. Make an effort to stay up-to-date on local current events. It’s effortless to live in a bubble at your home-office, but staying up-to-date on current events will keep you in the loop with your coworkers.
  7. Continue to push yourself, grow and learn. Referring back to the home-office bubble from #6, don’t let the comfort of your remote location make you complacent in your career goals.

So, there you have it! My helpful tips to keep you motivated while working remotely. And appropriately, I wrote this post from my local Starbucks. Happy Home-Working!

SEO, SEM or Both?

At SMX Advanced last week there was a lot of discussion about SEO and SEM best practices. The two topics were divided into separate session tracks; casual conversations with other attendees showed most agencies and in-house departments handled one discipline or the other, but not both. One attendee commented that they always concentrate on SEM rather than SEO because it gives their clients a “quick win.”

While organic optimization efforts take time and often show results over a period of weeks or even months, SEM can boost a site’s visibility immediately. But we believe there’s merit to approaching paid and organic search as complementing rather than competing strategies.

SEO research can establish what keywords already rank and convert well, providing valuable insight into where paid search budgets should be concentrated to fill in the gaps or further capitalize on high-value terms.

Likewise, a site audit for organic search can identify which pages contribute to visitor conversion and uncover areas that need to be adjusted for better performance. Optimizing a site for organic search ensures the content and code are well-focused and eliminates barriers to navigation and conversion. Those same activities ensure paid search visitors as well as organic search visitors move easily through the site. A better landing page experience contributes to better quality scores from Google, which in turn lowers overall costs for Adwords.

And while paid search’s impact ends as soon as campaigns are turned off, insights gained from those campaigns can feed back into a long-term SEO strategy that will deliver results for months or even years to come.

 

Metrics that Matter: How to Affect the Bottom Line


 

Remember the days when we judged marketing campaigns based on impressions, circulation and audience viewership numbers? Yes, I’m that old, and wow, we really have come a long way. Now because of Google Analytics and other performance tracking dashboards, we have real numbers to judge the success of our advertising, public relations, email and social media programs. But are you using the correct analytics data points to judge the health of your program?

Too often we find brands and other marketers are only concerned about new website visitors, bounce rates, time-on-site and page views. While these are important metrics to gauge the success of offsite awareness, they really don’t tell you if you were successful.

From our experience, the performance metrics that really matter are acquisition rate and cost per acquisition. Some very simple math will give you real numbers to see how your work is producing revenue or not. Here’s how it works:

A media website includes your product in a story with a link back to your website. Your analytics software shows that 100 visitors came from the story to your website. Ten of those website visitors purchased your product. The product sells for $100 so you made $1,000.

Your acquisition rate is the number of customers who purchased a product divided by the number of visitors who came from the channel. In this example, the answer is 10/100 or 10 percent. So for every 100 people who saw the story and came to your company’s website, 10 people or 10 percent purchased your product. This is an acquisition rate of 10 percent.

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The cost per acquisition is a little different. We know we had 10 customers. Let’s say your company spent $500 in time to discuss the product with the media and/or to send a product for testing. Other factors may include shipping, literature, etc. The cost per acquisition is determined by taking the money spent (ad spend, email distribution charges, time for PR, media relations) and dividing it by the number of customers. In this example, 500/10 for a cost per acquisition of $50 per customer.

By determining the production cost of the goods sold, the number of customers and the number of website visitors, you will begin to understand exactly how much a lead is really worth and how to gauge marketing investments. You can also gauge the success of individual marketing campaigns like advertising, PR, social media, etc.


 

Collin’s Senior Project at True

image2For the past two weeks, True hosted a high school student for his senior mentorship project. Here’s a recap from Collin about his time at True! 

My first impression of True Digital Communications was not one of nervousness or intimidation. As I walked through the door and looked around I thought I would see a stereotypical office environment. I saw the exact opposite. Right away I felt welcomed and that my thoughts and ideas were going to be considered. True Digital Communications was the perfect place to do my Senior Mentorship Project. Before I started my work week I had a variety of criteria I was hoping to reach by the end of my two weeks. I reached and exceeded the goals I had established and took away much more information than I could have ever imagined.

At my first day at True Digital Communications customer service was a huge factor. The members of True are constantly thinking of the absolute best way to market or launch their client’s products or services. Constant monitoring of website analytics and client websites keep the members of True busy. Being exposed to a variety of different marketing techniques gave me a full range of different ideas and concepts that I had never been exposed to.

The moment for me to declare my degree is rapidly approaching. I was already going to decide on marketing as my field of study, but after this mentorship I am sure this is the type of field I want to be involved with. I aspire to work at a company like True for a variety of reasons. The first being that these team members give the utmost respect to their clients. Another reason is how the company will change its approach to fit the customer’s wants and needs. The last is that every day isn’t the same work day. It is always changing and the companies that are successful are changing as well. All of these points are just some of the reasons why I would like to get into marketing. My excellent experience at True has made me excited for what the future holds. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity Chris Baldwin and his team gave to me and I have absorbed as much of the information as I could.

Thank you True for making my Senior Project an exciting and pleasurable learning experience.

True Digital Communications Managing More Than $1 million in Digital Advertising Programs

We are pleased to announce a milestone in our business and value for our clients. True is now managing more than $1 million in digital advertising programs including Google and Facebook. Perhaps even more important, True is now a recognized Google Partner because of our long-term success with the Google Adwords and Analytics platforms. We invest in our people and their ongoing education and success to ensure we provide valuable insights and performance for our clients.

Our experience, knowledge and insights are producing great results for our clients. Talk to us and we can do the same for you.PartnerBadge-Horizontal

You’re a Marketing Professional – “Excel” Like One

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Knowing how to click the green icon and open Excel is one thing. But sorting, tagging and synthesizing data to deliver real insight that affects strategy – well that’s something else entirely.

Excel offers tons of tools and functions a mile long for pros that take the time to learn the software. My motto is: If you think Excel can do it, it can. But before you can go full data sorcerer, there are a few building blocks that will make you smarter, better, faster, stronger.

Use Tables

Any data that will (1) have columns added or deleted, (2) be sorted and/or (3) be kept long-term, immediately create a table. It’s two clicks. Highlight the data, and create a table. This will make your life easier in two ways:

  1. Easy data manipulation through sorting and filtering tools
  2. Your rows will always stay true through sorting and filtering

Two is especially important. You have to tell Excel that all your rows of data need to stay consistent. Tables are a signal that all those relationships are important.

Tip: If your data already has a header row, bold the header values. This indicates to Excel that these values should be column headers. Otherwise you might end up with new row titles for Column1, Column2, etc. and your actual header will be included in the data set.

Renaming cells (less commonly used tool)

For templates and other sheets that are often reused, you can identify a name for a specific cell. Instead of “B4” you can refer to the cell as “total.” The same naming can be used for columns and tables.

To name cells:

  • Highlight the cell, column or table you would like to rename
  • To the left of the function toolbar, you will see a value (likely the cell location – i.e. B4)
  • Rename the value

Tagging

Tagging is the most efficient method for categorizing data. Some people use color coding or bolding or character strings like “REMEMBER THIS” to tag or call attention to specific information. The problem with these methods is there is no standard way to interpret the notes as the data is used in other tools and Excel features like pivot tables.

A common method, like creating new tags for each element of categorization, will keep your whole team on the same page and make the data easy to work with. At True, we use a common practice when we create any new report that will be saved long-term:

  • Insert 2 columns at the beginning of the worksheet
  • Fill in headers if you know how you are tagging data
  • Use Tag1 and Tag2 if you don’t yet know the designation of the column head

Note: If your tag columns are in a table you can quickly sort by any value in the table to quickly tag a whole subset of data.

Cleaning data

No need to sugarcoat it. You have to spend time cleaning up your data. Extra characters, misspellings, duplicate data, unnecessary information and other junk are always an issue. But the following three tools can save you a lot of time. 

  • Remove duplicates
    • In the “data” tab, find the “remove duplicates” button
    • Choose a column or columns in which Excel should look for duplicates
    • Complete process
    • Tip: Removing duplicates one column at a time makes it easy to manage the process
  • Find and replace
    • Use the dropdown next to the search box in the top right of the screen
    • Choose the replace options
    • Replace text with new text in an effort to create consistency
    • Replace text with no text to simply delete

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  • Text to columns – delete columns
    • Often there is a single character that separates important info from info you would like to remove (i.e. a column of image names with different file extensions – .png .jpg. gif). This feature allows you to quickly separate info you want to delete
    • Create new columns for as many fields as you intend to split the data
    • In the “data” tab, click “Text to Columns”
    • In the first box choose the “delimited” option and click next
    • Choose the character Excel will use to identify column widths. Use “other” for other characters
    • Click next and review your new columns structure
    • Complete the process
    • Delete the columns containing information you don’t need

Bonus Tip: Keyboard shortcuts

If you spend any time in Excel, these keyboard shortcuts will save you loads of save.

  • Command + Shift + [arrow key] – highlight everything from point of orientation to the last cell containing a value in that direction
  • Command + [arrow key] – go to the last column in the series with a value, or skip to the new column with a value
  • Command + A – Select everything in the table or all cells in the series with a value
  • Function + Delete – Clear values in all highlighted cells

Author: Tyler Norris [Google+]