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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!

 

 

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!

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

How Are Those New Year’s Resolutions Coming Along?

newyearIf your New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside, you’re in good company. Every year, 45% of Americans make resolutions and 92% of those fail to keep them. If personal improvement seems like too lofty a goal for 2015, why not apply a few of the most common resolutions to your blog instead?

Resolution #1: Lose Weight/Get Fit
Getting rid of the extra weight on your blog will help your pages load faster and create a better user experience. High resolution images and WordPress plugins are two of the most common causes of slow page load. Trim the fat by reducing image size and resolution before you upload, rather than relying on HTML scaling to display images at the proper side. Take a look at your list of plugins and remove any that aren’t absolutely necessary, and look for plugins that can do double duty.

Resolution #2: Get Organized
If you’ve been adding categories and tags to your blog posts without any real strategy, chances are you’ve created quite a bit of content clutter in the process. Take some time to clean house. Decide on a manageable set of categories that encompass the types of content you typically write and consolidate posts into those categories. Clean up tags, too. If you have multiple versions of the same tag with capital letters, no capital letters, plural versions and singular versions, decide on a tag strategy and weed out all the stragglers.

Resolution #3: Reduce Stress
Developing a content calendar is the number one way to avoid spending 20 minutes staring at a blank screen because it’s 4 p.m., you need to write something and you’re fresh out of ideas. Plan ahead. Use that list of categories you cleaned up in resolution #2 and brainstorm post ideas for each one. Set up a tentative schedule for at least a month’s worth of content and try to build up a cache of finished posts, whether that means working a week or two ahead on your calendar or creating a handful of “evergreen” posts that you can rely on for blogging emergencies.

The year is still young. Take the rest of January to make a plan and implement a few changes, and you can join that smug 8% of resolution-makers who actually succeed!

Free Kittens – What’s in a title? Everything.

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Pictured from left to right: Molly & Vito- Allison’s adorable kittens!

In our ADD-stricken lifestyle where we can’t be bothered to read more than a smartphone screen’s worth of information, a good title is more important than ever before. While titles have always needed to be attention grabbing to pull readers into an article, it was Twitter that really changed the game. Twitter forced us all to step up our creative game since the title or lead is the only words that show in Twitter.

I’m seeing the trend continue on Facebook where headlines are all competing for my time and attention. Here’s what’s on my Facebook feed right now:

25 Hilariously Awkward Texts Only a Mom Could Send from Distractify – I wonder if any of my mom’s text messages made this list? Probably.

10 Habits that are Killing your Productivity from Business Insider – I’m guessing that reading Facebook and getting sucked in by the headlines is one of them.

11 Health Problems Hidden on Your Face from The Weather Channel – Okay, the headline didn’t get me as much as the source. Why is the Weather Channel reporting on health issues?

Why are you So Damned Scared of Nipples from Huffington Post – Is it wrong to admit that I’m bummed this is a podcast and there are no pictures? I never thought I was afraid of nipples. Must find out why I am now.

Who needs pick up lines when you have this sweater from Awkward Family Photos – I don’t even have to read; just look at pictures? Sold!

Beagle siblings team up to fight a toy snake from Mashable – Don’t get me started on puppies. Only possible better headline would be Pug Puppies or cats, which of course rule the Internet. I just can’t say no to a cute, little puppy.

So the next time you’re working on a blog post or article, spend time on your headline and include attention-grabbing words. Remember, you had me at “kittens.”

 

 

Time for a Facebook Break?

facebookbreak 2Every generation has its breaks. For my grandfather it was a lunch break. For my parents it was a coffee break or a smoke break. So what breaks do we take today? Increasingly we check our favorite social media channels to see what’s going on.

True Digital Media Strategist Shannon Wallace pointed out a new social media trend. With so many people using mobile devices to access social media, it’s common to take a quick break during the workday to check Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to see what’s going on. Shannon refers to it as a Facebook Break. It’s the Millennial’s and Generation X’s version of a coffee or smoke break, which they might be doing too since they multitask constantly.

When you’re developing a social media strategy, remember to think about how your target audience consumes social media. They’re probably not Facebooking for hours but instead are checking in for five to 10 minutes. You need to grab their attention and not ask them to do too much. They don’t have time. Remember, no one likes to work when they’re taking a break.

The Social Update Checklist – Process in Posting

Chris Baldwin and Tyler Norris recently spoke at the YouToo Social Media Conference presented by Akron PRSA in Kent, Ohio. Their session focused on True’s checklist for posting social media updates. The following post highlights insights from the presentation.

Wtrue-postchecklisthether it’s from a content calendar, under direction from a marketing manager or off the top of your head, you post new content on social channels daily. You type a sentence or two, maybe include a photo or a link and you send it of into the social ether with your fingers crossed – hoping for retweets, waiting for shares, longing for engagement. Instead of relying on the fictive social gods to lift your post onto the wings of social prosperity, apply some strategy to help. We recently finished a book called the Checklist Manifesto for our agency book club. The book is a nonfiction account of how some of the most complex professionals (surgeons, pilots and civil engineers) have implemented checklists to be more efficient and save lives. While social media and marketing strategy may not save lives, we thought we could learn a thing or two. The result was a checklist to make sure every social update, no matter what the focus, is as engaging is it can be.

VALUE Providing value in social posts

Value doesn’t have to be a discount, a freebie or contest. We define value as anything that would make your followers say “thanks.” Sometimes this is affirming quotes, humor or helpful tips. It all depends on your audience. What do they want from you?

MESSAGING

Make sure anything you post caters to your band messaging. It sounds selfish and may not directly influence engagement, but remember what you’re here to do: benefit your brand. A lot of times we see organizations break this rule when posting topical content that has nothing to do with their brand. For example, “Yay! It’s the first day of Spring!” or “Can you believe the How I met Your Mother finale? #disappointed.” Maybe these are relevant in some cases, but odds are, you should steer clear. Stick to topics that allow you to create a direct connection.

TONE

How does your brand talk to its followers? Things like user personas and competitive research are particularly beneficial here. The more you know about your audience, the more you can effectively talk with them. Beyond some of these traditional tactics we use a basic Excel function to determine which words and phrases resonate with audiences. “=AverageIf” tells you the average of a range of data based on a specific criterion in a separate range. Put simply, it can tell the average reach or engagement of posts including specific words or phrases. Just export your data to excel. Using the syntax below, include your posts in the column A range, the word or phrase (surrounded by asterisks and quotes) and your metrics in column B. =AverageIf([post copy],”*[word or phrase]*”,[metric you’re measuring]) True-AverageIf

CONTEXT

Provide context for social posts Last but not least, make sure users can understand your posts. It’s scary how often I come across updates online that make no sense. If I view the media or click the link, I can piece it together, but it’s 2014 and this is the Internet! It should be easier! You may not agree, but your followers think this way. We like to give posts a new-follower test. Will the post make sense to someone who just heard about your brand? This is typically your basic who, what, where, when, why and can be tougher than it sounds when dealing with 140 characters, but it’s worth the additional clicks. So think before you post. Stop relying on social magic and be a social master!

Author: Tyler Norris [Google+]

Business as Usual at True Digital Communications? I don’t think so.

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A glimpse of True’s new space!

A few months ago, we hosted an Open House party at True’s new home to friends and family.  It was great to show off the new True Digital Communications’ office space and to hear everyone tell us it wasn’t like other offices they had been to before. How is it different? Let me tell you.

For the past three years, we’ve used an open office format allowing our associates to work at our clients’ offices or wherever they are most productive. While we all enjoyed working from Starbucks or our living rooms, we needed space to collaborate. Panera wants you to buy sandwiches, but they frown when you write on their walls.

When I started looking for an office, I wanted to find space that would allow our open office structure to flourish. For me, that meant no office cubes, no closed walls  or doors, except where you need them– like bathrooms. We needed lots of space for collaboration where you can write on the walls or even a table. Space for impromptu meetings or formal client idea sessions. Space to work from a beanbag chair or barstool and the ability to plug into technology anywhere. And lots of sunlight coming in from the windows and shining throughout. We found all of this in our new home.

True’s new space is all about letting our associates and our clients work together comfortably and productively. Let me take you on a tour.

  • Our True Blue Conference Room is perfect for formal client meetings or internal team huddles. It’s also one of my favorite places to sit and work during the day.
  • Ideas literally bounce off the walls in our Rock’Em-Sock’Em Conference Room. Share ideas everywhere – on the wall or on a table. Bounce around on our buoy chairs or snuggle into a beanbag chair. This is the space where strategy and ideas come alive.
  • Need space to put together a really big idea? Or a space for video production? Or how about meditation or a quick yoga session? The Studio is a big space for big ideas and for working out of your mind and body.
  • So where do we work when we’re not collaborating or brainstorming? Check out the Genius Bar as it is affectionately called by our team. Why is it called that? Because they work there, that’s why!

So are you inspired? We are. Everyday.  We would love to show you our space but more importantly how we think and how we do what we do. Stop by and see us. And in the meantime, check out our Facebook page for photos from our Open House!