//Industry Trends

Workplace Culture

If you walk outside your business doors, do your clients know what it is like to be a part of your team?

Our Wendt culture is crafted so we can be the best team members for our clients and each other. We work every day to make sure we bring our best selves to the job. Recently, on social media, we did a series on our brand pillars. Last fall, our directors decided that it was time to review our brand pillars to ensure they encompassed our dedication to our clients, our ethics, and our culture. We refined them – together – in a team building workshop. We proudly display them on our wall, where everyone can review them, and our guests never have to question where we stand.

In addition to the regular gatherings we have, at the beginning of the year we started a new way to recognize one another for the little things (and sometimes the big things). Gallop research shows that it isn’t enough to recognize an employee. Such recognition needs to be “honest, authentic, and individualized.” We would like to think there is an element of fun, too. Enter: our recognition box! If we catch a person excelling in an area that deserves a call to attention, we pick an item that represents that person and the work they did. A pack of stickers for “sticking around,” a squishy ice cream cone for all the stress, a sleep mask for tirelessly working on a hot project. It might sound silly, but it lightens the heaviness of the work, grounds us, and gives us a laugh at the end of it all. The important part, though, is that it gives someone an opportunity to tell one person, in front of everyone, “I see you. You did great. I am proud of you.” It is a real moment away from the hustle of the day where we get to acknowledge a job well done.

Does your workplace have a way to acknowledge the work of employees?

2019-04-29T13:50:41-06:00April 22nd, 2019|Culture, Industry Trends|0 Comments

Going for the goal: Media planning in 2019

“Let’s start at the very beginning – a very good place to start.”

That might be good advice for the von Trapp family singers in the “Sound of Music,” but it’s pretty bad advice when you are planning a media strategy. In fact, if you want your media plan to be a success (and who doesn’t?), you need to start at the end — what is your goal?

Modern media truly has something for everyone, and a strategic media plan will take advantage of the strengths of each media from social to magazine to terrestrial radio to native. But all that thoughtful planning is wasted if it doesn’t achieve the actual goal of the campaign. It might be a solid plan delivering a lot of eyeballs or making the phone ring or pushing traffic to your website, but if what you really wanted was to have people attend your open house, then it’s not actually a great plan at all. In fact, it is a failure.

The first step of any strategic media planning process should be determining the goal; what is this placement supposed to do? Why is your business willing to spend money on paid media? What result will mean those dollars were well spent?

Once you know that, you will be able to create a media plan destined for success!

BY CAROL KRUGER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT

2019-04-22T13:11:34-06:00March 6th, 2019|Culture, Industry Trends, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Christmas Traditions With Our Team

One of the best parts of working with others is sharing pieces of our lives with each other outside of work. It is a reminder of how alike we are, and that we each have stories that have shaped us into the people we are today. Here at Wendt, we create opportunities to share our stories with each other so that we can connect beyond the workplace. We encourage you to take time before your holiday break to connect with your co-workers, maybe over a cup of hot chocolate or tea, eating cookies. Ask them what their favorite holiday memories are when they were growing up and what they do to enjoy the season today. In the spirit of sharing, here is how our Wendt team answered this question.

What is your favorite holiday
tradition from your youth?

Brenda Peterson

President/CEO

If there was snow on Christmas Eve, we’d go cross country skiing on the streets in our neighborhood with our dad. He was such a cool dad!

Tiffany Aldinger

Production Manager

We would go to my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve. We would open a present, have Swedish meatballs and lefsa for dinner, and go to the evening church service. When we came home, we would open the rest of the presents.

Carol Kruger

Senior Vice President

Helping bake the cookies – which, let’s be honest, mostly meant eating the cookie dough.

Sheena Annala

Art Director

Going up to my grandparents’ farm Christmas Eve with all my aunts, uncles, and cousins. We also used to get a present from Santa there.

Meghan Shaulis

Art & Digital Director

We always got to open one gift on Christmas Eve because we just couldn’t wait until the morning. After that we would eat treats and watch Christmas movies.

Lorie Hager, CPA

Chief Financial Officer

Helping my mother make dozens upon dozens of different kinds of cookies. It was a family event with everyone mixing, baking, decorating. It was the way our family kicked off the holiday season and certainly made the time together special!

Kara Smith

Creative Director

My mom, sister, and I would listen to the Mannheim Steamroller or Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas albums and decorate our tree. Also, my mom would make us wait until we had breakfast and all the family members arrived before we could open presents on Christmas. It always killed me!

Tegan Bauer

Social Media Specialist

There was always a ton of people in and out of my grandma’s house. I had no idea if I was related to them. We would decorate thousands of homemade sugar cookies on the pool table with gallons of colored icing. If you made a “mistake,” or Uncle Leonard bumped you or stuck a finger in your ear, you had to eat the cookie.

Teresa Appelwick

Publicity Coordinator/Social Media Assistant

So much food. My mother put in so much work – the kind of work you wish you would have appreciated more in the moment and saying thank you doesn’t adequately translate. All the aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered at our house – 20 people in a three-bedroom house in the country. It was perfect. Thanks Mom and Dad.

Jennifer Fritz

Vice President of Client Services

My favorite memory is traveling to my grandparents’ house. We were packed into a small but cozy home. Grandma would play Christmas songs on the accordion, and we watched holiday movies. The best part was waking up Christmas morning to the smell of grandpa’s homemade breakfast; I would do anything to be able to eat breakfast with him again.

Johnny-Interior

Johnny Ewald

Graphic & Digital Designer

My favorite tradition was Christmas evening consisting of an early church service and large family gatherings at our home or a close relative’s house. We would usually have my grandma’s lasagna for dinner followed by opening all the Christmas gifts. On Christmas morning, we would have a couple smaller gifts, a full stocking, and one big, more meaningful gift from Santa.

Pam Bennett

Senior Media Planner/Buyer

Going to dinner at Eddie’s Supper Club on Christmas Eve night. We would dress up, my mom and dad would have drinks. This was a big deal for my parents. My sister and I would get Shirley Temples. After dinner we drove around Anaconda Smelter-Black Eagle to see all the homes decorated with lights. When we arrived home, Santa had mysteriously appeared during our evening out!

2018-12-18T10:33:31-06:00December 17th, 2018|Culture, Industry Trends|0 Comments

5 Ways Your Business Benefits From Giving Back

With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror and Christmas on the horizon, gratefulness and giving back are on a lot of people’s minds. The benefits of generosity on individuals are well known, but not everyone is aware that the same is true for organizations. Participating in the community and contributing to local causes is not only rewarding to individuals, but can also lead to company growth and success.

While the importance of involvement and altruism are widely acclaimed, the benefits often seem abstract or intangible. However, there are numerous payoffs beyond the obvious tax breaks. These include:

  1. Brand awareness and visibility
  2. Positively shape attitudes and reputation
  3. Customer loyalty
  4. Relationship building and networking
  5. Employee morale and career fulfillment

By being active in your town and with local nonprofits, your business becomes linked with various public projects and campaigns, which creates brand awareness. Acknowledgements of your contribution such as a logo on a brochure, a thank you from a speaker at an event, a link on a website, or a name mention in a radio spot gets your brand out there. In addition, community and charity-related posts on social media often have high levels of engagement, including shares, and have been shown to drive web traffic and sales.

All of this will lead to positive associations with your company, which influence public opinion. This helps to build a strong reputation.

When your reputation demonstrates your commitment to your community, your potential customers will take notice. Social responsibility is becoming increasingly important to consumers, especially younger generations. Not only do they engage more with brands that reflect their values, but they use their purchasing power to show their support, which translates into sales and your bottom-line.

Giving back also opens doors to connect with other businesses, community leaders, and clients in your industry and area. This network can increase your community impact as well as provide new business opportunities.

Like customers, employees also care about the neighborhood they live in. A workplace that actively encourages volunteerism and community commitment can attract new talent. Providing opportunities where workers feel like they are able to make a positive difference gives them a sense of accomplishment, which helps with employee satisfaction and retention.

So, during this busy holiday season remember connecting to your community and supporting local causes is more than just a nice sentiment. It’s a tangible way to support the people who support you. It benefits you, your employees, and your brand. Plus, it does give you that warm fuzzy feeling.

2018-12-06T08:59:05-06:00December 6th, 2018|Culture, Industry Trends|0 Comments

Halloween – A Wendt Tradition

halloween

Every company has a great celebration. Some have their summer picnic; maybe a catered night out at a baseball game. For others, their biggest celebration is the Christmas gift or cookie exchange. At Wendt, we are all about Halloween. Starting a month prior to the largest party of the year, we pull out all the stops. We even have a Halloween Party Planning Committee.

What happens when you put a group of creative brains in the room – each with their own quirks and eccentricities? Innovation! This is great during the year when we are working on campaigns and need to design the next beautiful website, magazine advertisement, or PR push. When it comes to Halloween, though, it means fierce competition. The winner of our annual costume contest walks away with a day off with pay! A day of paid time off brings out everyone’s best ideas.

Take a look back at some of our favorite costumes over the years. Check our Facebook on October 31 to see what shenanigans we have gotten ourselves into this year!

2018-10-30T10:59:32-06:00October 29th, 2018|Culture, Industry Trends, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Casting and Creativity

When you think about fly fishing, whether you are familiar with the subject or not, it may seem pretty straightforward. I mean, all you are really doing is casting something that looks like food on a hook to a hungry trout who hopefully is willing to eat it. It’s as simple as that, right? To some, this is as complicated as fishing needs to be. To me, a graphic designer by profession and fly fisherman by obsession, I have found correlations between the two subjects as my experience with each has grown over the years. There are parallels between fly fishing and graphic design that help me better understand each subject. And when you apply certain principles that are proven to be successful in each field, you begin to realize how similar and harmonious fly fishing and graphic design really are.

Casting and Creativity

Have you ever found yourself watching, mesmerized, as a fly fisherman casts a fly rod? The way the fly line loops and unravels through the air, the fly landing ever so delicately on the water. It looks effortlessly beautiful, and it’s hard not to stare, like you are in some type of trance. At times, I find myself doing the same when I see a well-executed logo or design. The way the layout, typography, and patterns all come together to look effortlessly beautiful. Like a fly cast, a series of well-thought-out steps and methodical actions need to be accomplished in order to achieve a successful design. I often find myself taking the fly cast approach when starting a new design layout. The mechanics must all come together to achieve cohesion and beauty.

 Fly Choice/Font Choice

Choosing what fly to use can have a dramatic outcome if not given careful attention. In fly fishing, the size, shape, and color of the fly are the most important factors in getting the trout’s attention and determining how successful your catch rate will be. This same formula can apply when choosing a project’s font. If any one of the aspects within the formula is off, the result can hinder the effectiveness or success of the overall design. Thinking about size, shape, and color when choosing a font for a headline on the roadside billboard will determine how effectively I “hook” the attention of my intended audience, therefore making the overall advertisement a success.

 Presentation

In fly fishing, presentation trumps everything! How well you present or sell the fly will determine how successful you are in terms of hooking trout. This holds true in the marketing/advertising world. As a graphic designer, I must think in terms of how I am going to present my ideas for any given project to the client and their customers. It’s learning about their target audience and what convinces them to buy my client’s products or services. How effectively I sell this message graphically/visually will ultimately determine how successful the campaign is.

Blurring the lines between fly fishing and graphic design has made me think outside the box in terms of how successful I am in each practice. Both are a passion of mine, and I strive to be the best I can be in each role. Ultimately, the goal is landing the biggest client – or trout of a lifetime.

BY JOHNNY EWALD, GRAPHIC & DIGITAL DESIGNER

Johnny-Interior

2018-09-13T12:59:10-06:00September 12th, 2018|Culture, Industry Trends, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Care and Feeding of Your Touchpoints

As marketers, we invest a considerable amount of time celebrating the virtues of consistency, simplicity, and clarity. And all of it is true, especially during the all-important process of defining your brand. Delivering a high-quality, memorable experience at every touchpoint is the very essence of defining and maintaining a brand. It is how customers see your company.

Touchpoints allow customers to have experiences every time they “touch” any part of your product, service, brand, or organization across multiple channels and at various points in time. Parking your company car at the county fair? It’s important that your signage and logo are in excellent condition, as this represents a touchpoint of your brand. In addition, make sure your vehicle is clean and free of dings and dents. Are you parked responsibly? (Asking for a friend – some of us are “between the lines” challenged.) As minor as all this may sound, it’s an opportunity to interact with potential customers.

From a wider perspective, touchpoints for tourism can occur at airports, entryways into the city or destination, front-line staff at hotels, convenience stores and restaurants. Think Disneyland. The company takes great care to ensure a quality customer experience from the ticket counter to exiting a ride. Touchpoints for your business occur online, in person, and with or without the consideration that the smallest transaction can positively or negatively affect your brand. Touchpoints allow prospective customers to become knowledgeable on the brand and the benefits offered and allow them to decide whether they continue their journey with your brand.

It’s also important to realize that in today’s world of social media and reviews, there are touchpoints you can’t control. These can include a customer’s experience when they interact with your product, including visiting your website. Social media has become an amplified “word of mouth,” where a shared experience – good or bad – may influence others’ perceptions toward your brand. There are touchpoints you create to develop and maintain your brand. These include the way you merchandise your space, collateral, and any other messaging through physical channels. Other touchpoints come in the form of customer interaction. Employees, website experience, and customer service all play a huge role in your brand’s ability to provide positive touchpoints and, ultimately, create advocacy with your customers to maintain their loyalty and promote your brand to others.

Whether your business has been around for decades or you are a fledgling new company, brand development – through the care and feeding of your touchpoints – helps you identify a powerful and effective way to connect with your audience. Wendt has considerable experience and success in defining and managing brand reputations. Let us help you identify what makes you unique. Then all that’s left is to believe it, live it, and share it!

BY JOHNA WILCOX, ACCOUNT MANAGER

Johna-Newest2-e1516137568234

2018-08-23T09:27:11-06:00July 30th, 2018|Industry Trends, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Summer Internship Spotlight – Bailey Collins

I spend a lot of time hearing the word “no.” This is no one’s fault in particular. In fact, I’ve been led to believe impossibility is a reality of the fields I’ve chosen to work within. It always starts small: “No, there aren’t a lot of women behind the scenes in advertising,” or “No, creative careers won’t pay well enough to live.” I’m told offices are depressing, firms are immoral, and freelancing isn’t feasible. I’ve heard every starving artist and English major joke there is to hear.

It should be apparent to me by now that my chances at success are slim to none, which is why Wendt blew my mind when I heard of it, and why it has become such an amazing opportunity for me now.

I am a junior at the University of Montana, majoring in creative writing and English literature, minoring in graphic design. I’ve known I wanted to write since I was 12, and have so far avoided the stereotype of the indecisive college student. However, I’ve always known that it’s a long-shot that I will ever become a millionaire with my words alone. Advertising and media arts felt perfect for me. It’s not only a way to feed myself and keep the power on as I write my books but a career that will allow me to stay engaged with my hobbies and feed my creative side. Advertisement spans so many of the fields that interest me– photography, psychology, digital art, design, animation, even writing– that I can’t imagine a more tailor-made career path for myself. That’s even without considering the constant demand and steady growth that’s so conspicuously lacking in many other artistic fields.

But, but, but. There’s still the naysayers. Not many women. Not enough money. Not a good environment. Not much opportunity for advancement.

Since beginning my internship at the Wendt Agency, I’ve job shadowed with many of its employees, spanning from finance to design to social media. Nearly all of these positions are filled by women. Their management is staffed by people who have grown with the company, promoted from within their own ranks. Every day I’ve come in to observe, I’ve been met with laughter and casual camaraderie in what is quite possibly the coolest and most interesting office building I’ve ever been in, with open spaces, curving walls, and music playing through the hallways that changes day-to-day. Several of these employees support families, and since the office is closed on weekends, speak enthusiastically of being able to spend time with them. I find the work, the environment, and the company to be incredibly engaging and uplifting, with projects that speak to my interests and my morals. And those are the days when there aren’t any dogs in the building– because, as I was nonchalantly told on my first day, Wendt is dog-friendly.

In short, Wendt is pretty much what would happen if I could build my perfect workplace. It’s been really inspiring to see such an example against all the negatives and impossibilities I’ve been fed since a young age, especially since many of the stories I’ve heard have been similar to my own in terms of interests and education. Already, many of my own future plans have been influenced by the things I’ve observed at Wendt.

Hopefully, my enthusiasm is apparent. Each day I’m present, someone in the office asks if I’m getting bored yet, and each time, I respond that they’ve underestimated my nerdiness and appreciation for the entire Wendt process. I am far from bored and extremely grateful for the chance to spend a portion of my summer in such an interesting way.

BY BAILEY COLLINS, INTERN

2018-07-26T09:44:47-06:00July 3rd, 2018|Industry Trends, Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Devil is in the Details: Editors Matter in the Business World

The Devil is in the Details

Have you ever gone to a website to purchase an item or research a subject, but once there you realized the content was full of typos and grammatical errors?

Did your trust in the company immediately change?

Did it make you think twice before entering your credit card number?

Did you *eye roll emoji* at the liberal use of LOL speak?

It’s easy to take small details like punctuation and word usage for granted, but these small details can add up to a lot of trust and can mean the difference between someone choosing your services or going to your competitor.

In fact, Adweek reported in 2014 that a study by U.K. firm Global Lingo found that 59 percent of respondents said they would avoid doing business with a company that had obvious errors on their website.

Details matter.

So what’s a business to do?

The most obvious answer is to hire someone whose job it is to prevent such mistakes. But does such a position exist? It does, and those who do it are called copy editors.

Copy editors work to ensure products are accurate and free of errors before they go out to the public. But copy editing goes beyond making sure you have the correct they’re or their. It includes rewriting copy to make it clearer and ensuring that the tone and phrases are appropriate for the audience. Different audiences require different content – the general public doesn’t necessarily want to read a website full of scientific jargon. And while there’s a time and place for LOLs and emojis, there are also plenty of instances such casual conversation is inappropriate.

Editors will often be tasked with fact checking and ensuring a business’s brand is being used consistently across different platforms (print, online, and social are just a few examples). And a good editor will catch copy that might be embarrassing for the company.

Imagine leaving the “g” out of that delicious angus burger. And, of course, there’s the infamous public vs. … well you know.

There also are plenty of social media pitfalls copy editors can keep your business from falling in. Taking advantage of trending hashtags can be a clever way to get your message out, but it can also backfire if a company doesn’t do its research. In 2014, DiGiorno jumped on a trending hashtag to sell pizza. Except the hashtag, WhyIStayed, was intended to draw attention to domestic violence. The pizza company later apologized, saying it did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.

A copy editor can help spot these errors before they go out to thousands of customers or become billboard-size typos.

So the next time your company is ready to unveil its latest campaign, make sure you have a copy editor take a look at what you’re presenting. Taking that extra step now can save you from embarrassment in the future.

“Copy editors keep your business on brand and error-free.”

TIFFANY ALDINGER, PRODUCTION MANAGER

2018-05-29T09:54:02-06:00May 29th, 2018|Industry Trends, Uncategorized|0 Comments

5 Tips for Effective Billboard Design

Billboards can be a great marketing tool. They can also be one of the most challenging mediums to create. Why? Effective billboards require creativity, considerate design choices and, the most difficult of all, the ability to communicate in brevity. Here are five tips to get you started on creating an effective billboard.

1. Content: Less is more.
Before deciding what goes on your billboard, it is important to decide what the goal is. Is your goal a directional or way-finding board, to get someone to shop a sale, or is it simply for brand awareness? These goals are all very different and will influence what content should be included. It is important that your board have only one goal. There is simply not enough space or time to communicate more than one message.

What content needs to be included? Many people make the mistake of including too much information. With content, less is more. Once you have developed the desired content, consider making additional cuts, such as eliminating unnecessary punctuation and shortening headlines. Remember, most billboards do not need to include a physical address, phone number, and web address.

2. Design: Keep it simple.
The most effective billboards are always the simplest. Focus on your main message with large and easy-to-read text. Evaluate if imagery is necessary. Perhaps a solid color or background texture is the right choice for a simple, impactful design. If using imagery, consider a single image that will attract the reader’s eye to the billboard but won’t make it too busy. If placing text over the image, choose wisely so your text is readable over the photo. When it comes to logo size, pick a size that balances well with the rest of the design. The logo shouldn’t be the main focus, but you also don’t want it to be missed entirely.

3. Choosing the right font.
Your main goal when choosing a font is to ensure readability at a distance. Make sure that the words are large, clear, and easy to read. Bold fonts often work well. Avoid fonts that are too thin, ornate, or script fonts. Adjust the spacing between lines, letters, and words to help improve readability. You can use outlines and drop shadows to help your words stand out. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you are having to add multiple effects to create a readable message, that may mean you need to reconsider the font selection, background imagery or color, or size of the font.

4. Be creative, but don’t stump your audience.
Today’s traveler often, for better or worse, has a busy mind. Billboards need to be a quick read but also need to be interesting and memorable enough to leave a lasting impression. A boring billboard will be ignored or missed entirely, but a clever and impactful billboard will grab attention. Time to put your thinking cap on! How can you approach your message with creativity, but without leaving your viewer confused?

5. Is it really readable?
You only have about 5-10 seconds for viewers to notice, read, and understand your message. If you haven’t gathered yet, readability is incredibly important. Here is a quick tip to test readability. Print out your billboard around the size of a business card and view it at arm’s length. Can you read it? You can make all the best content and design decisions, but all your hard work will be wasted if your board isn’t readable.

“Billboard design is one of my favorite jobs, it can either be extremely challenging or simple. It allows me to put my thinking cap on and come up the most effective way to get our client's message across.”

Sheena Annala, Art Director

2018-04-24T16:59:05-06:00April 18th, 2018|Industry Trends|2 Comments

Breaking Down the Importance of Strong SEO

Header-SEO-2

Nowadays, having a strong web presence is crucial to driving people to your business. Here at Wendt, we love designing and redesigning high-quality websites for our clients to improve their web presence and make sure they are putting their best foot forward daily.

When developing websites for our clients, we make sure that from start to finish, we are intentional about the design, content, and overall user experience.

Our solid search engine optimization (SEO) foundation enables us to not only design and develop a strong website to fit our clients’ wants and needs, but it also ensures that they won’t get lost in search results, which helps drive traffic to their site.

Like with most technology, the art of strong SEO is constantly changing and developing.

This makes the job all the more challenging and exciting. We strive to provide our clients with the most up-to-date SEO strategies.

Some of our focus areas when designing and optimizing a site for SEO are:

  • Developing a site structure that helps both Google and site visitors navigate the websites we create.
  • Writing copy for websites that both readers and Google love.
  • Researching keywords to help the site show up in relevant search results.
  • Building a strong, holistic SEO foundation on the site to ensure that the website is at its maximum capacity for serving the content to users and Google.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

SEO doesn’t stop with the launch of a website – it is something that requires constant work to make sure traffic is being driven effectively and ensure your site continues to grow in rank. Strategies for this include:

  • Linking to your site often from various social media platforms.
  • Frequently pushing out new content (ex. blog posts).
  • Making sure that your site and plug-ins are always up to date (a bogged-down and slow website isn’t user or Google friendly).
“Being able to provide our clients with expert SEO will allow us to give them the complete website package — a beautiful, custom-designed website that is optimized for the best exposure.”

Meghan Shaulis, Art & Digital Director

2018-03-01T09:25:19-06:00February 28th, 2018|Industry Trends|0 Comments

An enigmatic and complex purple takes center stage

ultra violet purple

The new year is here and that means it is time to welcome the Pantone Color of the Year: Ultra Violet. Described as inventive and imaginative, complex and contemplative – this is not a color that blends into the background. This blue-based purple seems to need you to notice it, and notice it we have. The internet is brimming with tips on using this color in 2018. In the mood for some shopping? You can find everything from ultra violet chairs to candles here: Shop ultra violet

Looking to spend the cold winter months inside rearranging the furniture and knickknacks? How-to use ultra violet in decor

Of course, the fashion industry is all over this: How-to wear ultra violet

Ultra violet makeup gets a little tricky for most of us, but check out Kerry Washington’s eye makeup at the Golden Globes. Now THAT is a look that will not get you any side-eye!

So, maybe January is a good time to contemplate where you could inventively use this complex color, or just imagine how an ultra violet coffee mug would brighten your day. Either way, you are probably going to be seeing this color around a lot for the next 12 months.

ultra violet purple
purple nails
purple fog
Photo by Radu Mihai on Unsplash
2018-01-11T10:21:47-06:00January 11th, 2018|Industry Trends, Uncategorized|3 Comments

6 Photography Tips for Beginners

Jessica Billings

6 Photography Tips for Beginners

by Jessica Billings

The best thing about art is that there’s always room for growth. At the beginning of the year, I challenged myself to become a better photographer, and here’s what I discovered.

Bighorn sheep at Logan Pass – due to the low light I had to have my ISO pretty high.

1. Manual mode is a must.

My photography improved immensely as soon as I left the comforts of auto and aperture priority mode on my DSLR. Take the time to learn ISO, shutter speed, and aperture and how they work together. This will take your camera from essentially being the same as a point-and-shoot or an iPhone to a tool that helps you create amazing images.

2. Golden hour is your friend.

Shooting in the middle of the day? Not so much. Golden hour, the hour after sunrise and before sunset, yields photos with softer shadows and more dynamic skies. It also allows for longer exposures, which are perfect for waterfalls and can help smooth out lakes. When taking photos of people during this time, I put the sun behind them for a beautiful glow. It’s a great time to get photos of alpenglow, the rosy light of the setting or rising sun seen on mountains.

Swiftcurrent Lake and Many Glacier Hotel at sunrise.

Beargrass off Going-to-the-Sun Road.

3. Patience is a virtue.

My tendency initially was to get to a location, quickly snap some pictures, and head onto the next place. I’ve found that quality photos require much more intention. Now I’ll arrive at a location and do some exploring. I’ll look for things I want to be present in the shot and things I’d like to avoid. Sometimes a better angle is only 10 yards away. I like to arrive before sunrise so I can give myself time to take in a location and find my vision.

4. You’re going to get messy. So is your camera bag. And your tripod.

Photography is an adventure. I climb over rocks, lay down in the dirt, walk in the water – all to get the shot I want. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that allow you to kneel, lay down, bend in odd ways, etc. But don’t get too crazy for the shot – always be aware and cautious of your surroundings.

5. Tripods are a girl’s best friend.

In the early morning/late evening light, a longer exposure is necessary in order to avoid having to bump up the ISO. Before a photography workshop I recently attended, I rarely touched a tripod – in fact, I didn’t even own one. Now I don’t go anywhere without it. My tripod has also served as a trekking pole of sorts on icy/snowy terrain – that’s my kind of multipurpose tool.

6. Never stop learning.

There’s always room for improvement and growth, no matter how long you’ve been taking photos. Follow your favorite photographers on social media, invest in workshops, and never stop challenging yourself. Every time you step outside with your camera is an opportunity to grow, learn, and create something new.

Sunset at Hidden Lake Overlook.

2017-10-13T09:58:10-06:00October 13th, 2017|Industry Trends|1 Comment

Media Buying: Then and Now

By: Pamela Bennett, Senior Media Planner/Buyer

The Wendt Agency has been handling media buying services since it was established in 1929 and has witnessed firsthand the evolving landscape as technology changes consumers’ behaviors.

In the past, a majority of advertising consisted of the main media at the time – newspapers. Newspaper placement strategies were pretty simple. Plans and buys were based on the size of an ad, the frequency of placement, and, if the budget allowed, color for impact.

Newspaper placement would consist of various flights. For instance, in the archives of The Wendt Agency, we have books of old newspaper ads that were done for local businesses, including Sapphire Flour, Great Falls Select, Norwest Bank, Eddy’s bread and many others. Campaigns were developed by product line and messaging. It was common to see several ads for the same business promoting different product lines in the same daily issue or weekly flights. In the “Mad Men” days, from the 1940s to the 1960s, newspapers had the lion’s share of the advertising budget.

 

That simple process has since shifted and become complex in today’s media landscape. Media vehicles are fragmented, varied and require a depth of knowledge outside a typical business owner’s expertise or time. For those who retain agencies or have marketing departments, much of today’s media plan work is built on developing strategies that look at the gamut of options in the marketplace, and the most effective and cost-efficient strategies for reaching today’s consumers.

Media planning and buying is varied. My role at Wendt is to review, analyze and propose media campaign strategies that take into account the complex world in which consumers live. People are bombarded every day by advertising from every conceivable source.

On a daily basis, the average consumer is exposed to:

Newspaper ads, magazine ads, billboards, outdoor signs, point-of-sale signage, direct mail, coupons, receipt ads, grocery cart ads, gas pump advertising, bathroom stall ads, kiosk ads, shopping mall ads, airport waiting area ads, and doctor’s office and hospital waiting area video display ads. If you’ve been to a sporting event, you’ve seen mascots, stadium signs and programs. Even an event sponsorship such as a home and garden show would be considered an advertising vehicle.

Then there are other traditional elements.

Radio has always been a reliable, cost-effective medium that utilizes reach and frequency, which can vary depending on the station format and audience. There can be short or long radio ads, remote broadcasts, and even news and weather sponsorships.

Television and cable advertising is directed at different demographics and audiences. Placement in specific programs and sophisticated dayparting make sure that ads are seen by the right demographic at the right time to ensure maximum reach and frequency for cost-efficient placement.

The emergence of digital and social media and other technology has created a huge shift in today’s media placement. We include digital strategies in every advertising campaign to ensure the ad reaches consumers who might miss traditional media placements.

A well-thought-out digital media campaign, whether it’s to reach the masses or is a hyper-local millennial campaign, is the most complex planning and buying I do at Wendt.

In the digital world alone, there are a multitude of strategies and objectives.

Online consumers are targeted every moment with search query ads, programmatic ad placement, direct publisher preferred placement, in-content native advertising, email advertising, e-newsletters, short video animation, cross platform strategies, mobile ads and text messaging placement. They’re all there – from your desktop, to your tablet to your mobile device.

Wendt also considers placement strategies such as geo-fencing, geo-targeted, demographically targeted placement, contextual and related-content placement. Recently, the advent of streaming ads on platforms such as Pandora, Hulu and Spotify, which include image ads and video, has changed the way Wendt develops ads for our campaigns.

Digital strategies such as in-newsfeed social media ads and custom audience targeting are ways we find consumers using the algorithms developed by Facebook and Google. You’ve all experienced it. When we utilize retargeting, your clicks on images and ads during your search activity allows advertisers to find you and “retarget” your behavior. You’ve become a viable prospect as “in-market.” Try looking for a hotel or airline ticket the next time you are on your computer and you’ll see you’re now part of a retargeting campaign.

In the early days of The Wendt Agency, media buying was simpler. Today it is more complex – customized and tailored to fit the budgets and demands of our clients. The ever-challenging task of finding and placing a mix of the best media tactics is a process we dive into every day to make sure our clients are reaching their target market.

2017-09-14T09:56:37-06:00September 12th, 2017|Industry Trends, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Social Media Day 2017

Can you believe we are already halfway through 2017? To say a lot has already happened is an understatement. From elections to celebrity news, social media has been an integral part in breaking this year’s biggest stories. Social Media Day is June 30—in celebration let’s take a look at some of the biggest social media stories that have happened in 2017.

Fake News

social media fake newsAs the dust settled from the presidential election, fake news, and especially its prolific rise on social media channels, came into the spotlight. Currently, more than half of U.S. adults say they get news from social media sources. While fake news sites aren’t new, they are now more dangerous because they completely model real news sites and often skew the truth to influence opinions. The influence they were able to wield during and after the election was vastly aided by headline scanning, comment sections, and mass sharing on social sites. In response, Facebook announced the launch of a new initiative, The Facebook Journalism Project, to combat the rise of fake news on its platform and develop a stronger relationship with journalists.

TBD if this will do anything to curb the problem.

Video

While video was the social media buzzword in 2016, it has been integrated into all social channels and continues to reign as king in order of engagement and ROI for users. In a recent Verge article, they talk about Facebook employees’ popular use of “the camera is the new keyboard” mantra. Snapchat has coined itself a camera company from the beginning and continues to move in a video-centric direction with this year’s launch of Spectacles.

Stay tuned for updates across all social media channels that focus on putting videos front and center, with text and images taking a backseat.

Everyone’s On board

people social mediaIt’s 2017, talking about social media and its influence on our lives doesn’t only pertain to our youngest generations anymore.  As mentioned above, more than half of U.S. adults get news from social channels. Social media users are getting older; 53% of U.S. users are over the age of 35. While there are still divisions with Facebook trending with an older audience and Snapchat and Instagram predominantly younger, the gap is quickly decreasing.

Look for social media channel user breakouts to become evenly spread across generations and for new innovations from Generation Z as they put their own mark on social media.

VR/AR

The growth of virtual reality and augmented reality is largely thanks to social media. According to an eMarketer forecast, 40 million people in the U.S. will engage with some form of AR this year. We’ve already seen innovations this year with Snapchat leading the charge on social media. But Facebook and Instagram are also rolling out more ways to include AR in their stories for users. VR adaptation has been slower due to costly hardware, but as these costs decrease, expect to see more headsets and glasses being incorporated into your favorite social channel.

Here’s a glimpse at VR’s future: Facebook Spaces

*Augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality and real life. A good example is Pokémon Go.
*Virtual reality is the creation of a virtual world. A good example is gaming or traveling with Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR.

Backlash media

United Airlines, Pepsi, who’s next? “Backlash media” will continue to grow as brands try to align themselves and their products with social causes.

Snap Map

This new feature allows users to share their location with friends and see snaps happening around them. This has many people worried about security, but this trend of location-based social media isn’t going away.

Mashable launched Social Media Day as a way to celebrate social media’s impact on global communication.  Get involved by following @MashSMDay #SMDay.

2017-08-10T14:45:48-06:00June 27th, 2017|Industry Trends, Wendt Buzz|0 Comments

Marketing is in Everything We Do

Jennifer Fritz-The Wendt AgencyA business or organization can make an investment in their marketing and advertising, but it is ultimately a waste of time and money if your employees don’t buy into your brand, if your customer service is less than stellar, the product is bad or inconsistent, your storefront is tired, the delivery truck is beat up, your website is a dinosaur, you have negative reviews on your social channels that are unaddressed, or there is an inconsistent voice in your messaging and communications.

Marketing is defined as an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer.

The aggregate of functions referred to is everything a business does to complete a sale. And that is why we are in business, right? To sell our goods and services to consumers. To better understand the power and impact of marketing, it is important to understand the basic four P’s of marketing.

Product: This can be either an intangible service or tangible good that fulfills a need or want of the consumers. In order to successfully market a product or service one has to have a clear understanding of what makes it unique and how that appeals to your target audience.

Price: Once you have a clear understanding of the product you will offer and how it is differentiated, a pricing model can be determined.

Promotion: Includes all the tactics you will use to communicate your product and its unique attributes to consumers. Elements may include advertising, public relations, owned media, social media, collateral distribution, blogging, content marketing, events, and more. It is imperative to your success that your established brand identity be consistent across all outreach channels. Frequency also needs to be considered in the promotion mix: how often do you want to be in front of consumers?

Place: Refers to the ways consumers can interact with or purchase your good or service. This includes storefront locations, website, online retail environment, call centers, etc. In today’s marketing landscape, it is all about providing options and convenience to consumers.

The four P’s help to display why marketing plays such a critical role in everything we do. In a nutshell, everything that the people representing your business do-whether it is product engineers, accountants, HR professionals, those responsible for media relations, warehouse managers, baristas, etc.-affects how consumers will perceive and interact with your brand. In essence, everything we do is marketing, so marketing is everything.

Article first appeared in the Great Falls Tribune

2017-05-08T10:29:13-06:00May 8th, 2017|Industry Trends|0 Comments

Creating Engaging and Clickable Banner Ads

Engaging banner adsBy Meghan Shaulis

It’s no secret that advertising is migrating from traditional mediums toward the digital world. One of the most common digital mediums currently is the banner ad. Digital banner ads can be extremely cost effective and are trackable, offering the opportunity for key insights into your campaigns. Achieving a high click-through rate is essential to the success of any digital campaign. This goal is no easy task, however. With trillions of digital ads on the internet, how do you make your ad stand apart?

Following is a list of tips for designing banner ads and bringing in those vital clicks.

  1. Design for your audience

Remember to keep your target audience in mind when building your digital ads. With only seconds to catch their attention, your ad better speak to them. Your target audience should be reflected in your choice of wording, imagery, and call to action.

  1. Be clear about what you are offering

It takes much more than an attractive design to get your target audience to respond. Be clear about what you are offering by conveying one straightforward message. Keep in mind, a banner ad only lasts 15-30 seconds. This is an extremely limited amount of time to get your message across and encourage engagement.

  1. Keep it visually simple

You are already competing with trillions of ads on the internet. Don’t create competition within your ad. Keep the importance of basic design theory in mind. Your banner design should be visually simple. Utilize strong and readable fonts, impactful colors, and be brief with content. If you overstimulate users with fonts, animation, and color, it will dilute your ability to convey your message.

  1. Use animation, but sparingly

Animated ads usually outperform static banner ads and can be very effective in banner design. There is a fine line between compelling and overwhelming, however. Use animations sparingly and in an impactful way to draw attention to your ad, complement your message, and compel users to respond.

  1. Use buttons

Buttons are known to increase click-through rates. While the whole ad is clickable, a button can help create a visual cue that you are asking for a click. Use buttons tastefully while still creating attention. Consider using contrasting colors, and remember that visually they should be consistent throughout the set of ads.

  1. Load time

Nothing kills a media experience like delays in loading. Don’t waste your time and media dollars by missing the opportunity for your audience to see your ad. Make sure to save your files properly to ensure a quick load time.

These are just a few tips to make sure your digital banner ads stand apart from the crowd. Banner ads are often small in a world of digital clutter, so take the time to make yours stand apart and people will be responding in no time! And if you find creating compelling, clickable banner ads a little too challenging, consider hiring an expert to help you create a successful digital campaign.  

 

2017-06-27T15:32:35-06:00March 21st, 2017|Industry Trends|0 Comments

Remove These Phrases from Your Marketing Strategy in 2017

by Carol Kruger

 

chess-website

Many people ring in the new year with New Year’s resolutions. While personal resolutions do have mixed results—eating healthy gets pretty hard to do when the Valentine’s Day chocolate shows up—To strengthen your marketing strategy, I think each and every business owner should take a minute during the new year to banish these phrases from their marketing planning.

“There are plenty of customers out there.”

Maybe. But there are also plenty of competitors out there, and you have to fight harder today for each and every customer, each and every sale. Most customers are researching and buying products and services from those companies that take the time to communicate with them; to explain why their products and services are better than their competitors. Being engaged with customers and potential customers means your company is the one they will think of when they are ready to make a purchase.

“Our marketing isn’t driving traffic into our business or our website.”

If you aren’t getting customers in the door or visits to your website, I’m willing to bet your potential customers don’t really know enough about you. You need to do more than have one open house, run four newspaper ads a year, or do that one three-day paid campaign on Facebook. Consistently marketing your business throughout the year in various media using a wide variety of tactics will help you truly connect with your target audiences.

“Our product/service sells itself so we don’t need marketing.”

Having a loyal customer base is amazing—congratulations! But can you really afford to ignore potential new customers? Is your business so financially secure that you really could not handle even one more customer or sale? If you are truly thinking about your business long term, I am going to hope you understand the need to keep bringing in new customers. One excellent way to do that: make sure your marketing efforts are being seen and heard by more than your current customers.

“We can’t seem to reach our potential customers.”

Are you really trying to? Or are you trying to reach yourself or your customers from 10 years ago? Remember, just because you love a specific radio station or cable channel, does not mean your target audience loves it, or even knows it exists. Your customer might have very different media usage habits than you do, or even than they used to have. A decade ago you could probably run a very successful campaign targeting women 25-54 without including any social media. These days, it’s crazy if social media is not a part of that ad mix. The key here is getting to know your customers. Once you know them, you will have a much better idea of how to reach them with your marketing message.

The bottom line is that marketing is an important business investment. To make the most of that investment, you should evaluate your marketing strategy regularly, making adjustments as needed. This will help your business succeed—today, tomorrow, and a decade from now.

2017-02-22T11:37:55-06:00January 27th, 2017|Industry Trends, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Silos are for farms, not marketing plans

siloSilos are a common sight in north central Montana—standing tall in the fields and on farms, protecting the harvest until it is needed. In agriculture, they work and they work well. In marketing, that’s another story.

Silos mean separation, and having a marketing plan made up of distinct silos—each one disconnected from the others—is not the way to create a successful outreach effort.

A comprehensive marketing plan needs consistency and coordination. Every area needs to be analyzed and planned, not only in relation to marketing goals, target audiences, seasonality, and events but also in relation to all the other areas. Public relations efforts need to complement paid media. Ad design needs to support the brand and the specific sale or event it is promoting. Each of your marketing channels is simply a way to share information, and all of them need to be scheduled to maximize the impact of the message. This means a strong and consistent presence in front of customers; not so little outreach that no one remembers it and not so much that your marketing channels are competing with each other causing sheer volume to overpower the actual content of the message.

Your marketing channels can include

  • Website
  • In-store events
  • Trade shows
  • Paid media placement
  • Social media
  • Collateral pieces (brochures, flyers, posters)
  • Ads (print, radio, TV, digital)

That’s not even a complete list, and let’s face it, you probably weren’t thinking about how much you enjoyed marketing when you decided to open your business. But creating a successful business means paying attention to a lot of things, including marketing. A successful marketing plan doesn’t happen by accident. It takes research, planning, negotiating, analysis, and collaboration. All of the outreach efforts need to work together, doing double duty whenever possible. Can your paid ads drive traffic to your website? Can your social media outreach extend your public relations messages? Can you collect email addresses at an in-store event to create your own email list? Probably. But only if you, or the members of your marketing team, coordinate efforts. Only if they do not exist in silos.

Creating and living that culture of collaboration is something we are committed to at The Wendt Agency. We have experts in every area of marketing, and we constantly bring all our talents together to create better, stronger communications strategies. This is teamwork taken to a higher level, using idea sharing and brainstorming to not only accomplish a common goal but to also achieve results that would not be possible if we were not coordinating our efforts.

Whether you are a marketing department of one or a team working in different areas, planning and implementing a marketing plan that stretches your marketing dollars while effectively reaching your potential customers is the primary goal. So think about it, plan for it, talk about it. Make sure every marketing effort doesn’t just work on its own; make sure it works in conjunction with every other one of your marketing efforts. The success of your business depends on it.

2017-02-22T10:22:51-06:00November 21st, 2016|Industry Trends|0 Comments

Avoid hurdles with effective project management

May 12, 2016
by: Angie Moretti

project management

Good project management comes from being able to see and plan for issues before they happen.

How often do you think about walking from, say, the kitchen to the living room? From your car into the office? Up and down the aisles at the grocery store? Probably never. The process of putting one foot in front of the other—as essential as it may be—is not something we need to think about in order for it to work.

Until it doesn’t.

Enter the sprained ankle. Suddenly, walking is an effort. The process has become compromised and this causes discomfort, delays, and difficulty. The process, which was once taken for granted, is now such an obvious part of your progress that you long for the day it once again works as it should—smoothly.

We all want things to run smoothly and move along as they should, especially in business where staying on schedule and on budget are paramount to success. But when processes are compromised, success is compromised. Enter the importance of effective project management.

Project management is an essential part of success that tends to be overlooked. It’s the piece of the puzzle that is often taken for granted because when it works—much like what the ease of walking down the street is for most of us—we don’t think about it. So people may forget how valuable it is. That is, until it no longer works. Suddenly, we feel the dent in our progress and scramble to correct the issue, hoping the project doesn’t go over budget and that deadlines aren’t missed.

Good project management comes from being able to see and plan for issues before they happen. It’s about knowing that there will be hurdles and making sure your team is ready to jump when they come along. And it’s also about being able to dodge potential hurdles altogether. Schedules need to be padded to allow for inevitable delays, communication needs to be clear to prevent misunderstandings, and time needs to be properly managed to keep costs down and progress up.

Take, for example, a new marketing campaign for your business. The right campaign has many parts and pieces that all need to come together in order to effectively deliver your brand and message to your target audience. Having a brilliant concept isn’t enough. You need a strategic media plan, proofing that keeps your message consistent, an accurate schedule that ensures timely delivery, and so much more. You can have the best runners on your relay team, but if you drop the baton, all of that skill, hard work, and dedication is lost.

At Wendt, we understand how to get the baton across the finish line. The team is strong and the process is smooth, which allows us the freedom to focus on the craft, the design, the message, the delivery. And because the process isn’t compromised, success is created.

On your next venture, don’t let project management fall by the wayside. Align yourself with the right team to make sure the process is smooth. After all, you can’t expect your business to run when it has a limp.

 

This article first appeared in the Great Falls Tribune on May 8, 2016.

2016-10-26T09:28:54-06:00May 13th, 2016|Industry Trends|0 Comments