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After six years in a beautiful office in west midtown Atlanta, we finally decided we had outgrown the space. We witnessed a lot of growth and change on the west side. We loved the walkability of our neighborhood. We enjoyed having Octane coffee a block away, the Atlanta Humane Society across the street, our favorite TV editing company a stroll away, and more restaurants than we could possibly ever have lunch.

Two weeks in, the move has been great. It’s a time to recharge and design inspiring new creative spaces for our team and clients. We’re enjoying new neighborhoods and getting the synapses firing differently in our brains. Change is good. Always. It makes you see and do things differently. Years ago I remember thinking, after four-plus years at BBDO, that if I had to drive in circles up the parking ramp one more time I was going to go insane. Change is good.

We are now in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood on the east side of Atlanta. We’re a block from the famous Virgina-Highland neighborhood, a few blocks from Inman Park, Little Five Points and Old Fourth Ward neighborhoods. We can Bird scoot, Segway or bicycle to a million things including the Beltline, and Ponce City Market. We’ve gone a little more upscale than our old neighborhood, but our team deserves the improved quality of work life and we’re excited for the next chapter at Seed Factory. We hope that you’ll come check us out when you’re looking for a new project, or retainer agency. We promise to take you somewhere delicious for lunch. And of course, whenever our interior is up to our standards, we’ll invite you to the open house. Until then, enjoy our Agency Moving video. We had fun making it.

Atlanta: Moving Our Agency East

If you Google “content strategy”, you’ll find more than 23,000 page results. It’s undoubtedly been a hot topic over the past few years and if you have a marketing role, you are probably asked continuously about the best content strategy and approach. For PR professionals, content strategy isn’t new, but instead another term for planning and executing a brand’s narrative.

There’s a lot of research and compelling reasons why content marketing is essential to the success of your marketing efforts. These benefits should help you understand the importance of a strong content marketing strategy, especially as you plan for 2018.

  1. Build Once, Use Multiple Times: As internal teams get stretched and budgets tighten, marketing departments are constantly being asked to do more with less resources. With a strong content marketing strategy, you can build content that will not only live on your main point of communications (your website as an example), but can also be cross-promoted through other key marketing channels. For example, our kayak manufacturing client recently introduced a product that was cross-promoted using multiple touch points, utilizing consistent visuals and messaging: PR to secure editorial coverage, digital advertising, search, social, print and email marketing.Vibe Kayak Yellowfin 130T Content
  2. Ensures Consistency: By simply going through the motions of content planning, you’ll begin to ensure consistency in your communications. What I’ve found helpful is when my agency develops a master calendar that highlights the content strategy, social calendar, product introductions, and initiatives all in one central location. For this master document, we also highlight the overarching message and proof points that ensure consistency in these marketing activations.
  3. Helps with SEO: A strong content marketing strategy goes hand in hand with improving SEO. After a company has developed positioning that defines what the brand stands for, what its unique differentiator is, what it wants to be known for and what its key messages are, a similar process can be taken with SEO. Identify the language (keywords, or more appropriately key phrases) that people use to research your company’s category, industry, products, services or competitors and then write content relevant to these. The more often you use these keywords on your site, the higher it’ll rank for SEO purposes. Google ranks sites with consistent keywords and fresh keyword content as more relevant sites for their users. Start mapping out your content strategy for the year and drive people to your site, based on these keywords.
  4. Keeps the Discussion Going: Similar to the monthly approach we take to build content calendars for our brands’ social channels, we also broadly map times of year for specific topics to develop content around. If you manage a consumer brand, you can use seasonal moments in time to connect with audiences in relevant ways. If your company is B2B focused, map out the industry and customer events you’ll be participating in and drive the narrative to time with these key events. Remember, the content should be relevant and timely to engage consumers in a way that is appropriate to their current interests or needs.
  5. Helps Target your Audience: In any given week, your team may be talking to a host of different stakeholders and influencers for your organization or brand. From customers to partners to media influencers and brand ambassadors, it’s important to tailor the message and tone to the appropriate person. A targeted content marketing strategy will help that approach and ensure you aren’t leaving anyone out of the conversations.
  6. Builds Credibility and Influence: This may seem like the most obvious reason but it’s worth stating. When a company and/or brand shares their POV on applicable and timely topics, the larger following and credibility they will build. For B2B, focusing on quality, educationally driven content will help position your company as a thought leader or expert in the respective category. For example, we work with the largest ladder manufacturer in the world and we partner with them to consistently build a narrative around our agreed upon key message. From contributed articles to in-person training sessions to national initiatives, this key message is at the beginning, middle and end of every discussion. What makes us successful is the credibility this company has built in their industry and how they keep the conversation going. It’s become an ownable platform they want to be known for and that key attribute comes through in the messaging for the majority of their news coverage.

 

Six Benefits of a Content Marketing Strategy

We don’t know of many U.S. advertising and creative agencies that have Highlight Reels. In the U.K. they call them “Showreels”, but I don’t think that’s a familiar term on this side of the pond. Production and post production companies have been using highlight reels for as long as I can remember, but ad agencies seem to go the traditional route with Case Study videos. Sure those work. A case study video gives a potential client all the facts, figures, insights and behind the scenes thinking that factored into the end product. But who wants traditional? Who wants a PBS documentary when they can get an MTV music video!? Well, not Seed Factory. That’s why we just finished a highlight reel that’s a pretty fun watch. No, it doesn’t let you understand our big ideas, strategy and planning capabilities in-depth, but it gives you a feel for what we can produce for you. Maybe we need to start cranking out some traditional case study videos next, but until then let’s go with the rock n’ roll.

Seed Factory Highlight Reel 2017

It might be a total rebrand or it might be considered more of a brand update or refresh. Either way, it’s probably one of the most significant marketing challenges the company will face in a given year and it’s important to get it right. Here are a few tips from our experiences.

  1. Get decision makers involved early and often. This might be the most obvious one, but it’s the most crucial. For example, if we talk with a potential client and a C-level executive isn’t a part of the process in some form–from giving us time for discovery interviews to signing off on direction and potential positioning statements, we’ll pass on the assignment. This isn’t a process a company’s communications group should undertake in isolation.
  2. Define and understand all your potential audiences. What do they like about the current state of the brand? What do they dislike? If it was their brand what would they do differently? What’s sacred cow that the brand shouldn’t touch without audiences taking their loyalty elsewhere? (New Coke anyone? O.com instead of Overstock.com…)
  3. Test multiple directions with your audiences. Internally, you may have drank some of the kool-aide, and the agency may have blinders on from being the “makers” and knowing what the message or creative is supposed to communicate. Most importantly, you need to know if the world is going to see or interpret something completely unexpected, which may not be the intended message at all. Consumer’s can see things a brand and agency may miss. Some audiences may even see something bad, funny or negative in a brand refresh (Airbnb logo anyone?)
  4. Rebranding isn’t just a new logo and tagline, it’s defining your authentic tone and voice. It’s finding a positioning that will resonate with your current audiences and allow for future growth.
  5. A brand is a living entity, therefore it needs updating and adjusting as sentiments and styles change. Going through a brand update and exercise is good to do at least once a decade, even if the adjustments end up seeming minor to you and your external audiences barely notice. The process will at least give you peace of mind that your brand currency is relevant and will (hopefully) continue to be, all other factors aside.
  6. If you partner with multiple agencies, be open to sharing the process with all of them. Not that you need feedback from other agencies, but everyone will need to work with the update and it’s important that they feel it has the legs to work how they need it to.

 

At Seed Factory, we consider ourselves an advertising and PR agency that often starts the process with a branding exercise. We understand brand positioning and real-world applications of branding across advertising, PR, social, digital and of course, design. Let us have a holistic conversation about your brand’s needs even if it’s a small project. Sometimes the “refresh” comes from a website update to keep it current with the ever-changing digital landscape. Take a look at the largest two rebrands we have done: CDC Foundation and Navicent Health

Rebranding, or Brand Refresh, Here Are Some Tips to Consider

When people think about the Outdoor Sports Industry and which cities and states it thrives in, they usually don’t think of Georgia. What comes to your mind? California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon? Probably. But did you know that Georgia is only behind California, Florida and New York for outdoor recreation consumer spending? From what we can gather, that stat includes the Bicycling Industry, Boating Industry and Motorcycle industry, but not hunting, fishing or wildlife.

So perhaps if you’re a Marketing Director looking for an agency to help grow your brand, the fact that we’re located in Atlanta might be better than you think. In fact, we have a lot of great outdoor companies already based here, including Vibe Kayaks (a current client) and past clients — Wahoo Fitness, Olympia Outdoors and BlueWater Ropes. Then there are many others like Mizuno, Tifosi, Triumph Motorcycles, Yamaha Boats, Thomson Bikes and many others all based in Georgia. Nearby in TN, we have American Bicycle Group (Litespeed) and a few others.

So other than our smart thinking and great creative, what are some advantages of working with an Atlanta advertising and PR firm like Seed Factory? How about great locations for photography and video shoots. Too stretch the legs after a long client-agency collaborations, we have road bicycling on the Silver Comet trail and mountain biking at Sope Creek 15 minutes from our office. Go 45 minutes out of town and we have a couple of fantastic lakes for water sports, then there’s the Appalachian trail for hiking which is just an hour north of Atlanta, and the diverse outdoor town of Chattanooga for a great variety of scenic location backdrops and great climbing. As a bonus, the white sands and turquoise waters of the Caribbean are a short (5 hour) drive away for SUP, boating and other water sports photography and filming. There is also some of the best mountain biking in the country 3.5 hours away in Brevard, NC with Pisgah Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Bottom line is, we’re passionate about the Outdoor Industry and the Bicycling Industry. Maybe you should give our agency a visit and then take a ride, climb or paddle with us.

Outdoor Industry in Atlanta? Absolutely.

Interbike Badge

The ever entertaining and fun crew at Vintage thought it would be good for me to walk around as an “Athlete” for an electric bike co. Funny.

 

I’m back in Atlanta from Interbike and recovered by doing a real road ride and also a fun ride on Sunday. It was one of Atlanta’s “Streets Alive” days so I went out with the urban masses to celebrate human powered transportation in the ATL–biking and walking.

But back to Interbike.

Even though we used to have Wahoo Fitness as a client and designed some of their trade show graphics, along with packaging and advertising, I had never been to the greatest trade show on earth before this year! Turns out that some of the biggest brands decided not to attend this year. Specialized, Trek and Giant were no shows. It’s probably hard to justify the hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses when they already have direct access to all of their dealers.

I don’t think I did a very good job at the show for the one day I was there. I didn’t get to half the booths I wanted to and I didn’t have a game plan. You need a game plan at this thing–it’s huge! The amount of companies there is overwhelming. The amount of amazing products is overwhelming too. Unfortunately, I also didn’t think Interbike did a good job with the map. The numbers on the map were absolutely tiny and to cross-reference the booth numbers to the companies in the long list below the map could have taken me 3 hours to create my own walking map. Maybe they’ll get to the point that they offer an interactive, customizable map online. Or maybe they did and I missed it.

Anyway, we picked up a bicycle client shortly before Interbike so I was glad to have already booked my trip there. It was nice meeting the clients in person and help with some of the media briefings. I think things went really well for them at the show.  They have an amazing electric bike company and the team was so nice. They seam to be very hard workers, sweat the details and have a vision for the growth of the electric bike market. Check out their amazing bikes here – Vintage Electric Bikes.

Vintage Electric at Interbike

Thomson is a local GA bike parts manufacturer who Seed Factory needs to reach out to. Honestly, I haven’t seen a more boring and visually underwhelming booth than theirs. I’m wondering if it’s part of their brand persona to be completely anti-flashy, but it seems a bit extreme and counter-productive to selling more of their beautiful bits. I’ve always believed that if you’ve created something beautiful, then you should present it beautifully to help create an aura and emotional connection to it.

Moving on, there were so many other booths to see. I literally got lost at one point when I was trying to get back to Vintage Electric’s booth. I loved Pivot’s bike line up, the Alchemy bikes, Industry Nine’s trick bits, the Bell helmets booth and tons of others. Renovo Hardwood Bicycles caught my eye as one of the most beautiful frames out there, but then again, I’m a sucker for anything well crafted from hardwoods.

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Seed Factory would love to work with more of these companies in the bicycle industry. Of course we’re super stoked to be working with Vintage Electric Bikes as they’re poised to grow into a huge company. Others such as Kuat racks are beautiful and smartly designed.  Being in MO, it’s close enough to our time zone to work together easily. Phil Wood has such trick bits and they supply the hubs for Vintage. Litespeed is just up the road from us in Chattanooga. 6D Helmets are really onto something with the shock-absorption layer. G-form’s protective equipment looks great. Crank Brothers, Stan’s NoTubes and the list goes on.

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Bell Helmets - Interbike 2017

Jimbo Phillips one-off painted helmet for Bell.

 

Interbike 2016

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As the warm summer weather is upon us in Atlanta, we are getting outdoors a lot more. The miles are being put on the staff’s bicycles while the hiking boots and trail running shoes are being laced up much more often. We’re hoping to put in some epic trips this summer before making it to Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City, come August.

Are you preparing for Outdoor Retailer already? It’s only 3 months away and we’d love to help your brand get ready for a great few days of setting orders with all the outdoor store buyers that will be there. It’s also a great time to work on your company’s publicity and set as many appointments with journalists and bloggers as possible. We can help make sure you get time with influencers that can give your brand crucial visibility.

Is your brand’s visual identity as sharp as it can be? Is your photography, typography and brand personality ready to stand out from all the other manufacturers at Outdoor Retailer? Have you found a brand, and product positioning from which you can win by uniquely owning it and honestly upholding in an authentic voice? We work with many outdoor brands to help fine-tune the brand’s position, or help develop it from the ground up.

Speaking of mileage being put on the bicycles, we just wrapped a bicycle video for our Wahoo Fitness client. The video is to help promote the RFLKT and RFLKT+ smart bike computers in their line of ever growing smart phone enabled fitness technology. We spent an amazing day in the north Georgia mountains a couple weeks ago, shooting footage for the video that we just finished editing and color correcting. They’ll post it to their YouTube account soon and then we can add a link to it for you to view. For now though, this blog’s image is a frame from the video. At the same time, we just finished the 4th photo shoot for the RFLKT magazine print ad campaign. We worked with a young outdoor photographer based in Santa Barbara, California and the images turned out fantastic. Two of the ads have already run in Bicycling magazine and we’ll get them posted here soon. If any outdoor industry or bicycle industry companies have advertising, PR, content development or design needs, we can help with amazing creative concepts and strong execution.

Outdoor Industry Ad Agency—Ready for Summer and You.

The past 48 hours have been very telling for the Germanwings Flight 9525 crisis. While horrified by the tragedy, I would like to compliment the speed and transparency of which the information is being delivered to families and the public. With loss of life, especially of this magnitude, there is nothing more critical than to identify the facts and deliver what is appropriate in a timely and transparent fashion. At Seed Factory, we applaud Brice Robin, the Marseille Public Prosecutor for the delivery of the latest information—which is the co-pilots deliberate attempt to destroy aircraft—in a direct, honest and transparent approach out of respect for the families. He comes across as very sincere and credible about the latest findings. When you compare this to airplane tragedies in recent years—namely Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 —it is a stark contrast to what the public is accustomed to.

While we don’t believe Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr is doing as good of a job, there are many learnings for corporations and executives on how to respond, when to respond and the information that should be shared. While no one wants to be in this particular situation and communicating this unfathomable level of detail, it’s imperative to be prepared. We take our lessons from leading Microsoft’s Y2K initiative and other crisis communications programs as we’ve prepared our clients and teams for a variety of unique scenarios. The following actions will help prepare a communications team and other key stakeholders if a crisis scenario hits.

  1. Define Your Crisis Team & Infrastructure: Along with the corporate communications team, identify the key leads from each of the business units and operations team to prepare for every possible crisis. Meet on a monthly or quarterly basis to review processes, protocols and actions.
  2. Build Your Crisis Plan and Be Prepared for a Variety of Scenarios: Don’t wait for a crisis to happen to begin thinking of a plan. You should have a variety of scenarios developed, based on the industry, and specifically the process of how to respond for each. Examples of scenarios, in order of importance, may include: loss of life, employee injury, manufacturer recall, corporate layoffs, quarterly losses or major corporate announcements. Develop a crisis plan and checklist, while aligning the actions to every particular scenario, role of each team member, messaging architecture and both internal and external responses.
  3. Identify & Prep Your Spokesperson: This is one of the most important steps any organization can take. Who will be the face and voice of the crisis communications that will be delivered? This spokesperson is ideally the most senior level executive at the organization that is authoritative, confident, articulate and accessible during the crisis. He or she will also take responsibility and accountability when needed. This needs to come across as sincere and not defensive.
  4. Prepare Your Content: Because possible scenarios have been identified, the company should be prepared from a messaging structure on how this critical information will be delivered. Questions and answers should have already been developed from the corporate and legal teams and reviewed by corporate executives. Only use confirmed facts and don’t speculate until you are 100% confident in the information that is being released. You don’t want to create a crisis around your corporate crisis.
  5. Be Accessible: This is critical and we’ve seen this part of the equation fall apart too many times. When a crisis happens, the spokesperson immediately needs to go to the location, share information as it’s uncovered, showcase transparency and be available to customers and media at any time they are needed. Set up a command center, have an 800-number established and staffed for the particular crisis, communicate these details through media alerts, host a press conference, respond to questions on social media, etc. It’s critical that the company has a presence at all times, is accessible and transparent.

 

At Seed Factory, we believe your company can be prepared and ready for any type of scenario, no matter how large or small it may be. Starting the discussions early leads to a prepared team that can confidently navigate a crisis and ensure the company’s reputation stays in tact. If you are interested in learning more about our crisis communications work and how we may help, please contact us at 404-996-4041 or angie@seedatl.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transparency in a Crisis is Crucial

We are hoping this Halloween that you BUILD your brand equity vs. killing it. We’ve listed below a few ways brands have killed their brand equity…don’t let this be you!

1. Be a Social Media Zombie – don’t respond to questions or comments.

2. Frankenstein your brand tone and personality.

3. Beat your customers bloody with mundane, repetitive messaging.

4. Be a blood-sucker – take your customers’ valuable time without giving anything beneficial in return.

5. Don’t treat your consumers to anything entertaining.

killyourbrand_moody

How to Kill Your Brand Equity

We’ve had a busy fall at our Atlanta ad agency with a couple of new business pitches. We won one, and didn’t win the other. We’re really excited about the business we won because it is in the outdoor industry and the company has huge potential to become a major brand, but we can’t talk about it yet.

The one we didn’t win was Zoo Atlanta. Even though we won’t be partnering with them, we still wouldn’t change the opportunity of being involved in the RFP process. Our teams’ really enjoyed coming up with several creative campaigns for the non-profit and liked the concepts we presented.

Maybe more than our feelings about our proposal, we felt proud of the fact that we made it to the final round, and were one of the three agencies that presented to Zoo Atlanta. We’re a boutique agency and had a feeling we might have been “punching above our weight”, but it was fun and we concepted some very creative, strategic ideas. Maybe if you are the marketing director of a zoo or an applicable brand, you’ll take a look at our work and give us a call.

Look for great new work in the outdoor category coming from our Atlanta ad agency and Public Relations firm in the next few months.

Komodo  Frog-jump-closeSnakePhotoOpp Atlanta Zoo pitch Ad

A peak at a few of the experiential ideas we wanted to produce for the Zoo’s new Spring exhibit.

Ad Agency New Business for Outdoor and Non-Profit Clients