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Power Networking – SXSW

Posted on Mar 27, 2012 by Johnny Jeffers

As many of you probably already know, South by Southwest (SXSW) recently wrapped up in Austin, and despite a few rainy days in the beginning, turned out to be a great event.  If you’re not familiar with SXSW, Google it; you’re missing out.  This was my first time attending, as I recently moved to Austin from Montana, and I doubt I’ll ever miss it again.  With multi-faceted themes including music, film and interactive, SXSW is not only entertaining, but it becomes a breeding ground for creativity.  Most importantly though, it is THE place to be in terms of networking.

Some of the most creative and brilliant minds from around the world converge in Austin for SXSW.  The challenge is trying to meet them, but more importantly, that they remember you.  Personally, I enjoy networking events and meeting new people.  I guess I fall into that category, “people person” and typically don’t have too much trouble introducing myself to complete strangers.  It’s a bit of an art, but really just requires the ability to muster up enough courage to walk up to someone and say, “Hi, my name is……..”  Easier said than done, I know.  Could there be an easier way?

Well as a serial networker looking for ways to meet new people, my colleague and I stumbled across what could quite possibly be one of the best icebreakers known to mankind; the fake mustache. On the first night of SXSW, a representative from the American Mustache Institute (who was dressed like Elvis) was handing out fake mustaches. For the rest of the night, everybody wanted to be our friend. We met so many interesting people that we made a trip to Party City the next morning and bought more mustaches. That night the mustaches came out and were all gone within 5 minutes. Again, we were the life of the party and had met everyone by the end of the night.

I think the real power of the fake mustache lies with its ability to serve as an icebreaker and how it prompts complete strangers to initiate conversation with the person in “stache”. What I found amazing though, was the number of people I ran into several nights later that said, “Hey, you’re the mustache guy!” From now on, I will always carry mustaches in my wallet; you never know when they could come in handy!  Anyway, I encourage you to give it a try; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Rob Ridgeway - Stache

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Yelp to Help Your Business

Posted on Mar 26, 2012 by Melissa Arnett

If you are unfamiliar with Yelp.com, as I imagine many people are, given the percentage of times I tell someone I am an Elite Yelper and they say, “What’s that?,” it is time to get familiar.

On March 2, 2012, Yelp hosted their IPO with shares closing at $15 a share, 64% higher than anticipated.  Nearly 6 million people use Yelp’s mobile app to find businesses near to them and 66 million unique users visit the website per month.  Some of the top Yelp communities in America are in San Francisco SEO (where it was founded), L.A., New York, and Austin (of course!).

Why is this important to you?  If you are a small business owner, Yelp can be used to add value to your business by leveraging social strategies to increase visibility of your business in your community.  That is, unless you have poor customer service or are peddling a poor product, then Yelp can be your worst enemy.   Let’s assume you have a nice small business, be it a restaurant or food trailer, day spa, clothing store, salon, day care, gym, or what-have-you.

Why Yelp is Good for Your Awesome Small Business:

1. Yelp is Mobile

Both dedicated and casual Yelpers look up businesses on the mobile app.  I found it especially useful when traveling since the app allows you to look for places meeting your criteria within a certain distance (2 blocks, 6 blocks, etc).  One author called this “enabling hyper local neighborhood searches” and this is the reason that many people prefer Yelp for local business searches to Google.  Yelp’s directions to your business are also superior to any I have seen on the web or on apps.  In New York, it even told me which subway to take since I was on foot.  That’s pretty cool.

2. Yelp is Trusted

66 million users per month and growing 80% per year.  Mm-hmm, people trust Yelp.

3. Yelp is Social

We are all familiar with “digital strategies” that businesses can employ to communicate with customers.  These include your website or emails you send out, even your tweets.  Anything you do that is basically one-way communication from the business to your current or potential customers.  “Social strategies” are when a business encourages interaction with itself and the customers and interaction among the customers.  This is becoming a much more powerful strategy to implement to help grow your business.

Yelp’s business model incorporates both digital strategies and social strategies.   Yelp is not only an on-line review website, there are also on-line and in-person social aspects to it that most people don’t realize.  Users (“Yelpers”) can set up their own profiles and tell the world what their favorite movie is or what their last meal on earth would be, they can have Yelp friends, or follow people on Yelp (becoming their Yelp fan), users can post events to Yelp, or topics in the Talk threads, they can give each other compliments, and send private messages.  In active communities, there are Yelp parties, and Community Manager Yelp Events (CMYEs), Yelpers can host their own “unofficial” Yelp events (UYEs).  And there is a tier of Yelpers known as Elite, but that is a whole different blog entry…

Stay tuned for Part II of this article, where we tell you exactly how to harness the power of Yelp to add value to your business!

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Shango – Business Card Redesigned

Posted on Mar 06, 2012 by Johnny Jeffers

HMG Creative was recently hired for a complete business card redesign for Austin based Shango, an Integration-as-a-Service Platform Provider that unifies the way Telecom Operators access and manage their ever expanding number of 3rd party technologies through GSM or USIM protocols.  Although their brand remains in tact, a creative twist to the composition’s layout yields a fresh new feel.  Black satin cards with rounded corners and spot UV treatment gives Shango a sophisticated look that matches the company’s distinguished image.

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HMG Creative launches video for client at national conference

Posted on Mar 02, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

HMG Creative recently developed a trade show video for CliniComp, Intl., a clinical documentations company out of San Diego. The 2 minute video, created for the HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) Annual Show and Conference in Las Vegas, displayed at CliniComp’s booth on an over 110″ screen, showcasing the company, it’s services that support MIG welder reviews but also over 100 hospitals globally and the launching of CliniComp’s mobile application.

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QR Codes for Fun?

Posted on Mar 01, 2012 by James Trumbly

We’ve all seen the use of QR codes become more and more prevalent as a marketing tool for companies, but could QR codes be used as a source of entertainment?  I’ll get there in a moment, but let me first set the stage.  Aside from my new gig as a marketing consultant with HMG Creative (I call it a gig because to me it’s fun), I also have the unique title of “Board Game Inventor”.  A couple years ago, a random event sparked an idea for a new party game that I coined, Spontuneous.  Check it out when you have a moment, but let me get back to my story.

I recently attended the World Toy Fair in New York City, where I rented a booth to promote Spontuneous.  In doing so, I used QR codes as a marketing tool in a couple different ways.  The first was a large sign where toy store buyers could scan the code to download a press kit I had created with all the pertinent information they would need to place an order.  Several buyers scanned it, but a larger portion still preferred an old-fashioned hard copy; fortunately I was prepared.  The second use was a code on my business cards.  It directed the user to a YouTube video of the game being played with narration throughout and a call to action in the end.  Of the two, the video code was by far the most widely scanned.  Although effective, my strategy had room for improvement.

Now what really caught my eye had nothing to do with my own use of QR codes, but rather that of a couple other booths around me.  One belonged to Jacked Up Card Games, where certain playing cards within the deck had a QR code, that when scanned, would change the rules of the game.  The other booth belonged to 4 Clowns Game & Toy Company.  It was the first year presenting at Toy Fair for these clowns, but there’s no joking when comes to the amount of attention they received for their new game.  It’s called Codigo Cube.

Codigo Cube is a larger-than-normal sized die with a unique QR code on each of the 6 sides.  Players roll the die and scan the facing code, which returns a trivia question.  If answered correctly, the player rolls again and attempts a new question.  If answered incorrectly, the Codigo Cube is passed to the next player.  The first to answer a question from all 6 categories wins!

The beauty of this idea, which they’ve patented, ( learn more about how to patent something ) is that the bank of trivia questions can continually be updated with new questions and categories.  Another cool feature is that players can be given different handicaps depending on their knowledge, so kids and adults can play together despite different abilities.

What a novel way to use QR codes!  It’s a great game that the whole family can play anytime, anywhere and it will never grow old.  Keep an eye out for this one because over the 4 days I displayed across from 4 Clowns, it was not uncommon to see company executives from Toys R Us, Hasbro and the likes intently listening to their presentation of the Cudigo Cube.

So in looking for more effective ways to utilize QR codes as a marketing tool, I think the moral of the story would be:  Make it fun.  In addition to providing information; look for creative ways to engage the end-user.  After all, who doesn’t like to have a good time?