Tourism Marketing: How Archetypes Can Help Create Authenticity


Tell a Story to Create a Connection in Tourism Marketing

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away they all lived happily ever after.

As human beings, we crave stories because we’re brought up on them. They’re how we communicate with one another. So, it’s only natural that we want to connect with a place, an idea, or a brand through a story. And, an essential element of a story is a strong cast of characters based on commonly understood archetypes: “The Hero,” “The Caregiver,” “The Lover,” “The Rebel.”

As marketers, brand makers and designers, we can use this innate, human need for stories, characters and connection as a powerful ally. Often, we see brands singularly leverage archetypes. Trader Joe‘s is “The Every Person,” embodying a belief in equality and community. TED is “The Magician,” working to transform your ideas and point of view.

But, what if your brand is more than one archetype? What if it takes several of these universal characters to create a personified version of your organization. What if it takes a combination of many?

That’s the situation we at SJ Marketing explored as we created a new campaign for the Carson Valley Visitors Authority (CVVA). The agency is the designated tourism marketing organization for Gardnerville, Genoa, Minden, and Topaz Lake — four rustic Nevada communities rich in culture located south and east of Lake Tahoe. As we developed a strategy for the CVVA, we sought to answer a couple fundamental questions: Why do people come to the Carson Valley? What motivates them?

Get Inspiration from People Who Live There

To find the answers, I hit the road with Cathy Davis, the brand manager on the account. We visited different businesses and museums, talking to everyday people about their experiences.

Our takeaway was that there are a lot of reasons you would want to visit Carson Valley—none of which scream at you as you’re driving through town. There were exceptional experiences hidden behind ordinary exteriors. You had to find them.

Bring Archetypes Together to Strengthen the Story

As we began to develop the “Find Your Wild” tourism marketing campaign with the CVVA, it became apparent this uniqueness couldn’t be conveyed with a single archetype such as The Explorer. Instead, we went beyond the most typical 12 Jungian archetypes and looked at the 60 types explored in “Archetypes in Branding: A Toolkit for Creatives and Strategists.”

From those types, we narrowed in on five that truly embodied and connected with the area:

  • The Adventurer: Fearless. Risk taking. Focus. Daring. Spontaneity. Hunger for a new experience.
  • The Athlete: Strength and power. Discipline, Competence. Bravery. Honor. Achievement orientation.
  • The Entrepreneur: Confidence to be led by vision. Talent for innovation. High tolerance for ambiguity and complexity. Skill as a self-starter.
  • The Explorer: Independence. Bravery. Freedom. Self-sufficiency. Nonconformity.
  • The Sovereign: Rank. Tradition. Benevolence. Assumed authority. Inherited responsibility. Nobility. Stability.

These would be our guides to the Carson Valley area — our Legends of the Valley. Then, we set out to find actual people who lived and worked in the Carson Valley and personified those archetypes.

Meet the Archetypes in the Tourism Marketing Campaign

The Explorer: J.T. Humphrey


We captured J.T. Humphrey, a local wildlife and outdoor photographer, in his natural element. Photo Credit: Jeff Dow Photography

The Athlete: Kate Blake


We followed Carson Valley mountain biker Kate Blake as she rode with Mr. Rose in the background. Photo Credit: Jeff Dow Photography

The Sovereigns: J.B. and Marie Lekumberry


We managed to wrangle J.T. Basque Bar & Dining Room owners J.B. and Marie Lekumberry in between Picons and Basque dinners. Photo Credit: Jeff Dow Photography

The Entrepreneur: Dana Gaworski


We pulled up a stool next to Dana Gaworksi, a bartender at Nevada’s oldest watering hole, the Genoa Bar. Photo Credit: Jeff Dow Photography

The Adventurer: Cole Pinther


We snapped SoaringNV pilot Cole Pinther right before he soared into the valley’s azure skies. Photo Credit: Jeff Dow Photography


Each of these Legends of the Valley became archetypes in their own right. And through each of these people, visitors can find their own escort to the Wild Side of Nevada.


–Michael Leonardini, Creative Director, SJ Marketing

Michael is an award-winning designer and creative director with executive management credentials in digital and traditional marketing. He has assisted Fortune 100 corporations in the design of strategic brand identity and integrated brand campaigns. Michael has created national and international marketing and branding programs for world-class consumer and business-to-business organizations for over 20 years.

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How to Reach New Customers With an Evergreen Facebook Ad

Most online advertising platforms have developed some aspect of self-service to make it easier than ever for anyone to set up an ad campaign. So, you could probably spend a few hours per platform figuring out how to do this yourself, but would you be maximizing your spend? Would you be targeting the right people? Would you know how to analyze campaign stats to determine what’s working and what isn’t — or even execute an A-B test? That’s where the digital strategy team at SJ Marketing can be your most valuable asset. Ensure your marketing dollars bring you the most return by trusting our digital experts to provide the strategy for your online success.

With almost 1.8 billion users, Facebook’s ubiquitous reach is well…even more ubiquitous. But, reaching even the fraction of those users who match the profile of your business’ target audience is increasingly more challenging. Organic reach on the site has been on the decline since 2014, and last year Facebook warned that organic reach could dip lower than 2 percent. The way to break through this barrier is by putting money behind your content. But, how do you know which option to choose? Facebook offers a bevy of paid options from advertisements to sponsored posts, but today I want to talk to you about creating an evergreen Facebook ad to promote your company.

What Is An Evergreen Facebook Ad?

An evergreen Facebook ad is an advertisement that runs continuously for your business. It can have either a seasonal message or a year-round message if your information doesn’t change much. The key is that the premise of the ad doesn’t need tweaking so you can keep running the ad. Here are some examples of a few evergreen ads:

Resort Hotel Uses a Year-Round Branding Video Ad

Regardless of the season, our client Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel (LTRH) wants potential visitors to know that their location, value, and amenities are top notch in Tahoe. Back-to-back shots in the video show skiing and golf—the “Surrounded by all things Tahoe” really is true. LTRH is steps from the lake, skiing, golf, and casinos. As the in-market audience changes, the ad stays relevant.



Tahoe Wedding Sites Targets the Newly Engaged with an Evergreen Facebook Ad

Pairing Facebook’s “Recently _____” status along with a frequency cap can make sure an ad only hits relevant potential customers. For our client Tahoe Wedding Sites, ads highlighting South Lake Tahoe to newly engaged future brides and grooms stay green year-round.


An Evergreen Facebook Ad To Target Winter Wedding Couples

Facebook’s ad formats, such as the carousel, allow you to showcase different aspects of a business. The added depth of the ad interaction adds a complexity that can allow multiple seasons, amenities, benefits, or photos to be featured. This gives an advertiser the option to account for seasonality and a longer flight up front. We use this format to promote slower-season weddings year ’round for one of our resort clients.


How Can An Evergreen Facebook Ad Help My Business?

A very successful evergreen ad will continually drive sales by creating residual leads. Because the post is up for a long time, it will continue to gather likes and comments. A post with dozens of likes and comments can create credibility for you with new users and potential customers.

When Should I Use An Evergreen Facebook Ad?

An evergreen Facebook advertisement is most effective when it’s part of your larger lead generation strategy and sales funnel. For example, when a user clicks on your ad, it should take them to a landing page with a compelling call to action (CTA) that allows you to capture that person’s email. Once you have the user’s email address, you can connect with them when you want—not only when Facebook’s algorithm allows you to.




For this strategy to work, it has to be just that — a strategy. Too often I see businesses create a Facebook ad targeted to the right demographic with great messaging, but the link the ad clicks through to doesn’t match the advertisement, or it doesn’t include a converter or CTA. From the evergreen ad to the landing page, your campaign needs to be specifically designed for someone who is meeting your business for the first time. Your goal should be to get them into your email list so that you can start communicating with them outside of Facebook.

Choose Your Own Evergreen Ad-venture

Still on the fence about if you should use this type of ad for your business? Here’s a chart that can help you decide:




By using an evergreen advertisement to collect emails, you can leverage the hyper-targeting abilities of Facebook in a long-term way. Once you can connect directly with new customers, you can control the conversation with them rather than Facebook. If you want help setting up this kind of strategy for your business, SJ Marketing has your back! Fill out our contact form, and we’ll be in touch soon.


–Brianna Sheck, Studio Manager, SJ Marketing

An MS in Integrated Marketing Communications and a BS in Technical Communication with a minor in Journalism were the beginning of Brianna’s career in digital and traditional marketing nearly 15 years ago. Today, she enjoys “wearing many hats,” combining strategic support with creative concepting, from project management to media planning to graphic design.

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Straight Up Marketing with a Twist (and Shout)

Our clients had results worth making noise about in 2016.
Here’s a sample of what they achieved with the help of SJ Marketing strategies and execution:

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8 Emails = $117,000 in Revenue

A resort client generated a little under $117,000 in holiday dining and lodging revenues with the help of an SJ Marketing campaign. The digital strategy included eight emails for which we recommended switching platforms to better access and segment prospects.

The results? Dinner reservations doubled over the previous year and the average dining and lodging ROI per email was about $14,500. The fee for the more effective email tool? $750.


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Facebook Results Rocked

A client was able to sell out a seasonal attraction ahead of schedule thanks, in part, to the creative strategy brainstormed by their SJ Marketing team. Taking into account a modest budget, we recommended a precisely timed Facebook campaign.

An analysis of past ad conversions revealed that results were 30% better on one day of the week. SJ Marketing created two urgency-based campaigns to take advantage of this timing and consumers took action.


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Online Survey Outperforms Targeted Input

A government agency client achieved more than their targeted public input on a project with over 300 responses to an electronic survey developed by SJ Marketing. The survey was part of an integrated outreach campaign.

Other components included an online slideshow that educated over 4,000 viewers and community open houses, which attracted record attendance. The outreach efforts also helped increase visits to the client’s website. They doubled year over year.


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Mobile Site Update: Downhillers Up-to-Speed

With the mobile site update they commissioned from SJ Marketing, a ski resort client is attracting more downhillers this season. The new mobile display is designed for a faster load time.

The custom header also features topics that are the most relevant to skier/boarders. It’s quicker and easier to tap the information they need on their way to the slopes.


Ready to start a similar success story for your business? Give SJ Marketing a shout. We’d love to collaborate with you. Call us at 775.831.6262, or email

— Kelly Houston, President/Account Services

Kelly has specialized in advertising and marketing strategies for the last 15 years. Since 1997, she has focused primarily on internet marketing. As Director of Account Services, she oversees all projects, ensuring that work is completed on time, that marketing efforts are integrated for cross-platform benefits, and that the integrity of each brand is maintained.

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Another Pea to a World of Pods – A Quick Guide to Instagram Pods

Instagram Pods have sprouted all over, so because Instagram holds a special place in my heart, I’ll answer what they are, if you should be a part of one, how to join and give my final opinion — even though you didn’t ask for it. 😉

What is an Instagram Pod?  

An Instagram Pod is a group of people who generally know one another or have something in common (e.g., industry, creative outlook, geographic location), and want to support one another on Instagram. They join a messaging group together on Instagram (a “Pod,” if you will) and let the group know when they have posted a photo, so that other members can go give love to their post in the form of likes, but more importantly than that, COMMENTS.

And now you’re asking, “But why a comment, Amanda?”

Well, the new Instagram algorithm is out in full swing and comments carry more weight than likes; therefore, to overcome the negative effects of the algorithm kicking in, the Pod will help keep your engagement up, which will help you rank higher, and potentially get into the “top posts” area of your hashtags.


More info on Instagram pods here:

Do I Need to be a Part of One?

This is 100% up to you! (Duh, boring answer.)  But really, Instagram Pods can be helpful if you are trying to grow your following, or increase engagement with your current followers. Not to mention, people who already follow you might be more inclined to comment/engage with your posts if they see others doing it.

If you are comfortable with your following and your engagement, or you are not trying to grow your following, then I would not bother with an Instagram Pod.

But…if you are an Instagram-obsessed person (like me) and want to give a ton of support to people who are trying to grow, and you figure more engagements are never a bad thing – then pod away, my friends.

How Do I Join an Instagram Pod?

There are multiple ways to join a Pod. If you are a creative entrepreneur, I would recommend joining the Rising Tide Facebook Group, as there are multiple Pod announcements per day based on your business and hobbies. Personally, I would recommend creating your own, and I’m finding it to be the most organic form of an Instagram Pod.

You can form your own by either individually reaching out to people, or making a general post and asking the masses to leave their handle if they’d like to join. Next step, go to Instagram messenger and add all of the usernames to a group, name the group, and send your messages (Instagram makes this very easy), and presto! You are in a Pod.


How to Not Screw This Up (aka, My Opinions About Instagram Pods)

If you’re going to do an Instagram Pod, I STRONGLY recommend doing it with people you know or are somewhat connected to. I recommend the max size of your group to be 20 people, with a sweet spot of 12-15. I do not recommend getting in a massive group with strangers.

If you are the leader of a Pod, I recommend stressing that comments should be genuine, encouraging, and not fake.  (“Love it!” “Adorable!” — both a no-no to me.)


Instagram Pods are just one of many elements out there in our social world. Thank you for reading my take on something I’m passionate about, and please, I’d love to hear your opinions about the Pods!

Leave me a comment on my Instagram page (@amandamclernon). And no, not for my engagement, but because that is the only place I ever check notifications consistently.

— Amanda McLernon, Social Media Strategist, SJ Marketing

Amanda is a guest writer who contracts with SJ Marketing as a social media strategist. She is absolutely obsessed with Instagram and genuine engagement. Basically, she wants to keep social media social. If you are interested in learning more about social media, you can find her on Instagram at @amandamclernon or email her at

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I’ll Take Your Numbers, and Raise You by a Format and a Graph

Here I am, coming into week four of a football pool. I’ve been close to the bottom every week (not the bottom, just close…alright practically bottom) and I can’t figure out why I can’t even be mid-pack.

I can speak Excel, and I can speak football, so I said to Self, “Self, why don’t we use data to win.” And Self replied,”Heck yeah!”

Do you know what happened that week? I nearly won. I was third and missed by three points (thanks a lot, Eagles).

Numbers Tell the Truth, But They Cannot Speak for Themselves

While hunches make us human, we cannot forget one simple fact: Numbers. Don’t. Lie. They can’t, they don’t know how to, they just know what you put in will kick something out.

But numbers don’t speak words, and that is why they have friends called graphs. Graphs speak for the numbers, and if graphs cannot, then conditional formatting is there to lend a helping hand. Let me show a picture, because I can feel my nerdiness oozing.

Let’s say I gave you the following charts, and I said numbers are good if they are over 78, and I asked, “What is typically the best performing fruit?” Oh, and you have seconds to answer because I’m super busy.

“Numbers” says this:
“I don’t know. Figure it out for yourself.”

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“Conditional Formatting” says this:
“Pears and Apples typically perform the best.”

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“Graphs” says this:
“Apples are the best by a slight margin.”

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Where did your eyes go? My guess is it wasn’t Numbers response, because it looks like a bunch of nonsense. Conditional Formatting helped a little, but Graphs helped you in a pinch.

Strategic Marketing Hinges on Digestible Data

While this is a pretty basic example, you can amplify it to how much data collection we do at SJ Marketing. See, rather than give you a bunch of data to swim through, we want to give you reporting that is clear and tells a story, because at the end of the day, that is why you hired us. We are consistently working harder to give you better reporting, and rolling out new ways to show results. Plus, reporting helps us figure out how to optimize your marketing spend and strategy by seeing trends and anomalies. So while we have years of experience, we do not strictly rely on hunches.

Therefore, if you need a helping hand combing through the endless streams of data and need some help with analysis, or if you want to talk about your football pool, this is why I am here with SJ Marketing, I’m the data nerd.

Click here to check out our company and all the ways we can help your business dig through big data.

— Julie Sabor, Account Coordinator

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Team Building: Blending the Seasoned and the Green and Somewhere in Between


We work in marketing. It’s an exciting and rewarding industry, most of the time, but we’re often called upon to solve a problem for our clients. How can we increase our group business? How can we make the most of our marketing budget? How can we get more people to join our email database? How do we get the top spot in a Google search?

Because we’re so intent on developing solutions for our dear clients, we rarely look at ourselves as an organization, as an agency, and ask ourselves, what are our challenges? What problems do we need to solve for ourselves?

“In an agency environment where we always focus on the client, it’s easy to forget about the company’s greatest asset—its employees,” said Kelly Houston, President.

And when you’ve been around for 30 years, you find yourself with a diverse team—in longevity, age, experience, ideas, and knowledge. Then add to that mix our remote workers, whom we rarely see beyond an email or video call. So, how do you create a cohesive, productive (and fun) culture with such a diverse and geographically dispersed crew?

Two words: Team-building events.

In other words, you make everyone hike two miles straight up a mountain on a sunny 80-degree afternoon. But don’t worry, we’ll have cheese and crackers with some wine (because we’re classy) waiting for you at the top.

With that said, on Wednesday, September 28, “Elevate SJ” kicked off with a group hike to Snowflake Lodge at Diamond Peak Ski Resort, where we took in panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, munched on appetizers and sipped on a few adult libations, while our resident canine companions canvassed the area.

“Nacho found a deer’s leg, or something. And then got sick,” said Jesse Plate, Digital Services Manager and pet owner.

Aside from that obvious excitement, the SJ team participated in a fun and uplifting activity at 7,440 feet, where we had an opportunity to build each other up by sharing positive traits of each of our teammates.

“It was a nice reinforcement to read positive, uplifting comments from your coworkers,” said Darolyn Skelton, Business Development/Account Executive. Others, like Lynn Finnigan, Copywriter, commented that the group activity made them feel appreciated.

After hearing from others, we each shared a few words of what makes us proud as individuals.  Several agreed that getting to work for a marketing agency in Tahoe was very near the top of their list.

“I felt positive and energized,” said Skelton, who also helped organize the event. “I feel it was a success and it seemed like everyone had a good time.”

It is clear that the event and activities generated positive, and constructive takeaways while creating an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other on a more personal, honest level through socializing outside of the office.

“Getting out of the work environment and seeing everyone as a real person improves trust and helps communication,” said Houston. “That’s worth more than most anything in my book.”


–Brianna Sheck, Studio Manager, SJ Marketing

An MS in Integrated Marketing Communications and a BS in Technical Communication with a minor in Journalism were the beginning of Brianna’s career in digital and traditional marketing nearly 15 years ago. Today, she enjoys “wearing many hats,” combining strategic support with creative concepting, from project management to media planning to graphic design.

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Straight Up with a Twist

Did you know Smith + Jones has been around for close to 30 years? That’s certainly something we are very proud of, especially in an area where businesses come and go as easily as the snow melts in an industry that changes faster than your last Instagram photo.

We think our longevity has to do with solid customer service, a willingness to listen to our clients, a great product, and passionate employees. But one of the biggest reasons we are still going strong after 29 years is our ability to adjust in the quickly changing landscape of marketing.

With a nod to change, we decided it was time to rethink, restrategize, and reexamine Smith + Jones…who we are, what we do, and how we can do better for our clients. It was time to rebrand.

So how does a marketing agency rebrand? The same way we do it for our clients. We’ve spent the last 3 months meeting, drinking, talking, surveying clients, eating, researching, and brainstorming on what makes us great and our clients great.

We discussed our strengths, our weaknesses, and our opportunities. We developed our positioning statement, our promise to our clients, and our story. We went through umpteen-thousand logo designs (well, at least 10) and tweaked them over and over until we thought it was perfect. We launched a new website. We changed the way we work together as a team, focusing more on sharing successes, tackling challenges, and optimizing our strengths within the team. Finally, we hired crazy smart digital experts, and additional team members to bring new ideas and a fresh perspective, while capitalizing on our “old” employees experience and strategy.

Basically, we hired ourselves, went through the process we take our clients through, and came out the other side with a much better version of ourselves.

So now, we are excited to share it all with you!

Introducing SJ Marketing (formerly known as Smith + Jones), and as far as agencies go, we’re a true modern classic.

We are insiders in the ad world, and from our Tahoe-based office, we bring a unique, elevated perspective to the table. We are proud to be one of the few marketing agencies that offer it all. We are the sound alternative to you having to hire multiple niche agencies for strategy, design, and media placement. We believe in straight-talk, and strong partnerships with our clients; in addition, the antiquated belief that our success only comes from our client’s success. We consider marketing to be like crafting the perfect cocktail—an art form that can only be mastered with years of experience. Our spirit is fueled by a good deal of research, feisty creativity, and a splash of Lake Tahoe purity.

At SJ Marketing, we are committed to a well-balanced, integrated approach to advertising with a focus on business, strategy, and creativity. We are experts in every medium, and we are quick to adapt in an ever-changing digital and data-driven landscape. That’s what it means to be a full-service agency.

So when you’re ready to party with an agency that knows what it takes to never go out of style, we would love to give you a taste of success. Visit or call 775.831.6262! 



Positioning Statement

SJ Marketing is an agency for the ambitious and the forward-thinking—for the daring entrepreneur as well as the proven industry leader. You might say we’re a classic martini…with a twist. We are the trusted partner for those who want it all: ingenuity, expertise, passion and prodigious visibility. With hand-picked teams of strategic visionaries, digital experts, content crazies, and creative gurus, we build brands that are both timeless and unforgettable, with marketing campaigns that truly make a splash. In fact, we’re known for crafting the perfect cocktail for success—with every client, every time.

Brand Promise

SJ Marketing promises to pour our heart and soul into lifting your brand to its highest potential with the kind of old-fashioned respect and partnership you rarely find in the modern world of advertising.


— Diana Evans, Account Services Co-Director, SJ Marketing

Skilled at thinking outside the box when it comes to integrated marketing solutions, Diana also brings a “big picture” perspective and an entrepreneurial spirit to the challenge. Her over 20 years of advertising and marketing experience are complemented by first-hand knowledge of what a business owner faces: she was once one herself.

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How to Get Data-Driven Results in Marketing

Prior to coming to SJ Marketing, I worked in hotels, in various roles, but most recently, I was focused on reporting and analyzing data. In this case it was room rates, commissions, and even looking at weather patterns as a cause and effect. Data is all around, in every business, and more and more we are hearing the term “data-driven results”–it is time to embrace the data and use it to propel the best conclusions. But how do you get data-driven results in marketing?

The Data Must Tell a Story

In marketing with the shift to digital advertising, we have the opportunity to get trackable results, in real time, where that was not an option in print, tv, or radio. Of course, numbers on a page, are well, just numbers on a page. Do you know how to tell a story? And that my friends, is what we at SJ Marketing are here to help with. Here are three basics to hep you get on the data train (“toot, toot!”):

Your Marketing Objective is the Basis of Your Data-Driven Results

Without defining an objective, how do you know if your campaign was successful? Have a clear objective at the outset. Your set objective might be what led you to seek our expertise. Increase brand awareness, sell a specific number of tickets to an event, generate a certain amount of revenue–data exists in the form of demographics, impressions, and conversions, to name a few. In the broad sense, hoards of data is recorded and available for a multitude of measurements; however, without a goal, it is difficult to use the numbers to tell a story.

Present the Data as a Visual to Help Tell the Story

The number-one reason why many businesses do not embrace data is because there’s too much of it and nobody has time to extrapolate it. And everyone knows pictures are worth a thousand words, so I have one word to describe a thousand words–infographics. No one wants to look at tables with of a bunch of numbers. It makes our heads hurt and takes far too much time to analyze. Case in point: What comes to mind when I say “USA Today?” Most likely, you are thinking USA Today Snapshots (one of those random surveys that is always in the bottom corner of their webpage). This snapshot is a simple graphic that is quick, to the point, and shows how results correlate amongst each other. We at SJ Marketing present the data with dialogue, telling the story behind the numbers, not simply overwhelming you with spreadsheets of data to make your head spin.

Cause and Effect in Data-Driven Results

Correlation versus causation. This is a big one when it comes to data-driven results and definitely can be a point of contention. The more I dive into digital marketing, and even in the data world in general, the more I find that data can find correlations to inform your strategy, but to pinpoint “A” caused “B” is a whole different story. For example, we can gain customer insights and back it up with figures. Want to know which keywords gain the most traction for you in search, or find correlations in time of day/week and engagement on social media that can produce a better ad quality and value? We can do this and correlate with ad performance based on historical results. This is at the heart of data-driven results, but it is all based on your marketing objective.

Marketing Data is Your Friend

Bottom line: The data is available to inform the strategy and decision-making process. It is available to learn more about who your customers are, discover trends, and improve your targeting to maximize your marketing spend. Just think: If your “strategy” was Lake Tahoe, your “data” was the mountains, and you were taking a panoramic of your business–wouldn’t you need both to enhance the picture?

– Julie Sabor, Account Coordinator

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6 Digital Marketing Sins: Are You Guilty?

With a few billion impressions of data under my belt and thousands of reports covering millions of dollars of ad spends, I am somewhat qualified to reflect on trends and mistakes that cross both industries and advertiser size. I have seen the dos and dont’s. Are you guilty of these six digital marketing sins?

1. Lacking Brand/Non-Brand Balance on Paid Search

Hypothetical Client: How come Agency X is delivering a 20:1 ROI and you’re only delivering a 5:1 for us?

SJ: Well, our goal is to generate new business for you, not maximize ROI. If we were only bidding on ads for people searching for you, the ROI would be higher, but it wouldn’t help your business grow.

(Side note: There are times when it is appropriate to have a brand-based keyword campaign; for instance, your competitors or a third-party booking engine are trying to steal your business and you have to defend yourself from that loss.)

2. Focusing Too Much on ROI

While ROI is important, it is not the only indicator of digital marketing success. More broadly, now that we can track return on ad spend results with some accuracy, we’ve created a monster I call returnoninvestiosaurus.

Symptoms that this monster lives in your office:

  • You don’t have budget to promote events or non-revenue-generating lines of business
  • You look at line 28’s revenue rather than the bottom line
  • You run an “awareness” campaign and then ask how much revenue it brought in

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3. Having No Defined Goals (i.e., I Want Everything)

If you have more than one goal, you should ideally have more than one campaign to meet each goal.

If you want a campaign that has both a massive reach and a high click rate, but only have $1,000 to spend, you’ll likely end up with a cost-per-click display campaign, because you are only paying when someone clicks on your ad. On the other hand, the higher the click rate goes, the more often you have to pay and the fewer people you ultimately reach. Your two goals are in a relationship where one will win and the other loses. Instead, we’d advise you to make two separate plays for your click and reach goals.

4. Obsessing over YOY in a DTD World

You ran paid search in 2007 and had a 10% click rate? NICE. You were ahead of the game, though. Everyone else has since caught up. Your Facebook post had a 30% organic reach two years ago? Great, but that’s an unrealistic expectation for a new campaign. Results that were good last year may be irrelevant now, so take your YOY stats with a grain of salt.

5. Missing Out on Trends Because They Aren’t “Proven”

There’s logic behind sticking with ads and ideas that are demonstrably successful. You should use successful campaigns to inform your next budget, but if you focus too much on what you know works well, you miss out on the arbitrage that will put you ahead of your competitors. Instagram is a no-brainer now, but were you on there 4 years ago? Are you afraid of Snapchat because you don’t know how to track its value? How about Facebook Live? The case for value may be ephemeral, but the value is there to be taken on new media—even if it doesn’t have a direct ROI.

6. Unsure What Your “Conversion” is Tracking

Your website has likely changed since you first set up your analytics tracking. Has it been kept up to date? Are you evaluating purchases/leads/conversions/etc. appropriately? Don’t take your reporting at face value if you don’t know what it’s saying.

If you fear you might be guilty of any of these digital marketing sins, contact us. Our digital exorcists…I mean, experts, are here to help.


— Jesse Plate, Digital Director, SJ Marketing

As an experienced digital media planner and digital marketing specialist, Jesse believes that every online touchpoint should contribute to a brand’s overall strategy. He directs digital executions with the goal of strengthening performance toward both online and offline marketing objectives, as well as taking full advantage of available online opportunities.

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Organization Part 2: Calendars, Inboxes & Deadlines

I’m going to go ahead and say it: Getting organized and feeling less stressed allows us to be more productive and efficient. In Part 1 of this series on organization, I emphasized the importance of creating lists and how they can be the foundation of solid organization. Lists of projects. Lists of tasks. Lists to establish priority.

And then there’s those nasty impediments. These obstacles can wreak havoc on your time management if you don’t identify and address them. If one of your impediments happens to be “difficulty staying on task,” setting milestone deadlines throughout the duration of your project can keep you motivated for the long haul.

This is where a digital calendar can work wonders. If you speak fluent Google, I recommend setting up a Google calendar that is specific to each client or each project; that way, you can color code and “filter” your overall calendar view by choosing to hide or show particular calendars at any given time. You can also share specific calendars with others to keep them in the loop.

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In addition to scheduling final due dates, each calendar can be used to set milestone deadlines for your projects, and to help yourself stay on track from start to finish, you can apply an automatic email or pop-up notification one week before a deadline.

Use a Digital Calendar to Stay on Top of Deadlines:

  • Set up different calendars for different clients or projects
  • Color code each calendar
  • Schedule project deadlines and milestones
  • Set up automatic reminders associated with deadlines and milestones
  • Share calendars with those who need to stay in the loop

Sometimes, part of organization is properly categorizing items, which is especially helpful when a question arises about a past project and you need to find the answer — in that black hole otherwise known as your inbox.

To tidy up your inbox, try making folders in which you can keep past emails. Name your folders by client and then you can add subfolders for each project for that client. If you don’t work with clients, create folders based on topic, or go really extreme with the Trusted Trio method used by the founder of Lifehacker, Gina Trapana, where you categorize your emails using three folders that represent different actions: Follow Up, Hold, or Archive.

Speaking of messy inboxes, another great feature of many email applications is setting up “rules” for incoming emails. For example, I wanted to make sure I never missed an email notification telling me I had something to review, so I set up a rule for my inbox that highlighted yellow the emails sent from our internal traffic system and had a subject line that started with “proof,” which was the preset subject line for these system email notifications. Those emails stood out from the rest in my inbox and it was easy to see I had an action to complete.

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Additionally, if you’re like me and you subscribe to several email newsletters, consider creating each a specific folder, and then set up a rule to route emails from those senders to each folder. Ultimately, you can keep receiving them if you want, and they won’t clutter your pretty inbox. (But if you’re not reading them regularly, you might just unsubscribe instead!)


Brianna Sheck

Account Executive

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Humor in Advertising: Does Your Audience Get It?

Of the top 15 most popular 2016 Super Bowl commercials, according to the USA Today “Ad meter,” 13 were funny. Does this mean they worked? That depends on how you define “worked.”

According to artist and writer Craig Damrauer, “Advertising = Hey you + buy something.” Funny ads, like Hyundai’s “First Date” or Doritos “No Dogs Allowed,” definitely get our attention. In today’s social world, they also get the attention of our friends: 900,000 shares of the Doritos commercial on game day alone.

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What about the second half of the equation, though? For the most part, we don’t seem directly motivated to buy. In fact, according to Fortune magazine, “one research firm estimates that 80% of Super Bowl commercials do not boost sales or purchase intent.”

So, what’s the value of humor? Perhaps it’s more about the brand than the product: a combination of being memorable (getting our attention) and likeable (we buy from people  we like).

Is humor appropriate for all brands? No, but some that have used it successfully might surprise you. Like Hoover’s “Our products suck.” campaign or the “Censorship tells the  wrong story” series where pixelating gives a funny wrong idea.

As a general rule, though, audiences seem to like funny ads about cars, food, entertainment and alcohol. Here are five more general rules for humor in advertising:

1.  Make it relevant to your objective and your audience. Know them both.

2.  Engage your audience’s imagination and let them “get it.”

3.  Don’t lie or be offensive.

4.  Do entertain.

5.  Do work with professionals. A team like SJ Marketing can do the heavy lifting on a light approach.

As iconic adman David Ogilvy once explained it, “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

-Lynn Finnigan, Copywriter Extraordinaire

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The Internet Effect on Logo Design

Another major company just redesigned its logo: MasterCard. Although different from its predecessor, its difference is subtle and doesn’t stray too far from the brand mark that is so recognizable.

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This article describes MasterCard’s redesign process.

Most well-known companies have changed their logos to be more reflective of who they are as they have evolved or their customers have changed: Coca-Cola, Walmart… Generally, a subtle change or evolution is the most successful at retaining the brand recognition already earned. But some are more successful than others.

Not too many people remember the “New Coke” fiasco. A new logo couldn’t save that idea. NBC unveiled a new logo in 1976 to replace the peacock; unfortunately, Nebraska ETV Network was already using that logo. Although the “N” logo hung around for a few years, NBC has gone back to a stylized version of the peacock logo.

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A more recent and controversial dramatic logo redesign was that of Instagram. On May 11, 2016, after only 5 years of existence, Instagram’s Lead Designer, Ian Spalter, wrote of the icon change in a post on Medium: “…the Instagram icon and design was beginning to feel, well… not reflective of the community.”

Here is an article regarding Instagram’s logo change and some of the reactions to it.

At the end of the day, a logo should be reflective of the company, and although the Internet may not change the process of logo design, it definitely can influence the final appearance of the logo.

–Robert Stelson, Design Director, SJ Marketing

After working as a designer in San Francisco for several years, Robert joined SJ Marketing in the mid-eighties. As our firm has evolved, so has he. Robert has refined and added to his creative skills for all types of projects, from traditional to digital, from logos and business systems to multi-media campaigns. His experience brings an all-encompassing vision to every project.

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