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Matt
Here are 3 ways to improve your corporate blog

Let's face it, some blogs are just boring. Blogs aren't white papers. They are stories written by people. Opinions, levity, original ideas, relevant humor, these are things that all humans have, and corporate blogs should be no different. That doesn't mean that it can't be “professional.” None of those attributes disqualify anyone from being seen as an expert; it just means that it should have some life! But how?

Tune Your Tone

Tone is tricky, and corporate blogs have a history of tonal shortcomings. Finding your tone will come from your culture:

  • the attitudes of your employees
  • the environment of your office
  • the creativity of your work

Don't stifle these things. Each of them goes into what makes your company unique and can drive your content strategy. One of the best ways to share that uniqueness is with a company blog.

Craft Your Conversation

In The Corporate Blogging Book, Debbie Weil says there are three Cs of blogging, "be conversational, cogent, and compelling." Blogs should start dialogues with your audience, not force rhetoric down their throats. Caterpillar regularly uses their blog to engage in relevant discussions with their audience. Maintaining a conversational tone is key to avoiding a boring blog. Have some fun — you can have an expert voice and still have a heart. It can be a fancy three-piece suit with a silly tie. Also, don't forget to follow up with audience comments to keep the conversation going. Check out web app company 37 Signals blog.

Be, Befriend, or Buy a Blogger

You have established a tone and crafted the conversation you want to have with your audience, but there is still one more big hurdle. You may be the foremost thinker in the area of international toothpaste distribution, but that doesn't necessarily make you a blogger. If you look to your innerself and don't find a blogger, chances are there is someone capable within your office. It is easier, and smarter, to dictate your ideas to someone who already has a grasp on tone, than to try to "discover" it yourself. If all else fails, hire someone. Finding someone who can succinctly capture the voice of your company, while still being entertaining and conversational is essential to beating the boredom! Are you ready to breathe life into your corporate blog?

This blog was posted by Matt on January 15, 2013.
Matt Chiaromonte

About the Author

Matt Chiaromonte

Matt is a copywriter and social media guru in Sandstorm’s Internship Program. With a background in marketing, journalism, and improv comedy, Matt brings equal parts knowledge and entertainment to our little corner of the Internet. When he isn’t generating social media content, Matt can be found enjoying pizza, podcasts, and many other things that begin with the letter “p”.

Matt
Sandstormers at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba

was the night before Christmas, at Sandstorm Design.
User Experience was on everyone’s mind.
Our clients were happy and handled with care
With hopes that our work would increase their share.

The developers were nestled all snug in their chairs,
While visions of wireframes danced ‘tween their ears.
And I in my sweatpants with a glass of eggnog,
Had just settled in to write a holiday blog.

When on Ravenswood Ave there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my Mac to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew with great zest,
Passing coworkers implementing usability tests.

The light from a projector where brainstormers meet,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to those on the street.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
He shouted, “I’ve come to bring holiday tides,
But, first tell me the services that Sandstorm provides!”

Now Sandstorm, we aide those, whose websites need fixin’.
Rebranding, designing, and marketing mixin’.
Our SEO’s white hat, our UX has flow.
We’ve been named a top Gen Y business 3 years in a row.

Santa spoke not a word, he just gave me a smile.
And began stacking presents in a neat little pile.
We Sandstormers gathered ‘round the jolly old elf,
We sang and we laughed in spite of ourselves.

He then sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good-Night!"

 

This blog was posted by Matt on December 21, 2012.
Matt Chiaromonte

About the Author

Matt Chiaromonte

Matt is a copywriter and social media guru in Sandstorm’s Internship Program. With a background in marketing, journalism, and improv comedy, Matt brings equal parts knowledge and entertainment to our little corner of the Internet. When he isn’t generating social media content, Matt can be found enjoying pizza, podcasts, and many other things that begin with the letter “p”.

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Matt
Bernard, Duke and Freddy mascots

A great novel has a cohesive plot, strong characters, and a reliable narrator. A great business model is no different. Your mission statement is the plot. Your employees are the characters that make the plot a reality. Then there’s the narrator, a voice that guides the reader through the material, someone reliable that relates to a specific audience segment...a mascot.

At this point, a lot of B2B companies may be saying to themselves, “Decent analogy, but how does any of this apply to me?  Mascots are a B2C tool, right?”  While it’s true that the most top-of-mind mascots are usually selling high-fructose corn syrup to children, B2B mascots are on the rise, especially in technology companies.

Those in the tech field are in a constant struggle between the creative and the professional. It makes sense to want to appear as a leader in your industry. But the need to be seen as professional by prospective clients can sometimes overshadow the need to effectively guide customers through the decision-making process. A brand mascot can be that guide.

The email marketing software provider MailChimp, is a perfect example of a B2B tech company overcoming the mascot struggle. Their mascot is a chimp named Freddy that delivers all the humanizing and brand awareness one could ask for, and in no way does he hurt the credibility of the company. Finding the balance between a silly character and an effective business tool can be tricky. MailChimp’s graphic designer wrote a very interesting blog post about how their mascot has evolved over time to become the narrator the company needed.

So what makes a mascot effective? Any good mascot does two things. It humanizes a company by creating a personal relationship with its customers, while also increasing brand awareness. In order to accomplish these tasks, the mascot must be an engaging, memorable character with an emotional design and a functional use.

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This is Duke. He is the mascot for the software platform Java. According to their website, Duke was designed to represent a "software agent" that performed tasks for the user. He provides an interactive experience that goes well beyond what one would expect from a B2B business. As Duke’s popularity grew so did Java’s. He can now be found at every conference that Java attends, and since becoming “open-sourced” in 2006, anyone can design their own Duke. The current incarnation includes a jetpack and blue wings.

That personal touch and connectivity with a customer is what makes mascots a unique UX tool. In the world of B2B tech companies there isn’t a lot of levity. Giving your customer a real face to interact with (especially if that face is furry) can go a long way to improving their experience.

LogMyCalls.com is a call tracking platform. They specialize in analyzing and tracking phone calls for businesses. But take one look at their website and you’ll soon find that those calls aren’t being analyzed and tracked by people or even by computers, but by a beaver named Bernard.  He adds a personal touch to the user’s experience. Sometimes all that a customer needs is a helping hand, or paw, or flipper.

Mascots like Bernard, Duke and Freddy provide brand recall that goes well beyond a logo or tagline. Because they are an active narrator of a brand, mascots can be continuously weaved into the brand’s story. As more and more B2B tech companies start effectively using new faces to relate to their customers, it begs the question...Who do you want to tell your story?


At Sandstorm Design, we create powerful brand experiences.... Learn more about Sandstorm Design's marketing services.

This blog was posted by Matt on December 18, 2012.
Matt Chiaromonte

About the Author

Matt Chiaromonte

Matt is a copywriter and social media guru in Sandstorm’s Internship Program. With a background in marketing, journalism, and improv comedy, Matt brings equal parts knowledge and entertainment to our little corner of the Internet. When he isn’t generating social media content, Matt can be found enjoying pizza, podcasts, and many other things that begin with the letter “p”.

Matt
Sandstorm Launches New Internship Program

One of Sandstorm's cornerstones has always been to learn and share at every possible opportunity. After being named a Top Gen Y employer for the third year in a row, we are building upon that cornerstone once more. Sandstorm Design is proud to announce the birth of our brand new Sandstorm Internship Program!

We are always looking for new ideas and a fresh voice. This program will bring together our strong, well-respected workforce with a new drive to learn and share. While the internship program is still in its infancy, we are already seeing progress. We have recently hired our first Social Media and Copywriting Intern, and boy is he handsome. Full disclosure, he is writing this blog post. My name is Matt Chiaramonte and I am looking forward to contributing to not only this blog, but also to many future creative and informative discussions regarding strategic marketing in an ever-evolving environment. Say that five times fast.

Internship Program Details

We plan to continue to grow this program and have begun working with local Chicago recruiting channels including Columbia College Chicago, Loyola University and Internships.com. In the near future, we will be looking for individuals to help us out in the fields of:

  • Sales and Marketing
  • Social Media & Copywriting

This internship program serves as a tool that provides professional experience in the interactive world to creative and intelligent individuals. We look forward to finding and working with interns to help achieve our mission.

While proud of every accomplishment and accolade we are lucky enough to receive, Sandstorm will never stop moving forward. We believe that hard work, innovation, and positivity make us more than just a great company; they make us a great family. We look forward to adding a few new members.

To apply, please send a cover letter and your resume to interns@sandstormdesign.com and include 140 characters as to why you want to intern at Sandstorm. In the subject line, include what type of work you're interested in (sales/marketing, social media, copywriting).

This blog was posted by Matt on December 12, 2012.
Matt Chiaromonte

About the Author

Matt Chiaromonte

Matt is a copywriter and social media guru in Sandstorm’s Internship Program. With a background in marketing, journalism, and improv comedy, Matt brings equal parts knowledge and entertainment to our little corner of the Internet. When he isn’t generating social media content, Matt can be found enjoying pizza, podcasts, and many other things that begin with the letter “p”.

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