OUR MUSINGS

A Tale of Two Vehicle Purchases

a tale of two vehicle purchases

Cedric and Cynthia each drive about 15,000 miles per year in their respective vehicles. At the beginning of last year, each of them bought a new vehicle with better gas mileage than their previous one. Cedric had been driving a 2003 Toyota Tundra that averaged 17 mpg and upgraded to a 2017 Chevy Colorado that gets 25 mpg. Cynthia had been getting 28 mpg in a 2008 Toyota Corolla and traded it in for a Toyota Prius Eco Eco that gets 56 mpg. Which of their upgrades had the most positive impact on the environment?

Before I get to the answer, I’ll point out this is the third in a series of blogs inspired by and summarizing some of the research of Daniel Kahneman, a Noble Prize winning behavioral economist who spent his career furthering our understanding of how we process information and make decisions. If you’re a loyal reader of the dgs blog and wondering how you missed those entries, it’s because they were posted at addmagenta.com. A sister company to dgs, we launched Magenta in 2017 as a vehicle for working with small-to-midsize businesses and non-profits in Central Indiana. Whereas dgs is very focused on serving global providers of advanced manufacturing technology, Magenta is our way of increasing our connection to our local community. You can check out the first two blog entries (and our sister website) here and here.

Back to Cedric and Cynthia. If you’re thinking Cedric’s new purchase had a better impact on the environment than Cynthia’s, you’re both correct and in a relatively small group. The rest of you likely concentrated on mpg, a popular standard that led you to an erroneous conclusion. While Cynthia increased her fuel efficiency far more than Cedric, both in actual terms and as a percentage, relative impact on the environment is measured by fuel consumption. Cedric reduced his fuel consumption by 282 gallons per year (882 to 600), while Cynthia’s highly efficient investment only reduced her impact by 268 gallons per year (535 to 257).

Some might feel tricked when they think about the above, but it says something powerful about how we make decisions and set priorities. If we’re looking at policies to reduce fuel consumption and corresponding emissions, it’s easy to concentrate on breakthroughs at the high end of the spectrum of efficiency. After all, those are the developments that the media typically focuses on. But improvements to our most inefficient vehicles can actually produce more significant results with smaller relative gains in terms of efficiency.

To me, the most important takeaway from the above is how the presentation of data can completely change our perception of what it’s telling us. Imagine my opening paragraph had stated: ‘Cedric decreased his fuel consumption by 282 gallons, while Cynthia decreased hers by 268 gallons. Who had the more positive effect on the environment?’ Anyone reading this would’ve easily and intuitively answered correctly. As it stands, my statements provided the same actual data, albeit from a different perspective.

Some of you may already be thinking of correlations to your business decisions. An obvious parallel would be cost reductions. For example, reducing the cost of one of your more expensive products by 20% may be of greater benefit than reducing the cost of one of your less expensive products by 50%. The same overall statement could apply to production times, where a small percentage improvement in a long process may yield significantly higher productivity gains than a large percentage improvement in a short process. Of course, these likely seem a bit more obvious than the example with Cedric and Cynthia.

One of the main reasons so many people struggle with the Cedric/Cynthia example is that we’re conditioned to view mpg as a highly relevant measurement of a vehicle and its environmental impact. In short, familiarity with viewing data in a specific light can create blind spots in terms of how we receive, process and apply it to our decisions. Keep this in mind as you set, evaluate and review metrics and KPIs and you’ll stand a much better chance of making decisions based on what the data actually says, as opposed to what it merely sounds like.

Next time, we’ll take a look at another situation where the framing of data has a large, determinative impact on our decision making. As mentioned in previous entries, if you find yourself wanting to take a deeper dive into behavioral economics, Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, provides an excellent introduction.

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Boost your organic traffic for the long-term with awesome content

boost-organic-trafficChances are organic search is one of the biggest traffic sources to your website. Every experienced web manager or marketer is determined to bring as many visitors from engines like Google or Bing to their website as possible largely because, when done properly, this type of traffic can be accomplished for no cost (and who doesn’t love getting free clickthroughs to their content?).

In most circumstances, tips for boosting your website’s organic traffic revolve around SEO best practices, which are important and will certainly help your rankings in search results. However, before you dive into the world of fine-tuning keywords and meta descriptions, your focus should be on the foundation of what brings users to your site: content.

The content that exists on your webpages can work as a tool to generate organic traffic to your site, thanks to a string of updates to Google’s algorithms, including the Panda and Hummingbird updates. These updates place a higher priority on the quality of a website’s content as it relates to the context of a user’s search query, as opposed to just matching keywords of searches to websites. In short, the better a website’s content, the more opportunities it has to meet a relevant audience that is searching for it.

So what constitutes as high-quality content? For starters, each of your website’s pages should have an appropriate amount of text; a page with very little text will be considered low quality by search engines and a page with lots of text could overwhelm readers. Pages should also contain high-resolution images. Your static webpages (pages that feature information about your products, services and company) should include relevant information to what your customers would search for, and should aim to answer questions a prospective customer might ask. Not sure what those questions are? Take some time to consider the buyer personas of your key customers. In fact, understanding your target audience and developing your buyer personas should be a priority in your marketing program.

Many websites stop after creating a few static webpages. However, if you want to boost your website visits even more, you should also create a blog or news section where you can frequently publish relevant, timely content that will encourage users to continue coming back to your site. Blog posts serve as a critical element in a content marketing strategy and can also be a powerful source of organic traffic. The more you update your site with fresh, new content, the more frequently Google will crawl your site for search terms, and the more opportunities you create for users to find content to click on.

A lot of companies have blogs. Very few use them correctly. When used properly, blog can be used as a gateway to your company’s products and services. It can serve as a way to meet a prospective customer’s needs without directly selling them a service, introducing them to your brand and your knowledge on a particular subject matter so that when the time is right for a purchase to be made, they choose you. However, in many cases, companies skip this awareness step of blogging and jump right to selling, only sharing content that promotes their company, products and services.

If you think about your own online reading habits, how many articles do you read that only share information about the author or spend the bulk of the text selling you on a product or service? Probably none. Because that would be awful.

Create content that educates your readers and helps them solve common problems. If you can, try not to even mention your brand or product in the post. As with the content on your static pages, use buyer personas to determine the problems your average customers face, and provide helpful tips and solutions to them. Don’t worry about “giving away” too much information. As marketing guru Jay Baer states in his breakthrough book Youtility, “create content your customers would pay for.” The more help you give, the more strength you lend to your brand, which will inevitably lead to more sales. And – as long as it is relevant to the products/services you sell – this educational content will bring even more organic traffic from users that may not necessarily be looking for your company or products, but are just trying to get help with a specific issue. Google rewards relevant content that aims to answer users’ questions with higher search rankings.

Once your site is beaming with awesome content, then you can focus on the search engine optimization techniques that will take your organic traffic to the next level. Stay tuned for more content and SEO tips on our blog!

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Let me handle that for you

By Leslie Galbreath

If you work in business, you’ve likely heard the phrase “everyone is a marketer” uttered sarcastically at one point or another. It’s become rather a running joke in my profession. As jokes go, it’s a pretty good one because it rings true more often than it should. When folks say this, it’s usually in response to feedback from an executive who is just “not feeling the design” or a salesperson who “knows for sure that my customers don’t use Facebook for business.” Maybe from a vendor who swears that “shiny paper is making a comeback.” (I can assure you, it’s not). The point is that everyone feels entitled to an opinion about marketing. The question is, why?

The answer is pretty simple else you likely wouldn’t be reading it in a blog, you’d be reading it in my critically acclaimed think piece on the philosophy of communications. Maybe someday, but for now I digress.

Marketing communications is the means by which customers experience brands so we are all, in fact, involved in it to some degree. Websites satisfy our need for immediate gratification by allowing us to buy just about anything online from our favorite vendors. Digital apps allow us to connect with world news as reported by our favorite reporters 24/7/365 with the tap of a finger. Television ads make us laugh, cry and sometimes scream. Communication is emotional and it’s everywhere, and that’s a big part of why everyone thinks they know it – because they see it, use it and feel it every day.

I can assure you, however, that the professionals who create the apps, websites, news programs and television ads, do not do these things based on gut or “cool stuff they saw online last night.” They skillfully engineer their work based on research, training, expertise and experience in the best interest of the brands they serve. This being one among many reasons that it is so important to make sure you choose to work with trained, skilled professionals.

Marketing communications is as of yet an unlicensed profession, which creates a free for all culture that can be risky. Marketers are caretakers for a business’ greatest asset after its people – its brand – and are often responsible for significant budgets and other resources. To elevate our profession beyond the aforementioned culture, many of us seek advanced degrees and accreditation that support industry standards and best practices to grow our expertise. Others rigorously pursue certifications to ensure they are at the top of their game. Others still actively participate in professional associations to benefit from their peers’ experience and guidance. All of these things enhance the credibility of the profession and make us the best suited to decide if the design feels right and if the message is on point.

So, my advice to companies in need of marketing services is look to the experts for input and trust their guidance. To those who think they know better, keep the feedback coming, but let me handle this for you, please.

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We are Thankful

we-are-thankfuldgs Marketing Engineers has much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. From our exciting leadership changes to our continued development of our highly creative team, we are filled with abundant joy and thankfulness for all that we have had the opportunity to experience this past year. And we want to share our season of thanks with all of you – our dgs family.

“This year, I’m thankful for time to spend with the people (and dogs) I love, for people who see injustice and stand up against it and for my bright, kind, creative dgs team.”
– LG

“What I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving is that our oldest son is not deployed, as he has spent a few Thanksgivings in the past five years in combat zones unable to spend time with family.”
– MD

“I’m thankful that I work with an awesome group of people and for my loving family with which I get to spend the holidays.”
– CB

“This year, I find myself much more grateful for and appreciative of every previous president who’s served during my lifetime.”
– JM

“I’m thankful for my health and family.”
– AM

“For Thanksgiving 2017, I’m thankful for the opportunity to travel with my Mom to Raleigh, NC to spend time with my daughter Alison, my son Alex, his fiancé Kimmy and all of her family.”
– BI

“I am thankful that I get to wake up each day and make it whatever I want it to be, and I am thankful that every year my list continues to grow.”
– JB

“This year, I am thankful for the supportive, loving group of friends (both two and four legged) that have been brought into my life.”
– AH

“I am thankful for being around open-minded people who make me smile every day.”
– BL

“I am thankful for freedom, family and good health.”
– MB

“Naturally, as the latest member of the team, I’m thankful for my challenging and rewarding new job here at dgs and for the colleagues who’ve helped me meet those challenges thus far.”
– DF

“I’m thankful for all of the people (family, friends, coworkers) in my life.”
– RB

“My heart is full this year with love for my family and thankfulness my bright, beautiful and sassy child who brings sunshine to my days.”
– MM

We hope you have a wonderful holiday and don’t forget to add that extra helping of stuffing to your plate because, well, you deserve it. We know we’ll all be enjoying our time with our loved ones and sharing thanks for more than the Thanksgiving turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!

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