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Sarah Miller

Keep the “person” in “personalization”

 |  by Sarah Miller

Data-driven personalization is on the cusp of changing marketing, promising targeted advertising that is more relevant and timely for consumers. But don't forget to look up from your Excel spreadsheets and talk with some real humans before you push "go" on your next campaign.

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Ben Smith

Discovering and celebrating creativity in our lives

 |  by Ben Smith

We are excited to present ConfabuLarryum, a community festival of creativity to be held here in Lawrence. ConfabuLarryum will have something for everyone, with the goal of bringing the community together for a day offering fun and inspiration while reinvigorating the amazing power of creativity. 

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Eric Melin

Gas Can 2014 Recap

 |  by Eric Melin

The inaugural AAF-KC Gas Can Creative Conference saw more than 300 area creatives get back to basics and spend a day exploring and celebrating their creativity.

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Stefan Mumaw

The New New

 |  by Stefan Mumaw

Here is the brand crossroads: ratchet up your interrupting or recognize the shift and feed the behavior. Instead of looking for interruption opportunities within content that people want, create the content that people want.

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Kent Stones

Three remarkable trends we’ll all experience

 |  by Kent Stones

Powerful forces are altering our world at an unprecedented rate. Some are positive and exciting, while others, quite frankly, are discouraging. Regardless of their positive or negative potential, all are absolutely going to shape how we as marketers will thrive or struggle over the next few years.

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John Carlton

Sometimes your smallest customers can be your strongest brand advocates

 |  by John Carlton

Someone who has the potential to be one of your strongest brand advocates is nine years old and looking at your product for the first time. She’s still a few years away from buying it. Right now, she doesn’t care about price, product features or design specs. She simply judges everything through her own experiences. So, what are you doing to win her over?

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Sarah Miller

Building brand advocates early

 |  by Sarah Miller

Lowe's "Build and Grow" program is something of a marketing industry double entendre. To the public, it is about introducing kids to DIY culture. But for Lowe's, it might as well be referring to how they create brand advocates.

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Sarah Miller

Email marketing – Making it work even harder

 |  by Sarah Miller

Email marketing efforts do work. (66% of US online consumers said they’re more likely to respond to email than any other marketing effor)  But what can you do to ensure your email marketing dollars are working as hard for you as possible?

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John Kuefler

The three keys to communicating authenticity

 |  by John Kuefler

For someone to advocate for your brand, they must be willing to put their own reputation on the line. When customers become brand ambassadors and promote your brand for you, there’s nothing better. But a knowledgeable enthusiast consumer will never take that step without confidence that the brand is for real.

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Kent Stones

The era of immediacy - part II

 |  by Kent Stones

If there is even a small problem or issue with your brand, don’t think it’s going to just blow over or that nobody will notice. All it takes in this era of always-on, always-connected, always-communicating is one person to start a movement.

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Emily Peterson

5 pet specialty brand building strategies

 |  by Emily Peterson

SuperZoo 2013 is almost here, and if you’re like most pet specialty brands you’re probably trying to lay out your plan for tackling the sprawling show. We all know there will be mountains of information, abundant demonstrations and, hopefully, inspiration at every turn. To make the most of your investment, use these 5 Brand Building Tips as your compass in Vegas:

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Chris Ralston

The power of brands that wear in, not out

 |  by Chris Ralston

Products or services that have a successful track record and a positive reputation convey a sense of trust. And that’s one of the most powerful things a brand can inspire in a user—and that a user can share with someone else. Trust nurtures enthusiasm, and enthusiasm is contagious.

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Sarah Miller

Getting uncomfortable being comfortable

 |  by Sarah Miller

What are you really doing when you go into work each day? What value are you adding to your company’s business or the businesses of your clients? Are you thinking ahead to what problems they’re facing and how you can be addressing them? Or are you simply doing what’s asked of you?

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Kent Stones

The era of data

 |  by Kent Stones

The fact is, data and data analysis has always been fundamentally important in making decisions. Companies have been analyzing data for a long time, but there are several very important changes that have occurred that are putting data and data analysis front and center with executives.

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Tug McTighe

We’ve brewed up a whole new website for Free State.

 |  by Tug McTighe

When your ad agency’s located right down the street from one of the best brewpubs in the area, you drink their beer a lot. Then, when you get that brewpub as a client and start helping them with packaging and promo materials for their burgeoning distribution business, you drink their beer even more. You know – for, um, “research.” 

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Kent Stones

Weather the storm when competitors innovate

 |  by Kent Stones

One of the biggest challenges any marketer faces is knowing how swiftly or strongly to react when the competition introduces something new. This article will provide you with a simple framework for how to respond to innovation and the disruption it can cause for your business.

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Kent Stones

The craft beer trinity

 |  by Kent Stones

At Callahan Creek, we tend to spend a lot of time with craft beer drinkers. Part of it is because we work with Free State Brewery here in Lawrence, Kansas. But mostly it’s just because we love craft beer. Even when on vacations, many of us like to frequent brewpubs in different cities and share our discoveries with our friends and colleagues back at the office. 

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John Kuefler

Ad relevance can be the magic bullet. As long as we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot with it.

 |  by John Kuefler

At a recent client meeting we were engaged in a lively debate about various media tactics—television, outdoor, online banners, PPC, etc.—and their relative effectiveness. Everyone had an opinion based on his or her own personal experience—the proverbial “focus group of one.” A couple of anecdotes from the discussion brings a critical media planning issue into focus: relevance.

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Tug McTighe

Specialty brand in-store displays go digital

 |  by Tug McTighe

We’ve been in the specialty brand business for nearly 30 years, and in that time we’ve seen an explosion in the number of choices available in the way these products are marketed to shoppers. This article will discuss the way it was (delicious cardboard displays), the way it is (kind of a hodgepodge of everything) and the way it will be (digital, digital, digital).

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Kent Stones

Details—more than important for specialty brands

 |  by Kent Stones

I hope to sear into your brain the importance for specialty brands to pay attention to the details, no matter how small or inconsequential they may seem. It’s these little things, when taken together, that have a huge impact on the psychic income people get from buying products or services. If specialty brands don’t do these things well, they’re really no different than their mass competitors.

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Tug McTighe

What is a category enthusiast?

 |  by Tug McTighe

Category enthusiasts are critical to specialty brands, and we have been studying them and why they’re so important for quite a while. Years in fact. This article will first explain what the category enthusiast is and then let you know why they are so important to specialty brands and specialty retailers.

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Tug McTighe

Self-serve beer stores? O Canada!

 |  by Tug McTighe

With our focus on craft beer here at CC – check out our Boulevard and Free State work if you please – we always have our eyeball on interesting stuff happening in the world of delicious beer. Here is something certainly interesting from the Beer Store in Toronto.

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Chris Marshall

Goose is just the first to fly off the island

 |  by Chris Marshall

Many people were surprised (and angry) to hear the news that Anheuser-Busch had purchased Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Company. We at Callahan Creek were not. Working with great microbreweries and regional brewers like Free State and Boulevard, we understand how successful the craft beer market is and how attractive companies in it are becoming to the bigger players.

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John Kuefler

Grabbing shoppers' attention just takes imagination

 |  by John Kuefler

I think all specialty brands can agree that grabbing a consumer's attention in-store is not always easy. But a little imagination goes a long way. Sometimes the most impactful displays may not cost anything - in fact, they may not require much investment other than a little work by store associates.

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Kent Stones

What specialty brands can learn from art

 |  by Kent Stones

I had the privilege recently of helping a local non-profit art center think about their brand and develop a strategy for increasing the support and use of their facility. They were facing a significant problem: despite their 35 years of service to the community, funding sources and participation were not...

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Chris Marshall

Old stores vs. new stores

 |  by Chris Marshall

While all retailers aim to provide a consistent shopping experience, maintaining consistency between old stores and new stores can be a challenge and can have an impact on shopper marketing programs. On our most recent visits, we toured two stores from the same chain that were relatively close in proximity, but the differences in their shopping experiences couldn’t have been greater.

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John Kuefler

The end of the cash register in specialty retail?

 |  by John Kuefler

If you have shopped at an Apple store recently you have had a unique (but not for long) check-out experienced - find any store associate and they swipe your credit card with a card reader attached to their iPhone. "Need a receipt? We'll email it to you."

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Kent Stones

Calling "BS" on social media

 |  by Kent Stones

No, "BS" isn't what you think. This isn't a rant on social media or a blog questioning its return on investment. It is a calling for us to remember "Basic Socialization" principles as we dive into the world of conversations with shoppers and to not get too caught up in applying the latest and greatest technology rolling off the Silicon Valley assembly line.

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Kent Stones

Checking in on check-ins

 |  by Kent Stones

When you see how much social media check-in services enhance just about any experience, you start to understand how influential they are going to be on the shopping experience. Specialty brands that learn to use them well will have a tremendous advantage over those that don’t.

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Kent Stones

How great service started with a "no"

 |  by Kent Stones

As a fan of specialty brands, I generally focus on buying products at retail locations that specialize in the category in which I am interested. I love that employees at specialty stores know more about what I'm interested in and can provide invaluable help in figuring out what to buy because they have experience with the product.

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Kent Stones

What specialty brands can learn from finance

 |  by Kent Stones

Each of us has a personal “balance sheet” and “income statement,” but they go far beyond our financial lives. Specialty brands can learn to influence a shopper’s personal “income statement” to improve the probability they will choose your brand over others.

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John Kuefler

The importance of usability testing

 |  by John Kuefler

Since your website is typically your most important marketing communications asset, it pays to focus on delivering the best possible user experience. User experience (UX) design has become a core discipline in web development, along with information architecture. And rightly so, because despite our best efforts to predict how people will use our sites, it is very hard to do.

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Kent Stones

Is it always best to be a first mover? Maybe not.

 |  by Kent Stones

Here at Callahan Creek, we’re always learning. One of the most enjoyable parts of my job as a strategic/account planner are the days when we take a few hours and debate, discuss and challenge each other on the issues our clients are facing. No pressure, no expectations - just a good old-fashioned intellectual exchange. I want to share a recent talk given by fellow Creeker Jennifer Blandi...

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Tug McTighe

People hate brands (but they really don't have to)

 |  by Tug McTighe

As technology and mobile devices march ever forward, brands out there – the big and the small – are coming under increasing fire. After all, within moments of hearing about something a company or retail brand has done or not done, or experiencing the actions of a brand for yourself...

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John Kuefler

Using 2D bar codes

 |  by John Kuefler

When marketing specialty brands to category enthusiasts, it is critical to satisfy consumers' appetite for product information to make informed purchase decisions. This short video explains what a 2D bar code is...

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Kent Stones

Premature neuromarketing

 |  by Kent Stones

“We’ve got to think outside of the box!” This is a common exclamation, heard almost every time a marketing department faces the wrath of an executive not happy with the company’s performance. We’ve all been there before. You’ve held lots of focus groups, conducted more than enough surveys...

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Kent Stones

The name's Bond. James Bond.

 |  by Kent Stones

I love spy movies. There is just something about the thrill of watching a story about a secret agent that never grows old. The excitement of the chase, the intrigue, the constant misdirection just gets my heart pumping. But there is another type of “agent” we at Callahan Creek love to watch: the shopper agent.

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Connie Williams

You had me, then you lost me

 |  by Connie Williams

These days, it seems like most brands/retailers, big and small, are participating in social media or at least thinking about it. If you choose to participate, you must make a total commitment. When you are a specialty brand, you can never forget that your customers are likely to be engaged and passionate.

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Jackie Bunnell

Only ninja shoppers need apply

 |  by Jackie Bunnell

The downtown area of our city is, for the most part, a relatively civilized and quaint oasis of specialty retailers. One day a year, however, a special sort of mayhem breaks loose. It’s the annual Sidewalk Sale.

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Kent Stones

The importance of knowing your stuff

 |  by Kent Stones

Recently, I experienced something that is fundamentally important to a specialty brand’s success: the importance of the person selling that brand being really smart about the product, competitive options and use of the product.

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Kent Stones

Dinner at 4:30 and a 10% discount

 |  by Kent Stones

Yesterday when I arrived home, I spied something on the counter that I have to admit I had been anxiously awaiting. A large, thick envelope with four glorious words on it: "Welcome to the AARP."

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Cindy Maude

Paralyzed by too many choices

 |  by Cindy Maude

The number of products on shelves, the number of options we have in our daily lives is beginning to paralyze us. Shoppers are walking out of stores or leaving websites – frustrated, unsatisfied and without buying anything. This has big implications for retailers and marketers.

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Cindy Maude

Has Target lost its "Tar-zhey"?

 |  by Cindy Maude

About a year ago I started noticing that Target’s advertising circulars were looking more like Walmart’s – you know what I mean? Tons of products crammed on the front page with big price points and no sense of design and no trendy colors.

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John Kuefler

We've all been trained by Google

 |  by John Kuefler

From behind the proverbial one-way mirror, I was recently observing a website usability study we conducted for one of our clients. Apart from the fascinating idiosyncratic details related to the sites being tested, one big-picture observation struck me.

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Sally Holman-Hebert

Clean up your virtual storefront

 |  by Sally Holman-Hebert

I live out in the country. Not in the boonies, but just far enough away from civilization that it’s much easier for me to do a lot of my shopping online. That said, I still want to feel like I’m getting all the benefits of shopping at the real store.

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John Kuefler

Social media in the world of local retail

 |  by John Kuefler

The social media explosion has  created a channel for the local burger stand to let everyone know when its hours change or what new menu item it’s offering that week in a way that is low cost and engaging. Whether it's Facebook, YouTube or Twitter, local retail is getting on the social media bandwagon in a big way.

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Kent Stones

Customer APP-reciation

 |  by Kent Stones

I have been amazed at the speed and breadth of the change underway in mobile devices. Truth be told, as a marketer I’m quite worried about this rapid change because of its potential influence on shoppers, particularly specialty store shoppers. Think about it: the iconic value propositions of...

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Chris Marshall

Is specialty still special?

 |  by Chris Marshall

For the past couple of years, all we’ve heard about is an economic Armageddon. Research companies started using terms such as “value-conscious,” “staycation” and “conscientious cost cutters” to help segment changed shopping behavior and rationalize declining sales. Reports began...

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Kent Stones

Will marketers have a new reality too?

 |  by Kent Stones

I recently read an advice column by Carolyn Hax (yeah, I know) that contained a remarkable suggestion. The subject had cheated on his girlfriend, yet through hard work regained her trust to a point where she accepted his marriage proposal. His conundrum? He still had thoughts about...

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Tug McTighe

Pick up a mop

 |  by Tug McTighe

Improving retail performance is on everybody’s mind these days, what with the economy and lots of stores, restaurants and retail outlets struggling or even being shuttered. So how can you turn your own fortunes around? You could use specialized marketing and advertising programs that...

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John Kuefler

Increase sales from people who are moving

 |  by John Kuefler

Each year about 15-20% of your customers – about 40 million people in the U.S. – will move (about 16 million of them move outside their previous counties). Those moves are a potential gold mine for retailers. Yet most businesses do not take full advantage of the possibilities to promote...

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Kent Stones

The importance of neighborhood culture

 |  by Kent Stones

"Think globally and act locally." It's a catchy and wise-sounding phrase one hears thrown about and seems to be a good thing for any company to do. Most businesspeople understand and desire the 'think globally' side of the equation, but just what does 'act locally' really mean?

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Kent Stones

If opportunity doesn't Knock, build a door

 |  by Kent Stones

Milton Berle may have been a comedian of the '50s and '60s, but his quote about opportunity knocking speaks to many of those facing retail challenges today.  Just how does a retailer look at change management and marketing performance of a store, when there are going out of business...

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