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Hello Howard: A Case Study in Neighborhood Marketing // Behind the Spark

Posted by Kate Alpert on May 25, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Originally published on the Women Belong blog.

Even if you're not from Chicago, you've probably heard of the city's elevated public train line, the El. Howard Street is the last stop on the northern end of the El's Red Line. The Howard stop is a transportation hub that bridges the city with the northern suburbs. Historically, the area had been a thriving business district but over the years had declined into an area of storefront vacancies.

In the early 2010s, the Rogers Park Business Alliance worked hard to fill vacancies, develop businesses, and push back against the common negative impression of the area. Two of the goals of the revitalization project were to serve the diverse residents of Rogers Park and for the neighborhood to become a destination for city-dwellers and out-of-towners alike.

In 2012, the Rogers Park Business Alliance released an RFP for the Howard Street SSA #19. The project was to create a neighborhood marketing and branding campaign for Howard Street, the northernmost boundary of the city. Sparkfactor won the project and created a campaign that had immediate results when the campaign launched and also has a lasting legacy that stands today.

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Topics: Marketing, Advertising, Behind the Spark

Your Marketing Needs to Focus on More Than Just a Website

Posted by Sparkfactor on May 23, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Last week, HubSpot released its annual State of Inbound report. Every year, HubSpot surveys companies across the globe about their marketing and sales efforts in an attempt to understand the state of marketing, and inbound marketing specifically. A lot of information is compiled into this report, which you can read here.

Companies that seem satisfied that they've created a website and think that's all that's needed to survive in the digital landscape are wrong. As the State of Inbound report states, "Our respondents believe that having a website and blog is no longer enough to attract the attention of their buyers."

Fifty-five percent of marketers say they prioritize growing traffic to their company's website. At the same time, 63% of companies say their top marketing challenge is generating traffic and leads. With the ever-changing digital landscape, it can be hard to know how to engage your audience and bring them back to your website.

While you can make efforts to improve the SEO of your site to draw an audience in organically, it's also important to have other platforms pointing back to your website. These efforts, like all marketing efforts, should be done with purpose and provide relevant information to the audience you're trying to reach—you don't need to target the world. Here are some emerging trends from the State of Inbound report to consider when planning your marketing strategy.

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Topics: Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Virtual Reality, Video & Motion

#InspiredBy J. Crew

Posted by Andrea Garcia on May 1, 2017 4:45:00 PM

Every once and a while, an ad catches my attention. Once, it was a Bears billboard that got me excited for the season; a while ago, it was an Esurance ad on Spotify; and yesterday, it was a J. Crew ad at a bus stop.

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Topics: Advertising, #InspiredBy

How Dramatic Structure Will Make You a Better Visual Storyteller

Posted by Andrea Garcia on Apr 27, 2017 2:00:00 PM

Even if you don't consider yourself a writer or much of a reader, you likely instinctively know what dramatic structure is. Made popular by Freytag's Pyramid, dramatic structure argues that there are five main components to any narrative or story told: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. This rough outline is not only used in written works like novels, but is also in movies to move the plot along. In the same way, marketers can employ dramatic structure to improve the quality of visual storytelling. Here are ways to use Freytag's Pyramid throughout common visual tactics.

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Topics: Marketing, Video & Motion, Photography

Bolton Medical Trade Show Video // Behind the Spark

Posted by Sparkfactor on Apr 25, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Bolton Medical, a division of the WerfenLife Company, develops products and technology focused on the aorta. The company is committed to improving patient care through its solutions for aortic treatment.

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Topics: Video & Motion, Behind the Spark

How to Read Your Marketing Road Map

Posted by Andrea Garcia on Apr 11, 2017 10:45:00 AM

I love road trips, always have. We used to take massive road trips when I was a kid: out west, out east, downstate. It didn't matter where, I loved the windows down, sun on my skin, open road feel of an hours-long road trip. We would plan out the route on our atlas, taking care to plan stops where it mattered the most: Mount Rushmore, Fenway Park, Niagara Falls.

So when I got my own car in high school, you better believe I was ready to hit the open road. In the days before smartphones and GPS, everyone knew how to read a map. Or at least that's what I assumed. But I learned that lesson pretty quick when I took road trips with my friends that usually ended up with me pulling the map out of my co-pilot's hands because we were miles off route in the wrong direction. Eventually we would figure out where we were and continue on our merry way, with stories to share when we got back.

Now, being able to read a road map can be a valuable skill—especially if your phone battery dies. In the same way, knowing your company's marketing strategy and plan—your marketing road map, if you will—can be life-saving. Here's how to make sure you, and your marketing team, know how to read your marketing road map and are heading in the right direction.

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Topics: Marketing, Inbound Marketing

Fletcher Jones Audi Showroom Google Tour // Behind the Spark

Posted by Sparkfactor on Mar 23, 2017 12:30:00 PM

When Sparkfactor noticed that there was a new showroom being built just blocks away from our old office in Wicker Park, we reached out to Fletcher Jones Audi to let them know how they could take advantage of a Google virtual tour to let potential customers see into the new showroom. They loved the idea and agreed to have us come back when the showroom was completed.

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Topics: Google Maps Business, Google Maps Business View Photography, Behind the Spark

NeuralBalance Website // Behind the Spark

Posted by Sparkfactor on Mar 17, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Martha Weinfurter started NeuralBalance in 2008 to work with clients individually to achieve a balanced life using holistic tools. She has learned a variety of methods to help clients achieve a wholeness of being, including being trained in Brain Integration Technique and HeartMath. She also draws on her years of experience and background in nursing. The HeartMath Institute Research Center researches how the brain and the heart communicate and how that relates to the feeling states people can be in. Martha uses an individualized approach for every client, allowing each person to build emotional resilience in their own way.

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Topics: UX, Responsive Web Design, Web Design, Marketing, Identity, eCommerce, Behind the Spark

What March Madness Can Teach You About Split Testing

Posted by Andrea Garcia on Mar 15, 2017 8:15:00 AM

During March Madness, it seems like anything can happen. A number one seed can take the whole tournament or be upset by a low-ranking underdog. You can predict, with your bracket, how you think it'll turn out, but only the lucky few will have intact brackets by the Final Four. Maybe you pick based on season-long data and NBA prospects. Or maybe you pick based on school colors and mascots.

With as much time as you might spend developing the perfect March Madness bracket, do you spend that much time on your "marketing bracket"? (That's not really a thing, but go with me here.) There's a marketing term called split testing (or A/B testing) and it's very similar to the scientific method or NCAA brackets: make predictions based on past data, see how it turns out, and apply what you've learned next time.

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Topics: Analytics, Marketing Analytics, Marketing, Conversion

The Space Station Has A Virtual Tour. You Should, Too

Posted by Andrea Garcia on Mar 13, 2017 4:30:28 PM

With all of the movies about space that have come out recently—or are on their way to a screen near you—it's easy to say our fascination with space is a trending topic. While we might not all be able to take part in Space X or Blue Origin, now we can take a virtual reality tour of the International Space Station.

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Topics: Google Maps Business View Photography, #InspiredBy

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