Generating Creative Assets to Support In-Store Promotions

Promotions. Sales. Events. You may consider these the most time consuming efforts of your business. Conceiving your next event idea may come easily, with staff brainstorming during a quiet moment in the store. But the execution is a different story. How do you get the right customers to show up? To know about it and to tell their friends? You’ll want to think about your traditional methods, your in-store use of conversation and how your broad-reaching tactics like radio and other broadcast media do their part to raise awareness of the promotion or event. But often, the simplest elements are overlooked, ones that can simplify a multi-channel marketing push.

Developing A Small Collection of Creative Assets

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First, you’ll want to collaborate with your staff. Talk about the “selling points” for the event or promotion. Is your event part of something larger, like a community art fair or sidewalk sale, allowing you to describe both as reasons for attendance? Is it a shop-for-a-cause event, where a percentage of store sales would be matched for a meaningful nonprofit? Really hone the way that your associates will describe the activities of the event to your clientele. While it might seem silly, role play with your team. They will find their words, and you’ll be sure you know just what they are saying.

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Find four images that Represent your Event
These four images aren’t all images of engagement rings. In fact, if you must have inventory in any of them, limit yourself to a single photo. The others should be things that show the emotional experience of the event, your own staff serving a customer, the experience of watching the gift as its given. If you look at the image and have an audible response—that’s the image you should pick. When showing these images or ranking them in order of importance, the order should showcase inventory last, smallest, or least. This might go against what you think is important, but remember, your customers are connecting with you before and at the event. The piece they purchase won’t be decided upon until they are in the store itself.

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Use Words Sparingly
Pen three text components about the event. First: A 100-140 character statement that describes the event in a single line. Keep it short but get the emotion into the statement. Some examples might be “Literacy Has a Real Ring To It. Support XYZ cause At Jay’s Jewelers this Saturday” or “Drop In During Sidewalk Sales to Beat the Heat and Make Your Wish List” or “Tuesday Ten Percent: You name the Nonprofit and We Write the Check.”

Next: a two sentence description that expands on the statement.

And finally: the time and place details.

I Have My Materials Collected. Now what?

Now that you’ve collected the materials, you’ll use them in different combinations, in the following places.

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Hero Image. You know the slider on your home page that probably shows a blend of your inventory items? Take one of the emotional images, and lay the Text Statement over it, headline style. Finish with a softer, smaller listing of the time and Place details. Link it to the next item: a calendar event on your site.

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Calendar event. If you don’t have a calendar of events, your blog page or where you list newsy items on your website will also work. An emotional image as the thumbnail, with all three text components inside the event listing should work perfectly. Reminder—there’s no need to use your inventory image yet, as the customer is seeing this item on your website, where much of your inventory can already be explored.

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Blog. This is where the inventory image can go. Is the event a trunk show? Invite your supplier to provide the text! Is this a fundraiser? Ask the nonprofit to pen a blog about the mission of their organization. Remember, the blog needs to also describe the event and include the time and place details. Put it in a callout box or column alongside the article itself. After all, you’ve already written it.

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Facebook or Instagram, or Both. Post the third emotional image in your feed. Use the two sentence description and the time and place details as the post. Link to your website’s calendar listing, blog, or news, where you’ve placed the information natively. Boost your post to your ideal customers, using what you know about their characteristics and geography.

Create a carousel ad for social media, with the three emotional images first and the inventory image last. The statement is your headline. The supporting sentences, the post that accompanies the ad. And guess what? The details will be found after the link to—you guessed it—your calendar entry, blog, or news.

Make a Facebook event, using the same hero image you’ve used on your home page, and all of the text you’ve already written. Invite all of your friends on Facebook, and encourage them to do the same.

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Digital Ads. If you are marketing digitally, make four ads for use in the digital space. Statement (headline) is already written. This headline goes on top of each of the four images. It clicks through to your calendar page, blog, or news.

With just four images and three small pieces of text, you’ve armed yourself with a multi-channel campaign that will generate a flurry of activity. If you do direct mail or place ads in print, they should contain these very same components, generating a cohesive, recognizable identity system for your event.

Choosing Visual Elements that Drive Impact

Optimization is a word that marketers overuse. Put simply, it means we try and then test, rework and try again. Like medicine, marketing is a practice, and one that is finely honed over time.

On the first day of a campaign, any great marketer has put a lot of thought into audience segments, content artifacts and visuals. They’ve described, in painstaking detail, just how the campaign will go to market, launch, and convert. Landing pages or sections of a website have been built to collect and inspire action for users. This level of detail can’t be overlooked whenever a campaign is crafted, otherwise the conversions we all hope will come surely fall short.

But how does one know when a marketing effort requires new creative? At Advance 360, we often say that gut isn’t a strategy. Just because you feel that a piece of creative isn’t effective doesn’t make it so.

No campaign is ever as inefficient as it is on day one.

Ideas about Changing Creative to Entice Engagement


Consider using animation to highlight certain portions of the imagery or text. In this example, the ad’s behavior draws the eye and entices more interaction. In this case, the example is around casting for a local theatre’s upcoming performance. Notice how the ad, in the first position, is largely black and white. While appealing, it is positively illuminated when changing color. The contrast in the before and after views as well as in the difference surrounding the content is engaging and enticing.


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In this initial set of creative ad units our designer captured the concept of “a transparent experience.” Our clients were hopeful for units that truly told a story of building trust with their organization. They wanted their ad units to speak the way they spoke, and illustrated the many ways that they were available to talk. In this case, the artist chose white and pale grey as a way to illustrate this.

As this campaign progressed to a place wherein it was clear that clients understood and accepted this transparency as part of the brand, the use of transparent panels was a natural next step. Lacing multicolored, ombre panels over and behind the subject matter created a new, more colorful take on the ad units and the experience.


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When building material to live online, we must keep in mind the native space and how the web world is built. Crafted to fit together like building blocks, with one bumping up to the next in repeated grids, ad units can begin to look like wallpaper. Consider any design element that disrupts that concept, creating negative space to be interruptive to the eye.


Baby Boomers prefer more “meat” in their advertisements, and are not hindered by greater detail. Millennials, by contrast, prefer modern looks with a great deal of negative space. Generation Z needs us to break up swaths of text with icons, graphics, or images with a greater frequency than any generation that came before them. We don’t need to buy an ad space and display a single ad unit anymore. Split your audience types, and serve each their own ads.


Review the campaign’s performance. Is it pacing properly to achieve the number of impressions needed to create lift?

Are the audience segments well refined? Too broad and you aren’t maximizing your spend — instead wasting marketing dollars, hopeful that the wrong audience will engage.

Are you properly identifying behaviors that indicate a consumer is ready for more? In the engagement phase, use pixels wisely to remessage those that are already raising their hands.

Don’t concentrate on clicks. A solid CTR is a great thing to have, especially since true attribution is so rare. But don’t rely on this metric as the sole proof that a campaign is working. If organic traffic is noticeably up, your campaign is creating the awareness you desire, even if it isn’t seen in the direct click through.

These optimizations aren’t the only ones that should be considered. But these small adjustments in a design strategy can garner big results. Don’t adjust too frequently, or you won’t know when changed direction created impact. But don’t miss out on the chance to optimize creative for better performance.

Mackinac Island Named Number 1 Summer Destination in America by TripAdvisor

The TripAdvisor ranking is based on seasonal hotel booking interest from spring to summer, including the average one-week vacation costs for hotels and airfare. As Mackinac’s Agency of Record, Advance 360 is thrilled to celebrate this well-deserved recognition.

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Advance 360, the Mackinac Island Tourism’s Agency of Record, has worked diligently to achieve this notoriety, but also dramatically improve the revenue of the island and the length of the peak season. Both have made tremendous inroads — growing by more than 30% in revenue since 2013.

In 2013, Mackinac Island Tourism identified a need for a refined, laser targeted digital campaign. Since that time, the budgetary commitment to this proven digital strategy has more than doubled, and the results speak for themselves.

Products Used:

• Paid Search
• Display and Re-messaging
• Responsive Rich Media
• Sponsor Content
• Social Media Management and Amplification
• Web Design and Development
• Video Pre-Roll


The primary goal has always been to increase total room revenue on Mackinac Island. Advance 360 knows that increasing site traffic and conversions on are the leading indicators of how the island will pace with regards to room revenue. Adjusting and solving for the appropriate increase in web visitors during target months, the strategy lifted traffic and with it, room night revenue.

Because the island is open only May through October, the window of opportunity is short. Using historical data, travel research, and audience profiling, Advance 360 was able to predict peaks in bookings, understand target audiences and messaging, and lift conversions. Insights from SEM analysis dictated a full year marketing campaign that elevated bookings in both early and late season, adding to increase of total room revenue for the island.

Advance 360 is still the DAOR for Mackinac Island and 2018 pacing is currently on track to exceed campaign key performance indicators.


From 2013-2018, since Advance 360 has become Mackinac Island’s Digital Agency of Record, they have seen the following increases:

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Digital Ads:

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Drive Enrollment and Combat Declining Numbers

Falling short of e-commerce revenue goals and experiencing a negative ROI on their marketing strategies and campaigns, our client needed a digital marketing strategy that efficiently allocated budget dollars to reverse this trend ASAP.

Offering online trainings and accreditations for specific industries/tracks, with no brick and mortar location, they had to be top of mind to drive a strong return within a set time-frame.

Advance 360 developed and executed an integrated program that ultimately increased their online enrollment while decreasing the investment they were making in SEM.


SEM has increased as a result of newly implemented campaign management.

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Public, four-year state university leverages re-targeting to bring in Top Recruits

How can a state university recruit the most impressive student prospects online? Especially when there’s no database that tracks students by GPA or academic performance. For the College of Science at a four-year state university, recruiting high schoolers who excel in science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) was a top priority. The state university worked with Advance 360 to reach STEM students online and increase enrollment in the College of Science.

We developed a four week digital campaign leading up to National Decision Day, when seniors choose which college to attend — researching the 40 top-performing STEM high schools in the four closest states. Half of the campaign went toward mobile in-app ads, geo-targeted to those schools. Any student who engaged with an ad and then left the area were retargeted later using the other half of the budget. In total, the university spent less than $3,000 to deliver 250,000 ad impressions over four weeks. By National Decision Day, the results were in.


How Much of Your Budget is Digital?

In December of 2016, just 25% marketing budgets averaged 70% of their dollars to digital efforts. 11% of those polled responded their budget less than 10% digital. Yet nearly half of the marketers cited content development as a leading tactic in their marketing.

80% of marketers in North America name lead generation and brand awareness as their top reasons for content marketing. But it isn’t enough to develop compelling and engaging content if you don’t take steps to bring your audience to it.

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Ensure that your website is mobile friendly. The smartphone is the preferred access point for 87% of users. If your site can’t be easily viewed and your content easily found while in line for coffee, the site and its architecture needs work. You must build the foundation for your business first, and that foundation is your website.

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Use pixels wisely. A re-messaging pixel is simply a device for finding someone that visited a page of content a second (or third) time. What you re-message these visitors with should be consistent with content they read, and over time introduce new topics and calls to action. These re-messages can drive your audience further down the funnel, introducing concepts or products that will pique interest. But don’t lean to heavily into this budget. Dial the re-messaging up too high, and your audience may be served multiple messages from you on the same page—wasting your precious dollars.

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Social Media is a great place to start if you haven’t dedicated much of your budget to digital. With it you’ll learn how to target an audience, set a budget, and even list-match. These concepts can be expanded more broadly in digital display messaging, as you (and your budget) are ready. But don’t expect to “post and run.” Social media is a long play: you can’t disappear for weeks at a time. You must pay to play in this space, though you can start very small.

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Open the digital floodgates. Sync your social media efforts with your digital display ones, using your learnings about what is most engaging. Segment audiences that you know have a propensity to convert, and experiment with frequencies to influence them to do so.

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Whatever your budget, recognize that when used properly, digital can dramatically reduce the amount of waste in your marketing spend, by highly targeting your exact audience and serving messages in their natural internet travels. Lower cost per acquisition? Check.

Learn More:

Community College Garners Record Engagements (+253%)

The higher education market is highly competitive, especially for two-year colleges and community colleges that compete with four-year universities for students. Additionally, community colleges battle the negative perception that they are the post-secondary destination of “last resort.”

Community colleges thrived during the economic recession as students who were struggling to pay for a four-year university or to find work looked to improve their academic and professional credentials. As the economy recovered, community colleges have had to get creative in their marketing to potential students. Our client approached Advance 360 to construct a strategy targeting a very specific audience of community college prospects — summer transient students.


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The local community college was struggling to reach the summer transient students. These are students who live in the county, are eligible to take classes and have credits transferred back to their original institutions. In addition, the local community college wanted to reach the parents of children that are most likely to participate in summer classes.

The strategy that was created revolved primarily around three tactics to reach parents and students. First, targeting geographically, to focus on very specific locations where the likeliest audience exists. In this case, targets included six college campuses that would function like “feeder schools.” In social media, Advance 360 targeted students enrolled at schools nearest the community college and/or within a 40 mile radius of the city. Responsive Rich Media, or RRM, communicated the advantages of summer classes at the community college, in an engaging way.


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Creative Tells the Story

Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa is a unique client. They have a strong sense of self, understanding what niche they want to fill for their clientele: a chic, boutique hotel experience with exceptional amenities, offering ocean view banquets and weddings and al fresco dining in West Palm Beach. Unfortunately, their changing ownership and management companies, along with a deflagging from a franchise hotelier left them without a usable logo, identity system or creative assets.

In addition, they needed a web presence worthy of the property itself. The vast majority of their reservations were taking place with online travel agents (OTA’s), and unnecessarily sacrificing margin to those third party entities. The return on marketing investment was untraceable, as the technology was not being used to its potential. In short, this resort needed an identity and a campaign, quickly.

Our team first performed a market analysis of competitive properties in the area. Our review included all that would appeal to the core customer of Tideline Resort, rather than focus on like-sized or properties with similar entities. What we discovered: The property’s beach was exceptional, better than the competition in space and size. The dining offerings were fresh and desirable, with a credible sushi chef and sought after brunch buffet. The spa offered traditional services, specializing in bridal groups. All of the pieces were in existence, the hotel simply needed to generate the creative assets to tell the story.

The Advance 360 Creative Team then came on site to collect video and still photo assets, staging hotel spaces, vignettes, and amenities in order to capture just the right pieces of the story.

From there, a new website/digital environment was produced and launched, as well as a campaign to generate lift in brand awareness and site visits, and reduce third party booking agents.

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Creative Examples

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William & Mary Athletics’ Social Campaign Draws Record Attendance

The College of William & Mary sought assistance with ticket sales for their basketball season. With a layered targeting approach, Advance 360 used lat/long targeting (also known as geo-fencing) to target students on campus, with messages specific to student ticket pricing. List-matching and social media targeting was used to find alums within a specific radius of campus, and those viewers were encouraged to engage with the purchase of season or single tickets. Additional audiences with an interest in basketball, special events or sports were also targeted and delivered messages around the affordability of tickets, and specific athletic events and dates.

Overall, this campaign achieved record attendance for the University, tripling the men’s basketball audience and quadrupling the women’s audience YOY.

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2018 Digital Marketing Trends

Who is your most valuable audience? Your digital strategy should lead them directly to you. But the landscape changes quickly. How do you keep up? Here’s our take on actionable insights you can (and should) incorporate into your marketing strategy, including advances in online display targeting, content marketing and video.