Clucks & Pucks— Another Big Thank You!

March 25th was the 2nd Annual Clucks & Pucks for LLS at the Times Union Center— and we just wanted to say thank you so much to all who attended, donated, sponsored, shared, and supported the event in any way they could!

Special thanks to sponsors and vendors:

Jankow Companies

Atlas Management

Sawyer Printing

AM&J Digital

The Albany Devils

Twill

The Orchard Tavern

The Rusty Nail

Il Faro

Peabody’s Saratoga

Healthy on Lark

Slidin’ Dirty

City Line

Recovery Sports Grill

The Mill on Round Lake

Bull & Barrel

Buffalo Wild Wings

THANK YOU to City Beer Hall!

A huge thank you to City Beer Hall for hosting us for Best Bingo Ever on March 15th and to all of our sponsors and donors for their generous contributions to make this event a huge success!

Green Flash Brewing Co.

City Line Bar and Grill

Bountiful Bread

Roma Foods Importing Company

Primal: Your Local Butcher

WellNest Studios

Silver Parrot

Different Drummer’s Kitchen Co.

Eastern Mountain Sports

Siena College

The Albany Devils

G.Willikers Albany

Orangetheory Fitness Albany

Tri-City ValleyCats

Renaissance Albany

Times Union Center

El Loco Mexican Cafe

Orchard Tavern

Albany Dermatology

Tomo Asian Bistro

Clearly Yours Gifts

PIT Fitness

Kate Chapman, Independent Consultant Arbonne International

LDA’s Guide to Fall in the Capital Region

Halfway through fall, you may be realizing that you have a yearly “checklist” of seasonal things you want to do— and very few of those things may have actually happened yet. Fall is a great season for so many reasons: It gives you an excuse to wear layers and get warm and cozy as the temperature drops. You get to substitute that summertime iced coffee for a nice, hot Pumpkin Spice Latte. You have an excuse to dress up in costumes that you’ve spent ridiculous amounts of time planning and curating (yay Halloween!). The leaves change into beautiful shades of red, yellow, and orange and fall to the ground in a FAR more gentle and colorful manner than any snow ever could. And above all else, there are tons of fall activities that arguably rival that of any other season— and we’re lucky to be able to do all of these right here in New York’s Capital Region.

Apple picking:

Orchards aplenty dot the Capital Region, and there is nothing better than walking through an apple orchard, picking the most perfect apples you can find, and eating a few along the way. The best part? You can never pick too many— there are so many perfect fall recipes that apples of any kind can be baked, boiled, or fried into. We’ve picked a few of our favorites for your picking pleasures:

  • Altamont Orchards
  • Indian Ladder Farms
  • Riverview Orchards
  • Goold Orchards

Hayrides:

We’ve lost count of how many haunted hay rides there are in the surrounding area, but we have nothing bad to say about any of them. October is the best month to get your fear fix— and we recommend giving these places a chance to scare your pants off:

  • Double M
  • Headless Horseman
  • Field of Horrors
  • Nightmares at Liberty Ridge Farm

Bonus: With many hay rides, you have the option to opt in on a corn maze (for an additional fee). We would advise to always opt in on the corn maze. There’s nothing spookier than walking through tall stalks in the dark with shrieks and growls coming from all angles.

Fall Festivals:

Fall is the perfect time to have a festival. The chill in the air prevents you from getting sticky and sweaty, and usually, there are no bees out to bother you— they’ve all gone into their little bee hibernation. Food festivals like the Troy Chowderfest dot the weekends. Don’t miss out on the upcoming festivals— you can check our Facebook Page (Little Dog Advertising) and Instagram account (@littledogadvertising) for weekly updates!

Farmer’s Markets:

Fall is harvest season, which means the markets are bursting with local and seasonal produce. With the Troy Waterfront Farmer’s Market (Saturdays) and the Schenectady Greenmarket (Sundays) right in our backyards, getting our hands on delicious fall favorites is easy. And when you’re done getting your produce, stop in to the numerous shops that line the streets in the area— you never know what little treasures you’ll find! Get your market fix in now though— Schenectady Greenmarket closes for the season in October, and New York’s unpredictable winter weather can make heading to Troy’s Riverfront a challenge (or just plain cold).

Every Day is a Reason to Celebrate (Thanks to Marketing)

It’s no secret that many holidays are embellished upon or even entirely made up for the sake of marketing. Decorations, clothing and costumes hit shelves months before the actual celebration, and we’ve all noticed that advertisements for Christmas roll out long before Thanksgiving has passed. Undoubtedly, holidays are a bit more drawn out than they were before the digital age… and just, well, a bit more in general.

Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparent’s Day have all been around for quite some time, but the origins of holidays such as these are often unclear. While there may be some history behind them, these holidays are great marketing points for companies throughout the United States; with similar holidays being celebrated throughout the rest of the world. Every year, it seems a dozen more holidays are added to this perpetually expanding calendar. Some people are ba-humbugs when it comes to ANY of them, but you should be partaking in all the fun that these made-up holidays offer. Let us explain:

National Donut Day (first Friday in June): Um, hello? Jelly donuts, glazed donuts, FREE donuts? We’ll celebrate that. There’s nothing wrong with having an excuse to treat yourself. A whole day dedicated to donuts sounds magical, no?

Best Friend’s Day (June 8th): A reason to show your appreciation for your best friend. Some people don’t need an excuse to do this, but others are inspired by the holiday and the sense of appreciation it induces. Your best friend is always there for you; they’re a vital part of your life. That’s something to celebrate!

Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19): Ay, matey. Sometimes you just need a reason to be goofy without being judged.

National Ice Cream Day (third Sunday in July): Another delicious made-up holiday that we don’t mind one bit. Make your way down to your corner ice cream shop on National Ice Cream Day. Don’t forget the rainbow sprinkles.

Cyber Monday (Monday after Thanksgiving): Online deals galore. It’s the Black Friday of the digital age; the shopping day for the shoppers who hate to shop; or just hate fitting rooms. Trying on that new dress in the comfort of your own home: reason to celebrate? Yes.

Frankly, we don’t see anything wrong with the growing number of holidays. We love the fact that there’s a new reason to celebrate and appreciate every single day— and we take full advantage. There’s something fabulous about seeing a newsfeed full of posts expressing deep gratitude for something special to them one day, and showing off the yummy treat they have an excuse to indulge in the next. Every day is a gift— whether a holiday is made up or not, it’s there to help us live life to the fullest. Everyone can appreciate that. Let this be inspiration to celebrate every day, regardless of the reason.

Why Is This Pair of Shoes Following Me Across the Internet? (Remarketing, Explained.)

If you’re like most people, you probably shop online. It’s getting easier and easier to do this, as it’s now optimized for computers, tablets, and cell phones. And if you’ve online shopped, then you’re probably doing a lot of browsing, clicking on whatever products look great to you, and familiarizing yourself with the brands that you feel you can “vibe” with. You’ve most likely had an experience where you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, and the items you were just looking at or the brands they’re from pop up in the form of an advertisement. Then you head to another website, and the same ad shows up. And again, and again. Maybe you chalked it up to coincidence, as I did before I developed a passion for marketing. But alas, it’s not a coincidence! It’s just another brilliant way for brands to connect with the audiences that they “vibe” with in return.

This technique, unsurprisingly, is called remarketing. It might sound complicated, but it’s actually a pretty cool and simple concept. Most websites have a discrete pixel that drops a cookie into the cache of the browser. This gives the brand a way to see who’s spending a lot of time on their website, seeking out and frequenting their content, and browsing or purchasing their products. The idea behind remarketing is to not waste time or money advertising to those who aren’t engaging with the brand, but to directly engage and remind those who have already expressed interest once again. So that pair of shoes you loved but just couldn’t justify purchasing? They’re showing up on your Facebook feed as a reminder to #treatyoself. The puppies you’ve looked at in your quest to find the perfect addition to your family? They’re showing up as a reminder to take them home with you (by the way— it’s puppy season! Be sure to think rescue first!)

So the next time you’re browsing, check out the advertisements on your screen. Take note of ones that might be from remarketing campaigns, and appreciate them! Like carefully curating your list of follow-ees on Instagram to make sure they’re all people you care about, you’re seeing advertisements from the brands you care about. It’s honestly an amazing feature, and we can’t wait to see its future

Trending Now: Digital Marketing Features We Love

Trending Now: Digital Marketing Features We Heart

In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing, trends come— and in the blink of an eye, go, sometimes before we even know they existed (or fully understood them, or even had a chance to implement them into digital strategies).  Staying up-to-date and incorporating what’s currently “trending” can seem challenging, but for us, it’s what we live for. Incorporating these elements into marketing is key to staying relevant and maintaining the attention of an audience, especially in this day and age, where everyone is always eager to move on to the next thing.

As a 360 degree advertising agency, we work with clients who have various personal tastes, and luckily, there are trends to accommodate each of them! For us, this makes it fun to create new advertisements that are consistent with their brand, and allows us to find new ways to interact with their customers. We’ve compiled a list of our three favorite big trends in the digital marketing world (ones we hope stick around for a while!).

Artificial Intelligence

It’s not just a Star Wars thing—  the use of AI in digital marketing is becoming pretty popular, and as it gains recognition, it’s also becoming more advanced. Depending on the platform that you’re using, AI learns and adapts to your preferences and behaviors to show you advertisements or brands that you’re more likely to respond to. There are AI features built into many websites and apps that learn your preferences as you interact more, and through your interactions, the program becomes better at tailoring its services to you. Thanks to extremely advanced coding and programming, you’re getting a personalized marketing experience. For example, Netflix has a feature that analyzes the movies and shows you’ve watched, and has a feature that will suggest other movies and shows based on what you actually completed watching, taking the fact that you finished watching the program as an indicator that you enjoyed it.

Interactive Features

Another trend we love is an interactive experience. When ads and websites incorporate features that allow their target audience to interact with the brand, they’re building a more personal relationship with these individuals. It provides them with a chance to become engaged, but the key to this is time: Take too long with the experience, and your audience might become disengaged; too short of a time and your impact might not be made effectively.  In the world of website design, one such interactive feature is the use of unique navigation to engage the audience. When one takes the time to explore the website and all of the tabs or buttons it has to offer, they might find little snip-its that they would have overlooked otherwise. With a website like this, you’re kept guessing: What comes next? Where do I click? There is a fine line, though— In some cases, the navigation might not seem natural and takes some work on the behalf of the user to figure out what to do next, which some may find frustrating. For those who love surprises, a unique navigation setup such as that of BlackNegative (Bitly; http://blacknegative.com/) or Panache (Bitly; http://panache.fr/) will provide an exciting experience.

Bold Minimalism

In contrast to some of the out-there features of many modern trends, a more minimalist approach to design can also make just as strong of an impact: It’s like the refreshing safety of a horse in a world of unicorns. A clean-cut, intuitively-navigated platform that makes its statement with bold pops of color and bright imagery can make for an equally wonderful experience. Oyyo (Bitly; http://oyyo.se/) lets their images do the talking for them; and Yield Design (Bitly; http://www.yielddesign.co/) has a simple layout with beautiful photos and pops of color where you wouldn’t necessarily be expecting them. We love that this trend is one that, while emulated by many websites, is also prevalent within graphic design itself.

The Take-Home: Of the countless trends that are currently surfacing in the digital marketing world, only the strong survive. The life of a marketing trend varies far and wide— and this is an exciting part about working in this field. Seeing the constant evolution of these trends and what ends up finding its place in a bag of marketing favorites for the long-term is key to staying relevant and keeping our target audiences engaged. We’re always looking forward to what tomorrow’s activations will bring, and we hope you do too!

Marketing Your SMB: What Should You Invest In: Digital and Low Cost Edition

A lot of small business owners claim that they spend too much money on marketing. Often times, many companies have a hard time justifying the spend as it can be difficult to track its results in terms of ROI and, because of that, opt not to invest in any sort of marketing. Here in lies the ultimate double-edged sword: some sort of marketing is needed. Hands down. Initially, there are two things that might happen: 1. The company that you’ve opened in might be so popular that you might ride off the wave of newness for about 6 months to a year, and that’s only if all the kinks (customer service, quality of product or service, atmosphere and timeliness of product or service) are worked out before the doors have opened. 2. The second scenario is that you’re opening a SMB that might not be a huge as a Starbucks and you will have to do work to make a stand out in your community, educate consumers on who are and have to do far more legwork to attain and maintain clientele. That, second scenario is what we are going to zero in on as we understand what it takes to implement effective marketing when you’re the new dog on the block— and there’s no business like yours.

Okay, so what should you invest in when you have a limited marketing budget? It all depends on your marketing objectives. The first question you need to ask is: How well known is my company currently in the area? A good way to measure this is to ask around, see how many people know that you exist, how many know what you do and how many people have actually are interested in what products or services you offer. Many businesses think that by having a website and a Facebook page, with minimal spend is enough to make a dent and the truth is that it’s not. With anything, if you’re a tangible business and you physically exist, you need a marketing plan that is fully integrated. We know what you’re thinking— but I have no budget. I get it; we’ve all been there. So, that’s why you need to strategize smart.

The first thing you need to do is be fully present online and in your respective community. This means having an updated website, posting blogs/articles regularly and have your social media platforms updated a few times a week, if not daily. Take caution, don’t just post anything to your social media feeds as low-quality graphics, unrelated posts and posts that seem to have no branding or relevancy to your company or previously published messages will actually hurt you as they will cheapen you brand. However, if you’re populating your online platforms with applicable, solid content, over time, you will become a trusted resource and people will seek you out to learn, share and engage with your content. Unfortunately, platforms like Facebook have changed their ways since they started and, like most things, it’s about turning revenue. With that in mind, allocate some advertising dollars for boosting posts, promoting your business and Facebook digital ad campaigns. You have to do this as Facebook caps the number of people who will actually see your post despite having a lot of people who Like your page. In fact, only 3% of your total Brand Fans actually see your unpaid posts! So that means, even if you have 100 people that Like your page, on any given day only 30 out of those 100 people will even see the post (you’ll be able to see this when you see how many people the post actually reached).

Another way you can gain more customers for relatively little spend is by being present in your community. This means offering incentives such as free classes, volunteering for like-minded causes, and doing proactive things in your community to spread positive PR about your company or franchise. The most effective form of advertising is positive word-of-mouth advertising. It also cannot be bought. This is referral-based business that has 90% conversion rate, but it takes persistence, hard work and dedication in order to get it. The best way to look at this is pro-bono work. Throw in some freebies, ask your customers to kindly spread the word about you and be relatable. You’d be surprised to see how far these three things will take your company in the short and long run.

In terms of low cost/no cost advertising, digital in terms of social media and websites and community giving are two highly effective ways to spread brand awareness, educate consumers and attain solid customer leads. Like anything, your efforts must be authentic as consumers are trained to see the negative aspects of any business, when deciding to invest in it, first. When in doubt, start small, but whatever you do— definitely start advertising.

Why You Should Thank Everyone For Everything

It takes a lot to open your own business; guts, dreams, not having your wits about you, having your wits about you, having the support of those closest to you and the ability to harness the confidence that you had when you made this whole thing a reality during times of doubt (which can be frequent). If you think, for one second, that you got to this place, yes, the place you are at right now, by yourself, you’re a damn fool. You didn’t. The path you chose, the people you encountered, the odd jobs, the horrible bosses, the bosses you idolized, the comedic relief co-workers, your people, and, the dough, you managed to get your hands on helped you get where you are today. You should be thankful for it all— even the bad.

This cumulation, this perfect concoction of terrible, horrible bad days and amazing, eye-opening, lightbulb moments are what you should thank the universe for each day you wake. I am not a preachy type of person, I am not overly religious or have an affinity to a cult following. No, in fact, we are similar in the sense that we are crazy enough to start this journey without any true knowledge of what’s to come of it all. Of course we hope for the best, but, who the hell wouldn’t? The truth is, nobody knows how this story, or your story, is going to turn out. However, think of it this way, if you had 9-5, full-time job working for someone else, you wouldn’t know the ending of your particular story either. The only difference is that the burden of responsibility is not solely on you. You’d be a part of the whole in that situation, as you are in this.

Who you are as a person is how you are defined in the hardest, toughest, ugliest points in your life. How you pick yourself up when you fall, and you will fall. I recommend opening your own company to those who know what it’s like to hit, and reside at, rock bottom at least once in their lifetime. That way, you truly know what it’s like to have nothing as you’ve already faced the “worst” fear of them. Yes, in order to truly succeed at anything, you must be comfortable with the hard reality that in the end, it may amount to nothing and you must truly be grateful for everything and everyone who has helped you achieve your greatest accomplishments and will still remain there if those said accomplishments don’t pan out how you originally intended them to.

The very fact that the empire, no matter the size, you created may not weather forever is why you should thank everyone for everything. For the true measure of success is what you have when what you had worked for, what “defined” you, is no longer there.

The 6 Stages You Mentally Go Through When Deciding to Start Your Own Business

Taking the self-employment plunge is undoubtedly scary. You’re going from having a job with that stable income to one where you hope and pray that your business idea flourishes. We all go through the stages of the decision of opening our own business and we all grow up a whole lot more the moment we made it official.

Stage One: Excitement. When you finally truly believe in the ideas that you’ve been throwing around for years. It’s the moment when you start talking about the future plans of your super successful hypothetical company.

Stage Two: You quit your day job. Now that you believe in your dream, you must embrace it. You walk away from your 9-5er and from a consistent paycheck. It’s a terrifyingly liberating feeling.

Stage Three: Quitter’s Remorse. The morning after you give the “big notice” the anxiety sets in. You wake up in a panic and you question your recent decisions and wonder how you would beg your old boss for your job back.

Stage Four: You catch your breath. After an hour and a half of your extreme self-doubting, you’re finally able to start to breathe in deep full breaths and your insistent self-questioning starts to cease. And in these moments during the decline of your anxiety, that belief that prompted it all resumes and it feels so good.

Stage Five: You say it out loud. You catch yourself addressing your employment title as a “business owner” for the first time and you feel a sense of pride that you’ve never felt before.

Stage Six: You finally believe in yourself not because you want to but because you know you have to. Once you’ve made the choice to go down the road of starting your own business, you can’t go back even if it gets hard— you must continue. You realize that you must believe in yourself completely because if you don’t no one else will.

These six stages define a small portion of the population. We are the dreamers, the risk takers, the doers, the movers and shakers and the ones brave enough or foolish enough to believe in our dream enough to pursue it. Keep your head up and keep going— there’s no going back.