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GDPR is here. If your company has a website this is important.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance deadline is May 25, 2018. Is your website ready?

What is the GDPR? If you haven’t yet heard of the GDPR, it’s a European Union regulation going into effect on May 25, 2018. It is meant to strengthen data protection policies for residents of EU member nations. Noble cause, right? Penalties for non-compliance are stiff – €20mm or 4% of your worldwide revenue, whichever is greater. Not to mention potentially messy lawsuits. No one knows yet how discerning the audits will be, but if Getty Images taught us anything, there’s no target too small. Don’t want to take on the GDPR alone? Get in touch with us.

“My business doesn’t operate in the EU, so my website doesn’t have to be compliant, right?”

Sorry to burst your bubble, but your website does still have to be compliant with the GDPR. There is a misconception that if you don’t operate in the EU, or target EU residents, that this regulation doesn’t apply to you. However, if your website has a chance of collecting personal identifiable data from an EU resident, this applies to your website. You heard that right – this regulation affects most websites online today, including yours.

Website Compliance – The Basics

If you’re already overwhelmed or concerned about preparing your site for the GDPR, you can reply to this email now and we’ll get back to you ASAP to start game-planning. If you’d like to arm yourself with some basics first, and see if this is something you can tackle internally, here are some tips for you. This list is by no means exhaustive, but will get you rolling towards a GDPR compliant site.

1. Read up on the basics of the GDPR.

2. Consult your attorney or legal team to ensure you’re planning on doing all the right things for GDPR compliance, as some steps extend past your website.

3. Update your site’s privacy policy, or add one if you don’t already have one. A good guide is here.

4. Ensure that every form on your website – comments, contact, registration, newsletter signup – includes an unchecked checkbox with clear consent copy along side it. And that the box must be checked by the user before the form is submitted.

5. Understand all of the places you collect and store user data on your website, and have a plan for providing it to any user and for deleting it – as an individual may request that at any time.

6. Understand what third parties you may be sending user data to (Mailchimp, Hubspot, Salesforce, Stripe, for example), and read up on their GDPR compliance efforts and special steps you may have to take with those services to ensure your own compliance.

 

Get C2’s Help With GDPR Compliance

C2 Creative Studio has already prepared a handful of client sites for the GDPR in conjunction with onsite staff and legal teams. We’d love to help you too. Simply contact us, and we’ll get back to you ASAP to set up a GDPR compliance kickoff call with your team.

The Vision Statement As Your North Star

How you can turn your vision statement into a powerful tool to guide your company and your brand.

In his 2014 acceptance speech for Best Actor, Matthew McConaughey talked about constantly chasing his hero – himself in 10 years. McConaughey freely admitted he’d never fully achieve this vision of himself because his vision constantly evolves. But his hero gives him something to strive for, something to target, something to navigate his life choices by.

Similarly, companies should establish vision statements that look into the future and envision what the company might achieve in 5-10 years. And just like McConaughey, it should not be seen as problematic if this vision is unattainable. Instead, a company’s vision should act like a North Star, a long-range navigation point to help keep the company headed to their true North.

Devising a vision statement is not easy. It should start with a solid understanding of the company mission and the values that are core to the identity of the organization. Once those elements are established, the vision can look into the future and determine how the company will change the world. What difference will the company make? What changes to the business environment will the company bring? How will the mission and values impact the future?

Simple is better, and if you have done good work defining the right mission and values, writing out the destination of where that’s going to take you company shouldn’t be too difficult. It should flow logically from your mission but should not be a simple restating of that mission. It is the result of your mission.

So now you have your mission, which defines what you do. You have your values, which define how you do it. And you have a vision, which tells you why you matter and where your company is going.

But what is a vision statement good for on a day-to-day basis?

It is your guiding light. It gives your employees inspiration and tells them the long-term impact of their daily grind. And when the path becomes difficult to navigate, it gives everyone a far off point they can aim at. Ships go astray, veering too far one way or the other, but a well-formulated vision can serve as a course correction, a constant reminder of the end goal. It is your hero, your future self in ten years. It gives you someone to chase, something to strive for.

Done poorly, vision statements are wasted and meaningless space, but a properly devised vision statement can be a very powerful element in your company’s brand arsenal, and one that can keep employees engaged and on the right track.

Reap What Thou Hast Roasted

Is your coffee roasting brand all it can be?

Independent coffee roasting is the craft brewing of 2018. All over the country, companies are popping up featuring single origin, responsibly sourced, custom roasted coffee. This is part of an ongoing trend, a veritable #foodrenaissance that is moving us away from mass produced products and back to hand-crafted, artisanal food. This is a reaction to the corporate takeover of products that used to be made on a smaller scale, with a greater attention to detail and, let’s face it, better quality.

Last year, I wrote about craft breweries and the types of brands they are building https://c2-cc.com/2017/08/25/wheat-hops-barley-just-little-bit-magic/. After doing an audit of independent coffee roasters in various parts of the country, I wanted to share some of my observations about the trends that I’m seeing in the way coffee roasters are marketing and branding themselves.

I’ll caveat these points in a couple of ways. This is by no means an exhaustive or scientific analysis. I’m generalizing on things that I’m seeing, but I am admittedly not looking at every little detail. Each roaster, and for that matter each market, has it’s own characteristics, needs, audiences, etc. Ultimately, our goal is to help make your coffee roasting brand, and your business, the best that it can be.

Here are the top 4 things we see coffee roaster brands doing wrong (and how to fix them).

They all say the same thing.

In a world where you are the only or one of the only people doing what you do, this isn’t such a problem. But there are so many people doing coffee roasting that you really need to differentiate yourself. The messages most roasters are saying essentially boil down to the following: 1) We really care about coffee, 2) We carefully select the best beans (often from family farms, fair trade sources, or single origins), 3) We roast (daily) each bean to perfectly accentuate its unique qualities/preserve the nature of the coffee, 4) We take coffee very seriously/no-nonsense/no gimmicks, 5) Our specially roasted beans make the best cup of coffee.

First, most of these things are to be expected. I assume you really care about coffee and take it seriously, otherwise why the roasting business? I also assume you are roasting daily – you don’t have to tell me that. Second, I should think part of the point of the specialty roasting operation is that you carefully select your raw ingredients and have a special technique for bringing out the character. And finally, you can’t all make the best cup of coffee, which is subjective anyway, and certainly not unique.

How to fix this problem: dig deep down and figure out what makes you unique. Check out other coffee roasters. Sample their products. You’re a coffee expert, so you should be able to discern the difference between what they are doing and what you are doing. And think about this – customer loyalty really comes from understanding why you do what you do rather than the end result. Talk about your purpose and what is driving your passion.

They bury their story.

Talking about why you roast coffee, what your purpose is, why you get out of bed in the morning, is a powerful way to attract customers and create passion for your product. For most people, at the end of the day, they are getting a damn good cup of coffee. But what separates your damn good cup of coffee from the other 10 guys’ damn good cups of coffee is your story. Most of the roasters we surveyed hide that story deep down in their website, or worse, don’t tell it well or AT ALL.

How to fix this problem: Make your unique story, your unique purpose, your why, at the center of your brand. It should be the first thing a customer sees, and it should permeate EVERYTHING YOU DO.

They all look the same.

There is definitely a “look” that comes with a coffee shop/coffee roaster, both online and on site. But when reviewing a wide array of roasters, it all becomes a sea of sameness. It’s all crafty looking graphics and fonts, sexy pictures of coffee, latte art, beans, espresso machines, and minimalist design (often featuring white on black). And when the message is the same and the look is the same, most consumers are going to assume the coffee is the same.

How to fix this problem: This is tricky, because while you want to appear a part of a certain genre of design, you also need to stand out. I’m afraid your best option here is to look to a professional – but you can’t go in blind. Step one is to do your own survey of roasters, at least the ones in your city. What do they look like? Insist that your designer does the same. Find something to stand apart from the pack. It will give your customers a hint that what you’re serving isn’t like the other guys.

Website designs are all wrong.

A really shocking similarity I found with coffee roasters is the near universally bad websites. Most if not all completely lacked usability or any consideration, it seems, for the audience. Most roasters seem to be one part café and one part wholesaler. Those two audiences need distinctly different things, and yet there was little sense of bifurcation. Contact information was hard to find, site locations were hard to find, and there was a decided lack of information being shared.

How to fix this problem: When designing the content strategy on your site, think about the user. What is the information they need to see and in what order. If you are providing wholesale coffee, allow those users to quickly shift to your wholesale side – but don’t force a log in before any information is shared. Provide some details for potential wholesale partners up front (think about your sales funnel as well). If you have a café as a part of your setup, lead those users to that part of your site. This is another place where professionals can really help. Website design needs to be done in a strategic fashion with a lot of thought about what your site is there to accomplish.

Most coffee roasters are fairly small operations. That’s by design – you have size limitations when you’re making a truly hand-crafted product. But it is also an industry that can be entered into with a relatively small investment. A decent-sized commercial roasting machine can be purchased for $5-10k, so with a good business plan someone with a $25k investment could start a commercial roasting operation out of their garage. This adds to the noise in the industry by flooding the market with too many players. What happens in industries like this is that the folks that are doing it right make a profit and survive – and the rest fail and close up shop.

The point is, if you make your brand all it can be, you have a better chance of being one of the people who are still around in 10 years.

#GoodIdeasMatter

Why every good idea deserves a fighting chance

We believe that good ideas come from all sorts of places, and the turn of fate that gives some innovators the means to flood the market doesn’t mean they have superior merit.

In fact, startups and small companies are often more innovative and produce better ideas than larger, more established ones. It is their hunger, the fact that they are of challenged means, that drives them, requires them to be innovative.

Good ideas matter because innovation drives the marketplace. Innovation from upstarts pushes larger companies to build a better mouse trap. On the idea front, it is the big players that are playing catch up.

If the small guys are given a fighting chance.

Small businesses and startups deserve at least a leveled playing field. We’re not talking about subsidies or hand outs – just equal consideration from collaborators. The little guys are at a disadvantage from the standpoint of resources. They have less money. A smaller footprint. Little clout. No name recognition or reputation. But what they have in spades is brilliance and chutzpah. They are boot strappers. Self made men and women.

We love working with the little guys, because we’re a little guy too. We’re not a seven layer deep mega agency from Madison Avenue. We’re a scrappy group of experts from Chicago and San Antonio and Los Angeles.

So if you’ve got a good idea and are trying to bring it to market, we’re here to support you with creative designs, strategic direction, and digital engagement.

 

 

Why You Should Hire An Agency

And how to find (the right) one

If you’re a marketing director, there’s a good chance you barely have the time to read this blog – but we promise it is worth a couple minutes of your time.

Assuming you have very little free time as you push hard every day to meet challenging goals and just keep up with everything on your plate, you may have considered whether or not to outsource to an Agency. From our admittedly biased perspective, it really is worth it for you to go this direction. Here are a couple of reasons why you should hire an agency (feel free to copy and paste any of this in your email to the CEO):

Creative Skill – Agencies attract the best creative minds. That is where the talented professionals really want to be, so if you’re looking for someone to produce top-notch creative executions (ads, fliers, websites, apps, e-blasts, mailers, billboards, packaging, etc.), you want to look at an agency. The creative output agencies produce is generally developed as a team, so you also get a multitude of professional perspectives on your creative challenge.

Fresh Perspective – When you stare at the same thing day in and day out, you can sometimes miss nuances and details. You become comfortable with these quirks and take minor flaws as the status quo. You are also dealing with internal corporate politics that can sometimes make breakthrough ideas a challenge to come up with, let alone present to higher-ups. A third party can bring new and different ideas to the table and sometimes the delivery of challenging or controversial notions or even just new thinking is better received coming from an outsider.

Latest Thinking – When you work for a single company, you eat, sleep, and breathe a single brand. This focus allows you to dive deep into the brand and the issues specific to your product and industry. Agencies, however, work across numerous categories for many clients. They represent lots of brands and are constantly challenged to come up with new and different solutions for those brands. So an agency is more connected to the pulse of marketing, the trends in the industry, and the latest and greatest thinking and techniques.

Professional Problem Solvers – If you’re lucky, you have a capable, handpicked group of experts working for you on your marketing team. Even if you do have the dream team, marketing professionals tend to be specialists in a single area. Agency teams, however, have a wider range of resources and perspectives they can draw upon, and people who work at agencies are specifically trained to identify and solve problems for clients.

Capacity – You probably can’t afford (nor do you need) a full time designer, copywriter, PR agent, marketing strategist, digital analyst, media planner/buyer, or web developer. You might have needs for one or more of each of these at any given time, and then at other times not need any of these services. An agency already employs these types of resources, and can expand the resources being applied to your account easily, scaling up and down as your needs dictate. Maximum flexibility for you to get the job done.

If you’re still reading, you’re picking up what we’re putting down so far, and you’re looking into hiring an agency. So on to the “how to find (the right) one” part.

The definition of “the right” agency is going to change depending on your specific needs, but a few things to look for (and look out for):
• Don’t just hire your cousin. Everyone knows someone who works at an agency, it seems, but resist the urge to just hire someone’s friend.

• You want a strategic partner. The best agencies have strategy at their core. It’s not worth your time to work with an agency that doesn’t put a focus on this area.

• Get one that will be proactive. You don’t need another order taker. You need someone who will offer ideas. The best way to get this is to ask for a strategic retainer – money set aside solely for living the brand and feeding you ideas.

• Look at their work. Agencies worth their salt will have a portfolio on their website. And when you meet with them, ask to see their book.

• How do they treat their own brand? You can tell a lot about an agency by the way they treat their own brand. How is their website? What’s their social media game like? Do they write a blog? These are hints at how they will treat your brand.

• What services do they offer? Most agencies will tell you they are full service, but you should clarify what specifically they offer. They might use a partner for some stuff, which is fine and often seamless, but you should ask.

• Who’s going to work on your account? At big agencies, principals are high profile and have connections – they often shoulder the biz dev role and bring clients in, then hand off to a more junior account executive. That’s not necessarily a problem, but you should know (and meet) who your day to day contact will be to make sure you mesh well with them.

• Start with a small job. This one is important. Your best bet is to work on a smaller job with the agency – this lets you work out the kinks in the relationship, see how they work, and make sure the personalities are going to create a good end product. A small (paid) engagement is also good on the agency side and beats a (unpaid) pitch any day of the week. That’s called a win-win.

That’s about it in a nutshell. Hiring an agency can up your marketing game exponentially, and following our simple rules will help to ensure you get a good fit.

Now get back to work!