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‘You got into Harvard Law?’ ‘What… like it’s hard?’ World Intellectual Property Day; Monday’s daily brief

Plus, Facebook announces new tools for Business Suite Manager

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Top Presentation Design Trends of 2021, According to Creative Experts

In early 2020, the world as we knew it was flipped upside down. Businesses were forced to pivot in the face of the pandemic, and as a result many companies adopted a remote work culture.

Remote work changed the way organizations and teams worked — and even how companies communicated to prospective customers and acquired new business. Employees leaned into virtual designs, presentations, and events to communicate both internally and externally.

The graphic design landscape, as a result, has changed dramatically over the past year.

Now, presentations need to work harder than ever to connect, engage, and inspire audiences into action. In fact, over 35 million PowerPoint presentations are given each day to over 500 million audiences — but 79% of those audiences believe most presentations they see are boring.

To help you crush your next presentation deck, we’ve rounded up the top presentation design trends of 2021, as predicted by creative industry experts and presentation power-users.

Here, learn from three creative experts from leading companies in the tech space on the four biggest presentation design trends that will emerge in 2021.

1. There will be increased empathy found in design.

Marissa Latshaw, Founder of Latshaw Marketing, says: “Impactful, inspiring design starts with empathy.

Empathy is one of the most powerful tools in the creative toolbox. The good news is that empathy — the ability to feel, understand, and respond to the feelings of others — is innate in us all. Our job as creators is to harness this empathy for better design, marketing, and storytelling.

Empathy boosts creativity. The empathy/creativity connection is strong — as shown in many studies over the past decade. One study asked participants to create and name a potato chip product for pregnant women. Before beginning the task, half of the participants were told to envision how the consumer would feel while eating the snack. The other half were asked to imagine what the consumer would think. An independent jury found the product concepts of the first, feelings-focused, empathy-activated group to be more original than the control group.

Empathy is also vital for inclusivity. More than ever, we want to communicate with others in a way that is genuinely inclusive. An empathetic approach ensures we understand the goals, needs, fears, and values of all the people we wish to engage (beyond just the way they relate to our brand or product). This is a call for us all to become proactive about inclusivity, and it starts with empathy.

Empathy creates connection. From in-home fitness giant Peloton to the new voice-based, social network Clubhouse, we are constantly finding new and innovative ways to connect with one another.

Both brands demonstrate empathy as they address the palpable and growing need for connection. They re-imagined how we work out and share conversations in a more socially-connected way.

Designing anything — from a presentation to an ad campaign — is no different. Each is an opportunity to reimagine and innovate how we engage and connect with the world.

Empathy helps us to stand out by standing in another’s shoes. Creating one-of-a-kind, empathy-driven experiences ultimately brings us closer together and inspires action.”

2. Designers will lean into radical simplicity.

Eliot Garcia Weisberg, Creative Director at Airbnb, talks to us about all things radical simplicity.

He says, “Despite its incredible power to connect us, teleconferencing stunts audience energy and empathy. Attention — already a fleeting resource — is further divided between the screens, speakers, slides, and sounds of the virtual landscape.

The feedback loop from audience to presenter is nearly dead. The impact of environmental design is lost. In our new world, the value of a single pixel on the cluttered screens of remote audiences is immense. And the screens themselves— their quality and colors— vary wildly from member to member.

The key to designing for the ‘new normal’ is embracing radical simplicity. A designer must reduce a slide to its core idea, then push to simplify even further. They musk ask themselves — ‘Do I really need to show this?’ Then challenge themselves every time the answer is ‘Yes.’

Slide counts will be drastically reduced. Superfluous icons will fade away. Bullets will become a distant memory. Subtle textures will be replaced by solid colors. We’ll see a shift away from image masks and bold text over photos. Instead, we’ll see full-screen photographs or simple statements that make their point obvious and drive core concepts home.

We’ll spend more time on the speaker— full screen— than ever before. Their delivery, from tone to inflection, will become a design element. Rehearsals will replace design reviews. 

The end result will feel much more human. And, if successful, radically simple.”

3. Great design will hold the viewers’ attention.

“For decades, the job of creative designers, writers, and videographers was to get attention. Cut through the noise. Deliver ads that stand out. Use creativity as a hook,” Adam Morgan, Adobe’s Executive Creative Director, says about holding an audience’s attention.

He adds, “But in today’s ultra-connected digital world, that hammer and nail approach isn’t always the answer. People choose what they want. The trend I’m seeing today is to hold attention. Less push and more pull. We have to create experiences that provide real value to an individual — not just catch their attention with shock value or clickbait.

 “We have to create communities where people want to consume our brand experiences. We have to know those individuals and groups, what they care about, and provide new information wrapped in an emotional blanket. We have to stand for things they value.”

Rather than a hard sell, we have to share a story that they believe in and be open and transparent with why it matters to them.

What this means for creative teams is that you can’t just make it pretty or funny. You have to think deeply about what your brand means to customers and then create immersive experiences that connect. It’s no longer just about the creative craft of colors and fonts and icons. It’s about stories and meaning and authenticity and purpose. Don’t just get attention with your work. Hold attention. So that you can build brands that grow and last.”

4. Designers should use clean, minimalistic fonts and calming colors.

Lastly, we tapped into’s Creative Director Anuja Kanani’s expertise to unravel one more presentation design trend for 2021.

Kanani says, “Choosing the best colors for a presentation, and good presentation fonts, are two of the most important elements of deck design. Each design decision— shapes, words, and images— affect the way your audience feels about the presentation, but colors hold the most influence.

Taking the place of bold, bright primary colors, 2021 has warranted more relaxed, muted colors following the chaos of 2020. Not only are low-saturated and pastel colors more calming, they’re more organic and natural, perhaps making audiences feel more at ease and confident in the presentation in front of them.

Using a consistent, complimentary color theme strategically can help position your brand in the mind of your customers,” adds Kanani. She recommends limiting your presentation to 3-4 colors in your palette, with one accent color to highlight key points and bring balance and harmony to your presentation.

3 different color options that complement each other, all pastels (light blue, peach, and dark blue)

The trend of minimalism extends to good presentation fonts, too. Seasoned presenters are opting for clean minimal fonts, such as Open Sans or Jost, and rejecting traditional fonts like Arial or Times New Roman in 2021.

Kanani adds, “Custom typography improves your brand recognition, while selecting different weights or styles can help control the narrative on each slide.”

Presentation Graphics

You’ve probably caught onto the fact that over-complicated slides are a thing of the past. Studies show that 35% of millennials say they will only engage with content they feel has a great story or theme, so to avoid boring them into a snooze, use visuals to control your narrative.

Presentation graphics, or rich visuals, can help you paint a picture in bite-sized chunks so that your audience can digest the information you’re presenting to them.

Kanani says, “Engaging, inspiring visuals in presentations make your content compelling, eye-catching, and helps convey your story beautifully.”

Choosing rich icons, diagrams or infographics, and quality photos are powerful tools to help make your presentation more memorable and impactful.

graph showing only 35% of millennials say they'll engage with content they feel has a great story or themeUltimately, design is an art, not a science. However, ideally you can use these trends as inspiration for your own branded designs in 2021 and beyond. 

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Video: Shimon Sandler on building and growing your search marketing agency

Shimon Sandler has a long history in the space, working at some of the most well known agencies and brands in the US.

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Google officially dropped Q&A on Google in search results

The Google Question Hub is not affected by this and will remain active according to Google.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Everything You Need to Know About Starting a Podcast in 2021

I’ve become a morning walking companion to people I may never meet.

How is this possible? They take me along in their earbuds as they stream my podcast, Build a Better Agency

It’s a wonderful sign of things to come for marketers willing to venture into the podcasting universe.

Once a fringe platform, podcasts are now surprisingly mainstream. According to Nielsen, six out of 10 people understand what they are, and 112 million Americans — 40 percent of the nation’s population — have listened to at least one. Though podcast listeners lean male, it isn’t by much: 56 percent are men, while 44 percent are women.

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Marketing professionals must not only be aware of these statistics, but they must also leverage them in their own campaigns. When 67 million men and women are monthly podcast consumers, it’s a niche that deserves serious contemplation. Add to that fact the amazing statistic that 63 percent of podcast listeners made a purchase based on something the host recommended, and you have yourself a veritable gold mine.

Of course, you have to crawl, then walk, then break into a steady trot to glean the benefits.

A no-nonsense primer from a podcast experimenter.

In my case, I’d written blog posts, conducted webinars, and published articles in places like Forbes and Fast Company for some time. These content producers worked, but I felt a different portal would help connect with more agencies and leaders in an accessible, easy to find, on-demand format.

As a longtime podcast listener myself, I recognized that the podcasting platform was the next logical step for me — especially if I wanted to reach a narrow audience of mid-sized agency owners and leaders as an authority in my field for more than 23 years. And as a long-time professional, I hired Predictive ROI, an Agency Management Institute agency, to produce the podcast so I wouldn’t make as many rookie technical mistakes.

Still, opening yourself up to podcasting is a little like breaking the lid on Pandora’s box. Until you do it, you have no idea what to expect. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t head off issues before you go live.

Expect a certain amount of learning as you go, but be ready to explore the technology before fully launching your podcast. You wouldn’t open a bakery with your very first pie, so don’t hit “publish” until you get the lay of the land and make a plan. (Being a podcast guest prior to launching your own is a smart idea, too.)

Podcasting in the beginner’s circle.

Even if you’ve never been in front of a mic before, you can map out the first phase of a solid podcast schedule. From there, you’ll be able to branch out.

1. Create a checklist to keep yourself on task.

I asked myself tons of questions repeatedly before committing to podcasting. They included everything from the niche audience I wanted to reach to whether being the host of a podcast was a short-term fad or a long-term interest. I also considered what podcast style I preferred to offer the public, including a show prep and publishing schedule.

Obviously, your checklist will be individualized, but be sure it includes a section on technical elements. Setting up audio, iTunes, accounts, and interviews can be tricky if you haven’t done your homework.

2. Set up your basic show format.

Every interviewer prefers to run his or her podcast in a particular way. Many podcasters ask guests the same questions, but as a listener, I find that gets stale in a hurry. Sure, it’s less prep work, but it makes the host look lazy. I preferred interviewing subject matter experts but wanted to occasionally keep the door open to produce a solocast. My compromise was a 4–1 ratio of interviews to solocasts.

I was reasonably confident that I could have a few questions on hand and then launch into a conversation on the fly from there. A big risk? Maybe. But I believed I could pull off a 45-minute to 60-minute conversation without a safety net.

3. Leverage the heck out of your network.

The first 10 episodes set the tone for any podcast launch, so make sure you line up high-profile, interesting, engaging guests who won’t be turned off if you have very few — or no — listeners. My friends came through in a big way for me, offering me rock stars from day one. Not only did they help publicize the podcast, but they also generously allowed me to ride on their social media coattails.

4. Track your downloads.

Rob Walch was one of my recent podcast guests who offered an important consideration for any podcasters: You have to stay on top of your downloads. Rob’s suggestion is to hit at least 500 downloads an episode to feel sure you’ve broken the cycle of only having people in your inner circle tune in.

What’s a reasonable download number for your, quote, “success”? Only you can determine this, but it helps to keep a steady eye on the numbers. Starting to see a downward trend in listenership? Go back to square one and ask those tough questions again so you can pivot before your podcast loses traction.

5. Produce great content consistently.

Does everyone have a bad episode once in a while? Sure. And if you’ve planned in advance and have great content in the bag, you can simply not release it in lieu of a better one. Before you release your podcasts publicly, try to have several on hand. That way, you get the relief of a buffer zone.

Don’t try to start too quickly. You can always ramp up your delivery later. With my travel schedule that sees me on no fewer than 200 planes a year, I decided to get 10 episodes in before I proved to myself I could sustain the effort. August and September 2015 were a flurry of set-up and recordings, and we opened our podcast doors — virtually — in October 2015. Since then, we’ve published a new episode weekly without fail.

6. Prepare to become a podcast promoter.

Your target personas won’t find your podcast without a little help, so promote it like your life depends on it. I utilized our company’s email list, my personal social channels, and myriad other platforms. In addition, I requested that each guest promote his or her episode.

We were fortunate to get on iTunes New and Noteworthy, landing us in the top five of several of its subject-specific lists during our first month.

7. Learn how to monetize your podcast.

Finally, it’s important to figure out how to earn an income based on your podcasting. One way is to promote your book, workshop, or online course, creating thought leadership at the same time.

If you have a narrow audience lacking depth or width and you just can’t sell advertisements or sponsorships, you can still make numbers work in your favor.

Sound like hard work? It is, but it’s totally worth it if you strategize. Two years after unveiling my first episode, we have 110 five-star reviews, and episodes are downloaded in more than 125 countries. I’m pleased to say we’ve also earned a presenting sponsorship from HubSpot. Podcasting hasn’t just been a feeder for the business, but a phenomenal marketing opportunity as well.

Have you thought about taking the podcasting plunge? The water’s a bit choppy at first, but there’s plenty of room for another swimmer!

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Top B2B Content Marketing Trends to Watch This Year, According to Experts

If you’re a B2B marketer who isn’t investing in content creation, you’re in the minority — 79% of B2B marketers surveyed by Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs said their organization used content marketing to further their goals in 2020.

Developing a sound content marketing strategy is worth it: We found that blogs are among the primary three forms of media used in content strategies today.

In fact, 24% of marketers increased their investment in content marketing last year.

As 2021 is in full swing, we wanted to talk with more B2B content marketers to see what trends they’re looking out for in H2.

1. Content-supported ABM.

According to Brooklin Nash, the head of content at Sales Hacker, “B2B brands are getting better about connecting their ABM plays to content that’s hyper-relevant to the target account.”

For example, Nash says Intricately serves up industry reports with mentions of key accounts.

“ABM ads are starting to point more to content and less to landing pages,” Nash adds.

2. More comprehensive content to support multiple channels.

Nash also reports that he’s seeing companies focus on providing more comprehensive content that supports multiple channels.

“Repurposing content isn’t new, but it definitely seems like there’s been an increase (to the benefit of everyone),” he says. “Instead of a blog post on ABM, you can run a survey and turn it into a downloadable asset, social media images, an article, podcast mentions, and a recap webinar.”

3. Increased reliance on contractors.

Due to the uncertainty of last year, 29% of content marketers had to decrease their budgets.

Additionally, 49% said their organization outsources at least one content marketing activity, with large companies being the most likely to outsource.

Nash noticed the same thing. He says, “I haven’t seen the employment data, but I do know quite a few tech companies that laid off (large) parts of their (large) content teams in the midst of the pandemic.”

That means that bringing those full time functions back will probably take time.

“It’s going to take more time than content demands will allow for, so freelancers need to be ready,” Nash adds.

4. Focusing on original content rather than keywords.

Kelly O’Hara, the founder of Copy Goals, and B2B content marketing specialist, says, “I’ve seen successful bloggers talk about how they don’t optimize some of their content for SEO at all. *Gasp* I know.”

This idea might not be as outrageous as you think on first glance.

O’Hara says this might become the norm in the near future.

“We know that readers are demanding greater authenticity from content,” O’Hara adds. “It’s difficult to be authentic and optimize the heck out of your content at the same time. Plus, I imagine that Google will continue to find ways to give credit to sources that are legit, show their expertise, and genuinely help their readers.”

All that to say, don’t be surprised if content marketers start to focus more on originality rather than keywords, semantically-linked words, getting H2s in the right place, etc.

5. Emphasizing digital marketing.

This might not sound new since the digital revolution has been happening for the last couple of decades, but content marketing itself is just now starting to boom.

This year, there was an increase in those whose organizations used content creation/collaboration/workflow technologies. This isn’t surprising considering the work-from-home world we now live in.

While the type of content (blogs) remained the same, 67% of companies are now focusing on using virtual events, webinars, online courses, and building an online community.

Additionally, the use of livestreaming increased to 29% from 10%.

One of the survey respondents says, “We’ve had to expand out network via digital marketing strategies such as webinars and podcasts, as we relied mostly on in-person events and conferences for brand awareness and networking.”

6. Expanding budgets and expertise.

While there was a decrease in some content marketers budgets in 2020, this year, companies are focusing on increasing expertise with content creation and website enhancements.

Additionally, companies will need to increase their staff to keep up with the demands of the content marketing world.

A survey respondent says, “We’ll be looking to increase staff and ramp up our inbound strategy through content marketing.”

With expanding budgets and growing content marketing teams, companies are becoming more media fluent and are focused on creating a media brand, on top of their company brand.

Content marketing is in the middle of a huge evolution. From focusing on SEO and blogging to becoming a full-scale media company, brands are seeing huge differences when they scale their content marketing efforts.

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CRM implementation, eco-friendly branding: Friday’s daily brief

Plus, alternative identifier pandemonium

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5 Marketing Strategies You Should Adopt in 2021

We’ve covered email marketing trends for 2021, but that’s just one piece of the marketing strategy puzzle. It’s never a bad idea to have a firm grasp on the bigger picture by tapping into various marketing trends that are likely to dominate in the months to come. And with how unpredictable 2020 was, having an…

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B2B Websites: What Visitors Value vs. What Marketers Value

B2B website visitors and B2B marketers don’t always see eye to eye on which characteristics, features, and content formats are most important on marketing sites, according to recent research from Orbit Media Studios and Ascend2. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

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A Quick Guide for Website Image Optimization [Infographic]

Some 39% of people say they will stop engaging with a website if the images do not load or take too long to load. So, how can you optimize your images for speedy loading? Read the full article at MarketingProfs

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