5 things you probably aren’t looking at but should

Being able to report conversions for any paid media campaign is gold. But conversions don’t tell the whole story. Below are five additional metrics to review the overall performance of your campaign and give insight into possible changes that could help improve the success of your campaign. These metrics are useful even if you have a strong number of conversions as there can always be room for improvement.

Average Session Duration

Average Session Duration is measured in Google Analytics by the total duration of all sessions (in seconds) divided by the number of sessions. While there are caveats in how this is measured, this is a great metric to look at to understand what users are doing once they get to your website. Are they taking their time to engage with your site or do they leave immediately? Spending a lot of time on your website could indicate they are gathering information, but are not ready to convert. This is when a retargeting campaign would come in handy. Shorter site visits could indicate the landing page or the whole website was not what they were expecting to find after clicking on the ad.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate indicates the rate at which users are only viewing a single page per session. Bounce rate is calculated by single-page sessions divided by all sessions. A high bounce rate when you have a single-page website is to be expected, as users will only be able to visit a single page. However, if you have a high bounce rate on a site that has multiple pages or on a landing page that is meant to drive users to another page, this indicates users are not following the expected flow.

Heat mapping

One of the most fun tools you can add to your website is heat mapping. In their most basic functions, heat maps can show where users are clicking or scrolling. Seeing how users engage with your webpage is key to knowing if the page layout is conducive to the conversion you are aiming for. Are users clicking the right buttons to get information? Do they scroll “below the fold” to find the form you want them to fill out?

Organic & Direct Traffic

Organic traffic is users that get to your website through a search engine, but not through a paid ad on the search engine.   Direct traffic consists of users that typed in your website’s address, leading them directly to your site. In a tale as old as time, you’ll hear marketers say it’s impossible to draw a direct line from high reach mediums like TV, radio and billboards to conversions. They aren’t wrong, but that doesn’t mean you can’t measure the overall effect your high reach mediums have against your website traffic and even against the overall conversions you’re seeing across the board. Many times you can see a spike in organic or direct traffic when you overlay the impressions you garnered through high-reach mediums. If you are not seeing that spike, we recommend reevaluating your targeting and messaging. Are you targeting the right audience?  Does your messaging clearly state the business name or website you want them to land on?

Assisted Conversions

Google Analytics states, “If the channel appears anywhere – except as the final interaction – on a conversion path it is considered an assist for that conversion.” Assisted Conversions are great for showing you how different mediums are working together. For example, a user may initially come to your website via display ad, but not convert. If later they come back through a paid search ad, you’ll be able to see that they are a return visitor. Their conversion will be attributed to paid search, even though they initially interacted with your website by way of the digital display campaign. In this situation, you wouldn’t be wrong to consider cutting digital display spend if you were only looking at last-click attribution, which is the default in Google Analytics. By reporting on Assisted Conversions, you can make more informed and strategic decisions about your paid media campaigns.

Whether you want to increase overall conversions or be more efficient with paid media spending, diving deeper in the metrics can help you turn up the volume and improve your campaign performance. Not sure what to do with the information you find when reviewing these metrics? Drop us a line, we’d love to help you. 

4 ways to jumpstart your email marketing

Emails are magic. They are digital marketing’s secret weapon. They are the Holy Grail, Excalibur and Merlin’s beard all rolled into one. Except emails are real and you don’t need to be King Arthur to wield their power.

According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing can bring up to a 4400% return on investment if it is done right. Nope, that is not a typo. That means that you can expect up to $44 back for every $1 that you invest in email marketing.

The top four areas that will help you break into email marketing are email client configuration, list health, subject lines and calls to action. So, if this your first foray into email marketing, let us show you the world (of email strategy).

1. Email client configuration

Once you choose which email client (Mailchimp, Salesforce, Hubspot, Emma, etc.) you will use to send emails, take your time when setting everything up. Configuring your email client correctly is extremely important to ensure your emails make it to your subscribers’ inboxes and not their spam folder. The good news is that this step is relatively simple.

First, the domain you would like to send emails from (example: yourbusiness.com) must be verified. This is generally found in the account settings of the email client. The email client will send a verification email to an email address at your company to prove that you own (or represent the company that owns) the domain. Then, you will need to set up the sender information to ensure your company name and the reply-to email address are accurate.

Pro tip: avoid using a “do not reply” email address for this. It won’t affect your deliverability at this time, but it sets up a better customer service experience for your subscribers to have a contact address that will be monitored by someone who will help if a subscriber has an issue.

Second, test that this worked by sending an email from the email client to a non-company email address you have access to. This will show you how your email looks to your subscriber. If it goes to your spam folder or it has a spam warning attached to it, double-check that your domain was verified in the previous step. If the verification looks correct in the email client, the spam warning is probably an issue with authentication of your domain that your IT department should be able to fix for you.

2. List health

Creating and maintaining a healthy subscriber list is an ongoing process and it is key to increasing your email ROI. The biggest list may not be the healthiest list. It is more important to have quality subscribers who signed up to receive your emails and actively open and engage with what you send.

The first rule of keeping a healthy list is to never purchase a list. It can be tempting to invest in a long list of email addresses, but you will be sending emails to people who never subscribed to your newsletters, which means they will probably unsubscribe immediately, or worse, mark your emails as spam. This will immediately ruin your sending reputation and can result in the loss of sending privileges. We have never seen a client have luck using this method and our definitive stance is that it will do more harm than good.

On a positive note, there are plenty of ways to increase your subscriber loyalty and maintain a healthy list. The best way to do this is by managing expectations. Create an automated email that welcomes new subscribers to your list, reminds them of who you are and gives a general overview of what you will send (bonus points if you tell them how often they can expect your emails).

The simplest way to grow your subscriber list is to ask for email addresses. You can do so on your website, your social media accounts, at events and/or in your store.

3. Subject lines

Once you are ready to start creating your email, take some time to think about what you are trying to communicate to your audience. Do you have an announcement? A special sale or coupon? An upcoming event? Whatever it is, your subject line will play a huge role in the efficacy of your email.

The subject line should be a concise message that teases the content without giving it all away. For example, if you are sending a coupon for 25% off, mentioning a special deal or surprise in the email will cause a little intrigue. Even if 25% off is a big deal, some people won’t need to open the email and engage with the rest of your content if they already think they know what’s inside. The goal is to get your subscribers to open your emails and take action. Your subject line is what will compel them to open your email or immediately delete it.

Pro tip: Refrain from using spammy messaging like “FREE,” “Act now,” “Limited time only,” as this type of wording can instantly trigger spam filters. Be creative! Start with a directive subject line and then edit it down for clarity and brevity.

4. Calls to action

You’ve set up your email client properly, you’re sending emails to true fans of your business, and your subject line has intrigued your subscribers to open your email—you’re almost there!

Now that we’re inside the email, let’s talk about content. Your content will vary depending on your business and your email marketing strategy, but a critical part of your content is your call to action because it tells your subscribers what to do now that they’ve opened your email. There should always be at least one button leading back to your website or to a partner website that is selling things on your behalf (e.g. ticketing websites). We recommend keeping the content in your email short and leading your subscribers to your website to learn more.

Pro tip: Brightly-colored buttons big enough to click easily perform better than text links. Use buttons at the end of each section for the main link you want subscribers to visit and add text links for all supporting information.

These four tips will serve as your starting foundation for a solid email marketing strategy. We’ve put together a quick and easy Email Audit Worksheet to help you discover areas of improvement. The next step is to formulate an email strategy that will outline your goals, content ideas, sending calendar and automation plans. It will serve as your guide to determine which emails you should create and when.

There are many more steps to take to maintain a healthy email marketing plan while working toward that 4400% ROI. Need help with the next steps? Contact us for email strategy creation, design, development, campaign management and more.

5 Facebook Retargeting Strategies You Should Be Using

Retargeting people coming to your website is still one of the best tried-and-true methods for converting prospects into customers. In fact, Facebook remarketing ads convert 70% higher than normal Facebook ads. Chances are, if you are using Facebook ads, you are already using the Facebook pixel to retarget and convert your bottom-of-the-funnel prospects. You’ve probably even made “cart abandon” audiences and run dynamic ads that show shoppers what they were considering but left behind. But did you know there are several ways to retarget engaged users that don’t even involve your website? We’re sharing five Facebook retargeting strategies you should be using.

1. Retarget event responses

If you’re looking to sell tickets or increase attendance for an event, first create a Facebook event page. Then make an ad using event responses as the objective. This is a cheap way for you to get people to mark “Interested” or “Going” to your event. Not to mention that whenever someone marks “Interested” or “Going,” it shows up in their friends’ News Feeds (we love free micro-influencer marketing!)

Here’s where the retargeting comes in: make an audience that targets people who marked “Interested” or “Going” to your event. Create another ad using this audience with an image and copy that emphasizes selling tickets. This will be a great reminder for people about the event they are already interested in and make it easy for them to click through and purchase tickets.

2. Retarget people in a Facebook group

Facebook groups are a great way to access a large number of people who are all interested in the same thing. And if that thing is something that you happen to be selling, wouldn’t it be great to serve your ad to those people? This one is a little tricky to do since Facebook currently does not have a feature that targets specific groups, but we’re going to let you in on a little hack that we use for our clients.

Post a video to your Facebook business page and then immediately hide it (click the 3 dots at the top right of your video and then click hide from timeline). The video should not be sales-y nor should it advertise your product. Make it something that the target Facebook group would find interesting. Then, become a member of the Facebook group if you are not already. Now share that hidden video to the Facebook group as a regular post within the group. The goal here is to get as many views on your video as possible. Respond to their comments and ask them follow-up questions in the comments for more engagement. Now you can make an audience in Ads Manager that targets people who have watched your video. Create an ad using this audience and now you’re retargeting people in that Facebook group!

3. Retarget people with sessions longer than 30 seconds

Back to the tried-and-true method of targeting people who have been to your website, but with a twist. As an advertiser, one of your main goals is to spend your ad dollars as efficiently as possible, so why waste money on people who didn’t spend a significant amount of time on your website? Check analytics, and create an audience based on the people who visited your website and had sessions longer than 30 seconds. This will make your ad dollars go a lot farther by getting your ads in front of the right group of people.

4. Retarget segments of your CRM list

Having a CRM list is as good as gold when it comes to Facebook targeting. Of course, you want to serve ads to people on your email list, maybe even create a lookalike list of these people. Now think about all the ways you can slice and dice your current email list and the corresponding ads that you can create. You can focus on people who bought a certain product, people who have not purchased in the past six months, people with the highest average order value; the opportunities are endless. Now create ads with specific messages directed toward these segmented groups. The more targeted the messaging, the better!

5. Retarget your social media followers

You’ve created a sizable social media following, but don’t have a robust email list or much site traffic yet. Good news! You can create an Ads Manager audience of people who interacted with your Facebook or Instagram accounts. This includes people who viewed or followed your Facebook page or Instagram profile, people who commented or liked your posts and also people who saw or clicked on your sponsored ads. This is a great way to retarget people for whom you lack information or may not have bought your product yet, but they know who you are through your social media.

We hope that you find these Facebook retargeting strategies useful and that they inspire creative ways to target your customers. If you want more helpful tactics for converting your audience, reach out and we can begin discussing strategies for your organization.

Website Audit

If you’re a business owner, I’m sure you’ve received the persistent sales emails with the subject line “Free Website Audit Results!” If you respond, they’ll perform a half-assed audit and try to sell you on services you may (or may not) need. And if you decline, they’ll call you 37 times and haggle you for their business.

Well, today, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled some of our top website audit factors and are providing guidance on how you can learn more about your website. See if your site is following SEO best practices that maximize visibility and impact performance. Download our worksheet, score your website and decide for yourself whether your site is in need of optimization. If so, give us a call.

Search Engine Indexing

“If you build it, they will come” only applies to web pages that Google can see. It’s critical that you know whether or not your high-value pages are being indexed and displayed by Google in search results. If your pages are blocked for whatever reason, users won’t be able to reach the site via organic search.

Follow the steps below to see which pages on your site Google is indexing:

In Google search > search “site:example.com" and replace example.com with your URL

If you aren’t seeing your high-value pages in the search results, there is a major opportunity to improve your site traffic.

Google My Business

Google My Business continues to be the most impactful driver of local SEO, so it’s important that your account is optimized to its fullest potential.

Here are the things you can do to improve your visibility on local results:

  • Verify your business location through physical mail
  • Keep your business information accurate - website, hours, menus, description, categories
  • Add photos of your business - exterior, interior, staff
  • Respond to reviews - both good and bad

See Google’s recommendations >


75% of searchers don’t make it to the second page of search results. Do you know how your site ranks for your key terms? Search your main service line and location (i.e. “Scottsdale advertising agency”) in an incognito Chrome window and see if your site makes the first page in search results or local results.

Site Speed

According to Google, “Advertising and speed go hand in hand, with faster landing pages delivering better ROI.” With the data to back up that statement, they now use page load speed as a ranking factor. Faster sites provide a better user experience, therefore, Google prioritizes them in ranking over slower sites.

Check out your homepage’s desktop and mobile page speed >

Mobile Usability

According to Google, 94% of people search for local information on their phones, and interestingly, 77% of mobile searches occur at home or work. So it’s critical that your users have a good experience when visiting your site on a phone or tablet.

Google rates mobile usability by looking at elements on a webpage like text size, buttons, and content width. 

See if your site is mobile-friendly by Google’s standards >

How does your site compare?

We’ve created an easy tool for you to use and discover how your website stacks up in the rankings. Download our Site Audit Worksheet and score your website!

Site Audit Worksheet

Want an expert opinion? Give us a call.

Vote for TJA for Ranking Arizona 2021!

Voting is now open for AZ Big Media’s Ranking Arizona 2021 and we need your help! Follow the simple steps below to help TJA rank #1 again this year. You may vote once per hour through July 31 at 11:59pm.

How to Vote:
1. Visit the Ranking Arizona website
2. Register with your email address and create a password OR use your login information from last year
3. Vote for TJA in the following categories by clicking the VOTE button:

  • Advertising and Marketing
    • Advertising Agencies
    • Best Workplace Culture
    • Graphic Design Firms
    • Internet Marketing
    • Public Relations Firms
    • SEO/Social Media Marketing
  • Business Services
    • Best Place to Work
    • Event Planning
    • Women-Owned Businesses

Thank you for your support!

Your brand’s digital presence is more important now than ever before

“I want to be where the people are”

I think everybody can relate to The Little Mermaid these days; we all want to be where the people are. Thankfully, conversations surrounding COVID-19 are finally turning toward recovery. However, even as the world reopens, the effects of the quarantine will be lasting and businesses need to adapt to how consumer digital behaviors have shifted. The bottom line: to be where the people are, you need to update your digital strategy. Doing so will benefit your business both in the short- and long-term.

Improve your website

One simple way to invest in your website is to regularly update your content to ensure its relevancy, something that will be especially important post-coronavirus. For example, adding video content can increase time on site. Likewise, virtual experiences allow your customers to take your product for a spin from the comfort of their home. We recently developed a new website for Camelot Homes, a luxury homebuilder in Arizona, which included more imagery, video content, interactive floor plans and their professionally-shot virtual home tours that maintained buyer interest when in-person tours weren’t available.

Streamlining the design of your website can guide consumers more naturally through your site and increase conversions. Staying on top of your site’s SEO will help consumers find you through search engines. If you’re unsure of where to start, we recommend a website audit, which is the foundational service we offer our web clients. An audit will reveal what’s going well with your website and what needs improving, providing you with clear direction and actionable next steps.

Email is low-risk, high-reward

Maintaining open communication is crucial in gaining trust with your consumers. In a time of crisis, transparency is even more important. Newsletters are great digital tools that offer direct lines to your brand’s biggest fans: people who voluntarily opted to receive updates from you. So, give the people what they want.

The economic landscape is shifting constantly in reaction to the coronavirus. With recovery around the corner, it’s imperative to keep your consumers informed with updates to your business, like shifts in offerings, changes in hours of operation or new content. Whatever the messaging, make it consistent, relevant and timely.

An email campaign also is a relatively inexpensive marketing channel with a historically high ROI. According to Litmus, for every dollar spent on email, marketers saw a $42 return. With so many advantages to email, creating a newsletter strategy is essential.

Create content constantly

When stay-at-home orders were declared, streaming services and social media apps experienced a rise in traffic and usage. According to The Next Web, 29 percent of internet users reported they were streaming significantly more movies and shows, while 23 percent said they were spending significantly more time on social media platforms. People quarantined to their homes crave content, presenting an opportunity for businesses to bolster their organic social media.

When compared to the last quarter of 2019, Instagram saw a 22 percent increase in campaign impressions in the first quarter of 2020. Even as the world eases back into a normal cadence, and people once again can meet in-person, we anticipate the high rate of social media use will continue. Undoubtedly, consumers will feel compelled to share their first experiences out in public. Preparing and scheduling timely and visually engaging content maintains your relevancy and increases brand awareness.

Earn trust and impressions

Right now, news sites are seeing big increases in readership as even more people want to stay informed. The New York Times reported in March that news site page visits increased 57 percent, and subscriptions to U.S. news sites were 57.5 percent higher on Sunday, March 15 compared to an average Sunday.

Submitting bylined articles or expert commentary on how trends or current events are affecting your industry can lead to earned media coverage in online news sites, increasing your business’s exposure and strengthening your expert positioning. Providing insight and thought leadership in news outlets also garners trust with readers, deepening your brand awareness. Partnering with experts like The James Agency can not only help you create an effective PR strategy, but also execute on that strategy and prepare you for the inevitable media opportunities. 

Be prepared

We’re all experiencing a harrowing moment in our history, and the full effects are yet to be seen. One thing for certain has changed: the customer journey. The brands that will continue to win have a few things in common, one of which being a strong digital presence that allowed them to stay in contact with their customers throughout the days of quarantine. At The James Agency, we leverage 15 years of experience and a wealth of data to evolve our clients’ digital assets, ensuring they are prepared for anything. Drop us a line to determine how we can do the same for you.

The billboard is still relevant to your marketing mix and here’s why.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. 

It all began when Dracula showed up on our team Slack channel. Our Boss Lady posted a billboard advertising the Netflix original series in a remarkably clever way. Take a look

Neat, right? As the sun goes down, the light source on the left edge of the billboard casts a strategically constructed shadow by refracting light off the “stakes” to paint a portrait of the notorious bloodsucker himself. Considering the subject matter of the show, this portrait in shadow seemed poetically appropriate. More than that, the advertisement took full advantage of the medium. We’re all existing in a digital world saturated with digital ads. Still, the Dracula billboard owned its medium by integrating elements that literally can’t be replicated online: an interplay between light, shadow and three-dimensional objects. 

Executions like these keep us believing in the billboard as a viable and sustainable media decision. The industry at large seems to agree, too. Over the past decade, while radio and print advertising took hard hits as companies flocked with their media budgets to digital advertising, out-of-home (OOH) advertising has seen 31 consecutive quarters of growth. Part of the reason for OOH’s continued success has been its ability to incorporate the same data-driven decision making that make digital ads so effective. Taking those insights and applying them to a medium that exists offline allows marketers to get the best of both worlds: an ad that boasts repeated exposure to a broad audience in their day-to-day lives, but is also specifically targeted. 

The right place. The right time. The right people. 

In order to capture the attention of the right audience, use tools and services created to layer data filters that enhance targeting and performance tracking. Our Senior Media Planner and Buyer chimes in:

“Understanding where your ideal target lives and where they work is key to getting on the right billboards, so working with a partner that can layer in census data and traffic patterns can make a night and day difference. Just because a board gets a ton of traffic doesn’t mean it’s the right board for you. It’s important to use all the tools to make sure the right eyes are seeing your billboard.” 

Instead of guesstimating where your optimal audience is looking, get pinpointed information on where they are and when, as well as where they’re heading. No ad exists in a silo, and billboards are especially context-dependent. Through diligent research and reliable partners, you can rake in the results by capturing the attention of your consumer base by being in the right place at the right time. Lean on the information that your company already has access to, because it can inform and support placement decisions. Then, consult with expert product partners to layer on advanced informatics that will accelerate goal actualization.


Since billboards have the benefit of repeat exposure to the right audience, it is equally advantageous to have your message follow your audience once they reach their destination. Most quality digital partners will provide you with the capability to retarget the pool of people who passed by your sign. You can then further refine that pool based on behavioral or demographic preferences. That way you’ll capture IRL impressions through your billboard’s geographic placement, and accumulate a refined pool of consumers that you can put purposeful dollars toward since they resemble your ideal audience. Your message will pursue this target audience, giving them opportunities to reencounter your brand across multiple touchpoints. This multi-dimensional approach brings your audience into your world across mediums—both in the digital realm and in real life. Geotargeting with further filtering is a strategic tactic to strengthen your staying power and front-of-mind positioning. Some considerations to keep in mind though: with a narrower audience, CPM rates (cost per thousand impressions) will increase for digital ads that get served. If you’re going for a broad reach, this may not be the tactic to use. While initial exposure includes anyone who passes your billboard, remarketing efforts will be restricted to a narrow point on the funnel. This is a quality over quantity move. 

It’s a matter of scale.

Whether you’re aiming for maximum brand exposure or are hoping to capture the attention of a specific audience, billboards can help you maximize your return when they’re a part of your marketing mix. Knowing your end goal for running an OOH campaign is key—are you promoting a one-time event like a 3-day sale at your location, or are you launching a new product? There are effective tactics to accomplish wide range goals utilizing OOH and other mediums to complement those efforts. The good news is The James Agency has experience with mixed media campaigns and OOH placement. The experts on our team can help you wherever you are on the spectrum of broad reach to narrow targets. Start the conversation to begin exploring your options today. 

Get in touch > 

IRL: The power of face time in an email world.

In an industry where “fast” is often hailed as “good,” slowing down and taking the time to meet in person may seem like an outdated way to get shit done. Emails can be shot off with approvals, signatures and questions, and calls can handle anything requiring an extended discussion, right? Right. But in addition, there are just some things you need to see to believe. We’re going to lay out which instances merit some quality time face-to-face.

  1. 1. First engagement
    When engaging with destination clients like Travel Costa Mesa, pictures just won’t do it justice. Our team takes the time to get the ground-zero experience and internalize the look, feel, sound and scent of the place. Our clients give us first-hand accounts of why the people they cater to appreciate what they’re offering, and then we see it for ourselves. What gets them excited? How does the culture of the organizers align with the culture of the audience? Getting to experience the answers to these questions makes marketing them more authentic. It demonstrates there’s a genuine understanding between the brand and the people they interact with.
  2. 2. Campaign presentations
    The launch of a new campaign is an exciting time for everyone. Market research is translated into strategy, that strategy is executed by creative, web, media and PR. Due to their intricate nature, we prefer to present campaigns in person as much as possible. That way, clients can see tangible versions of logos and ads, visualize PR activations, and thoroughly understand media plans. Meeting in person prompts healthy dialogue, making it easier to ask questions and get answers for both parties. This ensures everyone is on the same page; if there is any confusion, it’s easily addressed in the room. Additionally, nonverbal communication comes across clearly, which enhances everyone’s understanding. By encouraging as much clarity as possible, campaign concepts can be delivered in the spirit they were intended.
  3. 3. Major events & milestones
    We love to celebrate big wins with our partners. Whether it’s a grand opening, a significant anniversary or a noteworthy happening, it’s exciting to see these functions in person, especially when they’re events that our team got to work on. Showing our support in person also strengthens the bond between our clients and us: we love to show up for them during moments when they get to see the fruits of their labor.
  4. 4. Ongoing touchpoint
    We have the privilege of working with several longtime clients. They know our rhythms, we know theirs, and this creates a productive harmony between our efforts and their goals. Even in relationships like these, where we’re familiar with what needs to be done and how, it’s important that we still treat the engagement like it’s on the front burner. Getting face-to-face temperature checks helps keep the work from stagnating. It also is a good time to course correct. Is the aim of the campaign aligned with upcoming goals? Have any objectives changed? Take the time to catch up and keep your longstanding clients happy.
  5. 5. “The Taste” by LA Times
    An example of how we go the extra mile to meet our clients, Travel Costa Mesa hosts an annual event called “The Taste” by LA Times. The event brings restauranteurs from all over Orange County together for an elevated food festival, complete with chef demonstrations, live music and limitless sampling from the stalls. Multiple departments were engaged in marketing efforts for the event, from our PR pros coordinating influencer engagement to the creative team making digital designs for media placements. Beginning with the inaugural event in 2018, the account manager from Client Services and PR Director went to see how the event was executed and ensure branding efforts went smoothly. In 2019, our Creative Director, Production Director and Content Strategist went to experience the event to capture footage and better convey it through creative. This boots on the ground understanding helps us create an even more authentic portrayal for the next event.

If you’re looking for an agency that actively pursues your best interest and takes the time to meet you face to face, then you’ve come to the right place. See our services and get inspired by what we can do for you.

We can help with that >

How to use decision filters to prioritize your life.

In good company.

TJA has the good fortune to welcome inspirational individuals into our fold. They share their hard-won knowledge so we can benefit from their expertise. During our most recent quarterly huddle, the whole company came together to review our wins and strategize for the upcoming months. Speaker and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Russ Perry of Design Pickle, was invited to give us the low down on an indispensable tool for prioritizing our objectives: decision filters. His insight resonated with our firmly-held beliefs about establishing boundaries, maintaining personal integrity and setting goals. If those are values you want to integrate more into your personal and professional life, read on.

Shiny object syndrome.

Decision making is unavoidable, especially when there’s a never-ending torrent of content, opportunities, challenges, to-do lists, obligations and indecisions. How much energy do you spend deciding what to do before you even begin a task? Does it add up? Does it weigh down on you? When your options are seemingly infinite, and the people, places and things demanding your attention are endless, you are forced to streamline and prioritize. It’s time to break the chains of shiny object syndrome.

Decision fatigue.

Decision fatigue is real, y’all. The more you invest in making decisions, the more energy your body consumes, the more depleted you are at the end of the day. The real kicker is that longer sessions of decision making actually result in deteriorating quality of judgment. Here’s the science to prove it. Feel free to use this rationale next time you’re trying to get out of a long meeting, but don’t blame it on us if it backfires. Knowing that our attention is a precious resource that gets spent, how can we be more selective with what we dedicate our energy to? 

Use a filter.

Time to dig deep. The concept of a decision filter relies entirely on what you value in your life. If you’re looking at your aspirations from 30,000 feet, and are thinking about your long-term goals and overarching ambitions, what matters most to you? Where do you want to go? We broke the categories into personal and professional, but you could have a set of decision filters for any area of your life—family, finances, relationships, etc. The point of adding this tool to your cognitive arsenal is to increase your certainty in each move you make. With certainty, you can make decisions faster and trust their outcomes, which brings you closer to your dreams in a shorter period of time. Sounds like a good deal, no?

Make it personal.

Once you’ve done the soul searching and come up with your top priorities, apply your filter throughout the day. If one of your top values is to travel more, take a moment before each task and hold it up to your filter. Will spending the time, money or energy on this particular activity bring you closer to taking a remarkable trip? If your main ambition is to build your own business, will the conversations you’re having and people you surround yourself with help you get there? It’s impossible to live your whole life according to your filter, but one of the most useful traits of employing a decision filter is that it shows you how often you’re acting for (or against) your best interest. That knowledge in and of itself can encourage corrective habits to get you closer to your goals.

Scale it up.

Decision filters can go beyond the individual. We have agency-wide filters that keep us honed in on our objectives and keep us from straying from our purpose. Through clearly written mission and vision statements, the entire agency knows what matters, and every decision—whether it’s acquiring new clients or taking on new talent—is measured against our values. This sometimes means turning down enticing opportunities. It’s hard to rebel against shiny object syndrome, especially when it comes in the form of a promising prospect. Through experience, we’ve learned that even the best-looking possibilities can work against our best interests. Every organization stands to benefit from aligning their team over the goals and values that pave the path toward success. Here are a few of our filters to inspire you and prompt you to create some of your own:

  • Comparing potential clients and partners to our core values and making sure they walk our walk
  • Holding fast and steady to who we are and who we aren’t to vet team members
  • Ensuring there’s a “why” for every “what” to help us keep on the correct path as we grow as a business

Energy and attention are resources you can’t afford to waste, so utilize your decision filters wisely to achieve the goals you set for yourself. If your organization is looking to have a deeper discussion about how to accelerate toward its aspirations, we’d love to learn more about what your organizational filters are and how we can apply them to creative marketing endeavors.

Let’s strategize >

2019 Year-in-Review Highlights

Let our work speak for itself.

16 times on the podium:

  • Entrepreneur 360 | 2019 Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America
  • AZ Central Top Companies to Work For in Arizona, Small Company
  • Phoenix Business Journal Best Places to Work in the Valley
  • MarCom Award | Web Video/Marketing | Travel Costa Mesa
  • MarCom Award | Web Video/Marketing | National Harbor
  • MarCom Award | Marketing/Promo Campaign/Branding Refresh | Travel Costa Mesa
  • MarCom Award | Marketing/Promo Campaign/Branding Refresh | Spinato’s Pizzeria
  • MarCom Award | Web Video/Marketing | Travel Costa Mesa
  • MarCom Award | Marketing/Promotion/Guide | Travel Costa Mesa
  • Addy Award | Elements of Advertising-Logo Design | Loft+Manor
  • Addy Award | Branded Content & Entertainment | Travel Costa Mesa
  • Addy Award | Sales & Marketing | Hotel Valley Ho
  • Addy Award | Integrated Advertising National Consumer Campaign | Mountain Shadows
  • Addy Award | Print Advertising, Branded Content & Entertainment | The Cliffs Hotel & Spa
  • Spaces Arizona Awards 2019 | Best in show
  • 2019 PRSA Phoenix Award of Merit | Colleen’s Dream Foundation Butterfly Effect Campaign

6 Brand Videos:

10 Rebrands & New Brands:

  • Camelot Homes
  • National Harbor
  • Starfire Golf Club
  • Cabana
  • Mavrix
  • Spinatos Pizzeria
  • ECD Systems
  • ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho
  • From the Rooftop
  • Poppy

16 New Websites:

2020 promises to be filled with more of the exciting projects and people that make TJA so special. Cheers to the new year!

5 things you have to do before shooting a brand video to make it a success.

Everything that comes before “Lights, camera, action!”

Creating a brand video is the ultimate creative project. Storytelling harmonizes with videography to become a money-making, movie-quality video the client gets to splash across their website, paid media and social media platforms. However, there’s more to creating a film than storyboarding and day-of shoots; myriad decisions that involve other departments are critical to the final result. In this blog, we’re highlighting four considerations that go into making our award-winning brand videos. Read on to get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on behind the scenes.

How media buying influences videography. 

One of the biggest influences on a brand video comes from the media department. How will the video be used? Has ad space been bought that comes with sizing and timing constraints? Taking the endgame usage into consideration at the very beginning will eliminate many challenges during the editing phase. If you know you need a fifteen-second, vertical video for promoted stories on Instagram, writing that into the storyboard will align the creative process with the practical application. 

Add this to your to-do list:
Start a “future project” section part of your storyboard that lists all the applications for this video. Where will it be posted? How long will it be? What are the specs for social media platforms where it’ll go up? Usage can determine content, so having a written-out understanding can constructively guide creative brainstorming. 

KPIs and client objectives.

Keeping the measurable goals in mind is not a very sexy part of the creative process, but it’s essential. It actually makes telling your story easier by supplying queues on what to include and what to leave out. Understand upfront how the value of this brand video will be determined. Knowing what will be considered a success from the client’s perspective will prevent difficult conversations down the road. Better to course-correct toward the beginning than realize at the very end that your goals and the client’s objectives are entirely estranged.

Add this to your to-do list:
Before any work is done on concepting the video, agree upon three measurable KPIs and write them at the top of any documents relating to the shoot. Get a written statement from the client stating what they will consider a success and keep that as a North Star throughout the duration of the project.

How casting and data go hand in hand.

Did you know Google Analytics can help you narrow in on whom you should cast in your video? Here at TJA, we do significant research on target audiences to understand who they are and what they want. Casting decisions should take demographic and psychographic data pulled from reliable sources into consideration. Choose actors whom your audience can empathize with or aspire to be. 

Add this to your to-do list:
Have your team source information about your audience from your first-party platforms, like Facebook Audience Insights and Google Analytics. Combine that with third-party industry data to make data-backed casting decisions. 

Location, location, location. 

You’ve seen pictures online; maybe you spent some time on the Google Street View scoping out the area. Now it’s time to visit the locations IRL. It’s critical that you get face-to-face with your shooting spots. Assuming that the space will work without walking through it is like trusting a kindergartener with your dental work. Get a grasp on the variables, so that they don’t end up undermining the whole operation. 

Add this to your to-do list:
Walk through all of your pre-planned shots in the space so that you can check how angles, lighting and framing are going to turn out. Nine times out of ten, you’ll discover there’s a shot that isn’t quite as feasible as you thought. Do this far enough in advance so you can make edits to the shot list without throwing everything into chaos. 

So where does creativity come in?

Even with all these external considerations, the core of filming a brand video is to tell a story. The narrative thread will be the heart and soul for creative efforts. Media, target audience data and location provide the structure to build the story around. Additionally, once shooting begins, there will inevitably be improvisation. You’ll need to get creative with shots when timing gets tight, or when things on set don’t go to plan. Stay loose and go with the flow; it’s better to think on your feet than to force a shot just for the sake of the storyboard. Keep standards of quality high and the finished product in mind: an unexpected, dramatic sunset can be the money shot that pulls the whole video together. 

Add this to your to-do list:
During the lead up, think hypothetically about multiple ways you can achieve the same effect if an obstacle crops up. How will you handle talent running late? Adverse weather? Set malfunctions? Lost props? By employing problem-solving before you even reach the set, your mind will be primed to handle any situation you find yourself in. 

High stakes and tight turn arounds.

A project manager’s perspective.

You never know what will come your way when you work in advertising. The most painstakingly coordinated tasks and schedules can become little more than color-coded scrap paper when the perfect opportunity pops up out of the blue. When a shot too good to pass up comes our way, it falls to the project managers (PMs) to be the eyes in the sky. They’re the ones rearranging the pieces so our clients can make the most of every opportunity.

In the words of Tim Gunn: “Make it work.”

We’re can-do kind of people ‘round these parts, so when we have the chance to make national impact for a worthy organization, we take it. That sometimes means putting the pedal to the metal and generating all the creative collateral in two days. Organization is the make-or-break factor for any high-stakes undertaking, and our PM Riley gave us some tips for how she approaches a project where every minute counts:

  1. Get organized and make a plan of attack to avoid any snags that come along. And trust us, there will be snags.
  2. Detail! Be meticulously detailed when you write up the expectations for each deliverable. This is majorly important when it comes to facilitating an efficient project.
  3. Most important: communication. Over-communicate with your team. Even when there’s only a short amount of time allocated to a project, you need to work in tandem with your designers, copywriters, developers, etc. Being overly-communicative with your clients will also help alleviate any confusion that pops up along the way.

It takes two to tango and four to pull off a campaign.

The collaborative nature and tight schedule of the World Ovarian Cancer Day fundraiser meant there were a lot of parties with a vested interest in making sure it was successful. TJA was the creative agency (and center of communication), Colleen’s Dream Foundation was the recipient nonprofit organization, seven Pacific Retail locations across the country hosted murals made by the Butterfly Effect, which was the nonprofit agent that facilitated these flash fundraisers. In addition to these main players, there were print vendors and overnight shippers to keep in touch with. Riley shares how she keeps communication straight between everyone involved for seamless handoffs and no missteps:

  1. Make sure everyone is on the same page across the board: the clients, account managers and team members should all have identical expectations of the outcome.
  2. Clients should receive consistent updates on the status of each deliverable. Radio silence never ends well.
  3. Identify and address any potential hiccups as soon as they occur. It’s easier to solve problems when they’re small than once they’ve exploded. Frequent communication is the key to troubleshooting.

A recap is worth $1,000. 

The fundraiser was a success. All the collateral arrived in time at the Pacific Retail destinations across the nation, and lots of posts went on social media featuring pictures of people posing against the Butterfly Effect murals. All told, about $1,000 was raised during World Ovarian Cancer Day for Colleen’s Dream, and the campaign won a 2019 PRSA Phoenix Award of Merit. But the most crucial part of any project is reflecting on the results—what went right and what can be improved upon next time. What are the most important aspects to include in a review? Riley’s so glad you asked:

  1. Compare the goals of the project to the outcomes. Provide explanations for how these goals were met and identify opportunities for improvement.
  2. Highlight any eye-catching issues and successes so the team can remedy or replicate them next time.
  3. Memorialize successful processes so they can be employed in the future. Share these internally with the team so everyone can benefit from the knowledge.

Give your PMs some love (and take a page from their book).

We know we’d be lost without the scheduling savvy of our PMs and their on-top-of-it-all-ness. Just for fun, we also asked Riley to share what would make a PM’s life easier as well as what we can take from her process and apply to our everyday lives.

  1. It’s important that the team communicate with the project managers, of course, but it’s also vital that they communicate amongst themselves. If you’re working on a project, explain your thought process, and share any suggestions you have before you hand it off to the next person.
  2. We know it’s no fun to admit you’re struggling, but it truly makes everything easier in the long run if you’re upfront with any issues that arise. Your team won’t judge (at least not too hard), because everyone is working toward the best possible outcome.
  3. It’s corny, we know, but have fun with your tasks! It makes work interesting, it keeps you engaged with the projects and, oftentimes, clients will end up loving adventurous takes on their brand.
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