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3 Tips from Taco Bell for Marketing to College Students

College students have been a primary market for Taco Bell for years. With the cheap tacos, late-night hours and witty humor on social media, Taco Bell has whole heartedly embraced its following. Here are three strategies that we can learn from the fast food mogul to garner a strong Gen Y following. Humor sells According to a survey by Chegg, college students recall humorous stories 80 percent better than their non-humorous alternatives. Whether it’s YouTube, window clings or radio spots, the marketers at Taco Bell are experts on using humor to develop the brand’s personality. Socialize on social  media Taco

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Risdall Movember

Movember moustaches keep growing at Risdall

The moustaches are showing and the donations are growing in our third week of the Movember fundraiser at Risdall. Our team has raised $680 so far, and with two weeks left, we’re on track to hit our goal of $1,000. Movember was created to spark conversations about health issues specific to men. For the month of November, participants grow and groom their moustaches, and only their moustaches, while gathering donations for their team. The neatly groomed moustaches unify participants, or Mo Bros, and provide an ice breaker for conversation topics that aren’t widely discussed. All donations support research for men’s

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Content Strategy

6 Steps for Content Marketing

As a full-service agency, Risdall continually works to develop each team’s skills, bringing out its full potential. Since we entered the digital world in 1993, we’ve continued to maximize our digital processes. With that in mind, we’ve created a six-step approach for content marketing at Risdall: strategy, curation, creation, optimization, amplification and measurement. Although we could create a blog post for each one of these steps, we decided to start with an overview of how each step fits into the process and works toward a client’s goals. Risdall’s 6 Steps for Content Marketing Strategy What Is It: Strategy means defining

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Movember Team Moustaches

Risdall sports Moustaches for Movember

From a simple After Eight to the intricate Connoisseur, gentlemen at Risdall will show off their moustaches of all sizes and styles this month in appreciation of Movember. Following the official rules of Movember, Risdallians started with a clean-shaven face on November 1. For the entire month, gentlemen, and women, will grow and groom their moustaches, transforming into true Mo Bros. Starting in Australia in 2003, the popular fundraiser was created to benefit men’s health issues by sparking discussions about health concerns and raising funds specifically for mental health, prostate and testicular cancers. The movement has grown to include 21 countries, and has

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Growth Powered by Risdall Rockets Cub Scout Recruitment

Risdall helped refresh Northern Star Council Boy Scouts’ brand and public image in the first year of its statewide Rocket Into Scouting recruitment event, culminating in a 43 percent enrollment increase from 2013 totals. In 2014, Northern Star Council strategically transformed Rocket Into Scouting from a multiple-date event into a single-time recruitment effort, where kindergarten through fifth grade boys who signed up for Cub Scouts and their families received a free model rocket to build and launch at the first pack meeting. Through the efforts of multiple Risdall services, Rocket Into Scouting enrolled 4,143 new Cub Scouts at over 700

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The Network Connect Explores the Future of Angel Investing

If you’re looking for the ideal area to invest, Minnesota is the place to be. With 248 unique businesses started between 2010 and 2013, investors have put a total of $247.7 million toward startups in Minnesota in the last four years. One factor encouraging investors both in and out of state is the Minnesota Angel Tax Credit program, which provides a 25 percent refundable tax credit for investors who put their money toward qualified small emerging businesses. The program has more than doubled since it started in 2010 with $7 million in credits. Four years later, the program increased funding and dispersed

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Risdall Creates Award-Winning Website for Colorado Symphony

Risdall shined a spotlight on the Colorado Symphony’s online presence with a new website, The site won Best Entertainment Website in the 2014 WebAwards, scoring 68 out of 70 points based on seven distinct criteria. “We wanted a dynamic website technology with a very rich set of features and capabilities that was also easy to use,” said Douglas Yost, director of information services at the Colorado Symphony. The Colorado Symphony wanted to clean up its site with a slick navigation menu, an easy-to-scan blog module and an eye-catching event calendar with pop-up descriptions. The orchestra wanted a website that

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Par Aide Presents Risdall with a Unique Gift

Risdall’s Wii golf course is now complete with two brand new golf ball washers from our valued partner, Par Aide. To honor our ongoing relationship, Par Aide presented the agency with two shiny, 4-foot-tall golf ball washers, but not just any ball washers. Par Aide took the time to match the Master Ensemble ball washer perfectly with Risdall’s signature purple, and converted the Deluxe Ensemble ball washer into a functioning lamp. At Risdall, we couldn’t help but remember the unforgettable scene from “A Christmas Story,” when old man Parker receives his prized leg lamp. In Mr. Parker’s words, “It’s indescribably

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Risdall’s Clients Honored in International Competition for Outstanding Websites

The unique relationships between Risdall and our clients inspire us to create superior website designs that meet all of our clients’ needs… and win awards too. This year, 19 of those websites went on to win awards in the international WebAwards competition. On top of that, the Web Marketing Association recognized six of those victorious websites as best in their categories, meaning they had the highest score compared with all other submissions. Congratulations to all the winners! We pride ourselves on providing our clients with the latest technology and a team of industry-leading experts who love what they do, and when

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Use a Vivid Vision to Look at your Business through a Crystal Ball

  The Vistage Executive Summit joined Minnesota’s brightest leaders with some of the world’s most talented speakers to share their knowledge about innovation in business. One speaker, Cameron Herold, explained his concept of creating a vivid vision – an activity to align your team with the future of your company. The CEO knows exactly where he wants his company to end up, but if his vision isn’t shared with employees, he’ll be viewed as the guy dancing alone in the video above. This is where a vivid vision comes in. A vivid vision is a detailed description of the future of your company.

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scroll down content strategy

Are Huge Images Right For a B2B Website?

Many readers of online magazines have noticed a shift lately – sites like Medium, Fast Company, and The Great Discontent are all shifting to huge images that often force users to scroll before reading content.

The writers at Digiday speculate that the trend is due to an evolving understanding of how visitors come to websites:

“Large photos are often used by publishers as a way of providing texture to a homepage and making a brand impression,” Digiday writer Ricardo Bilton wrote. “But with most traffic now coming to article pages, it means article pages have to do more of the heavy lifting of homepages.”

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content curation

How to Simplify Your Content Curation


What is it?

Many brands start their web marketing strategies with content curation.

Content curation is the process of organizing and displaying information about a particular topic. Although you can curate your own content, most online curation involves content generated by other people.

Content curation is not a new, or uniquely digital strategy. Museums, anthologies and galleries are forms of curation.

In the digital world content curation can consist of sharing links to other people’s content on social media, Buzzfeed-style lists, and roundup posts, among other things.

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SEO Tips

SEO Trends in 2014

Recent changes in search engines and other emerging online trends have led to a number of new developments in SEO.

While most of these concepts aren’t ground-breaking or brand new, they’re more important than ever in establishing and maintaining a concrete presence online. If you haven’t optimized your site for mobile, integrated your social media efforts with SEO, or shifted your content strategy, jump on board now to keep up with the trends and your online visibility intact.
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Risdall Marketing Agency

Risdall Signs 20 New Accounts in Q1 2014

It was a strong start to 2014 at Risdall, with the agency signing on 20 new accounts in the first quarter.

Many of these clients are focused on business-to-consumer marketing, and were looking for an agency that could deliver fully-integrated strategic campaigns.
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What is Native Advertising?

Native advertising is a catchall term for targeted paid marketing tactics.

The oldest form of native advertising is an advertorial, like Oglivy’s “Guinness Guide to Oysters.”

Oyster Ad
Native Advertising is a nebulous concept:

  1. There is no real consensus on what the term means.
  2. Most definitions are so broad as to encompass every form of paid digital advertising except for basic banner ads.

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Advice For Graduating Designers and Copywriters

I recently had the privilege of participating in a Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association networking event.

This MIMA speed networking event consisted of about 30 students and aspiring marketers who got 2-3 minutes each to speak with 30 marketing professionals, including myself.

A third of the would-be marketers seemed terrified, but all of them braved through it. It was a fun event for everyone (I hope).

I found myself giving the same six pieces of advice over and over:

1. Learn how to position yourself.

Most of the seniors unnecessarily limited their job searches because they had a very narrow idea of what they wanted to do.

  • Are you a copywriter with social media experience? Look for content strategy and community manager jobs.
  • Are you a business major with a communications minor? Check the project management and public relations listings.

The easiest thing to do is look at all of the open positions at an agency or marketing department and ask yourself whether you can do a job with minimal training.

For example, a writer isn’t going to learn software development overnight, but he or she can probably figure out basic social media and project management skills if necessary.

2. Get your portfolio together.

The first step to getting a marketing job is learning how to effectively market yourself.

The number of graduating seniors without updated portfolios almost drove me to hysterics. Read More

Fancy Words

Why Marketers Love Buzzwords

I love LinkedIn Pulse articles.

These articles consistently offer new perspectives on changes in the business world, particularly marketing.

One of today’s LinkedIn articles was about visual storytelling in marketing. The article quoted a marketer who used the word “infobesity.”

I cringed.

My reaction to the word “infobesity” made me wonder why marketers use such strange and pretentious language.

Why do we consistently violate Dr. Struck’s prohibition against fancy words?


Why Marketers Love Buzzwords

Buzzwords accomplish several important things in the marketing world:

1. Revitalization of old ideas.

Why say “infobesity” when “information overload” will do? Everyone knows what information overload means, but infobesity revitalizes the concept for a modern audience.
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Apple Maps

Our Agency Is Not A Superfund Site

Why is Apple Maps directing ad agency clients to a toxic waste dump?

Apple’s troubled map product can’t find the Loch Ness Monster and apparently it has a hard time locating suburban advertising agencies as well.

When Risdall clients attempt to use their iPhones to find our agency, they end up in a Walking Dead-worthy location.
Apple Maps

Apple is Directing Our Clients to the Former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant.

Apparently this massive Superfund site has a street network, and one of these streets is called Main Street. (Coincidentally this polluted area almost became the site of the new Vikings Stadium until the team was able to squeeze more funding from Minneapolis.)

The Munitions Plant is in Arden Hills, a suburb next to Risdall’s city of New Brighton.

Apple Maps takes our clients to this toxic waste site when they ask Siri for navigation directions to “Risdall Advertising Agency” or even when they type our correct street address (city included) into their iPhones.
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Markup Post

Is Structured Markup Worth It?

Google and Bing support an increasing amount of structured data markup. These are snippets of code that tell a search engine exactly what type of content is on a page, and (in theory) make your website appear more relevant.

The value of structured markup is debated in SEO circles. The issue is that structured markup makes it easy for a search engine to scrape the content from your website and immediately serve it up on the results page.
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content strategy pigs

Clickbait: The Case Of The Swimming Pigs

My Facebook stream is littered with old pictures of swimming feral pigs, and there’s a good reason why.

Clickbait The post about the pigs (who live in the Bahamas) is the latest example of a clickbait post gone viral.

Clickbait: The Easy Way to Get Views

You only have to spend a few minutes on Facebook or any mid-market news website to see gobs of clickbait – those articles with sensational headlines and funny images optimized for generating maximum page views.


Clickbait articles are generally low quality content that is designed to be consumed quickly.

It is “fluff” content like top 10 lists, GIFs, and cute animal pictures. Clickbait is the type of content shared by that annoying girl from high school whose Facebook request you regret accepting. (You know, the same girl who is constantly trolling for Candy Crush lives.)
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Risdall Advertising Agency

Preserving, Protecting and Defending Your Company’s Security and Reputation Seminar

Few organizations relish disaster planning, but doing so is essential should a crisis occur.

Explore management’s three most critical issues: risk control, crisis control and reputation protection. Join three experts to explore critical management issues where they will provide key insights, ideas and wisdom you can use for protecting, preserving and promoting your company’s reputation before, during and after a crisis or disaster.

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SEO Tips

Were You Hit By A Google Algorithm Change? How To Tell.

Matt Cutts, the head of the webspam team at Google, recently posted a video on how to tell whether your website was hit by a Google algorithm change or if it is simply losing out to better content.

Cutts first drew the distinction between manual actions and algorithm-based rank penalties. Cutts noted that manual actions from Google’s web spam team are the easiest to identify because these will result in notifications in Webmaster Tools.

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mobile strategy

The Other View: SMS Marketing Statistics

For the past few years, text message marketing has been promoted as a highly effective way to reach your target audience.

Risdall even toted the virtues of text marketing during our recent mobile seminar:

Here are some common SMS marketing stats:

  • 98 percent of text messages are read and responded to within 90 seconds (compared to 2.5 days for email.)
  • Coupons received via SMS are more likely to be redeemed and shared than mail coupons.
  • Users are less likely to opt out of an SMS campaign than an email campaign.

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Risdall Advertising Agency

Web Development, User Interaction Expert Joins Interactive Team

Colin SteinmannUnderstanding how humans interact with technology is critical in building websites that are easy to use. With this extensive background in cognitive systems, Colin Steinmann expands the capabilities of Risdall’s interactive team.

Colin recently joined Risdall as a front-end developer, and specializes in WordPress theme development using HTML5, PHP, JavaScript and CSS3 technologies. He pairs this knowledge with experience in information architecture and interactive design to create intuitive websites.

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Risdall Advertising Agency

Risdall Wraps 2013 on a High Note

Risdall enjoyed its final and best quarter of 2013 with the addition of 22 new and expanded client relationships.

Many of the new client accounts include brand and strategy work to uncover marketplace differentiation, while leveraging the agency’s integrated services of digital marketing, advertising, website development and public relations. Read More

Risdall Marketing Agency

Lukaszewski Named Top 100 Thought Leader for Trusted, Ethical Crisis Counseling

Crisis communications counselor James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, was just named a Top 100 Thought Leader for his focus on constructive, ethical problem solving and managing the victim dimension of crises.

James E. Lukaszewski

Lukaszewski, a Twin Cities-based national crisis practice leader was named to the top 100 list for the second year in a row by Trust Across America – Trust Around the World.

The organization annually conducts a survey to determine the list of global influencers who positively contribute to building trust for organizations, business and government, and in society. Read More

Google Doodle

New Doodle 4 Google Contest Announced

Google announced a new Doodle 4 Google contest this morning.

The contest will allow one lucky student to win a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant for his or her school.

Google first introduced stylized versions of its logo in 1998. Google Doodles were used primarily for major holidays until 2010 when the birthdays of notable people and anniversaries were introduced.
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Leveraging Mobile Technology to Grow your Business Seminar

Mobile technology basics and strategies to generate leads and increase sales.

We live in a multi-screen world. Consumers transition routinely between computers, smartphones and tablets. Is your online presence ready to keep up? If your website isn’t mobile device friendly, you’re losing potential customers. Join our digital marketing team’s seminar to learn what you can do to improve and amp up your brand’s website presence.

Growth: Powered by Risdall Seminar Series

Date: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Location: 550 Main Str., New Brighton, 55112


8:00-8:30 – Registration

8:30-12:00 – Seminar, followed by a Q&A and panel discussion

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Matt Cutts: Guest Blogging is “Okay,”…well, sort of.

The head of Google’s Webspam team sent many digital marketers into a full panic last month with his Youtube video on guest blogging.

“There’s definitely a lot of abuse and growing spam in the guest blogging space,” Matt Cutts said. “Regardless of the spam technique people are using from month-to-month, we are always willing to respond and take appropriate action.”

Many digital marketers and SEO strategists interpreted this to mean that “Guest Blogging is Dead,” despite Matt Cutts clearly calling out some egregious spam methods such as mass guest blogging solicitations or spinning articles for syndication purposes.

Cutts fueled the hysteria with on his personal blog, which declared that guest blogging is no longer a relevant linkbuilding strategy: “So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.”

He later added an addendum to the blog post which clarified that he was only talking about guest blogging for SEO purposes.

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Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson

John Risdall on Duck Dynasty: “Follow the Money.”

Phil Robertson gif
News outlets across the country have been blanketed with coverage of the “Duck Dynasty” scandal during the last week.

The scandal started when Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson upset members of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) by making homophobic remarks in the January Issue of GQ.

Faced with mounting backlash from GLAAD and others, A&E suspended its TV star and issued a press release condemning Robertson’s statements.

Conservative commentators rushed to Robertson’s defense (with varying degrees of success) and reporters accused A&E of hypocrisy.
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Ted Risdall

Risdall Named 2014 Community Impact Award Finalist


Legacy of giving earns agency Long-term Achievement Award nod

Risdall has been around for almost 42 years, and giving to the community has been a mainstay of our company since day one. The entire agency was ecstatic to learn that Minnesota Business chose us as one of the top three finalists in its 2014 Community Impact Awards.

The awards recognize Minnesota companies and leaders that positively impact the community and have a superior history of giving back. Risdall was honored in the Long-term Achievement category for 10 or more years of giving to nonprofits and other worthy causes.
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Marketing Tips

Business Blogging 101: Benefits to Blogging and Tips to Growing a Following

Wait… your company doesn’t have a blog? Oh boy!


Simply put, if you don’t have a company blog you are missing out on a huge opportunity.

The Benefits of Business Blogging

A blog gives your company a platform to publish valuable content and gives people a reason to return to your site. Besides being a great referral source for your website, a company blog is also an excellent way to push out the fresh, timely content that is preferred by search engines.
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Instagram announces direct messaging service

This morning Instagram announced that it will allow its users to send private pictures and videos.

With Instagram Direct, users can send pictures and videos to up to 15 people at once. Previously, users could only post media to their main profiles.

“From how you capture photos and videos to the way you start conversations through likes and comments, we built Instagram Direct to feel natural to the Instagram experience you already know,” the company announced on its official blog. “After sending, you’ll be able to find out who’s seen your photo or video, see who’s liked it and watch your recipients commenting in real time as the conversation unfolds.”
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Anti-Patent Troll Law Lauded by Tech Giants

Google Sign
Google, Microsoft and many other large tech companies are applauding the passage of the Innovation Act, a new law designed to tackle patent trolls.

The Innovation Act passed the House of Representatives 325 to 91 last week.

The law will change the patent system to discourage the tactics used by so-called “patent trolls” – entities who enforce patent rights against accused infringers to collect licensing fees.

Patent trolls often do not produce any real products or services. Many patent trolls are entities that purchase low-quality patents solely for the purpose filing (typically frivolous) lawsuits.

Kent Walker, Google’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel, recently wrote a blog post urging lawmaker to pass the Innovation Act. Walker said that patent troll litigation stifles innovation and run-up unnecessary legal costs for many companies, big and small.

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Determine Your Value Proposition before Worrying About SEO

Early last year, Google’s Maile Ohye posted a fabulous video on five common SEO mistakes.

The first mistake that Maile mentions is working on search engine optimization before your website has a unique value proposition. This is one mistake that I see all the time, especially for startups.

Branding and Positioning

The first step in an effective SEO strategy is actually a marketing fundamental: proper branding and positioning.

A solid branding and positioning strategy is the hallmark of any successful marketing campaign.

Unless you are lucky enough to have a desirable, one-of-a-kind product, (like a cure for cancer) you probably have competitors. Differentiating your company from your competition is key to driving people to your website and selling your product or service.

Proper positioning is relevant to search engine optimization because users need a reason to click on your website rather than your competitors.

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Risdall Mobile Development

Eight Risdall Clients Earn Top Mobile WebAwards Honors

Risdall Mobile Development

Agency Named Outstanding Mobile Interactive Developer

Our clients have been feeling the award love lately.

In September, 37 Risdall clients were recognized as winners in the WebAward competition. Today, eight are 2013 Mobile WebAwards winners.


Hosted by the Web Marketing Association, the Mobile WebAwards recognize the best in mobile design and development.

Judges are experts in the field, and scrutinize each site against seven criteria: creativity, impact, design, content, interactivity, ease of use and use of the medium.

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