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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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Risdall Donuts

Lessons from the Donut Fryer

John Risdall, our founder and guiding light, often ends agency-wide Monday morning meetings with the admonition, “Let’s go make the donuts,” referring to the immortal line of Fred the Baker in the long-running, award-winning campaign created by Ally & Gargano for Dunkin’ Donuts in the 1980s.

Duly inspired, we Risdallians depart the conference room for our workspaces where “making the donuts” could mean solving anything in the widest imaginable array of problems for clients.

Donut Doughnut

On any given day, specialists within Risdall could be working on high-level stuff like strategies for marketing, branding, messaging and consumer engagement.

Others could be working on tactical initiatives related to those strategies, like designing graphical user interfaces and creating content for digital media, concepting ad campaigns, designing brochures and more.

Meanwhile, still other specialists – our developers on the digital side and production artists on the print side – busily perform the detailed artistic and technical work of making those ideas beautiful, usable and available for their intended audiences.

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Modern Farmer

Why Modern Farmer Wins at Social Media

As a loft-dwelling yuppie, my most meaningful agriculture experiences occur at the Lowertown Farmer’s Market.

Despite my lack of interest in farming, Modern Farmer is one of my favorite publications. The art direction is spot-on, their content is impeccable, and Modern Farmer’s social strategy is a case study in best practices.

Modern Farmer’s twitter feed actually made my day this morning.

It started with a tweet about an article on a miniature animal farm.

Modern Farmer

Animals + small scale = cute.

We get it.
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Google DDOS

Google Announces Censorship Summit and Security Services

This week Google is hosting a summit in New York called “Conflict in a Connected World.”

The summit is a partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Gen Next Foundation and has been characterized as a “think/do” tank to fix the problem of internet censorship.

“The summit brings together “hacktivists,” security experts, entrepreneurs, dissidents and others to explore the changing nature of conflict and how online tools and can both harm and protect,” Google Ideas Director Jared Cohen wrote on the official Google Blog.

“We’re also assessing what might be done to better protect people confronting online censorship,” Cohen added.

“Attacks against the users, the servers, and the infrastructure of the internet are increasing,” said Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the internet. “The reality is  that the next generation of internet users is going to experience more turbulence and we need to figure out how they can be protected.” Read More


Risdall Marks 20th Anniversary as a Digital Leader

Ted Risdall

This fall, Risdall celebrates 20 years in the digital space continuing its leadership as one of the first interactive agencies in Minnesota.

Ted Risdall, founder of the interactive division, envisioned Risdall’s possibilities as a digital agency and established the company as a frontrunner online.

He recognized early on that e-commerce had a profitable future for businesses, proving the web as an effective new vehicle for advertising.

Since launching the interactive division in 1993 with early work on and the Mosaic browser, Risdall has been a leader in developing new technologies and trends.

The Star Tribune recently ran a feature on Risdall’s lengthy experience in the digital space.

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Risdall Advertising Agency

Risdall Expands Its Digital Portfolio

Risdall added 17 new digitally focused clients in the 2013 third quarter across our interactive, brand management, public relations, and website development divisions.

“Winning two IABC Bronze Quill Awards and gaining Top Agency spot in the international WebAwards competition this quarter solidifies the continued success we bring to our clients,” said John Risdall, vice chairman and CEO of Risdall.

Here’s a sample of our new clients and the exciting work ahead:

Colorado Symphony

Colorado Symphony
Colorado Symphony is the Denver region’s only full-time professional orchestra.
Risdall’s work will include website design and development.
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Twitter IPO

What Investors Need to Know About Twitter’s IPO

According to Twitter’s S-1 document, the  IPO launch date is set for November 15th.

Revenue models, risks, and user base – Here is what potential investors need to know.

On September 12th, Twitter officially announced that it “confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO.”

According to PrivCo, the S-1 document stated that Twitter employees can start to sell their shares on the open market as soon as Feb. 15, 2014.
Twitter IPO
Newly released data shed light on the company’s planned IPO launch date, which is set for November 15th, and other crucial information.

A typical lock-up period of employee stock is 90 days, meaning that a company’s employees cannot sell their stock for the first three months following an IPO.

Thus, counting backwards from Feb. 15, would give an IPO launch date of around Nov. 15.

The S-1 filing exposed Twitter’s revenues, user base, and growth strategies for the future.

The biggest risk that Twitter faces is its long-term viability fueled by the possible loss of user retention. Since its launch, Twitter has seen incredible growth.

The social network has grown from 167 million active users in Sept. 2012 to 218 million at the time of its filing. However, analysts fear this growth will begin to slow and eventually plateau.

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PR Conference

When your CEO causes unnecessary drama

Recently, Barilla chairman Guido Barilla publicly stated that the company will not feature same-sex families in advertisements because the brand only targets “traditional” families, adding that gays were welcome to “eat another brand of pasta.”

The Start of the Barilla Controversy

In a statement translated by the Huffington Post, Guido said, “I don’t agree with homosexuals and don’t want to talk to that audience in our advertisements. I respect same-sex marriage, but don’t respect adoption in gay families because it concerns someone who is not able to decide.”

Shortly after his comments went to the press, Barilla tweeted an apology.
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Risdall takes home two Bronze Quills

Risdall walked away with two Bronze Quill awards at last night’s IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) Minnesota Red Carpet Celebration.

The awards program is designed to test and reward all aspects of the work of business communicators, focusing heavily on campaign results.

Risdall Public Relations

Award of Excellence: Healthways

Risdall Public Relations was recognized for marketing communication efforts for the Healthways program Fitness Your Way.
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