Good thinking sparks action.

What is Blue Flame Thinking? It’s a different take on solving today’s marketing challenges, ours. You’ll find it infused in the articles below—the type of kindling that will keep your intellectual fires burning brightly.


Other Voices: March 22nd, 2018

In an industry that is heavily influenced by newsworthy and timely events, there’s always a lot to catch up on at the end of the week. In BFT’s “Other Voices,” we share what we’ve found most interesting and useful...

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Other Voices: March 2, 2018

In an industry that is heavily influenced by newsworthy and timely events, there’s always a lot to catch up on at the end of the week. Introducing BFT’s “Other Voices,” a feature that shares what you need to know...

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Monday AM Quarterbacking: The LII-Edition

While the game’s outcome was in doubt up until the end, the advertising challenge was settled early—at least on Twitter, where Tide took the prize for using David Harbour (aka, Chief Hopper from Stranger Things) to turn every commercial...

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The Marquette Equation: Industry Knowledge + Digital Chops = Award-Winning Website

Marquette Associates needed its financial consulting website to work harder to reach key prospects within the institutional marketplace. Tapping our financial industry experience, Marquette called on our editorial and digital teams to upgrade the site’s content and provide design...

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3 Questions With Bill Barsanti

Recently, we welcomed Bill Barsanti to the BFT team as a Senior Account Director. Bill brings with him more than 30 years of advertising and marketing experience. It’s experience he gained working on both the agency and client sides...

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Riding the Wave: Pentair’s Streamlined Website Earns Industry Awards

As a respected leader in the pool product manufacturing industry, Pentair sets the standard for excellence and innovation. It’s a mindset that drives every aspect of the firm’s brand presence. That’s why when Pentair decided to replatform their website...

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The Power of Proper Punctuation

Admittedly, we have a passion for grammar, in general, and punctuation, in particular. A well-crafted phrase has as much power to inspire as a misused apostrophe does to get under our skin. It’s nice to know that we’re not...

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‘Tis the Season to Unsubscribe

If you have any brand affinity at all, you’ve probably subscribed to notifications from the brands you love. It’s just as likely that this show of affection has been rewarded in recent weeks with a growing barrage of seasonal...

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3 Questions with Tyler Wayner

From creating GIFs for our clients’ social posts to designing their websites, Tyler Wayner leaves his mark on a wide variety of projects for Blue Flame Thinking. After he was named Employee of the Month this past October, we...

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On the Road to Grandma’s House

You may know “Little Red Riding Hood” as a cautionary folk tale about placing too much trust in strangers. However, if you consider the story from a different angle, it offers marketers a useful framework for mapping customer journeys...

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Finding Their Better: Pentair Pools Takes Silver

Pentair took home the Silver at Chief Marketer’s PRO Awards for “Best Holiday or Seasonal-Themed Campaign.” Now, since awards are simply affirmations of outstanding results, we’d like to help Pentair show off those results. The award-winning campaign, which featured...

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Data Detective: Are You Afraid of the Dark (Data)?

A quick web search on the term “Dark Data” will give you chills. You’ll come across articles outlining its high cost and the security risk it poses, along with sensational statistics, like those quantifying 90 percent of all data...

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Springing Forward

We’re happy to introduce you to the latest additions to the BFT team. Elise Schmieder, Digital Designer To be honest, Elise has been here for some time, working as an intern while she attended Kendall College of Art &...

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4 Ways to Beta Your Way to Better

We believe considering our work as “done” is not as helpful to our clients as it is to think of it as a journey toward even better. We call it our beta way of thinking, and it’s what drives...

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Monday AM Quarterbacking

When it comes to football, the sign of a good Super Bowl is when the game is more exciting than the ads. Overtime win, comeback story…now that’s not just compelling content, it’s shareable! Fortunately, it didn’t distract us too...

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Game On!

Are you ready for some football—and advertising—this Sunday? We are. Our pregame prep has already started, as we’ve been watching the commercials and teasers released so far by some of this year’s advertisers. While we’ll reserve judgment until after...

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Data Detective: Digging for Analytical Treasure

You’ve created great content, crafted a compelling call to action (CTA) and built a special landing page. But, do you still lie awake at night wondering if your campaign is bulletproof? Will users find your most valuable content? Will...

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Other Voices December 16, 2016

With an industry that is heavily influenced by newsworthy and timely events, there’s always a lot to catch up on at the end of the week. Introducing BFT’s “Other Voices,” a feature that shares what you need to know...

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Other Voices December 9, 2016

With an industry that is heavily influenced by newsworthy and timely events, there’s always a lot to catch up on at the end of the week. Introducing BFT’s “Other Voices,” a feature that shares what you need to know...

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Other Voices: November 18, 2016

With an industry that is heavily influenced by newsworthy and timely events, there’s always a lot to catch up on at the end of the week. Introducing BFT’s “Other Voices,” a feature that shares what you need to know...

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Other Voices: November 11, 2016

With an industry that is heavily influenced by newsworthy and timely events, there’s always a lot to catch up on at the end of the week. Introducing BFT’s “Other Voices,” a feature that shares what you need to know...

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Other Voices: November 4, 2016

With an industry that is heavily influenced by newsworthy and timely events, there’s always a lot to catch up on at the end of the week. Introducing BFT’s “Other Voices,” a feature that shares what you need to know...

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Fanning Brand Affection: 5 Key Considerations in Virtual Merchandising

How do you translate offline brand affection into an online destination when retailing isn’t your main business? Focus on giving your website’s visitors reasons to spend time and money by capturing the virtual reflection of your physical community with...

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The Fresh Faces of Blue Flame Thinking

We’ve recently enhanced our client services roster with some fresh faces and even fresher thinking. Meet the newest members of Team Blue:   Addie Whelan, Social Media Coordinator Addie knows a thing or two about building a loyal following....

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The Smart Stranger: How an Outside Perspective Boosts Creativity

The truth is familiarity can lead to familiar solutions. Sometimes, you’re just too close to the subject to see beyond the obvious answers. That’s why including a fresh perspective can help lead to a more creative result. Cue the...

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Data Detective: Building the Big Picture with Analytics

Dream big? Start small. We’ve all been there: an annual or quarterly meeting, a state-of-the-organization address, a corporate debriefing. Leadership carefully reviews where the company has been and boldly plots the course for where it will go. Visions are...

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Know Your Audience: Why Personas Are More Important Than Ever

While programmatic media buys can help pinpoint where targeted audience members are likely to be when they are looking for the solution you are selling, you first need to be able to recognize these targets. That requires knowing what...

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Content Marketing: Where Marketing, Customers and Your Bottom Line Converge

I recently had the opportunity to attend the NewsCred #ThinkContent Summit 2016 in New York. This year’s theme, “Convergence: The New Marketing Imperative,” put content at the center of that convergence, supporting NewsCred’s assertion that it’s through content that...

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Mythbusting: 3 Mobile Misconceptions

Nobody likes to be labeled. Being painted with broad strokes rarely captures a true likeness and can lead to false impressions about mindsets, values and communication preferences. We see evidence of this when it comes to grouping target audiences...

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Beyond Words: How Businesses Use Visual Social Channels to Connect With Customers

For many businesses, having a social media strategy means posting to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. All are highly effective channels for communicating with current and prospective clients—both on a B2C and B2B basis. But with the use of Instagram...

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Clients Love What We Craft: Results

Blue Flame Thinking Crafts Ideas That Make Results Happen You’ve probably heard all of these industry trends that promise eye-popping results—predictive analytics, demand generation, marketing automation. Who doesn’t love results? It’s what we thrive on as marketers. But, making...

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Programmatic Solutions Continue to Generate Impressive Numbers

Are your campaigns beating their benchmarks by reaching higher click and conversion rates at a lower cost per acquisition? If not, perhaps you’d like to get more out of your investment. Our recent collaboration with a national retail client...

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The App That’s Making a Splash

Pentair and Blue Flame Thinking are proud to have our collaboration—the Pool IQTM app—recognized as a finalist in the world’s most coveted digital communications competition: The Webby Awards. This year, we’re up for a People’s Voice Award in the...

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Farewell, Right-Hand Side Google Ads

If you’ve spent some time browsing Google over the last few weeks, you may have noticed something’s different. The ads that previously appeared on the right side of the page are no longer present. No, this doesn’t mean advertisers...

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Data Detective: Find Your Answers in Analytics

Spying on People Recently, a post went around Facebook wherein your kids answered questions about you. I decided to do this with my daughter and when we got to, “What do I do for a job,” she answered, in...

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The First Question Every Marketer Needs to Answer

Let’s take a step back… Before you schedule your kick-off meeting, before you approve your creative brief, before you place your media buy, answer this question: What challenge are you trying to solve? If you don’t have a quick,...

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A Payback With a Payoff: How a Timely Rebate and Targeted Strategy Led to Rapid Growth

We all know that in the world of marketing, timing is everything. This is especially true when you are developing a digital media strategy—or when you want to showcase a special program. Brands can move the revenue needle with...

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5 Tips for Marketing to the Next Generation of Decision Makers

My friends and I have noticed a change in our offices over the past few years. More and more, we’re seeing members of our own generation rising into management positions. As a member of NextGen, and a marketer, I...

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2015 in Review

“Sometimes you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.” — Yvonne Woon In the spirit of reflection, we’ve curated the following articles that were the most popular in 2015. We hope this compilation...

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Flashpoints: Triggering Action

Going through the exercise of creating personas is not new. We all do it to gain insight into what motivates our target. But, it’s what is done afterwards that can make the real difference in how well we apply...

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Finding Their Better: Three More Clients Garner Awards

We are here to brag on behalf of our clients. After all, they deserve all the recognition they get. While each of them comes to us for assistance in solving a specific marketing challenge, they also interested in finding...

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Pentair Dives Into 3-D Experience

At the 2015 International Pool, Spa and Patio Expo (IPSPE), Pentair Pools wanted to make a big splash with their introduction of new products and innovations for the upcoming season. With the help of Blue Flame Thinking and DigitalMediaETC,...

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Business Blockbusters: Exploring the Possibilities of Video

What can video do for you? The statistics are very compelling: Websites with videos are 50 times more likely to be ranked on Google’s first page. Video keeps prospective customers on a site up to two minutes longer. Posting...

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Two Questions Every Product Launch Should Answer

It’s not often that you can introduce an entirely new product category to the marketplace. Unless what you’ve developed is truly a breakthrough, you’ll be entering a market with established competitors and existing expectations. The challenge is to stand...

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Putting the “Info” in Your Infographics

When you think of infographics, you probably think of them primarily as visual elements. But when you get right down to it, the real value of an infographic stems from the factual data and emotional insight it conveys. Yes,...

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Blogging for Debt Relief

For over 60 years, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC), the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization, has had a mandate: help provide debt relief and financial empowerment to whomever seeks it. What it’s found is...

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Will Student Debt Ignite the Next Financial Crisis?

Creating a better-educated workforce doesn’t come cheap. In fact, the amount of student debt currently outstanding is close to $1.2 trillion…and rising. An estimated 40 million Americans—many of whom are Millennials and their parents—make up the borrowers. It is...

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Flashpoints: The Influence of Emotional Drivers

As humans, we like to think of ourselves as logical, rational thinkers. Yet, we really are of two minds…literally…when it comes to decision-making. There is the conscious mind, the logical processor of rational thought that often perseveres only after...

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Pertinent Posts: Crafting Social That Hits the Mark

The B2B space has many examples of successful marketing campaigns that integrate social media into the mix. But, there are still many firms that are reluctant to post sales messages or product information via social media because of sensitivity...

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Mobilize Your Sales Team With a Custom App

Mobile apps are everywhere With the swipe of a finger on your incredibly smart phone or tablet, you can turn off your lights at home, order a pizza, transfer funds to your checking account and call for a ride...

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Build a Community and Strengthen Your Brand Loyalty

For social community managers, it is always important to find inventive ways to engage existing followers and entice new ones. Strengthening social community ties is crucial to creating passionate and loyal members. But, how do you find that right...

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Flashpoints: The Point of Impact for Marketers

It’s our goal as marketers: find the right message to spark the shift from inaction to action on the part of prospective customers. What it takes is more than a clever message or a brochure chock-full of features and...

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Blue Flame Thinking Account Team Finds Its Better x 6

Thanks to a busy and productive year with current and new clients, we’ve added some bright, fresh faces and brilliant strategic minds to our account management team. Allow us to introduce them to you: Melissa Nelson, Group Account Director...

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Collaboration Is Key to Differentiation and Success

Successful launches of new products hinge on the combination of insightful strategy, innovative creative and intuitive digital experiences, particularly in an already-saturated market. Throw into this mix social media acumen and smart, targeted delivery, and you have a recipe...

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Making New Connections

The National Foundation of Credit Counseling® (NFCC) has a simple proposition for people with debt: Get relief now. “It’s a proposition our member agencies deliver on daily, through some 600 offices, nationally. They get real results, really fast, for...

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Success Story: 4 Basics for Improving Efficiency in Paid Search

While paid search may be one of the most efficient paid media tactics for capturing purchase intent, tracking results in the most illuminating way can be difficult. Reliable insights that might drive future decisions can be elusive. So, how...

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5 Considerations for Choosing a Programmatic Partner

In our previous article on this topic, we explored how financial marketers might find intriguing possibilities for the use of programmatic media. In this article, we’d like to point out several issues you should consider if you’re thinking about a...

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Is Your Website Keeping Up With Evolving Google Search Algorithms?

Google constantly evaluates online behavior data to update its search algorithms and deliver quality information and excellent user experiences. How does your website stack up against some of these recent updates? Panda: Panda ferrets out sites with thin, spammy...

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Byline Bank Leverages Social Media to Keep Connected With Customers

With its new brand identity, Byline Bank is ready to author the next chapter in its 100-year-long connection to the Chicago neighborhoods it calls home. The bank sees social media playing a critical role in introducing and promoting its...

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Choosing Between Heart and Mind

12 Ways to Find the Right Balance Between Emotion and Intellect in Your Marketing Messages Winston Churchill once observed, “If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have...

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Blue Flame Thinking Clients Bring Home the Gold

The solutions and results we create for clients are highly unique, but the acclaim they receive is strikingly similar. Just ask the two Blue Flame Thinking clients who were recently honored at the West Michigan Addy Awards. TIC Gums...

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Lincoln Financial Goes Social to Win Customers

When Lincoln Financial wanted to pull new customers through its sales channel, they leveraged the high engagement potential of social media to cultivate richer dialog and build closer relationships among wholesalers, advisors and individual investors. Blue Flame Thinking worked...

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Identify Your Target’s Flashpoint to Get Your Message Heard

Being able to pinpoint and understand the mindset of decision makers, what really leads to that critical moment when your target is ready to commit, can make or break a campaign. This insight enables you to channel your efforts—creative,...

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Can Programmatic Media Help You Click With Investors?

Now that programmatic digital advertising has arrived on the scene, it’s garnering more attention and attracting more media dollars. When you have mainstream financial services companies like American Express contemplating the shift of their entire online ad budget to...

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Using Analytics, Data and SEO to Maximize Your Returns

Are you getting the most out of your marketing data? Do you wonder if your digital efforts measure up to companies, like Amazon, who have limitless data to mine? Without a doubt, data mined from your digital assets is...

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Buying Under the Influence

Why Word of Mouth From These Four Groups Is Too Important for Manufacturers to Ignore In the early 2000s, Malcolm Gladwell famously predicted we were entering “the age of word of mouth.”1 More than a decade later, it is...

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It Takes More “Pull” to Drive Your Channel Today

Five Essential Steps to Attract End Customers to Your Brand Selling directly to the consumer or business end market isn’t for everyone. Product manufacturers of all sizes have long embraced the use of channel partners to expand their reach,...

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Financial Marketing Is Changing Rapidly.

Our New E-Book Helps You Ride the Crest of the Wave! Download your copy now A new generation of financial clients awaits—connected, independent and empowered—and with vastly different expectations than those who came before them. Meanwhile, the enormous potential...

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Holiday Service and Cheers

This past December, our Chicago and Grand Rapids offices took time to volunteer and give back to the local community. This year, our team members spent time packing, painting, decorating and contributing to support local charities and individuals. In...

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‘Tis the Season for Sharing Inspiration

What Made Life Burn Brighter for You in 2014? Author and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “A mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimension.” It’s a belief we at Blue Flame Thinking take...

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Mobile Use Patterns Across Generations

Four Ways Age Can Matter in Your Mobile Strategy This article is part three in a special three-part series on why you must build your mobile marketing platform now. Millennials continue to lead the surge in mobile adoption, as...

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We’re All Technology Companies Now

Financial Marketing 3.0 is upon us. It’s not a matter of if disintermediation is coming to the financial services industry, but what our response to it should be. In this series, we explore how the needs and attitudes of...

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Responsive Web Design: Today’s Best Route to Mobile Optimization

Three Keys to Ensure You Get RWD Right This article is part two in a special three-part series on why you must build your mobile marketing platform now. Online retailing has hit the “mobile tipping point” Internet Retailer reported in...

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Blue Flame Thinking Award Hot Streak Continues

Blue Flame Thinking continues to make its mark in 2014 marketing award competitions, adding top Davey, W3, WebAward, and Tower awards to earlier Gold and Silver FCS Portfolio Awards. CEO Steve Schmieder says the award-winning performance reflects the agency’s...

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Go Mobile or Go Home!

Eight Keys to a Successful Mobile Launch This article is part one in a special three-part series on why you must build your mobile marketing platform now. Are you missing the chance to capture today’s mobile-empowered customers? Are competitors...

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New Media Channels Add Power to Chemical Communications

Chemical industry marketers have much to gain from the enhanced audience knowledge and message targeting that can be unleashed through digital and social media. If you do the basic upfront homework to frame your audience properly, you can use...

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Is the Millennial Mindset Spreading?

Financial Marketing 3.0 is upon us. It’s not a matter of if disintermediation is coming to the financial services industry, but what our response to it should be. In this series, we explore how the needs and attitudes of...

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Your Marketing Must Address Four Stages of Decision-Making

Match Energy Marketing to Needs Across the Buying Journey This is the final article in a special three-part series on marketing to today’s energy industry. Expectations for marketing in today’s energy industry have been raised. It’s no longer enough...

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Social Media for Firms of All Shapes and Sizes

What does social media mean to your business? Do you see it as a powerful component of your overall marketing strategy? Does it strike fear in the minds of your PR and HR departments at the possibility of an...

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Launching Disruptive Technology in Today’s Energy Market: Seven Ways to Build Demand for Solutions They Have Yet to Imagine

This article is part two in a special three-part series on marketing to today’s energy industry. Not 10 years ago, many in the energy industry believed North American production of hydrocarbons had peaked. Yet in 2013, the U.S. produced...

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Are You a 3.0 Marketer?

Welcome to the brave new world of Financial Marketing 3.0. It’s a world in which the products and services we represent are increasingly being challenged by the financial apps users download and the social communities they choose to join....

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Millennials Are Taking Control in Oil and Gas: Three Ways Your Marketing Should Change to Win Them Over

This article is part one in a special three-part series on marketing to today’s energy industry. The energy industry is being transformed from within by the “Great Crew Change”—the influx of a new generation of entrepreneurs, investors, engineers and...

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Make Your Website Feel Like Home

The Best Websites Are Built Like Homes, Designed Around Brand A marketing colleague of mine stopped by to see our new office in Chicago. After I gave him the grand tour of our open, collaborative and creative space, he...

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Unicorns on the Moon

Please Read the Prospectus Carefully Everyone’s talking about behavioral finance these days. As marketers, we know how important it is to pay attention to these biases when rolling out a new product or initiative. The same is true when...

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The Threat to Net Neutrality: How Worried Should CMOs Be?

As data-heavy content like streaming videos and other rich media becomes more prevalent, Internet service providers (ISPs) are looking for ways to offset the higher cost of the bandwidth necessary to deliver that content to consumer and business audiences....

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The FUNdamentals of Incorporating Play Into Work

Everyone knows the adage about Jack having no time to play and, thus, becoming less than sharp-witted. Yet, have you ever thought about how this saying might apply to your organization? “Work” and “play” are not mutually exclusive. In...

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Blue Flame Thinking Honored for Helping Clients Find Their Better

Call it a case of Better2. First Blue Flame Thinking delivered impressive business results for two national clients, then its efforts were further rewarded with Gold and Silver Awards from the financial services industry’s prestigious FCS Portfolio Awards. The...

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Don’t Let Big Data Inertia Hold You Back: Five Key Thoughts to Help You Get Started Now

Is “big data” the 800-pound gorilla that keeps you awake at night? Confronting how to apply all of the customer information your company is currently compiling—and imagining all of the data you could be leveraging—can be paralyzing. But, experts...

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Future Tense: Bridging the Gap Between "Now" and "When"

With public concern over retirement readiness extending beyond the Baby Boomers to include Gen Xers and even Millennials, the majority of the American workforce seems to find itself on the wrong side of the finger-pointing. So far, the primary...

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Look Who’s Talking, and Where

Take Advantage of New Channels to Capture the Voice of Your Target Customer Today’s customers are empowered as never before. But, the channels that fuel customer independence can also provide unprecedented access to the voice of the customer—or VoC—enabling...

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Nurturing Insight: Switching on the Next Great Idea

How often have you wished for that unexpected moment of insight when a jumble of information suddenly coalesces into a solution for an impossible problem? In fact, this is a skill that can be cultivated to help us better...

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Make It Understandable, Not Simple

How often do you hear the complaint, “It’s too simple; make the message more complex”? Close to never, right? We want our headlines concise and our content short. We can point toward our time-challenged lives or claim that our...

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Shh! Do Not Disturb—Disruptive Thinking Going On

More and more, the marketing world is discussing the concept of disruptive thinking and how to apply it in their organizations. This requires a revolution. Luke Williams, well-renowned innovation strategy guru, comments on his website,, “In a business...

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Light a Creative Fuse

Getting to better. Welcome to the first installment of getting to better from your friends at Blue Flame Thinking. In our never-ending pursuit to help our clients challenge their brand, their industry and themselves, we look forward to sharing ideas...

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Millennials and Money: Redefining Wealth

Money With Meaning Despite their reputation, Millennials do not appear to be maturing with the same attitudes they expressed when they were still teenagers living off their parents’ dime. When it comes to their own money, the focus is...

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The Ultimate Defense Mechanism: Financial Advisors

Beyond Behavioral Finance Much has been written about investors panicking in times of market volatility. In fact, behavioral finance experts pinpoint our instinctive biases as the primary cause in emotion-driven trading—the main culprits being our aversion to realizing losses...

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Why Seeing Leads to Believing

Beyond Behavioral Finance  Social science studies confirm what many advisors witness firsthand when they attempt to hold number-based discussions with clients. Eyes glaze over and motivation for financial planning and decision-making visibly withers. Often, behavioral biases kick in as...

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How We Really Choose

Beyond Behavioral Finance  Behavioral finance has helped identify the key cognitive shortcuts we tend to take when making decisions while armed with limited information and faced with time pressure, such as in times of volatile market conditions. The rapidity...

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