The Master Marketer BLOG

FDA Does NOT Test Genetically Engineered GE Foods

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 @ 06:03 PM

No GE Testing? Why Not?!!!

While having a conversation with a neighbor the subject turned to gardens, scrumptious food and then Genetically Engineered (GE) foods. I mentioned that the FDA has never performed tests to make sure these products are safe and my neighbor’s reaction was disbelief. She’s a smart lady and could not fathom the government agency responsible for ensuring America’s food safety had never tested to make sure GE foods are safe to eat.

I don’t have statistical data but it’s a good bet that, like my neighbor, most Americans assume testing has been done to make sure Genetically Engineered (GE) foods are safe. Isn’t that why the FDA exists?

Genetically Engineered (GE) Food Makers Don’t Test

The companies that make GE food products do not test them for safety. As I stated in my last Blog GE food manufacturers don’t think it is their job to test. The example I gave was Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications saying it is the FDA’s job to “vouchsafe” food. The trouble is, the FDA says it’s the job of the GE food manufacturer to make sure their food is safe.

Note: According to Food and Water Watch 2013 in the US 95% of GE corn, 89% of GE cotton and 93% of GE soy crops came from Monsanto.

GE Foods not tested by FDA

In October 1999 James H. Maryanski, Ph.D, Biotechnology Coordinator for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), testified before Congress. You can read the transcript of his entire testimony here. His specific quote about this subject is: "It is important to note that the Act (adulteration provisions of section 402(a)(1)) places a legal duty on developers to ensure that the foods they market to consumers are safe and comply with all legal requirements." Here is the place on the page where the text resides.

FDA Does not test Genetically Engineered GE foods

Phil Angell of Monsanto and Dr. Maryanski of the FDA are accomplished people with highly responsible positions. Many would find it extraordinary to think that the FDA and GE manufacturers are not on the same page on this critical point. My word for it is unacceptable.

Flawed Logic and Genetically Engineered Foods

In his testimony before Congress Dr. Maryanski states that the FDA is in control of GE foods. Yet his statement before congress makes it clear that FDA policies are rife with assumptions and flawed logic.

Logical flaw #1: Crossing New Biological Boundaries

Dr. Maryanski puts forth the notion that traditional crossbreeding methods like grafting and hybridization are pretty much the same as genetic engineering via gene splicing. He soothingly notes that nectarines are “genetically altered” peaches and tangelos are a hybrid of tangerine and grapefruit.

The simple truth is crossbreeding and genetic engineering are radically different. In his own testimony Dr. Maryanski notes two major differences:

1) The new technology allows for greater precision and predictability about the qualities of the new variety.

2) It gives us the power to cross biological boundaries that could not be crossed by traditional breeding. For example, they enable the transfer of traits from bacteria or animals into plants.

He dropped this bomb without a hint of hesitation. He’s like the Courtier who brings out the Emperor who has no clothes and then describes garments in lavish detail. The fact is radically new food technologies are on the market with no direct testing for safety.

Logical flaw #2: Safety Standards

Here is a direct quote from Dr. Maryanski: “Because FDA determined that bioengineered foods should be regulated like their conventional counterparts, FDA has not to date established any regulations specific to bioengineered food.”

Why would a revolutionary breakthrough such as Genetically Engineered (GE) food use the same safety standards as traditional foods? These foods are sold to farmers as new and different. They were created to perform differently in the field. Why is there an assumption that these products will perform no differently in our gut?

The question is: do these new foods pose new risks that the safety standards of traditional foods are not designed to cover? My admittedly rhetorical question is: how can they not?

Logical flaw #3: The assumption of safety

Dr. Maryanski and the FDA assume Genetically Engineered (GE) foods are safe. The legal provision is “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS). Their so-called logic is that whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains have never been subject to premarket approval because they have been used as food for a long time.

Here is a quote from Dr. Maryanski:

“The substances intentionally added to food via biotechnology to date have been well-characterized proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and are functionally very similar to other proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that are commonly and safely consumed in the diet and so will be presumptively generally recognized as safe.”

Let’s dig a little deeper into the statement “functionally very similar.” How does Dr. Maryanski know that GE proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are similar? He cites no testing to support this claim. If there is no testing he can't know this which means he's making it up.

This presumption is at the core of the FDA’s flawed logic.

The function of GE proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are either the same as in non-GE foods or they are not. If they are not the same we need to know by how much. This is why testing is imperative.

Stay tuned: the supposedly subtle differences in the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are having a big effect when they are actually tested in a laboratory.

Direct Testing of GE Foods

Little or no testing on GE foods has been done in the USA because American government agencies like the FDA are dominated by big business. Evidence to support this statement comes from Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception.

Mr. Smith notes that the FDA's own experts agreed that GE foods are different and might lead to hard-to-detect allergens, toxins or nutritional problems. They urged their FDA superiors to undertake long-term safety studies. These requests were ignored. Conveniently, the person in charge of FDA policy at the time was Monsanto's former attorney who later became their vice president.

Outside of the US several meaningful studies conducted by major universities have been performed. Each indicates GE foods are NOT safe. Here is a review of just four of those studies:

2013
Hussein Kaoud, a scientist at Cairo University’s Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene tested genetically modified food on mice and rats. His results were alarming and corroborate the conclusions of other international, independent scientists. In Kauod’s test only 10 percent of the animals’ diets was from GE sources, the remaining 90 percent was conventional, non-genetically modified food.

Kaoud, fed nine groups of rodents different genetically modified foods such as potatoes, corn, grapes and tomatoes. He recorded shrinkage of kidneys, change in the liver and spleen, appearance of malignant parts in the tissues, kidney failure and hemorrhages in the intestine. Immune response was lower and brain functions were compromised with rats’ learning and memory abilities seriously altered.

Kaoud noted a 35 percent increase in the death rate of baby rats when the mothers ate GE corn when compared with babies whose mothers ate natural corn.

2012
Tests performed by Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini a molecular biologist at the University of Caen came to the conclusion that GE foods were not safe because they were carcinogenic and compromised liver and kidney function. (see my pervious Blog)

2005
Irina Ermakova, a leading scientist of Neurophysiology at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), performed a study of GE soy flour added to the diet of female rats. Other females were fed non-GE soy or no soy at all. This diet started two weeks before the rats conceived and continued through pregnancy and nursing.

Ermakova noted that pups from GE-fed mothers were substantially smaller. After 2 weeks, 36% of them weighed less than 20 grams compared to 6% from the non-GE group.

Then the GE rats started dying. Within three weeks 55.6% (25 of the 45) rats from the GE group died compared to only 9% (3 of 33) from the non-GE soy group and 6.8% (3 of 44) from the non-soy controls.

1998
Arpad Pusztai of the Rowett Research Institute in Scotland is widely considered one of the world’s leading biochemists. Since the US wanted to export a Bt genetically modified potato to the UK Arpad took charge of a team of scientists to determine the effect of the potato on lab rats. Note: Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt) is a bacterium, commonly used as a biological pesticide.

Pusztai created three groups of rats: Group one was fed potatoes with a genetic modification to produce its own Bt pesticide internally , group two was fed natural potatoes and group three was fed natural potatoes with the Bt insecticide sprinkled on top.

His results were stark.

Pusztai discovered that the rats fed the genetically modified potato showed pre-cancerous cell growth in the digestive tract, they had smaller brain, liver and testicles, with partial atrophy of the liver and a damaged immune system. His findings showed that genetic engineering caused the damage to the rats NOT the insecticide that was sprinkled on the non-GE potato.

Pusztai announced the results of his experiment on British Television in 1998. The following day he was fired and his research team dismantled. 

Conclusion: Our Food System Is Not Safe

People from all over the world are coming to the conclusion that GE / GMO foods are unsafe to eat and an unreliable farming tool (see my prior Blog about weed resistance). Listen to this interview with Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and you’ll find out why scores of cotton farmers from India are committing suicide over GE crop failures. You’ll also hear why Zambia said no to GE food aid when scores of its people were starving.

Here are a few follow-up articles that show how world opinion of GMOs is waning.

2014
Chinese Army Bans GE’s /GMO’s   
The Chinese army ordered all supply stations to purchase only non-GMO grain and food oil due to health safety concerns over GMOs.

2012
European Union Regulates GEs (GMOs)
The European Union (EU) may have the most stringent GE / GMO regulations in the world. All GMOs, along with irradiated food, are considered "new food" and are subject to extensive, case-by-case, science-based food evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

2002 - 2014
India Farmers Commit Suicide:  Up to 250,000 farmers commit suicide because GE cotton crops failed after using Monsanto’s BT cotton.

2002
Zambia rejects GEs
Zambia, which was suffering from a severe food shortage, said, "No thanks," to U.S. shipments of genetically modified foods sent to alleviate the crisis, citing the great unknowns of GM food and saying that Zambians should not be test cases.

Unnatural Selection

Genetically Engineered foods traverse barriers that would never be crossed in nature. This is one of the worst foundations for a food source. Why? Because basing any food technology on processes that work outside and against natural systems will not work for long because the biology in our gut is based on those systems.

Natural systems have have developed over millions of years. They have been honed with uncounted Darwinistic testing trials. What we have in the natural world are the success stories from all that testing. It is pure arrogance to think we can bulldoze our past all that natural R&D, DNA is much more complicated than we know.

It's About Profits

GE products only work for a tiny percentage of people, for a relatively short period of time. These are the people who make billions at the expense of those who fall sick, whose lives are ravaged when their farm operations knuckle under, and to people everywhere because the power of food security cannot be trusted to a few elite corporate leaders.

GMO Industry Business Plan WEB


What can you do to stay away from GEs / GMOs?

Download the Non-GMO shopping guide here.

Or, you can go to the App Store and download the non-GMO iPhone App.

This Blog is a public service offering from DeepSky Marketing. If you have a wholesome, sustainable or life enhancing product or service you'd like to go to market with give us a call at 707 823-3888 or email Jeffrey@DeepSkyMarketing.com

Tags: GMO, GMOs, GE, Genetically Modified Organisms, Genetic Engineersing

Six Reasons GMOs Are A Nightmare

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Wed, May 28, 2014 @ 02:08 PM

I was talking with a colleague the other day and the subject turned to GMOs.

We had a spirited debate on the benefits and hazards of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food production. My colleague’s position was that GMOs are an advanced and beneficial farming tool, mainly because this technology helps farmers eliminate weeds. My associate also maintained that GMOs cut down on the use of pesticides and herbicides when farming.

This is simply not true.

GMOs only cut down on herbicide use in the short run, over time they increase the overall use of toxic chemicals. Read on to find out why. In addition, I’ve listed five more reasons why GMOs are a nightmare (no, that is not too strong a word)!

Six Reasons Why GMOs are a Nightmare:

1) Increased pesticide / herbicide use

2) Compromised health of soil and environment

3) The economics don’t add up — except for GMO makers

4) GMOs put human health at risk

5) The parallel between Big-Pharma and the GMO industry

6) Monopoly ownership of food seeds — our shared heritage

1) Increased pesticide / herbicide use

Genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-resistant and insect-resistant crops have been extremely successful as commercial products in the United States. These products have been touted as reducing overall pesticide / herbicide use.

But this does not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

Environmental Sciences Europe reports that as a result of using GE crops pesticide use increased in the U.S by an estimated 183 million kgs (404 million pounds), or about 7% from 1996 to 2011,

Glyphosate (Roundup) resistant “super weeds”

Monsanto’s Roundup Ready technology dominates the GMO marketplace. Roundup Ready (RR) crops are engineered to resist glyphosate, the herbicide in Roundup.  The protocol is to spray generous amounts of Roundup on RR crops to kill weeds leaving the RR crop to survive. RR crops include: corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, sugarbeets, and alfalfa. (Note: Roundup is also a registered pesticide).

The problem is that weeds quickly become resistant to Roundup — just like many bacteria strains have become resistant to antibiotics in hospitals.

How quickly can this happen?

A Farmer Testifies to Congress about his GMO Experience

Indiana farmer Troy Roush testified before Congress in 2010 regarding use of RR herbicides on his farm. His testimony shows that it took only five years (2000 – 2005) for his field to become infected by glyphosate resistant “super weeds.” Here is a brief synopsis of his testimony

• 2000 – Initially relied exclusively on RR technology for weed management.

• 2005 – Began to encounter problems with glyphosate resistance in marestail and lambsquarter weeds in soybean and corn crops.

• Contacted a Monsanto weed scientist to discuss the problematic weeds.

• Despite well-documented proof that glyphosate tolerant weeds were becoming a significant problem, the Monsanto scientist denied that glyphosate resistance even existed and recommended increasing Roundup application rates.

• The increase in application rates proved ineffectual.

• Mr. Roush was forced to turn to alternative methods for weed management including the use of tillage and other chemistry products.

• The diminishing effectiveness of glyphosate, as demonstrated in the dramatic increase in glyphosate tolerant weeds, “destroyed any benefit from the technology.”

GMO Corn Nightmare

2) Compromised health of our soil and the environment

Dr. Elaine Ingam is a professor at Oregon State University and the founder of an organization called Soil Foodweb Inc. She is perhaps the world’s foremost soil biologist and studies the complex relationships of biological systems in and around our soil. Here are a few highlights of her findings:

Soil is alive

Soil biology is complex. Pesticide / herbicide use destroys healthy soil. Beneficial microbiology can help bring soil back to health after it has been poisoned with toxic chemicals.

The chemical spiral

When pesticides and herbicides have been sprayed on soil its microbiology is damaged. Damaged soil is far more prone to weeds than healthy soil. Once soil is compromised it takes an ever-increasing amount of chemicals to fight weeds. This is the spiral. This is not healthy for the soil, the environment or for humans but it is a very good profit model for chemical companies.

A Lesson from the use of Antibiotics

No Doctor would EVER recommend a life-long prescription of antibiotics for a patient— it would wreck the gut biology of the recipient. But this is exactly what we do with soil.

In health care, even when antibiotics are used far less regularly, bacteria and other living organisms find ways to adapt and fight back. When soil is treated with pesticides and herbicides on a regular basis resistance cycles shorten. This speeds up the onset of super weeds.

Organically grown food is more nutritious

Food that is nutritionally dense does not come from conventionally grown crops that are sprayed regularly with pesticides and herbicides! Why? It’s because these toxins kill beneficial microorganisms that support nutrient uptake into plants.

3) The economics don’t add up — except for GMO makers

Farming used to be about being in relationship with the land, and sharing that connection with people who buy what the farmer grows. Increasingly farming is about the buying and applying an ever-increasing cavalcade of chemicals (see “chemical spiral’ above).

The expansion of GMO technology puts the farmer at a disadvantage by design.

Disadvantage #1

The chemical spiral is a real phenomenon that pours money into the coffers of the GMO and chemical companies and out of the bank accounts of farmers. The use of GMOs only makes the situation worse for farmers and better for GMO makers.

Disadvantage #2

When the super weeds start popping up not only does Monsanto deny that these pernicious plants exist, their chemical advisors tell farmers to buy and spray more Roundup, which makes the resistance of the weeds even worse. When this happens more drastic (and expensive) measures are required.

Disadvantage #3

When a farmer buys into GMO technology he or she may be in for a rude awakening one day. Why? Terminator genes are a very real technology that can be switched on at any time. Terminator genes cannot seed past their grow cycle so farmers won’t be able generate their own seed like they have done for 10,000 years — they’ll need to buy it from the GMO company.

Disadvantage #4

Once farmers have started down the GMO / Chemical trail their soil becomes so compromised it will take time and money to bring it back to health. This transition can be costly.

GMO / chemical farming is not about creating healthy food from healthy soil; it’s about creating a superior profit model. Monsanto is the leader of this movement. They are enormously profitable — but at what cost to the rest of us?

4) GMOs put human health at risk

Many will be surprised to learn that up until the study led by Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini a molecular biologist at the University of Caen in 2012, no other study examined the long-term effects of humans consuming GMO products. I’ve pulled some of the findings of that study:

•   Premature deaths – up to 70% in female rats, 50% in male rats.

•   200% to 300% increase in large tumors after the rats drank trace amounts of Roundup at levels legally allowed in our water supply (see photos below).

•   Liver damage and kidney damage – severe organ damage was found in rats that were fed GMO corn with traces of Roundup.

Rats with GMO tumors

The GMO corn fed to the rats was Monsanto variety NK603. This is the same corn that's grown in America and fed to animals and humans. This is the corn that's in corn-based breakfast cereals, corn tortillas and snack chips.

No studies were performed on the long-term effect of consuming GMO products prior to their being OK’d for use by animals and humans. The following quote from Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications explains why. From "Playing God in the Garden" New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998.

"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job"  

5) The parallel between Big-Pharma and the GMO industry

In 2012 total food sales in the US was $1.3 Trillion Dollars. What would corporate executives do to capture and hold a share of that market? I think the closest parallel comes from the Pharmaceutical Industry.

In 2012 big pharma’s GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $3 billion in fines and plead guilty to numerous criminal charges.

•  Bribery of Doctors

•  Lying to the FDA

•  Fabricating test results on its drugs

•  Defrauding Medicade and Medicare out of billions

Unfortunately this seems like a good business move. Glaxo’s revenues in this case were $27.9 billion. The fine of $3 billion ended up being an expensive speeding ticket because nobody went to jail or was even on trial.

The most authoritative voice for this point of view comes from Marcia Angell, M.D. She served as editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

When she retired from the Journal she wrote an article for the New York Review of Books, here is an excerpt:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authorities."

Doctor Angell’s book The Truth About the Drug Companies describes in detail the practices she witnessed over her 20 year tenure as editor of the Journal. Here are a few excerpts:

“She saw them gain nearly limitless influence over medical research, education, and how doctors do their jobs.”

“Claims that high drug prices are necessary to fund research and development are unfounded because drug companies routinely rely on publicly funded institutions for their basic research.”

“Drug companies rig clinical trials to make their products look better than they actually are.”

Here is a quote from a talk that was captured and is available via YouTube.

“Nearly every large drug company has recently paid huge fines to settle charges of illegal activities.”

If nearly every large drug maker is doing “the business calculation” to pay relatively cheap fines for extremely profitable business practices I cannot believe that with $1.3 Trillion on the line the Ag chem and GMO companies are behaving differently.

After all, it’s good business.

6) Monopoly ownership of food seeds — our shared heritage

Democracy is based on distributing power so that no person or entity can wield undue influence over another person or the populace in general.

Private ownership of living organisms that happen to be crucial foodstuffs, and have been our shared heritage for ten millennia, is a power distribution issue we will need to come to terms with. Creating monopolies in our food supply is a fantastic profit model for a business, but it is not sustainable for a society that wants to adhere to democratic principles — especially when the food products in question do not benefit farmers and are unsafe to eat.

History has shown that our way of life is vulnerable to predatory business practices and monopolistic behavior among powerful business interests. Numerous emerging technologies (oil and energy, trains and transportation, telephones and communication to name a few) have gone through these periods of predation and monopoly. For our democracy to survive and thrive it is vital that we reign in these powerful players as soon as possible.

Conclusion

There is a huge disinformation campaign going on to support the contention that GMOs are not only harmless but beneficial. As we discussed in section 5 this is true to form for companies that have one thing on their mind — profit.

The heavily funded GMO lobby helped enact a law that says GMOs are not materially different than traditionally grown or organic crops so they should not need to be labeled or otherwise contested.  

But this makes no sense.

First, GMOs have been altered so they perform differently, they are marketed to farmers to fix a problem with weeds based on that difference (which is successful for only a short time).

Second, GMO makers have done no testing to make sure their products are safe to eat. Neither has the FDA, which has many former chemical company and GMO executives in positions of power.

The GMO companies want it both ways — they want to be different when it suits them and then be the same when it comes time for regulation. Unfortunately this strategy has been successful because these compnies have massive amounts of money to put toward marketing and lobbying.

The bottom line is that there is ample evidence that GMOs are not beneficial for farmers, are harmful when eaten and only beneficial (profitable) to GMO companies. Their mission is not about healthy food, or even cheap or plentiful food (as they have suggested). It is about profits, pure and simple.

The fact that they are so successful is a nightmare.

The DeepSky Marketing team values true sustainability. At this point in time GMOs have proven they are a quick fix at best and not at all sustainable. If you have a business focused on sustainability, and you want an integrated marketing plan to match your values, give DeepSky a call for a free consultation.

Tags: GMO, GMOs, GE, Genetically Modified Organisms, Genetic Engineersing

Hot Strategies For Effective Facebook Promoted Posts

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Tue, Jul 16, 2013 @ 08:48 PM

So, in our last blog article, we talked a bit about Facebook marketing and specifically promoted posts, along with some of their pros and cons. If you missed it, just to summarize: Facebook paid posts tend to stay on people's screens 5x as long as other advertisements, but have not yet proven themselves to be as effective as other online “push” advertising methods, especially for their somewhat higher average price.

Much of this, we believe, is simply because this is a very new tool in online marketers' box of tricks. It's going to take some time for people to learn how to make effective use of promoted posts, and to find ways to leverage how long they stay onscreen.

We won't take time covering “how to promote a post” because Facebook makes it simple. Whether you're a private user or a business, virtually anything you post to your Wall has a link attached to it that says “promote.” From there, you're about three clicks and a credit card number away from promoting the post. It couldn't be easier.

Making effective use of this feature, however, is another matter.

Making The Most Of Promoted Posts In Your Facebook Marketing 

So, why promote posts?

The first reason is actually so that you get seen by your own fans. According to Facebook, only about 16% of fans will actually see any given post you make. Updates come so quickly on Facebook that unless someone logs in within an hour or two of your post, chances are, it will fall off the end of their news feed and not be seen.

So one of the most effective uses of these posts in Facebook marketing is simply to target your own fans, and increase the window of opportunity for them to see your posts. If you're new to Facebook promoting, our recommendation would be to begin here: Posts that are obviously aimed at people who are already fans of your brand.

Gaining New Eyes

Of course, promoted posts can also go out to people who've never heard of you, and here is where it gets tricky. Outright advertisements are virtually certain to cause people to block you. A lot of users are getting upset by the number of ads in Facebook, so using paid posts can be tricky.

The first and most important rule is: Do not pitch. The more fun, interesting, and non-sales-like your promoted post is, the better the chances of it being accepted by the viewer. In fact, the Social Media Examiner did a quick test and found that a “fun” post received more than twice as many clicks as a more traditional “advertising” post, and at a lower cost.

So, if you're looking for new fans, don't be pushy in your promoted postings. Keep those light and entertaining. Save the pitch for people who are actually coming to you. 

Facebook promoted posts visuals

Be Visual – Some Images Just Want to Be Shared!

It's fairly well-known by now, but visual posts are the most effective for Facebook marketing if you want Likes and Shares. Pictures and videos are always shared more often than text, as well as being pushed higher on a user's news feed automatically. Facebook likes people sharing visuals.

Again, don't look for blatantly promotional images. Look for ones that your target market would honestly enjoy. This is the part where it's going to be mostly on you and your data-collection efforts. Are your fans going to be more interested in sports? Funny cat pictures? Photos from public receptions and events?

Don't be afraid to experiment. Try out different approaches, and see which attracts the most clicks!

If you are serious about growing your business you’re going to need good marketing to make that happen. Call DeepSky Marketing for a no-obligation consultation today.

Tags: Social Media, Facebook, lead generation

Promoted (PAID) Postings on Facebook

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Mon, Jul 01, 2013 @ 02:34 PM

Promoted postings on Facebook, while initially controversial, have proven to be remarkably popular with companies looking to widen the impact of their social media activities. It's also extremely easy for anyone to get into, with semi-competitive rates when compared against other per-eyeball Cost-Per-Click (CPC) online advertising avenues.

Now, before you get your engines too revved up, let's go ahead and get a couple pieces of bad news out of the way that you should probably factor into your decision.

Potential Downsides To Promoted Facebook Postings

Number one: Viewers can, at any time, choose to opt-out of anything they get from you, potentially blocking you off entirely. So, consider this more of a warning. Be very, very careful in how you use promoted pages. If you annoy people, you can get blocked. This is a time where those strategies for targeting your message will come in especially handy!

Secondly, and to some more relevantly, the research on the effectiveness of these paid Facebook posts is mixed at best.

Ignite Social Media did a self-described “quick and dirty case study” in which they tested several of the major online “push” advertising mediums against each other: FaceBook, StumbleUpon, Google, and LinkedIn.

The good news is, Facebook posts got by far the most screen time – 5x that of competitors. The bad news is, that didn't translate to most clicks. That honor went to StumbleUpon, which dominates in generating clicks. Still, lengthy sessions of brand impressions help as well.

Unfortunately for Facebook, they also turned out to be on the high end of the CPC scale, while delivering results on the lowish end,  (Speaking of low end, check out LinkedIn's performance.  100% bounce rate.  Yeouch.)

HasOffers was even more blunt, flatly stating that Facebook paid posts are inferior to Facebook ads by a wide margin in terms of their CPC, claiming posts cost nearly 5x more.

So, with that in mind...

Promoted Postings on Facebok

Why Facebook Paid Postings Might Be Right For Your Business...

There are lights at the end of these particular tunnels.

Number one, and perhaps most importantly: These are very early tests. With every new venue that appears in the world of inbound marketing, it takes time for people to develop efficient strategies for deployment. That it spends so long on the screen is something that could be utilized with a keen knowledge of your audience.

Number two, don't forget that Facebook still has the most users, by a long shot. They continue to have “nearly” a billion users, twice that of Twitter. So there is, in a sense, a very real opportunity cost in moving towards Twitter, much less any other social media venue better suited for advertisements. You're slicing your potential reach with wide strokes, unless you know for a fact you have a large following on something other than Facebook.

Finally, it's worth noting that Hubspot, currently the top dogs in mid-range inbound marketing, remain pro-Facebook with numbers to back that up.

Are Facebook Paid Posts Right For Me?

At the end of the day, it's all about lead generation. If you know you have a large fan following on Facebook already, and don't mind paying what is undoubtedly a “biggest private database in the world” price hike, you will have the potential for huge reach... but only with a message your market truly wants to see.

With the right partner helping you find that right kind of sympatico, in terms of message and audience, there is a lot of potential in Facebook Promoted Posts. DeepSky Marketing will be happy to help you translate that potential for connections into actual clicks, actual leads, and actual sales that justify Facebook's high prices. Give us a call to schedule a no-obligation conversation about your Social Media and other marketing today.

Tags: Social Media, Facebook, lead generation

Graphic Design: Enhancing Your Message

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Mon, Mar 04, 2013 @ 05:45 PM

The Internet is a heavily visual medium. After all, it grew out of a text-only format, so being visually-oriented is one of the basic traits of the medium. It was, of course, practically predestined that as soon as someone could incorporate images into the Internet, they would. And boy, did they.

When you're building your website, your text – your primary content – is still one of the most important elements, but you cannot neglect your graphic design. Customers expect nice-looking websites, and a purely text-only design would likely not attract many visitors. So, you need graphic design to enhance, underscore, and subtly influence your visitors' reaction to your web site.

The paradox of graphic design is that the best graphic design is very often the most invisible. While there is certainly a place and a niche for big, bold, challenging graphic designs, generally speaking, your design should be as unobtrusive as possible. It shouldn't really draw attention to itself, like the sound design in a movie. No one but film buffs watch a film for the first time and think, “Wow, this flick has great sound design!”

Example of graphic design

It simply is there, enhancing the overall product. So let's look at a few ways to make sure your graphic design is enhancing your message, not detracting from it.

Some Key Aspects of Internet Graphic Design

Keep it simple. I suspect this is one of those areas that's going to swing, pendulum-like, back and forth, but at the moment simple website designs are en vogue. People don't want lots of options and buttons; they want a simple and streamlined design that makes it as simple and easy to do what they want. Consider your elements and strip out anything that doesn't actually serve a purpose, and keep only those that facilitate use.

Draw attention to the most important elements. The areas you most want people to look at: your name, your calls to action, your blogs should be the most visually distinctive areas. Putting a light object (like a call-to-action button) on top of a dark field is the simplest way to do this, but in general, it's about having a sharp color or brightness contrast. Your visitor should never be looking at a page in bafflement wondering where to start.

Use whitespace. There can be a temptation to cram every inch of your page with stuff. Don't. Whitespace (that is, where there are no visual elements at all besides the background) are important for keeping a sense of flow and, in effect, giving the visitor mental breathing room. Use of whitespace also naturally draws your visitors' eyes towards the content, making it work as a “here's where you look” signpost as well.

Vary your content. We said the Internet is a visual medium, so make the most of it! Spice up those boring old text blogs with pictures, infographics, diagrams, charts, maybe even elements like film clips. It's a basic rule of teaching that using different formats helps communicate to different kinds of people, so this one is a twofer: you keep visitors' interest, while making it more likely they'll receive your message.

In short: Consider your graphic elements in relation to your customers.

Everyone wants to build their dream website, but it's not just for you. Your choices like color scheme, motto design, elements like a mascot, and other design choices should fundamentally flow from what your customers want. The best design, of course, takes your ideas and then presents them using colors, fonts, and styles your customers want. Just never forget that your customers should be your focus.

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Graphic design, infographics, diagrams, charts, Whitespace, Simplicity

Graphic Design: Setting Tone and Mood On Your Site

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 @ 11:11 AM

As the Internet continues to develop and evolve and show us new ways to market, we're continually finding new ways of "embedding" messages into our content. We all live in an incredibly data-dense world, where every product has levels upon levels of messaging within its design. In the best products, these levels of messaging are focused. They are acting in unison to present a single Brand Identify that -in theory- should be instantly recognizable in a context.

Apple is currently one of the best at this. From their website to their stores to their products themselves, a consumer at all familiar with the brand can instantly spot Apple design from a mile away. (Now, if only they'd get over their current Skeuomorphic kick...)

In terms of graphic design, tone and mood are among the most important messages it can convey. The color scheme of your design sets that tone and mood, or at least establishes a foundation, that the rest of your messaging will get built around.

Obviously, this means you need to pick your colors well!

The Color Wheel in Graphic Design: Live it, Love it.

For reference, here is a fine color wheel that should work as a reference.

Color Wheel

You can get most of your inspiration from the color wheel itself. You want colors, or collections of colors, that convey a basic idea:

  • Monochome: Very simplistic. Either you're using entirely one shade, or else it's a single color plus white or black for the background. Monochrome arrangements can convey elegance and simplicity, such as the black & white design of an Apple Store or Olay cosmetics.
  • Complementary colors: Complementary colors are at opposite "points" in the above color wheel. Red and green (cyan), or blue and yellow. These tend to create very bold, eye-catching, but possibly comic book-ish color schemes that grab the eye. Businesses with widespread appeal (such as children plus families) do well with a complementary color scheme.
  • Analogous colors: These are colors next to each other on the wheel, such as combining (on the above wheel), Magenta, Violet, and Blue. It creates a similar feel as a monochrome design, but richer. Note, however, that most colors do have psychological effects that we don't have time to discuss here. Using analogous colors will have an additive effect, based on the "center" color, so choose your main color carefully based on how you want to affect the viewer. (The M,V,B combination above would be rather "goth" and a bit melancholy, for example.)
  • Triadic colors: Three colors equidistant from each other on the color wheel are triadic, such as, well, the classic Red-Blue-Green combination. These create a very balanced feel, and are good for attracting a wide audience but without the overt "comic book" feel of complementary colors.

Which of these approaches is best for your graphic design? It simply depends on what you're trying to communicate and how you believe your customers will respond to your color choices. Having good buyer personas for your customers can be a big help, as that may give you clues towards their reactions. Focus grouping is another good option, if you have the resources.

Just like set design and lighting "set the stage" for a film or theater production, so your graphic design choices set the tone and mood for your business. Careful consideration of your color options in combination with market-based research, is the best way to find the color combinations that express the "inner you" of your business, just as clothes do for your customers.

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Graphic design, Website Design, Use of Color

Graphic Design: The Visual Voice of Your Business

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Thu, Jan 03, 2013 @ 12:53 PM

Welcome back! In our last blog, we talked a bit about why graphic design is so vital for online businesses, especially in terms of making yourself stand out and seem like one of the “big boys” when you're competing with multinational corporations for mindshare.

But, beyond that, what can you do with good graphic design? Much like nonverbal communication in face-to-face dealings, visual design is its own communication style as well, which can enhance and add to the more overt messages on your website.

So what should you be doing with your artistic design? Here are the three main “voices” we find in graphic design. Make the most of all three to get the best effect.

The Three Voices of Great Graphic Design
Graphic Design sets the mood

I. Setting a Mood

Your color choices send a lot of messages about who your website is for. Some of this is pretty obvious: if your website is done in purple and pink pastels, it's probably for women. If it's black with neon green highlights, it wants Millennials.  

Much like walking into the “wrong” bar, your color choices tell people whether your website is a place that's "for them."  You should think about your color choices specifically in terms of how well they'll appeal to your target demographics.

We found a nice, short summary of colors and their meanings here that might be useful for you. Find a color combination that your audience will appreciate, that sends the right message, and it will come through loud and clear.

II. Enhancing Your Message

So, let's take that one step further. Besides simply appealing to your customers – which is probably your #1 goal – your color schemes can also help reinforce and strengthen your own messaging. You need to make sure the two are in unity, rather than getting in each others' way.

Just consider Apple. Their stores, their website, and their device line all could be described in pretty much the same way: Black and white, sleek curves, with splashes of color. It reinforces their overall futurist vision, while still suggesting through their candy-colored devices that there's still room for fun and individuality.

Their visual design choices and their corporate image are, effectively, one in the same. This is how graphic design really ties your brand together.

III. Improve Your User Experience

There is, of course, a functional element to website graphic design as well. In fact, I believe this is one of the reasons that we've had such a trend towards sleek, minimal design in the last few years: design is now functional. A graphic user interface has to be both a tool and art.

Your visual design should never get in the way of the functionality of your site or the message you are trying to get across. Websites that are flashy, hard-to-use and difficult to understand simply will not stand up (in a marketing sense) to ones that are simple and efficient. If you want to sell products and services on your site you should always pick the latter. (This does not mean that in the right context flashy is inappropriate...in some industries, photography being one, you need some pop to your site design but the end goal is usually selling and this means you need to adhear to a sales process instead of doing "cool" for cool's sake)

Good graphic design can even help your SEO in this realm as well, vastly adding to its voice. Google gives a lot of weight to the usability of your website in their search rankings. A smooth, easy-to-use website that minimizes effort on the part of the user will see a big bounce in its search rankings.

Key Takeaway

The short version here is this: Good online graphic design boils down to creating a set of interface tools which are also artistic and express your company's core beliefs. Do those three things, and your design will be in good shape.

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Graphic design, Artistic, User Interface, UI

You Need Good Graphic Design For Your Business Now More Than Ever

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 @ 04:37 PM

If you're running a small business and we suggested that you seriously needed to invest in graphic design, you might think we were being, well, optimistic to say the least.  If you're still getting your business off the ground, you should be focusing on more practical matters rather than artistic design, right?

Unfortunately, in an Internet-connected  world, thinking about your graphic design is something that needs to be done early on.  Having a strong visual identity is no longer a luxury solely for mega-brands like Coke and Apple.  Any business wanting to make a splash needs to be thinking about visual design and how they're using it to identify themselves.

Interest and Investments in Graphic Design are Rising

This infographic really lays out how much the visual design landscape has changed recently.  A few of the most compelling statistics:

•  80% of businesses surveyed believe that graphic design is either "very important" or "moderately important" to business success.  Only three percent said it wasn't important at all.

•  67% predict that graphic design will continue to become even more important over the next five years. 

•  Only 21% of businesses will be spending less on their artistic design this year, compared to last.

So, why all this sudden interest in graphic elements in brand-building?  Pretty much, "because of the Internet."

Graphic Design for Business

Strong Graphic Design Makes You Stand Out

Even more than in most areas of life, the Internet is primarily a visual medium.  Even text itself has become depreciated - although far from eliminated - and many websites attempt to convey their messages through tone, color, and design as much as through more concrete measures.

And the reasons for this just boil down to how the Internet works.  As we see it, here are the three biggest contributing factors:

1.  Short Attention Spans

It gets discussed a lot, but Internet users have very short attention spans.  An average user is likely to leave a website within 5-10 seconds if it fails to grab their attention.  At those sorts of time scales, you can convey far more information through graphic design than you can through any more concrete content.

Basically, your website needs to -first and foremost- look like a place that people want to look at.  Poor visual design will drive people away before they even look at your "goods" in a more critical way.

2.  Shared Communications Outlets

Another major reason you need strong visual design is that, in Internet marketing, you're using a lot of other people's services.  If you have a Facebook fan page, people are seeing Facebook's branding first and foremost.  Your own visual design needs to be that much more distinct to be able to carve out a space within Facebook's system as your own, without seeming secondary to Facebook.

(And, obviously, the same goes for Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other shared service you might use.)

3.  Too Much Competition

There are likely hundreds of websites online worldwide selling a product or service substantially similar to yours.  It can be extraordinarily difficult to stand out and make people believe that yours really is one of the superior alternatives in a global market.

Strong graphic design is one of the hallmarks of a quality company.  Think of it like businesswear.  Who are you going to (generally) take more seriously in business: the guy in an $1,000 Italian suit, or the guy in shorts and sandals?

The Time Is Now for Good Graphic Design

The time to think about your visual design is right now.   The more you can do to stand out, the better your online business will do. Graphic design is one of the most powerful marketing tools at your command. Use it well.

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: marketing, Graphic design, Brand, Business

Facebook Marketing - Five Changes To Improve Your Connections

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Sun, Dec 16, 2012 @ 01:34 PM

When the hoodied one speaks, the Internet trembles...

Given its prominence in Internet marketing at the moment, it's hardly a surprise that whenever any changes get announced to Facebook. There's been a lot of talk lately about Facebook trying to push people towards buying ads... but the reality is there just isn't much data out there demonstrating this.

That doesn't mean it isn't happening, but there's no reason to panic yet.

In the meantime, there have been a lot of interesting changes to Facebook marketing in recently, and most of them have been pretty positive for advertisers. Let's take a quick look at some of the most important changes and how they alter your Facebook strategies.

Internet marketing with Facebook

Facebook Marketing Over The Year: Changes To Our Favorite Social Media Timesink

The Timeline: While it began testing at the end of 2011, the Timeline feature wasn't fully rolled out to everyone until Spring of 2012. After the usual round of complaints, everyone settled down and discovered it was actually pretty nifty.

Further, testing revealed that the Timeline did increase your customer engagement, but almost exclusively with visual content: pictures and video. So it may not have made it easier to get people talking on your Facebook page, but you're more likely to get your visual media shared. Look for interesting pics and film clips to share!

Protip: Make sure you're using the “Pinning” feature to keep your most important updates at the top of your timeline! You can do this for up to a week per item.

Milestones: This is another great Timeline-related feature for your Facebook marketing. You can now boast about important events in your company's history with a Milestone, which can also be linked to events, pictures, video, and other content. It's a great way to share your story with anyone interested enough to peruse your timeline, so add some “historical” information when you get a chance.

Larger Cover Photos: Properly branding your Facebook page to fit the rest of your look can be tricky, but the addition of much larger cover photos goes a long way towards helping. Being able to place an 851x315 banner at the top of your page is great for making your page stand out and clearly show who it belongs to.

Unpublished Posts: Do your visitors complain that too much of your content isn't relevant to them? This could be the solution. Unpublished posts are sent out to your Fans, but not included on your main timeline. It's a good way to target messages specifically at those who are most interested in your company, without annoying more casual visitors who might not care about your latest company golf tournament.

More Emphasis on Sponsored Content: This is the one that has everyone worried. Facebook would really like you to be paying them to put your content in front of your readers, and it's an open question right now how hard they're going to lean on people to do this.

In the meantime, if you've got some extra money to spend and really want to place an emphasis on your Facebook fans, this is still a time-tested way of getting your message in front of them. Just remember: if it's sponsored, you have to try twice as hard to get people interested because they know you're paying to put your ad in front of them.

So, that's what's new on the Facebook front. Tune in next time, and we'll take a look at changes on the horizon – specifically the “Feed view” that's in testing – and see how 2013 looks for Facebook marketing!

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Social Media, Facebook, Internet marketing

Branding Goes Far Beyond Your Logo

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Sun, Dec 02, 2012 @ 05:45 PM

We've been talking about branding and we've spent the last couple blogs talking about the subject generally: what goes into branding, and all the different areas of your operation it covers.

Today, let's get a little more specific. Let's talk about your customers and, specifically, your customer experience when it comes to establishing your brand.

The Eye of the Beholder

Basically, there's branding, and then there's branding.  Anyone can slap a logo or circled-R onto something to claim it as theirs, but that doesn't really tell anyone much aside from ownership.  It can protect your YouTube videos or your cattle from being rustled, but it doesn't do anything else.

To make your brand into an identity, it has to stand for something.  People need to see your logo and think "quality" or "inexpensive" or "friendly."  In marketing, this is also often called differentiation; literally how you make yourself stand out in people's minds from your competitors.

Fundamentally, this is all based on perceptions.  You can make "Build Quality Matters!" your motto, but unless you make people believe it's real, it's not brand-building.  It's just  a positioning statement, or possibly just wishful thinking.   (How many greasy spoon diners have we all passed that claim to have "the best food in town?")

Talking The Talk About Talking The Talk

We won't get into an extended discussion about perception vs reality in advertising.  Yes, it is certainly possible to convince your customers that you're something you're not - such as Wal-Mart's success in positioning itself as a cost-leader even though the data doesn't really back it up - but let's just say the easiest way to be seen as something is to simply BE that thing.

However, you also need to get people talking about it.  Public perception is fundamentally a combination of A)how you treat your customers, and B)how they talk about you afterwards.

It's not just enough to deliver great customer service or reliable products, but you need to get people to recognize that and spread the word as well.  That's how you get a strong brand.

Branding that differentiates

Inspiring Brand Recognition and Loyalty

Step one, of course, is simply dedicating your business to being whatever it is you are perceived as.  Make that your focus, and don't lose sight of it.  Remember, a reputation takes years to build but can often be destroyed with a single mis-step.

Beyond that, here are a few tips:

•  Don't brag.  At least not excessively.  Braggarts are easy to spot in advertising.  Stake out your position, but let actions speak louder than words.  

•  Data talks.  If you want to brag a bit, back it up.  Make white papers discussing your numbers and what they add up to.  Just remember that people - especially the Internet generation - are quite aware of how easily you can manipulate "9 out of 10 dentists!" style polls.  The more objective your facts are, the better.

•  Encourage social media discussion.  The Internet is amazing for brand-building.  Make sure you have plenty of enticements for people to spread the word about you through social media.

•  Take criticisms seriously.  The days of corporations never admitting fault are over.  If your customers bring up valid concerns, address them, honestly and in good faith.  A willingness to admit fault and to then improve your product will do wonders for your public perception.

In short:  Combine a customer-centered approach that focuses on creating an image and inspiring people to talk about it is one of the easiest ways to improve your branding.  

(And it's a lot better than using hot iron to create an impression!)

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Tags: Branding, Brand, Brand Identity, Customer experience