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Maggie Bergin is a digital marketer and copy writer creating brand-aligned, creative, compelling digital content for her clients.

Can Your Brand Laugh At Itself?

Maggie Bergin

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If your brand can’t laugh at itself, you’re in trouble. When we build brands without imperfection built into the brand, we are choosing to NOT connect. When we build brands where a certain distance or facade is always present, we're choosing to NOT connect. In my B2B and B2C experience, connection is where the longest lasting, deepest and most satisfying customer relationships live. Facades are boring and EASY TO SPOT.

I was recently a guest on a podcast about the Marketing industry. And because the podcast is about the good, the bad and the ugly of Agency Life, the host asked me to share the worst client experience I’ve had. And I almost answered because it’s fun to tell stories about how other people suck and I don’t want to pretend everything is shiny-happy-sunny-all-the-time. But I didn’t want to talk shit about a client in public. Maybe it’s because I’m the daughter of a Canadian Librarian, but the thought of it made me feel kind of sick. So-in about 2 seconds-I considered my options, remembered I don’t mind being the butt of my own joke and told a story about a moment where I screwed up.

Here’s what happened: I finished a client’s web copy. I deposited their payment. My ego was strutting around the room, chest puffed out. I’d created amazing words! About a special person!! About the things that made her special! But while the copy might have looked ok in a word document, it didn’t translate to a formal website. The website was Cheerleader-y. The word equivalent of a smiley emoji waving pom poms. It didn’t connect because it wasn’t really her.

I apologized profusely and asked for the opportunity to re-write the copy for free. And now it’s GREAT because her true self, as opposed to my marketing idea about her true self, comes through loud and clear.

One of the GREATEST things about being in my 40s (there are approximately 40,000 great things about being in my 40s). I can receive feedback about my imperfections without getting angry or initiating a 3-day shame spiral. That kind of even handedness exists because I know I’m really good at what I do and I have the ability to hear requests as feedback, not a personal attack #hardwonknowledge DO YOU SEE WHERE I’M GOING WITH THIS?

Brands: KNOW THYSELF! Be the equivalent of a woman in her 40s. Because your potential customers are dying to find some BELONGING. And belonging is knowing who you are, telling YOUR story and never changing who you are for other people. That's vulnerable and that's what connects you to your clients and customers. Need some inspiration? Let’s talk!

Show Your Work

Maggie Bergin

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My favorite high school math teacher, before handing out a test, would remind us to "show our work" so he could maybe give us partial credit for what we did understand. Because even if you didn't get the answer right, he wanted to know how you tackled the problem and which pieces of the process you understood. Showing your work indicated what you ‘got’ and (maybe more importantly) where you strayed from the mark.

I rarely see brands doing this: showing their work. Far more often we see the end result, the pretty product photos. But I believe brands' most passionate potential customers are interested in seeing how you came through the process of creation. Why did you create X? What did you consider in its creation? What were you hoping to accomplish? What would success with this product look like to you and why does that mean success to you?

Human beings can learn facts through spreadsheets or bullet points, but they come to understand their world and their relationship to brands through stories. From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense; PowerPoint has only been around for a couple decades, but we’ve been sitting around fire pits listening to stories for literally millennium. It’s in our blood to love and listen to people show their work. Stories and lessons learned speak to us on the cellular level.

Storytelling also fosters social understanding and teaches valuable social norms. And that's where the really juicy stuff is in 2019 and beyond. What are your brand's norms and values? What do you give a shit about and why? Because while I hold my truths to be self-evident, I have no idea what yours are. But I'm interested.

Story telling also pays valuable dividends to the storytellers themselves who receive community support and are recognized as a leader. When bits of information are flying, especially from brands, I believe the companies who SHOW THEIR WORK will stand out because even though it's a little harder than posting a pretty picture, it’s truer work, and it will connect your clients to your brand in a way that nothing else can.

Valuable social media content shows HOW you came to a products' end design. It tells WHY you do/make what you do/make. It explains WHAT social norms your company is built on. Show your work. Share stories to connect with your brand's biggest potential fans. #branding #brandbydesign #storiesmatter #socialcontent

Words, Words, Wonderful Words.

Maggie Bergin

“Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?”

This question was posed by US Senator Kamala Harris to US Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. This beautiful, concise, open-ended question beats all other questions. This question wins at the game of questions. Like a deep inhale of oxygen among smog, this question quickly clears through the bramble to articulate the CENTRAL feminist critique of laws impeding a woman’s ability to make choices about her body: THE INEQUALITY.

There are no laws about vasectomies. Nobody pays attention to what happens to men’s bodies. Because no one cares. I don’t know who first wrote it, but it’s been said many times: if men could get pregnant, access to birth control and plan B and abortions would be written into the constitution.

Here’s why Senator Harris’ question wins at words:

  1. It’s succinct.

  2. It’s open-ended design facilitates reflection by the person hearing the question.

  3. It succinctly and deeply gets to the center of an argument, in this case the argument about PARITY under the law.

I doubt Senator Harris changed minds about choice, but man was it a gorgeous question to rally the base.

If you need help finding the right words, let’s talk!

Studio & Office Space Marketing Campaign

Maggie Bergin

Open Square is a mixed-use development offering office, studio, residential and retail space. Open Square recently had 4 small offices and 3 medium studio spaces available for rent. I designed and executed a campaign to fill those spaces! 

First, I identified two target markets for these relatively smaller rentals:

1. People currently working from a home office or car—sales consultants, copywriters, copy editors, business consultants, life coaches, manufacturer’s reps and others.
2. People working in creative fields—web designers, illustrators, photographers, and others

Open Square conducted two forms of research: we talked to current tenants in similar spaces about what attracted them to Open Square and what they loved about their offices. We also conducted anecdotal online research among our fans and followers on social media and in various LinkedIn business groups about what works for them in a smaller office. Into that swirl of data, I added my gut instincts and Open Square’s clear advantages (beautiful space, fiber optic to the building, quiet space).

We intially designed one ‘look’ for each space category. For the studios, we used a stronger ‘design’ font and shorter calls to action. And for the smaller offices, we used a visually less bold call to action in a softer look. But in the end, we but ended up using each ‘look’ across categories. Within two weeks of launching the campaign, Open Square secured tenants for 2 of the available studio spaces and 1 small office space.