Alberta Pin - Fort Mac Support

Rebuilding Fort Mac: Wear Your Support on Your Sleeve

 “This will likely be Canada’s largest disaster, surpassing the 1998 Quebec Ice Storm”. – Charity Intelligence Canada

It’s truly remarkable to see how people bind together during times of hardship and devastation, how complete strangers bend over backwards, how local businesses and organizations help create a movement for aid. Yes, we’re referring to the recent devastation in Fort McMurray. Evacuees have been patiently waiting; we can’t imagine what it might be like to wake up each morning at SAIT or Mount Royal University’s reception centre, waiting to find out when your unexpected trip will come to an end. Many of the evacuees don’t have a place to call home, over 2400 houses (10% of their buildings) were destroyed by the massive wildfire. Not to mention the 550 toxic homes that were deemed not safe to live in (at least for now).

Some residents are scheduled to re-enter Fort McMurray today (June 1st). According to a Red Cross survey, “75% of residents plan to come back to Fort McMurray. Municipal officials are expecting roughly 14,000 of the 80,000 residents to return today”. Fort Mac restoration will commence right away. However, it will be a lengthy cleanup process that will cost a pretty penny. Now is the time to help rebuild northern Alberta, since most of us can’t physically lend a hand, monetary donations are the next best thing.

Alberta Strong Pin - Fort Mac Support

Uppercut has collaborated with our sister company Fairgoods to build an #AlbertaStrong pin in support of rebuilding Fort Mac. 100% of the proceeds from this proud Albertan pin will go towards United Way’s efforts in Fort Mac. This adorable, heartfelt pin was designed by Shauna Hartsook, Brand Director at Fairgoods, it’s a 14K gold plated soft enamel limited edition pin. It truely represents our united passion for the province, our perseverance, and entrepreneurial spirit. Gosh, we love Alberta!

Help support your fellow Canadians with us! #ymmfire

Or if you live in Calgary, please feel free to swing by our office at Suite 400, 119 14 Street NW (Assembly Co-Working space) between 9-5pm M-F. Just ask for Chelsea, Shauna or Lauren at the 4th-floor reception. We will hook you up!

Content Marketing Strategy

5 Audience Considerations for Crafting Your Content Marketing Strategy

Everyone’s talking about their content marketing strategy and why you need one in 2016 to be successful. Here are five steps to building a plan that will resonate with your target audience (the customers you want to attract), plus build SEO for your website. The Content Marketing Institute says,

“86% of B2C marketers use content marketing, and 55% of B2C marketers plan to increase content marketing spend in 2016.” 

1. How well do you actually know your customer?

Have you taken time out of your day to understand what makes your customers tick (interests), what keeps them up at night, what obstacles they have to overcome at work and what their day-to-day looks like? Conducting in-person interviews for deeper insight is key. However, you should also utilize marketing analytics to gain a broader view of your audience.

Use tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, and additional marketing automation tools if you have them. Dissect your traffic to better understand who’s visiting your website – things like gender, age, location, interests, primary language and what devices they are using.

Build Your Personas (If you haven’t already)

This might seem obvious, but you must have buyer personas to help guide your entire marketing strategy, not just for your content marketing efforts. Your buyer personas will soon become a critical reference tool for every piece of content you build – each piece you develop should speak to their unique needs. Consider their vocabulary, content preferences, and all the data you found in your analytics platforms.

What do they need help with?

Think about the topics, business areas, consumer needs, interests they have. These equal the keywords you can reverse engineer into your content. But first, you need to conduct keyword research in a tool like Google Keyword Planner to better understand search volume, the likelihood of ranking high, and competition. Tools like BuzzSumo will also give you more insight into what’s topical, current, and shareable across the web.

2. Where does your audience hang out online?

What social media channels are locked to their front screen? Yes, the ones they check dozens of times a day. You need to be there as a brand, building community, contributing to worthwhile conversations, and sprinkling your content from time to time – it’s the Jab Jab Right Hook thing Gary Vaynerchuk taught us. But remember it’s not all about you, it never should be. Be thoughtful and provide value.

These will become the distribution channels for your content promotion plan, where you will deploy a paid and organic strategy to get the eyes and ears of your customers.

3. Have you aligned your content to the buyer journey?

Do you know what your buyer’s journey looks like? Typical stages include awareness, consideration and decision. Are we talking about a typical long sales cycle that we see in B2B, for making a larger purchase where people need to really weigh out their options and do extensive research online or are we talking about a more impulsive or more immediate B2C consumer purchase? What do your consumers care about: features, style, usability, service, efficiency, cost, etc.

Next, we must map content to the buyer journey (and what is common for your industry). Various content assets will be more relevant to buyers at different stages of the buyer cycle. Let’s take a look at what this might look like:

Awareness Stage:

  • Blogs and eBooks
  • Illustrations and Photos
  • News or Press Releases
  • Reports
  • White Papers
  • Infographics
  • Games

Consideration Stage:

  • Social
  • Video
  • Website Content
  • Microsites
  • Expert Guides
  • Vendor comparison
  • Trial or Freemium Account
  • Podcasts
  • Webcast or Webinar
  • Demos (online/in-person)

Decision Stage:

  • Presentations
  • Case Studies
  • Reviews and Forums
  • In-Person Meetings and Events

Advocacy Stage (customers):

  • Social
  • Blog
  • Newsletter
  • Promotions

4. Is your content digestible?

Don’t be concerned about whether you are writing long-form or short form content, writing engaging high-quality copy is what matters most. The vocabulary you use should be relatively simple, people have limited attention spans, and often lower than expected comprehension. A recent Contently study found that on average best-selling authors wrote below a grade 9 level. Believe it or not, Ernest Hemingway wrote at a grade 4 level. So, if the language is too complex and feels like you need a dictionary to understand it, you’ll get a high bounce rate.

From a shareable perspective, three things are really at play: novelty, identity, and fluency. So if it’s written like an academic paper, good luck getting engagement and social proof (people spreading your stories).

5. What content performed well in the past?

Take time to review your analytics. What are your top performing stories? Why is that? Which can you replicate, recycle or pivot from? Which articles can be built out into a 3-8 part series?

Also don’t always play it safe, sometimes seemingly unrelated things make for the best stories, or not always leading with a positive tone. Remember you are writing for humans. Consider what catches your attention.

It’s Time to Document Your Content Marketing Strategy

Now that you have taken the time to discuss your content marketing strategy it’s time to package it up into a concise plan to assure everyone is marching to the same drum. Your marketing team needs to be familiar with organizational goals, the buyer journey, buyer personas, basic SEO goals, and the content marketing plan in order to reap the rewards of content.

Remember, the best forward-thinking companies that truly get the potential of content marketing have integrated their efforts across the business. It shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of a marketing member or team. Instead, it’s woven into various departments and job functions across the business. For example, you will want to tap into your subject matter experts (SME’s), customer service (to better understand customer pain points), sales (common client rejections, revenue targets, and areas of focus), leadership and ideally your CEO (the company’s vision, direction, insight). At the end of the day, a well-rounded content marketing strategy requires effort and attention from various levels of the business. Their knowledge is needed; whether it be for writing, quotes, interviews, topics, insight or trends.


Happy writing. Of course, if you need help evolving or crafting a content marketing strategy don’t be shy, shoot us a line. We can even help build content with your team or manage your end-to-end online marketing.

2016 Anvil Awards

2016 Anvil Awards Celebration

2016 Anvil Awards

We’re proud to announce our work for Hungry Volcano received two merits for Logo and Corporate Identity Package, at the 2016 Anvil Awards – the Ad Rodeo Association’s celebration of creative excellence in Calgary. This year’s celebration took place at Flames Central, and with the always entertaining emcee Andrew Phung at the mike. It was a fun night for our team meeting old and new friends, and congratulations to all the winners and nominees for their outstanding work!

Uppercut loves cats

Why Everything is Better with Cats

I LOVE CATS. If you're a cat-person, you'll understand the many reasons why cats are so lovable (for their adorable personalities and endless hours of entertainment they provide). YouTube should be called CatTube and don't even get me started on how many awesome cat memes are out there! #crazycatlady

Cat memes

The opportunity

When Meow Foundation, a Calgary cat-focused charity and humane society with a no-kill mandate, called us for creative and marketing help, you could imagine how excited we were [insert heart bursting emoji]. Art director, Shauna Hartsook, described the opportunity as a "dream job" [insert hands clapping emoji].

Since 2000, MEOW Foundation has been rescuing and facilitating the adoption of stray and abandoned cats into new, loving, permanent homes. In addition to their Rescue and Adoption program, MEOW Foundation offers a subsidized Spay/Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP)Cat Food Assistance Program and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Program for cats living in the Calgary community.

By taking a humorous and lighthearted approach, we created a campaign for 2016 around the idea that everything is better with cats. To help generate support from the public, we created a betterwithcats microsite, advertising on public transit (your commute home made better with cats), and large life-size cat stickers for shop windows – all promote the hashtag #betterwithcats.

Uppercut donated additional hours to help extend their small budget for this "good for your soul" project.


betterwithcats window sticker

Advertising on public transit.

More about the project

Uppercut: Where to Go AFter Parse?

Where to Go After Parse?

In our previous post "What Silicon Valley has taught us About Startups", we discussed the shift in tech and development. In this post, I'll talk about the closure of Parse (a startup success) and how to move forward. Parse is a cloud app platform provider that enable developers to build their applications and not have to worry about rebuilding backend functionality for every mobile platform.


Parse, a Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS), was acquired by Facebook in 2013, prompted hundreds of thousands of applications built around Parse. I mean why not? Parse offered an excellent free tier model, and it's easy to use and integrate. The acquisition alone was enough to make people leave their current provider and sign up for Parse. At the time of Parse’s acquisition by Facebook, co-founder Ilya Sukhar reassured users that Parse was “not going away”. “It’s going to get better,” he wrote. “We are excited about the future of Parse”. So it came as a big surprise when Facebook announced Parse will be no longer be available after January 28, 2017.

The shockwave of the Parse closure has sent a stir throughout the industry leaving many development studios (including our own) wondering where to go from here, and what are the best solutions to offer our clients? Is it worth getting into bed with another service provider like Parse only to have the carpet pulled out from beneath our feet once again?

Facebook has never directly come out and said why they are halting Parse but my guess is low profitability. Parse’s closure seems to be a reflection of the times, no more of the glory days of startups procuring a ridiculous amount of investor dollars and sustaining hyper-inflated burn rates. We'll see more investor dollars go into areas outside of software-only applications and services. However, the people at Parse are making the ending easy, a Parse migration guide is available, and co-founder James Yu said in a blog that in addition to the Parse Server tool (introduced last week), Parse has teamed up with HerokuAmazon Web Services and MongoLab on extended solutions.

Parse Alternatives

Facebook has open-sourced the project now, so hopefully, we see the Parse server project continue and even thrive. Many will be counting on it! There are a plethora of Parse alternatives, here are 15 alternatives to Facebook’s Parse, but at the same time you have to ask yourself, can you afford to have this happen again?

There is a range of other options available to the development community, and now more than ever cutting out the middle man and going straight to the cloud yourself is starting to make a lot of sense. You might as well run your infrastructure on the same platform Parse was on, AWS (Amazon Web Services).

Granted this option is not for everyone, some of the knowledge prove allusive to the inexperienced while others may not have the time or resources available to have an in-house solution. However, if offering a solution to clients which is free from a volatile startup market, while being able to retain the same feature reach experience as a product like Parse, then starting your cloud implementation might be a reliable solution.

Which cloud is for me?

2015 was the year of Amazon, technology industry analyst Ben Thompson wrote ”AWS [Amazon Web Services—the company’s insanely profitable cloud computing division]. AWS should prove as an attractive solution to those clients who are tech savvy and concerned about the backend of their applications because it's here to stay.

AWS may be pricey, but the proof is in the pudding. They offer the most robust feature rich solution on the market.

If AWS seems to be an overkill solution, there are other options like RackspaceLinode or Digital Ocean; even AWS Lamda is worth considering. Moving forward shouldn't be too difficult with all the great preexisting software available to us.

Don’t get caught again

With so much fragmentation existing today it is hard to decide what tool is right for the job. Will the one you pick be around in two years?

If resources, technical knowledge, and a cloud provider are available, it's possible to protect one’s business operations from future sudden inconveniences like the Parse's closure.