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Aztek is a web design, web application development, and digital marketing agency in Cleveland, Ohio who blogs about those very same topics.

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Rustbelt Refresh Recap 2015

The @aztekweb crew attended one of our favorite industry conferences Rust Belt Refresh for the third year in a row. For those of you who don't know about Rust Belt Refresh, it's one of the most informative and well-run web conferences you can attend. And best of all, it's held right in the heart of Downtown Cleveland (so we can walk there).

Here is a recap of some of our favorite takeaways:


Content Marketing: Be Honest. Be Authentic. Be Human.

What do you take away from the biggest content marketing conference in the world? Besides tons of vendor swag and a hangover, we picked up insight into the industry and three popular themes for you to try in your marketing.

Google Trends confirms the increasing interest in the phrase "content marketing" since 2005.

And as more and more companies invest in content marketing programs, it is essential to be able to show results. When programs are started without a clear strategy or measure of success, then it can lead to questions over the impact and effectiveness of the program.

State of the Industry

Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing | Gartner Study July 2015

Jake Sorofman of Gartner summarizes the cautionary tone of how content marketing is maturing in the industry, and how its place on the "Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing" is in the decline (see diagram above). But don't worry, it's not going anywhere. Jake outlines five causes of failure in content marketing from Joe Pulizzi's keynote speech. If you're feeling this disillusionment with content marketing, are you making these mistakes?

Three Themes

If you weren't lucky enough to attend this year (thanks boss!), we found three themes that ran throughout keynotes and presentations.

  1. Be honest
  2. Be authentic
  3. Be human

Seems simple enough, but the value is in the stories and examples that speakers shared to support these themes.

1. Be Honest

Sure, normal honesty is ethical and professional. But are you insanely honest?

Insane honesty is a choice, according to Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners. He shared examples where companies went out of their way to be proactively honest, "insanely honest," by volunteering their weaknesses unasked. Basically putting your worst foot forward.

Uh, why would you do that?

Six Reasons


How to Create an Editorial Calendar: Putting Everything Together

Blogging for your business is more than just mashing words together to make coherent sentences. A good strategy can help you provide useful content for both you and your intended audience while supporting your business goals. In my last post, I went over ways to brainstorm up to a year’s worth of post topics, because it’s a good idea to know what you’ll be writing about.

But there’s more to editorial calendars than just topics. The more details you can plan out before you actually begin to write, the better. We focus on a few important areas in our editorial calendars:

  • Personas
  • Dates and times
  • Descriptions and resources
  • Authors
  • Categories and tags



After reading our rundown on how to come up with blog post topics, you know how to figure out what you should write about and when you should post it, but do you really know just who you’re writing your posts for? Yes, these posts are intended for potential customers, but not all visitors look for the same things or respond to the same types of post, which is why it’s helpful to come up with personas to focus your content to a specific types of people.


How to Create an Editorial Calendar: Topics

If blogging is part of your company’s online strategy, then you know that the struggle to put pen to paper — or fingers to keyboard, more likely — is a problem. I mean, you can’t always make your brain magically come up with fun, unique content ideas as you stare at a blank Word document.

That’s Where an Editorial Calendar Can Help

An editorial calendar is an organized list of topics, publish dates, and other pertinent information that will save you time (and keep you away for the horrors of the totally-not-fake condition Blankdocumentitis) when it actually comes time to write. It’s better to plan ahead and think through how each post will help support your business goals, rather than write in a panicked state while a deadline looms in the near future.

Image of crumpled paper on the floor. Stop writer’s block by brainstorming topics for an editorial calendar. Learn how. Picture by photosteve101 is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Top 3 MVPs from Aztek Hack Day


Most Valuable Player? Minimum Viable Product? In this case it kind of applies to both. We worked on some pretty great projects during our most recent hack day at Aztek and we wanted to share the results.

What is "Hack Day" anyway?

You know that idea that you had for a cool app or project, but you couldn’t find the time or resources to get it done? Our company gave us a few hours to get creative and work together on some of these “what-if” projects.

With Target gift cards for the best idea at stake, we got started. 

The top three projects share summaries of the experience creating their minimum viable product (MVP) below, at times in very technical detail (hey developers!).

1. Metal Detector App - Find Metal Concerts Near You: by Josh, Justin, and Frank 

You know what really grinds our gears? Not being able to find all of the doom metal or grindcore shows in our town in one place.

With this frustration, we set off on a valiant quest to slay the concert genre-searching beast.


How to Write for the Web: 7 Beginner Tips

Wall of text. Do not use.

Oh, the Internet. It's a place full of hilarious memes, amazing YouTube videos and really long articles that no one has time to read. Have I lost you yet? No?

Let me introduce myself. My name is Evan Skorepa. I’m a high school senior, and currently an intern at Aztek.

Next year I’ll be studying Interactive and Social Media at DePaul University and I wanted to get some exposure to the web/technology industry before heading off to school in the fall.

Search and Skim

I grew up with the Internet, and it has affected the way I search for and acquire information. I'm used to having hundreds of search results at my fingertips in seconds without having to step foot in a library. Even when I go to the library, I search Google instead of searching a library catalog (@ Google Scholar).


What to Expect During Your First Year as a Web Developer

Looking for a job as a .NET developer?

So was I about a year ago. Same thing with Alex Yosa. We're here to give you an idea of what it was like during our first year working at Aztek. Apologies in advance for the non-techy audience; we talk about programming languages and other terms you might not be familiar with. And there definitely aren't enough cat references.

TL;DR: Two of our web developers share highlights and challenges from their first year at Aztek.

Image of a cat typing on a computer. Hear from our newer web developers about their first year working at Aztek.


What Monty Python Can Teach You About Web Marketing

The other day, I was thinking about a conversation I had with one of our newer web marketing clients. I was disappointed because the client wanted to stop their web marketing efforts...just as the site was about to start generating serious revenue.

Then, and maybe because the dark humor of Monty Python always cheers me up,  I started thinking about a scene from The Holy Grail. Specifically, this one:

Note: This video is slightly NSFW. If you have YouTube safety mode on, you can change your safety mode settings by following these instructions

If you choose not to watch, here's some background: The movie takes place during the reign of King Arthur. The scene involves a son carrying his older (but still fully alive) father over his shoulder as the town Dead Collector walks by collecting bodies during the latest plague. The son convinces the Dead Collector to "get rid" of the father, even though the father feels fine and wants to live.


6 First-Time Conference Speaking Tips

“So just make it up!”

That’s the advice it seemed everyone had for me as I approached my first conference presentation at Stir Trek (a one-day conference focused on software development and new technologies) and had to turn a 15-second abstract into a one-hour talk. 

To be fair to “everyone,” I was giving a talk on using improv skills to improve communication, and I have a performance background in improvisation, so it wasn’t just being cruel. However, after the thirteenth person, the cleverness rubbed off.