Archive for category: Newsletter

‘Twas the Week Before Christmas at CK and CO

It’s a classic holiday tale… with a CK and CO twist. See the team in action as we scurry (like elves) to finish projects before the end of the year. 🎄 Spoiler alert: Orville our drone competes with Bryan to steal the show. 🎅❄

child asking for silence

Stop Talking. Start Listening: How to be a better listener

Most people think improving communication has to do with being able to speak and present confidently. Sure, that is important, but the best communicators are also good listeners. Listening builds trust and improves business relationships.

In a Gallup Podcast, Susan Brady, CEO of the Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership says if she was going to list “one leadership skill out of all the skills needed, listening is the most important.” We agree.

That’s why it’s important to stop talking and start listening, which can be especially difficult for extroverts. We live in a time when there is so much emphasis on speaking up and drawing attention to oneself. Check out any social media platform and all the so-called “influencers.” We reward people for being out front and vocal. Here at CK and CO, we teach people to be better presenters, but also help them be better listeners. Studies year after year show we can all use improvement – it does not just happen. You must work at it. So, here are a few tips to help. Read more

Marana Group



Telling a Great Story

What do you do when your company name and identity no longer reflect what you do? You change your name and update your brand with a new look. But there is still work to be done. You need to communicate the changes to your existing customers and attract new ones once rebranding efforts are completed. Since 2018, CK and CO has been working with Marana Group, formerly Lake Michigan Mailers, to do just that.


The Client

Marana Group is a family-owned and managed business founded in 1977 by Bob and Karen Rhoa in the basement of their Saint Joseph, Michigan home.  The business provided customers with efficient mailing solutions that saved them money and allowed them to focus on their core business functions.  Today the company, led by David Rhoa, provides extensive data, document, and distribution solutions to customers around the world. These solutions are engineered for specific client needs. They invest heavily in technology and are recognized as experts in the marketplace.  Two of their solutions, HealthyScreen™ and HealthyVisitor™, are designed to help businesses comply with local, state, and federal regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic and are examples of how Marana Group is always innovating.

The Challenge

In the midst of a rebrand, the company needed to introduce and explain their new identity to help customers understand the transition. It is not unusual for customers to be concerned when suppliers rebrand or make significant changes.  They need to be reassured. At the same time, Marana Group knew many of its customers simply did not know about the depth, breadth, and complexity of their solutions. They were not taking advantage of services that could help them reach their business objectives. Additionally, it is challenging to explain how highly sophisticated technology and services work to audiences who may not have a technical background.

The Solution

CK and CO created a series of video assets in a variety of formats using the new company brand identity. To explain the transition, David Rhoa was front and center on-camera. He provided a snapshot of the company’s history, growth, dedicated team, and their approach to the future. And seeing the production floor humming gave viewers a window into the work and showcased technology.

“The brand introduction that CK and CO created for us really set the tone for the transition to the new name and logo. It presented a complex issue, many years in the making, into a brief, and easy to understand message that projected our quality, attention to detail, and our continuing dedication to our customers,” said Rhoa.

To address the challenge of understanding Marana Group’s various services, CK and CO used the “explainer” format. Explainer videos are used to educate and create compelling content in a short timeframe. By using icons and motion graphics – along with a fun, casual tone CK and CO created individual short videos Marana Group can leverage across platforms. And as the company has added new capabilities, new videos were added to their library of assets. Most recently CK and CO produced a video on their Personalized Solutions.

“The explainer videos CK and CO put together for us have really bridged the gap for our customers in terms of better understanding what we can do for them. When we send them to our customers and prospective customers in advance of our meeting with them, the tone of the conversation shifts from ‘Tell us what you can do for us.’, to ‘How quickly can we implement you solution?’ They have proven to be a real game changer when telling our story to both existing customers and prospective customers,” Rhoa explained.

While many companies rely on web and social media exclusively for marketing, Marana Group is taking an additional step, sending videos in a mailer. It’s a “clutter buster” because it stands out and gets noticed on a desk. And, unlike email, it won’t get deleted without a look.


The Result

Rhoa believes, “Someday, when I write a book on managing and growing and small, family-owned business, there is going to be at least one chapter on what it takes to change the company’s brand after 41 years.  A large portion of that chapter will be on the importance of telling your story with vibrant, cohesive images, and easy to understand messaging, just as we did with the video that CK and CO created for us.”

The Takeaway

Video is an important tool when organizations are in the process of change.  Face-to-face communication is always effective, but to scale up and reach more of your audience quickly and efficiently, video delivers results. The message is consistent. People can view it on-demand. And the assets can be updated easily and leveraged over time.  So, whether you are undergoing a rebranding, restructuring, or shift in culture, consider video to help you communicate internally and externally.

One last point. As you create video assets you should also develop a strategy for distribution that can include your website, social media, direct marketing, events, and other opportunities. Don’t let the videos “sit on the shelf” – use them!

3 Hot Marketing Trends

We thought the pandemic was behind us – it is not. As the world continues to try to find new ways of doing business, it is more important than ever to stay on top of marketing efforts to help us communicate with existing customers and convert prospects to new fans.

Here’s a look at 3 hot marketing trends you can’t ignore and (spoiler alert) video is key.

A Video Journey

Video continues to be the preferred tool. In fact, 80% of marketers say video helps increase sales. That’s not new. What is? Using different types of videos at every stage of the buying process. Let’s say a customer is considering your product or service. Here at CK and CO, we like the educational, consultative approach of explainer videos. Or a big picture brand video that gives the viewer confidence your organization is top notch. As you start to have conversations, using customer testimonials is very effective. As you get further into the buying process “how to videos” and case studies come into play. The key thing to remember is one video cannot do it all. And please, avoid talking heads.

Blog vs Vlog

In 2020, a HubSpot study found “60% of people read a blog at least once a week.” So, keep writing. Be sure to link other credible content that adds to your story. We do have a suggestion that could level up your brand – turn that blog into a vlog (video blog). Get in front of the camera and use the same content but with the added punch from visuals. You can also add in short video clips from others to illustrate key points. A quality vlog that can entertain and educate will help attract people to your site, allow you to engage with your audience, increase brand awareness, and show your expertise in a unique way.

Vlogs are great tools, but it’s important to keep in mind that video can’t always replace written content and, like we said earlier, you’ve got to keep writing – Google, unfortunately, can’t watch videos. This means Google is unable to index vlogs in the same way as blogs. To ensure your company’s content ranks in the search engine and continues to attract new people to your site, you’ve got to include written content in your marketing strategy. So, the argument here isn’t whether you should be blogging OR vlogging, but how you can incorporate both into your overall strategy.

Get Social

At CK and CO, we are creating more and more short videos for social media to really grab attention. Often these clips are pulled from larger pieces and focus on one topic or message. A call to action at the end of the video sends viewers to additional content, if desired. If you are using multiple platforms, there are ways to coordinate your posts on all the outlets using tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, or if you need a more robust marketing program you might want to check out HubSpot.  Be sure to customize posts so each one is unique to the social media platform. This past year many companies hired Chief Customer Officers to manage social media.  If your organization doesn’t need a full-time person, maybe a strategic marketing firm can help with decision making and execution.

We think, and statistics show, video marketing is the most important trend. Think about all the mobile devices where people access your content. Most people have at least two if not three mobile devices. People would rather watch a video on their device than read teeny, tiny print. Video also provides you with the option of being able to demonstrate your product rather than just talk about it. You can show how your product stacks up against the competition – maybe with a side-by-side comparison.

The Takeaway

These are just 3 of the many trends that top the list in 2021. As we move closer to 2022, now is the time to develop a strategy for using or expanding your video marketing. What assets can you create and leverage for a variety of different audiences?

Video is key. It allows you to bring your customers voice into the conversation, lending more credibility to your company. And, take it from us, video works – regardless of where it is watched. Mobile device or desktop. Your website is 53X more likely to reach Google’s front page if it has video. That’s because people often find video more interesting than print.

Above all, don’t forget to think about the production value. Do you need something highly polished or simple, but well done? Want to know more? Let us think with you.

Blandford Nature Center


Telling a Great Story

CK and CO has worked with Blandford Nature Center for many years to create engaging stories, promote the organization, and raise funds for their capital campaigns. We also produced a full-length documentary on Mary Jane Dockery, the renowned geologist and naturalist who founded the Blandford Nature Center and Environmental Education Center and was also inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. Recently, CK and CO completed an exciting project with Blandford to help in-person and virtual visitors enjoy this amazing community resource.



The Client

The mission of the Blandford Nature Center is to “engage and empower our community through enriching experiences in nature.”  Visitors can hike trails and explore the grounds year-round. There is also a working farm, a historical village, educational programs, and several events throughout the year. Working in collaboration with the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, Blandford Nature Center transformed a former golf course, The Highlands, into an urban natural area that attracts new visitors every day.

The Challenge

Blandford wanted to find a fun, convenient way for visitors to explore their trails, without having to sign-up for a tour. Most of the 100,000 annual visitors walk the trails without an educator and they miss hearing stories about nature and points of interest. In addition, the historic buildings on the grounds are not open daily.

The Solution

Blandford reached out to CK and CO to help them create an interactive and mobile-friendly map to navigate the property. To make each stop a bit more interactive, CK and CO produced a series of videos for various points of interest. The videos were created for each season, from the Mother Maple Wolf Tree to the Log Cabin and the Sugar House. Nature Center volunteers and staff stepped in front of the camera to give an up-close look at the points of interest.

Next, came the map development. CK and CO Senior Graphic Designer, John Cuevas, researched a variety of available platforms to find the best and most cost-effective solution. “There are lots of options for interactive software, but we wanted the best user experience,” Cuevas explained. “It took some digging and experimenting to find the right one.”

Cuevas created and programmed the map and Blandford placed QR code symbols at the select points of interest around the property.

The Result

Blandford Nature Center recently launched the virtual map, and you should check it out!  There are videos, photos, and tons of interesting information to explore. The map does not need to be downloaded to be viewed and, because it’s digital, it will help conserve natural resources. Blandford’s favorite feature following this project is the “blue dot” GPS capability, which “can be turned on when using the map on your mobile phone, so you can roam all 264 acres knowing exactly where you are.”

The Takeaway

Virtual video tours can be an effective way to show off your facility or location and there are many benefits. Your “tour guides” do not have to be constantly available and can accomplish other work, and visitors can tour when it’s convenient for them, at their own pace. Videos can be adjusted for a season or show off changing points of interest.

Once the videos are created you don’t need proprietary software. There are many available options, but each has different features. We can help research and recommend the one best for your needs. The Blandford Nature Center was pleased with the results and said, “We’d like to send a big thank you to the experts at Cynthia Kay & Company for their work putting this resource together!”

Location, Location, Location

“Location! Location! Location!” It’s a favorite saying of real estate agents when it comes to finding a home or a great spot for retail or other business. But location is something that many ignore when it comes to video creation.

We can’t tell you how many times our crew shows up to a business for a video shoot only to be escorted to a sterile conference room, a boring out-of-the-way corner, or messy office. Not very appealing! Just imagine how much better your video could be by picking a more interesting backdrop.

People love to go behind-the-scenes at your business, how something is made or get into an area that visitors never see. The right environment can reinforce and support your message. When we interview experts, it’s so much more impressive to see people working in the background or the well-designed common areas that reflect your corporate personality – and a message can be uplifted by showing the amazing technology your organization uses.

Honestly, no one likes a talking head…but put that talking head in front of something captivating to look at and they will get more attention.

So, what if you don’t have great spaces? We can, and do, make magic – even in less than desirable spaces – so let us help you find the perfect shoot location.

When it comes to finding the right location, you may need to get creative. Is there a customer location that features your products or service? How about a shared workspace that you can rent? This great office building was the perfect setting to talk about employee comfort.

You could choose a great public institution like a recent shoot we did at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The subject was “growing your career” and the setting was a perfect metaphor for the way the gardens are planted and cared for.


Here are a couple of tips to get you thinking about quality shoot locations for your next video project:

  • Choose a location where there is some activity, but not so busy that it can cause delays in production. Or distract from the presenter. It’s a tricky balance.
  • Look for highly visual spaces. That can include walls that are colorful, not bland. Sitting areas that have a pop of color. Texture is important – look for backgrounds where there are interesting materials and finishes.
  • Having depth to your shot can make almost any location look spectacular. To get that depth, make sure there is ample room to pull the interviewee away from the background about six feet, but ideally more.
  • Pay attention to audio. A little background noise is fine. But if it is very loud, shrill, or annoying it’ll distract.
  • Make sure you have permission to use the area and that those in the background are informed in advance. That will help you make sure that people are dressed appropriately and want to be on camera.
  • When you look for a location make sure that you scout it at about the same time that you are expecting to shoot. Lighting and other conditions can vary dramatically during the day, so you want to know what you are up against.

The final takeaway here: Location. Location. Location. Think about it, because it makes a big impact on the final product.

Meals on Wheels West Michigan



Telling a Great Story


In this case study, see how CK & CO worked together with Meals on Wheels
of Western Michigan to create video assets that helped the nonprofit raise awareness
and funds during the COVID-19 pandemic.






The Client

Meals on Wheels of Western Michigan (MOWWM) is a Kent County-based nonprofit that focuses on caring for individuals who find it hard to shop for food, prepare meals, or socialize with others. It is an independent agency of the nationally recognized organization Meals on Wheels (MOW). MOW agencies operate in virtually every community. They are essential to older adults and individuals with disabilities because they don’t just provide a nutritious meal, but often a much-needed safety check and smiling face.

The Challenge

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for organizations like Meals on Wheels skyrocketed. A virus did not and can not stop hunger. Calls to MOWWM increased by 300% at the start of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders from the state’s health department shut down the organization’s main pantry location. The stakes were high as MOWWM tried to manage increased requests from some of the most vulnerable communities – they needed awareness and money.

The Solution

MOWWM reached out to CK and CO to help them navigate a fully virtual world. We produced a virtual fundraising event at the height of the pandemic. During this project, we created a fun and engaging video so that viewers could cook along with Chef Jeremy of Bistro Bella Vita. This was a great way to keep supporters safe and still support the mission.

For a Spring Event, we used a storytelling approach to market their mission to the general public. Three different stories highlighted the areas of focus for MOWWM. Because the organization is known for primarily delivering meals to seniors, we told the story of a woman who depends on MOWWM so she can stay in her home. We also highlighted the organization’s food pantry, which isn’t as well known. Here the story of a veteran who often visits the pantry to help supplement his food supply showed their work in action. This veteran also picks up dog food for his service dog at the pantry. We know that seniors are amazing volunteers who give as well as receive. We showed senior volunteers in action and the joy that comes from helping their peers.

A final deliverable is a video to encourage individuals to volunteer. We used some existing interviews and supplemented them with additional ones to create an entirely new piece.

The Result

MOWWM has a package of video content and is leveraging all of the assets created on their website and for other awareness campaigns. Melissa Soberanes, Director of Community Engagement and Marketing, had these comments. “I shared the videos with our leadership team and it was unanimous – AMAZING!!! Great job, thank you. Thank you to your entire team! Really a fantastic video. We love it!”

The Takeaway

People love stories – stories about your clients, customers, efforts to give back – you get the idea. As you look to create these video stories remember that the individuals must be “camera-friendly.” That means choosing someone that is willing to share their story and can be engaging.

Leverage all shoots, get as much content and b-roll as possible while on-site so that you can create multiple deliverables from the raw video. This requires a plan so that you can have a package, rather than a single video.

Don’t use videos for only one platform. Post on your website. Consider using snippets for social media, events, and other activities.

shooting a video case study

5 Hot Tips for Corporate Video

In case you haven’t been paying attention – video is hot. And I’m not just saying that because I own a media company. Each year, Cisco releases an annual internet report that includes predictions about the amount of video traffic generated. And each year video content consistently outpaces the predictions. According to Cisco, one million minutes of video crosses the internet every second, and smart devices (i.e.: phones, tablets, computers) have accelerated the use of video, too. According to Insivia, mobile video consumption rises by 100% every year.

This information begs the question: How can your business capitalize on these trends? If you haven’t started implementing video in your business and marketing strategy, here are 5 things to consider.

#1 Become a storyteller.

From stories about your employees, cool products, and efforts to give back – people love hearing a good story. So create quality stories that show off your company in unique ways. But that’s only step one. Once you have the content created, you must get it in front of the right people. Your video can’t just live on your website. You’ll want to consider branching out and utilizing other social media platforms. Sites like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, etc. are where consumers are thinking about purchasing decisions. Apps like Instagram and TikTok allow companies to share bite-sized content to users who will enjoy seeing it. Believe it or not, almost 50% of users on Instagram enjoy video ads. Who would have thought that?  As you look to create these video stories remember the individuals must be “camera-friendly.” That means choosing someone that is willing to share their story and be engaging.

#2 Take a cue from the “For Dummies” brand.

Video explainers are huge. An overwhelming majority of people (94%) watch video explainers to learn more about a product and 84% are swayed to a make a purchase. With that in mind, take a page out of the “For Dummies” brand. You know, the folks that show you how to do everything from fix your car to learn an obscure language, to crash courses on C++ programming. People want to learn, and video is critical for that.  An engaging education video will interest a wide variety of individuals, and your product does not have to be physical, either. It can be a service, an app or something else. So, think about how you might use this format.

#3 Let your customers sell for you.

Get those testimonials! Customers who love your company, what you do and what you sell are going to help turn prospects into leads. Testimonials are the best way to showcase how you work with others to solve their problems, meet their needs, and delight them. It is way more impressive and believable to have your customers say how great you are and how you’ve made their lives better in some way. Not to mention, you could see a significant boost in brand trust and customer-brand relationships by featuring real customers in video and marketing materials.

#4 Opt for Edutainment.

You might be wondering, what on earth is “edutainment?” It’s one of those mashed up words: Education and Entertainment. We all know how important training is today – but it doesn’t have to be (and in fact, it shouldn’t) be boring. Think about how you can create video training that engages your viewer.  Maybe you have pop quizzes, or interactive activities. Much like creating video explainers for a front-facing audience, training videos should be both educational and engaging. Because without a doubt, when you make it fun, people will learn something.

#5 Amp up your webinar.

2020 was the year of the webinar. Many people worked remotely and needed to connect, so webinars were incredibly popular. CK and CO helped produce several global and regional webinars and virtual events. I know this trend is going to continue. But please, if your business or company is preparing to do a webinar, steer clear of being just a “talking head.” Try to incorporate short video segments, demonstrations, case studies, or anything else that may be fun and educational. At the very least, share the virtual stage with someone else because no one, myself included, is that interesting for any length of time. As the pandemic slows down and the world reopens in some capacity, there will be a shift to more hybrid events. You may need to plan accordingly for both virtual and in-person webinar attendees.

Bottom line – people are watching video, on their desktops, smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. And based on market research, video works. According to Insivia, viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text. And research by Wyzowl found that 72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service by way of video.  Video is a big deal, and the numbers back it up. If you’re looking to capitalize on this trend, make sure you’re implementing video production and promotion in your sales and marketing strategy.

To help you retain all 5 of these tips, check out the video version of this blog.

Three Hot Marketing Trends

The lyrics to a famous song are, “To everything there is a season.” And while that’s true for most things – it isn’t the case for marketing…it’s ALWAYS in season! No matter what’s happening around the world, or within your business, marketing should be a consistent and well-planned effort. Need some inspiration? We’ve got 3 Hot Marketing Trends to help and (spoiler alert) video is key.


Virtual Events: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Virtual. Tired of the word? We are! But the reality is, virtual meetings and events are here for a while. We’ve produced a lot of them and wanted to share the good, the bad, and the ugly facts. 

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