Microcontent: what it is and how it can help your marketing

Microcontent hasn’t really found its legs in the financial services industry. We think that’s going to change.

Microcontent is primarily visual content distributed on media such as a blog, Facebook or LinkedIn to bolster your content efforts and draw your audience’s attention toward a more robust piece of content. These may include in-depth whitepapers, infographics or a new video on your website.

What sets microcontent apart from other types of content? It’s short, “snackable” and relatively cheap to produce.

What’s microcontent?

While this isn’t a complete list, the key types of microcontent include:

  • Charts
  • Diagrams
  • Facts and figures
  • GIFs
  • Graphics
  • Illustrations
  • Images
  • Quotes
  • Tips

What’s best for financial services?

Financial services marketers tend to use charts, graphs and tables in their materials. But these tools are used a lot, and your content may lose its impact among the vast amount of charts, graphs and tables that are already out there.

It’s good to look beyond these forms of microcontent when you can. Some types of microcontent that we think are ideal for the financial services industry include:

  • Images are a great way to capture your audience’s attention (think about taking elements from larger, more detailed infographics)
  • Quotes are always eye-catching. If you use quotes, don’t forget to use compelling and complementary images or graphic designs to draw more attention to them
  • Tips that help people excel at their job and life will always be near the top of the sharable content list

From a production standpoint, the best thing about microcontent is that it’s relatively quick to produce, so you can experiment a little more than you would with lengthier or more costly content. This can be a huge benefit for content teams that are stretched to the limit.

If you want to boost your marketing efforts, this is the perfect time to start producing microcontent. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or to learn how.

But can you make a PowerPoint?

But can you make a PowerPoint? We’re asked this question all the time.

It’s no surprise. “Financial services marketing and investment commentaries” covers a broad range of possibilities. To find out more about investment commentaries, click here. To find out more about financial services marketing, read on.

Services at Ext. Marketing Inc.

Yes, we make PowerPoint presentations – and we can do much, much more for you. Here are just some of the ways that we can help you and your firm achieve your marketing goals while alleviating many of your concerns and challenges around resourcing:

  • Copy and design for PowerPoint presentations
  • Copy and design for newsletters
  • Digital newsletters and eBlasts
  • Copy and design for brochures, infographics, sales tools and fund sheets
  • Copy and design for websites and microsites
  • Strategize and execute custom content campaigns
  • Write blog posts for content marketing and other usages
  • Help you brand and get the word out about a new product or services
  • Conduct marketing materials audits
  • Copy for executive speeches
  • Copy for press releases
  • Lead brainstorming sessions
  • Enhance your social media activity and presence
  • Script, storyboard, shoot and edit videos
  • We even offer print production and translation services!

You get the picture – we’re a full-service marketing and communications partner for financial services firms.

If you have a marketing challenge, we can help you work through it. Contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

Fuming over file types? GIF yourself a break

When it comes to representing your company’s brand, your logo is right at the top of the list. It should always look crisp and clear. So much depends on sending the right file type for print, web design, promos and sponsorships. But how are you supposed to know which file type to send? Here’s a tip: everything you need to know is right there in the file name extension. Some of the more common graphic file extensions include:

GIF (Graphical Interchange Format)

These low-resolution (low-res) files look best on the web, and are small enough to send via email. Avoid using them for printed materials.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

PNG files look great in PowerPoint presentations. These are also low-res, and not recommended for printing.

JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

JPG files are fine for office printing and the web. JPG files can be medium- or low-res. They are not necessarily crisp enough, however, for high-quality printing.

AI (Adobe Illustrator)

AI is a source file, meaning the format in which your logo was actually created. Most printers, large-format sign makers and companies that produce promotional products prefer to receive AI files.

EPS (Encapsulated Postscript)

EPS files are also great for printers, large-format sign makers and promo companies.

TIF (Tagged Image File Format)

TIF files can be quite large in size, but are very reliable for high-quality printing.

Avoid getting into a “TIF” with your printer and “GIF” them the right logo file every time!

Contact us today at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or for help with logo design, printing or brand development.

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Slide some design tricks into your repertoire

Slide some design tricks into your repertoire

A search for “PowerPoint Design Do’s and Don’ts” will return dozens of sites offering firm rules for PowerPoint design, but we think there is one rule that overrides them all: your presentation has to be easy to read.

Keep your viewers in mind, and you can’t go wrong. Here are some tips to keep you on the path toward PowerPoint clarity:

Edit your text

Cutting text is the best thing you can do to make your slides look clean. Don’t hesitate to use point form sentence fragments, or one word bullets. You can fill in the blanks with the support of your notes.

Restrict yourself to two fonts

Although one font is ideal, it’s okay to use one font for your headers and another for body copy. Sans-serif fonts work best for slide copy (like Calibri or Arial) as they are clean and easy to read.

Use no more than three or four colours

Too many colours can be visually distracting. Most firms have two main corporate colours, with a few secondary colours available if you need them. Try to stick to the two main colours, using lighter and darker tones if necessary.

Keep calm and don’t over-animate

Those animation features are so cool and so easy to apply, but try to control yourself or your presentation may resemble a middle-school science project! Ditto for Clip Art and Smart Charts.

Use graphs and charts

Look for spots where numbers can be converted to pie charts or bar graphs. Convert long lists into tidy tables using preformatted table design options.

If you’re looking for some help with your presentations, contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

Read more:

How to turn lemons into lemon meringue pie

Presenting a few helpful PowerPoint tips

PowerPoint is 26 years old this year and some people at Ext. Marketing Inc. (we won’t name names) have been building presentations for almost as long, back when slides were printed onto expensive transparent sheets and we called them overheads and carried them around in boxes.

While presentation technology has changed for the better, some of the slide-building fundamentals we learned in the early days still hold true.

1. Build Master slides first

Before creating a presentation, click View > Slide Master and create custom Master slides with the approved corporate logo, colours and fonts (your marketing department probably has branded Master slide decks ready for use).

If you’ve never used Master slides before, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the concept. It’s fairly simple, and will save you tons of time: no more painstaking, slide-by-slide design updates.

2. Use the Outline window to add text

Toggle between Slide and Outline view at the left-hand of the PowerPoint Home screen, and add your slide text in the Outline window rather than typing directly in the individual slides.

Add your slide text in the Outline window rather than typing directly in the individual slides.

This small step will save you time in the long run: the tidy Outline hierarchy makes it easy for you to organize your thoughts, make major text edits, and import or export large blocks of text with one click.

3. Use the Slide Sorter to move things around

You can simply click and drag to reorder your slides without losing track of anything or accidentally deleting a slide. Slide Sorter is also the best way to gain an overall high-level view of your presentation message and how it flows.

Simple but effective. Just like PowerPoint.

If you’re looking for some help with your corporate presentations, contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

Five things to avoid when creating graphs and charts

Using a chart or graph can be a simple and eye-catching way to display information that might otherwise need paragraphs (or pages!) of text to explain.

When done well, your audience should be able to scan and interpret your graphics quickly and easily. When done not-so-well, simple graphics can confuse a reader. Here are some things to avoid doing when visually displaying information.

3D and other special effects

Using 3D and blow-apart effects can make your data hard to interpret. Think about a 3D bar chart for a minute. The 3D effect is created by angling the bar upward. What part of the bar is your reader supposed to be looking at? The front (the lowest part) or the back (the highest)?

If you’re not there to explain the data, don’t be surprised if your readers can’t figure it out on their own.

Blow-apart effects, which we often see with pie charts, create similar issues. The parts of the pie are harder to compare when they’re blown apart, which can lead to misinterpretation of your data (source). Remember, your readers should be able to interpret a well-designed graphic at a glance. Don’t make them work for it.

Your readers should be able to interpret a well-designed graphic at a glance. Don’t make them work for it.

Odd scales

Another way to make your readers work is to challenge their assumptions. And most readers assume that most charts start at zero. Starting a scale with a number other than zero can distort your information, leaving the impression that your data has been skewed.

Information overload

Trying to present too much information on a line graph reduces your readers’ understanding of what you’re trying to say, because it makes it difficult to find the data points on your graph. Similarly, too many bars in a bar chart can make it hard to distinguish between groups of data. You’ve seen these charts, where all the information just blends together.

If you have too much information to present, consider creating a series of charts by grouping different sets of data in a logical way. If that doesn’t work, it might be best to skip the chart in this case and tell your story with text.

Too many/non-contrasting colours

Eye-catching graphics use colour, but using too many colours can leave your chart looking messy. It can also confuse readers as they start to lose track of which colour was supposed to represent which piece of information.

Six is the maximum number of colours you should use, but most sources will tell you a three-colour palette is ideal. And if there’s any chance your chart will be printed out or viewed in black and white, choose a palette with plenty of contrast.

Skipping the text

A well-designed graphic is a great way to present information for visual learners. You know, those people whose eyes glaze over when they see paragraphs of text followed by more paragraphs of text. But don’t underestimate how important it is to reach all types of learners. There are plenty of people who will struggle to interpret a line chart no matter how simple it seems or how well it’s designed.

To make the biggest impact and reach the widest audience, use a mix of graphics and well written text. Your readers will thank you.

For effective and engaging design ideas follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.