The Day of the Ad Man: values-marketing #1

In "olden-times", or the day of the Big Ad Man

"PRODUCT-CENTRIC" marketing.

Those old ad guys would dictate that we talk about:

Your product is just better:

“The tastiest steaks in town!”

Discounts & timeliness:

“10% off President’s Day Sale”

CONSUMER-CENTRIC Marketing

Fear, Desire & Sad Songs: values-marketing #2

Instead of ONLY asking the old questions:

“What are the needs of the market” or

“How can we use emotions?”

We need to ask questions like:

“What's important to me and my organization?" &

"Where does that intersect our client's values, our families, and our communities?"

Marketing to Humans: values-marketing #3

HUMAN-Centric Marketing

...or "Values-Marketing" emerges as a new age of marketing.

How do I put all that into practice?

What about Resolution?

If you read no further take this home: If it doesn't fill your screen, don't use it.

3 Considerations of Image Resolution & Quality:

So, Here's Scenario 1 :

Scenario 2 :

When you "bump it up" you lose quality:

Real quick like: How close are faces to your piece?

Web Images

Ask questions below if you have them. I would love to answer them. ~angieO

I'll Allow it…

When you hear:

Here's what I think:

Just feel it out a better than I do, and go with your gut, instead of reacting. I'm still learning.

What to Expect From a Logo Designer

Before:

During:

One word: communication.

A better word: Vector

1200 eats 300 for breakfast.

Back to the artist who's working on your logo design, cuz I'm going to help ya avoid the junky logo.

Vector vs. Raster

After:

coffee warmers

Productivity.

... come on, the mall?!

My perfect work-zone atm:

Don't be an Idgit, Dean.

Don't sit with your friends! (Sin #1)

Don't SIT!!

Don't eat grimy hand food.

Wear a name badge.

Don't shake like a wuss. (Sin #2)

Not opening your clique with body language! (Sin #3)

Don't be an Idget: Part 2

Don't ignore new faces! (Sin #4)

Bring business cards.

Be memorable.

Make the meeting right there!

♯ ♬ ♫ That's what ♪ technology ♫ is for! ♬ ♪

Be that guy: Say 'Hi!'.

Give to Get.

Cramer Capital Management

Does Your Social Need TLC?

Do you have multiple identities or business pages?

You have no idea what "Google Local" does for business...

You constantly miss direct messages.

What does your "About" section say about your business?

Your cover image is empty or some jacked-up version of your logo.

Your links don't go to the right page.

A Greasy Thing

Too much "advertising" not enough authenticity.

Why some Freelancers Suck…

20 Signs Your Website Stinks

1. You have no access to make simple changes.

2. Your Code is Naked and Exposed!!

3. Your special effects could cause seizures.

4. Your AdWords have taken OVER!!

5. Everything is CENTERED down the page (even the bullet points!)

6. A casual observer wouldn't know what you do in the first 5 seconds.

7. Your keywords are not on your homepage, in your titles, or in the context!

8. When you click on a link, it takes you to another website... but opens in the same window.

9. Your visitors are ASSAULTED with an unexpected musical experience.

10. Your text is rubbing elbows with other elements or the edges of boxes.

11. You're asking people to either give you personal information (email address) or to order from you before they "know" you!

12. Bright RGB colors that cause eyestrain LIKE THIS are used in the backgrounds, or far too often.

13. You use more than a few colors.

14. Overwhelming amounts of text. (I have been massively guilty of this myself...)

15. Underwhelming amounts of text.

16. There's a separate scroll for ... well anything!!

17. Pictures or videos don't load.

18. Orphan pages.

19. You use arrows to navigate the "NEXT" or "LAST" page.

20. You're trying to use it as a tool to convert clients, without giving them something they can use right now.

...on Bulls**t

I hold out hope that someday, words won't hold such power over us...

I hope that if we are going to get hostile and waste energy,

shouldn't it should be anger over an action that we find repulsive,

... not meaningless sounds that come out of our mouths?

Here's what I remembered on that trip:

7 Marketing Myths

1. You have to look and sound like a "Big Player".

2. You business must be on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, yadayadayada...

3. 'Email is dead' or 'Print is dead'!

4. "Content Marketing" is free.

5. Focus should be on the sale.

6. Sharing your expert knowledge just giving it to your competition.

7. Everyone should have a blog.

The Day of the Ad Man: values-marketing #1

When you tell a story, the sincerity of your message connects you to your audience. More meaningful than product or cash, 'values-marketing' is about the whole person.

Does that bit sound a little froofie? So... here's the thing, as humans, we are all big piles of feelings, opinions and judgments. Our best clients, like the rest of us... seek to be understood and connect.

A shift has happened in marketing since the 'turn of the century'. Man! That's fun to say and, in my lifetime! See, I think it was precipitated by a shift to "social" thinking. The collective "WE" are no longer content in just being consumers, We want to make a statement, and We want to make a difference. If companies are successful in connecting an ideal with a group of people -  those people will talk about that company. Your idea spreads, and your business grows.

In "olden-times", or the day of the Big Ad Man

HAHA! I know that's within some of you's lifetimes... (possessive plural... ya'lls ? I don't want to restructure the sentence. I like it this way.) In the last century, companies mostly talked TO us. There's no specific date, but there was a time when our values lined up with "best product for your money" mentality. We took their word for it, and We lined up for them. Think of the giants like Sears and Montgomery Ward, they used quality as a measure. Perhaps as a result of industry being relatively new, and the race to the cheapest product hadn't quite begun.

*Photo from FarmCollector.com

"PRODUCT-CENTRIC" marketing.

The concept was: present a product or service, and either tell me why it's superior, why other products stink. The term “competitive advantage” comes to mind. Discounts &/or price gauging would be features of product-centric marketing. In general I will note that not all ads fall in line. The graphic artist's job is to think outside of the box and we do that.

Those old ad guys would dictate that we talk about:

Your product is just better:

“The tastiest steaks in town!”

Discounts & timeliness:

“10% off President’s Day Sale”

A little sideways rant about “perceived value”: I really like talking about the book, Welcome to the Creative Age: Bananas, Business and the Death of Marketing by Mark Earls. It opened with a narrative about a banana. The author’s on a road trip and decides to stop at a gas station for a snack. He goes in and he picks up a banana – it was wrapped in a banana shaped plastic case with a label that read “fresh banana snack”. The point of perceived value: A banana comes with a pretty fabulous wrapper already! It even has a magical quality that tells us when it’s fresh. And, at least for bi-ped primates … a banana is a snack, not a meal. There is a whole school of thought for this type of marketing trick. It's called “perceived value”. We'll get back to the banana.

download-logo-aim

Companies put out there what they do, why they are superior, and a lot of times, advertise cost or savings. Eventually, We stopped listening. Marketers realized that there was something missing: their customer. Questions emerged: "Why do my customers need it?" “What is their pain-point?” That evolution moved advertising communications toward...

CONSUMER-CENTRIC Marketing

I'll get into that and how it relates to Robots in Thursday's post.

*special thanks to retro-graphics.com for the vector images used in design.

I would ask you's to give me an example of a commercial or ad that uses product-centric messaging - but that's boring. So instead, let's imagine a world where that still works... what could an ad possibly say, in this new age, that would catch YOUR attention from a product perspective?

Fear, Desire & Sad Songs: values-marketing #2

Tuesday I posted Day of the Ad Man: values-marketing #1

about earlier days of "modern" advertising;

the product-centric mentality of the last century.

There are 2 ways I look at the consumer-centric mentality:

  1. "See a Need: Fill a Need" - Mr. Bigweld made an impression on me in the Robots movie... What, you don't watch cartoons? It was a good movie! Overall, the movie was a pretty direct shot across the bow of traditional business thinking... A big bad new boss: Mr. Ratchet, discontinues replacement parts and begins only selling expensive upgrades. Now, Rodney (our hero!) begins fixing older robots... they were falling apart in front of them, and causing some distress in the Robots community. He saw a need. Then the movie got all dark and they tried to kill poor Rodney.... But, when Rodney stops running for his life, wins the movie, and buckles down - he'll probably need to shift his thinking a little... I mean, in a market with Amazon and free shipping for parts others are filling the need, cheaper.
  2. The emotional Roller Coaster that is TV Advertising - We are supposed to buy because a company makes us feel... something. Maybe they make us feel secure, maybe the message is of the amazing customer service that reduces our frustration… and so on. Advertisers can use a feeling to inspire a sale. The big ones, however have always been (imho):

A lot of companies are going to be facing a problem in the new era if they don't update their thinking... With social media and the internet we share information freely & quickly. Stories of organizations being deceptive in their messaging, or "pink slime"-type scenarios are all over the place. We've lost a lot of faith in big business. Sure, sex still sells, but if we don't hedge our messages against something more substantial, in the new era, people will tune out.

Instead of ONLY asking the old questions:

“What are the needs of the market” or

“How can we use emotions?”

We need to ask questions like:

“What's important to me and my organization?" &

"Where does that intersect our client's values, our families, and our communities?"

Keith Farrazi in his book: 'Never Eat Alone' says that building success in business is all about building relationships. He says never to keep score and always help another human if you can. This idea of values-driven marketing takes it a step further and drives a business entity to connect with its clients. Those clients will want to bring business to those who earn it. They will want to help.

Remember the banana and that bit about perceived value? We're still gonna talk about that a little more. Come on back next week.

*special thanks to retro-graphics.com for the vector images used in design.

Arby's makes me crazy. Those commercials late at night, when they are closed... I always want to go and grab a sandwich, though I know it will be disappointing. They make it quite desirable. Do you have an example of an effective consumer-centric ad?

Marketing to Humans: values-marketing #3

Hopefully you've read the first two posts regarding marketing progression. If not, go back in time... to last week, and read those.

We started out talking about the Industrial Revolution and how the mind of the consumer, and advertisers, necessarily, was on product. We believed in quality over all else, and it was the yardstick you could measure a successful business with. Then came a increase in choice. We needed a better reason to buy, since quality could be had, and easily. We actually didn't even mind giving up quality, if the price was right. Marketers zeroed in on the emotional reasons for buying when communicating with their audience. The term "Sex Sells" was the mantra of an entire generation...

"What you call 'love' was invented by people like me, to sell nylons." ~ Don Draper, Ad Man, Fictional Character from "Ad Men"

Of course, it's still the case in many ways, but a new type of consumer is taking over the market place. This new breed of consumer refuses to be looked at as a number, a passive participant in some game - or an audience member.

HUMAN-Centric Marketing

...or "Values-Marketing" emerges as a new age of marketing.

“'Human-centric marketing' is defined by brands that approach engaging their current and prospective customers via advertising and marketing tactics as whole human beings with hearts, minds, and spirits.” Philip Kotler

So remember the "fresh banana snack" I talked about in the first post, from the book Welcome to the Creative Age: Bananas, Business and the Death of Marketing by Mark Earls. The consumer is supposed to see a banana, beautifully packaged in molded plastic with a pretty label on it & subconsciously think to themselves "This banana is a better banana than a boring old regular banana!"

The problem: we're too smart for that, we've 'been had' too many times. We saw their tricks. We know there’s a man behind the curtain pulling levers and flashing lights at us. Those kind of gimmicks and tactics piss us off, and a new generation of consumers sees the waste as a reason NOT to buy that banana. There is an opportunity for smart firms to show in a meaningful way, their own values when it comes to selling their products or service. If you rise above these types of tactics, you have it.

I think that Values-marketing represents an evolution in consumer thinking; a culmination of cultural, societal, economic, and technological changes that have occurred over the last decade or so. As a small business owner, it's even more important that we communicate AS actual humans. People really want to do business with other people. They want to support what they believe in. I believe it's a logical progression from two main ingredients at the end of the last century.

  1. Healthy Mistrust of Online Retailers: Online sellers did some pretty shady stuff, especially back in the day. Clicking on the wrong thing could sign you up for 10 years of some book club. Remember the cell phone bills with extraneous charges from Facebook quizzes, or caveats in "User Agreements" that took advantage of our rushed natures? We now have better protections in place for consumers, but I don't care who you are: if you are doing business via the internet, you need to overcome an inherent lack of trust that still lingers. Radial marketing and networking are great ways to broaden your circles online too. Let users know this is your company and that you care about what they think. I'm not saying that online sales are not a great way to do business! I'm saying it's important to show what's important off as much as you do your product. Don't just expect visitors to click and purchase. Customers will need to see something from you first.
  2. In-your-face Advertising: It just kept getting louder, didn't it? Or was that me getting older? HA! Now, this is true. We actually have a law governing commercial loudness, because they DO that to gain your attention. As all the waves of advertising came crashing around us, everywhere we went, advertisers began shouting to be heard, and they still do. We've had enough, haven't we? (The collective 'We'.)

How do I put all that into practice?

It's a balancing act. You have to jump in and start doing something! to see what parts connect best. There are always a ton of considerations, and I'm working it out myself.

Picture your best customer. What belief, value or goal do you share with that person?

What about Resolution?

Photo quality. Supplying files that look good when printed is essential.

Unfortunately, not all printers will alert you if there's an image in your file that isn't the highest quality available. When the order's delivered, you open the box, all excited, but for some reason unknown to you, your image or logo is either blurry or jagged. You call the printer but here's the line:

"It was supplied that way. There's nothing we can do about it."

I don't know what to tell ya, they are right. You've just spent $ on something you don't love.

Most computer users believe that what they see on their screen is what they get.

If you read no further take this home: If it doesn't fill your screen, don't use it.

Here's the rub: The colors, textures and basic look of a photo could change when put on paper (or screen print... but we won't get into that here). See, all monitors have a resolution of 72-100 pixels per inch.

That's "pixels per inch" which is essentially the same thing as "dots per inch"... (I will be using them interchangeably). However!! Printers can print a photo (or "Raster Image" at a resolution of 300 dpi. Do you know what 72 dots stretched to 300 dots across looks like? It ain't perty.

3 Considerations of Image Resolution & Quality:

  1. Dimensions = # of pixels wide and tall an image is. Expressed as: width multiplied by height (i.e. 250 x 600 ppi). To find, just hover over the image in your windows file browser. It will tell you dimensions.image dimensions
  2. Print Size = actual size, in inches (not pixels), that the image will print on the page.
  3. Resolution = Dimensions (across or down) divided by desired print size, 400 pixels across divided by 2 inches on the page = 200 dpi
  4. OR Print size x Optimum Resolution to get dimensions required
  5. Remember optimum resolution for images is 300 dpi at 100%. Any image larger will still print @300 dpi, so there is no reason to go larger than that. To Note: 300 dpi is better than 200 dpi – but most people (including most of your clients) won’t be able to tell the difference.

So, Here's Scenario 1 :

You want to use your image for your business cards. They say that you can build rapport with your clients that way. The file size: 7” x 4” @ 72 ppi OR you can see in your browser that its dimensions = 504 x 288.

Business cards are 3.5" x 1", but you really don't want your pic any bigger than say 1 3/4" across, do ya? That's half the card...

504 pixels divided by 1.75 inches = 288 dots per inch

Go for it. It will look great.

Scenario 2 :

You have a beautiful image you want to use for an 12" x 18" poster with a full background. Dimensions = 1200 x 1600 pixels. This meets the "fills the screen" rule!

1200 divided by 12" = 100 dpi... so, this image wouldn't even stretch to the bottom and it's way too small. I wouldn't advise using it as a central element of the poster. There is no reason you can't use it at ... 4" wide because 1200 pixels divided by 4" is 300 dpi.

When you "bump it up" you lose quality:

3" x 3" @ 300 dpi

6" x 6" @ 150 dpi

12" x 12" @ 75 dpi

You can't make lemonade from a bad file. I'm not even sure how you would do that. One of the most common mistakes people make is "bumping up" the resolution of the file that is low-resolution. Just because the dimensions are "right" now, you cannot give a file information that it doesn't already have. The program will "resample" the image, but all that means is that it "blurs" the edges to make it less jagged to your eye. I wouldn't recommend this as a "fix".

Real quick like: How close are faces to your piece?

A large poster doesn't have to be 300 dpi... because people aren't going to be right up on it. 150-200 dpi is good enough. A billboard is 50 ft or more away so, that could be 30 dpi and be just fine! (I'm not a scientist, ask the billboard company!) Closer to the face = 300 dpi.

resolution-images-2

Web Images

Generally, if a photo is used for your website – it's not going to work unless you are using it for a business card photo. Find the original, look at the dimensions and do the math.

Have you ever uploaded a file only to see it explode something on your screen? If you remember, the monitor's resolution is 72-100 ppi, so, you can better guess how large it'll display on your screen at 100%.

Now that you know how to get the dimensions, and how to figure if it will work for your project, have some fun with it.

I recommend Dreamstime.com. They are reasonable, really great quality, and they even have free images to use.

Shout-out for the images used in this post:

Kitty © Tony Campbell | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Computer © Foto_jem | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Ask questions below if you have them. I would love to answer them. ~angieO

I'll Allow it…

So, I have been taught to never really trust my initial reactions in business. My gut feelings are generally right, but my reactions are wrong... let me explain.

When you hear:

My first reaction is often to try to work with them. I mean, I know what it means to not have a lot of $ in the budget.

Here's what I think:

My GUT this whole time is screaming at me: "Nobody does this, all the smart books say it's stupid! You need to get paid for your time."

Here's what I forget: when I react! in the way I do, I am communicating: "Well, I'm not really worth that, anyway."  They may not even know it, but the client likely lost respect for me. I've just allowed myself to devalue my own work and time.

I'm not saying don't do any favors, by any stretch. I love small business and start-ups, they are so positive and fun to work! I do work for non-profits all the time.

Just feel it out a better than I do, and go with your gut, instead of reacting. I'm still learning.

Do you have a story about saying "NO!" to a client?

What to Expect From a Logo Designer

Starting a business or changing an established brand are exciting. It's supposed to be fun. So, beyond the actual design... what are the things you, as a customer, should do?

Before:

A good designer will understand before ever sitting down:

They may even discuss with you:

During:

A designer will sometimes give a range, like "in about three weeks". Set the relationship up at the beginning to succeed: let the graphic designer know your expectations. I will stick up for my artistic brethran here, and say sometimes more time is exactly what we need to pull it together. I would never assume they weren't on top of it. I'm just saying that the process is different for everyone, and sometimes inspiration doesn't run on the same clock as the designer's good intentions. Just being real.

One word: communication.

They need to tell you if they are going to be late, before they miss a deadline. You need to tell them if you expect completion by a certain date.

A better word: Vector

We're going to get to that, but first some practical examples of printed marketing needs for a business.

Here's the setup: Your graphic designer gives you a beautiful color logo (yourprettylogo.jpg). It looks great and you're excited to put it to use. It's blue and black: 2-colors, right?

pretty-logoI'm afraid it's not. To achieve that blue (or any color, other than black!), your printer needs to use a full-color setup to print a jpeg in color. So here's why that's baaaad.

Example 1: The project is a one color brochure. The printer needs to convert yourprettylogo.jpg to "grayscale" (that's black ink in shades of gray).

resolution2

To know: when you print one-color, and lines are solid - a piece of vector artwork will print @ 1200 dpi (that's "dots per inch", my brotha). The same artwork as a JPG will only print @ 300 dpi.

1200 eats 300 for breakfast.

Example 2: Now, you're taking out a directory ad. You're allowed to use red & black in the design. You like the idea of your logo colored red where the blue is now, but with a JPG there's no easy way to change the colors. You're stuck with the grayscale again. The ad looks OK, but the type is bold and clean compared to your logo... It's a less than appealing way to showcase your company's brand. 1200 gets lunch too.

resolution3

When there are special requirements to make a job look the best it possibly can, you had better have options, or you may be shrugging off quality.

resolution5

Back to the artist who's working on your logo design, cuz I'm going to help ya avoid the junky logo.

Here it is, the magic pill: Ask them to design it in a VECTOR based program. If they can't, you may consider someone else. If they say they design in Photoshop, be wary, this is a RASTER program. This is the program most widely used for really fun stuff, (gradients, bevels, drop shadows…) and really cool logos sometimes...  just get it in vector first. (*the 3-d effect of the science channel "morph" logo was very likely designed in PSD.)

Vector vs. Raster

Vector: Mathematical lines and points tell the computer where to draw the lines. It can be re-sized, re-colored, and rearranged to fit any project without compromising the integrity of the art. You will have those clean lines on a billboard if you want 'em!

If it is not vector--- it's a "raster image".

Raster: The computer reads pixels made of color. These are photographs. Size is limited to the output-resolution. The artwork can only print so large before it begins to look bad or the file size becomes unmanageable. When a change needs to be made, it's time-consuming and costly.

After:

I've talked about the necessity of having a vector logo and the freedom it allows. This will save time, and above all, setup charges. But, what exactly do you need: handy & like, on your computer?

Common vector file extensions: .ai, .fh, .cdr, .eps, and sometimes .pdf

Minimum: ask for the native file and an .eps. You'll be covered.

Common raster file extensions: .jpg .gif .png .tif .psd .bmp (and a bunch more)

I would suggest getting a bunch of formats and sizes of your new logo in raster. It's tough to make these the right size for different applications on your own. I'll post how to do that later, but for now, just try to cover a few bases. I like to name files with dimensions. i.e. myprettylogo-500x150.jpg

.jpg (.jpeg may not work on your computer, just rename it) Get a one-color logo and a full-color in two sizes, a large and a small one.

*thought: while they are at it, have them put together a square one for FB and G+!

resolution6

.gif &/or .png (optional) with transparent background for web use. I would suggest getting a couple sizes for this too. So if you need to put your logo on a colored background you won't have a white box around it.

resolution7

.tif (tagged image format) This can be a full-color logo. Ask for it in 'CMYK' for printing projects. Again: get a few sizes.

Logo design is an investment. I know that was a lot, but if you can remember "vector" you'll at least have the freedom to meet exact specifications to make your printed materials exciting, and fun. :)

Ask me your format questions in the comments.

coffee warmers

Productivity.

If you operate your own business, then you probably think about this a lot. I love getting really into a project, spending hours on tweaking the lines of an illustration, a site map or a poster design. I enjoy the research phase so much... I admit, I have to make myself stop. Some of us spend a lot of time in front of a monitor. eh

I don't want to whine, but it's reeeeally hard sitting for long stretches.

I have spent years perfecting my work-zone set-up for zoning-out-on work, and getting into the zone. Certain comforts, and dare I say: tools, keep my butt in the seat... and I like coffee -- a lot. Until it cools. Then... I don't like it at all. I don't drink it fast... I needed a coffee warmer!

Why had I never thought of this? my productivity depended on it!! I checked my usual haunts: grocery stores, department stores. Nothing. Specialty store? ... the mall?

... come on, the mall?!

I decided I wasn't gonna be responsible for sending that kind of energy into the universe. I found one online. Business saved. Coffee warmed. Zone complete.

My perfect work-zone atm:

coffee on the warmer / ice water / salty, crunchy munchies

brightly colored note cards and stickies / sharpie, pens, highlighters / notepad, sketchbook / phone

LG space cleared of distractions / music

Bluegrass is surprisingly motivating!

Should we get up and move about, I think it's best to dance.

Enjoy a silly little video. The music is off a bit but I couldn't get Kenny Loggin's permission to play Footloose, which is what I was really dancing to.

Don't be an Idgit, Dean.

I go to networking groups. I believe it's a necessity. I've compiled tips so that you come off as a networking pro and not a networking idget. This is the first of 2 articles.

I've picked these up, in no small part thanks to hard-knocks. I've gotten great advice from amazing netWorkers along the way too: Cathy Weaver and Bob Young, among others.

There are few "Cardinal Sins" that we should avoid at all cost. If you read no further: just be honest and natural, you'll be fine. There are some thoughts I would like to put out there, so if you're into it, let's go.

Don't sit with your friends! (Sin #1)

You're here to meet NEW people, remember?? If you live in a comfort zone you'll run out of space to grow.

Don't SIT!!

Again, why would you sit there and eat a meal instead of meeting people? Show up early if you want to mow down some ribs.

.... Oh yeah!

Don't eat grimy hand food.

Finger foods are fine, but don't be licking your fingers. That's not happy sharing, and we're not animals.

fingers

Wear a name badge.

Some of us are visual and have a hard time remembering names. Put it on your shirt! *Be sure it's on the right side of your shirt. Eyes follow a certain path when someone meets a handshake. Make it real easy.

Don't shake like a wuss. (Sin #2)

I'm not kidding!! Handshakes are still an integral part of business. It's not an archaic tradition, and it can't be overstated how important it is! A limp, cold hand, an aggressive squeeze, or too many repetitions will affect perception of you, believe it. I don't care if you are a chick, it's still a big deal.

Not opening your clique with body language! (Sin #3)

group-dynamic

If you see someone walk into the room, and you don't know them, simply smile and open the circle. You would be surprised how effective this is. It happens naturally for some, but make it a point!

Nobody should walk into a networking group and NOT be greeted. Nobody should pass by a closed group at an event, wandering about, nervous or unnoticed. That's it. That's all.

Check back tomorrow for part 2. :) Happy Networking!

Don't be an Idget: Part 2

I've compiled tips so that you come off as a networking pro and not a networking Idget. Did you read part 1? Don't be an Idget, Dean.

Don't ignore new faces! (Sin #4)

This is sorta related to Sin #3 (read part 1)... needed further stress. Also - new blood is the future of any networking group. The group goes stale. Court these people & make them feel welcome. It's everyone's responsibility. PLUS: When we get busier, we don't go as often, do we?

Isn't it amazing to think that your kindness could be just what someone needed to go to that new group, meet strangers and stay in business?

Bring business cards.

*disclosure: I am guilty of this one, which is especially heinous since I sell them. If you forget to grab a stack, stop by a pharmacy and pick up a little stenographers notebook to put in your back pocket. Pop that out, lick your pencil. Write your info real quick and rip it off. Wouldn't that be a hoot? How 'bout just some fun colored sticky notes? OH! Superhero Valentine's cards!! It's fun to be goofy just to see what people say. It could be a great ice-breaker. Which leads me to the next point ...

Be memorable.

Having your 30 sec. intro worked out and memorized: a no-brainer.

Actually making an impact: much harder.

I have heard people work poems or little ditties into their intro. Catch-phrases that catch-on with repetition enough are pretty fun, and can be a great way to bring the group together. (Shout out to "The Sweetest Guy In Town"!) I've seen unique accouterments (yes, I said 'accouterments', so what?) in the form of hats, buttons, clothing, or shoes that create a visual “hook”.

People remember different. Be different.

Make the meeting right there!

If you have a smartphone, and most of us do, make your one-on-one meetings right then and there.

♯ ♬ ♫ That's what ♪ technology ♫ is for! ♬ ♪

I felt like singing that part.

Be that guy: Say 'Hi!'.

If you're not a butterfly: Get over it.

If I go into a group that isn't mingling, I'll "bounce" from one table or clique to the next and just apologize for busting in ...as I'm busting in. Let me say that better... be cool when you're interrupting ("I wanted to meet you guys") and introduce yourself, but DO NOT ramble into your 30-second!! Ask questions instead. Make it about them. Most good netWorkers will ask about you.

Shouldn't it be a natural interaction? That said, don't overstay your welcome. If the whole group starts staring at their feet: you botched it. Who cares. Take your leave, move on and try again.

Give to Get.

Give your time to the group, to the members. It will come back, in spades. We should stick together, share knowledge and help each other, right?

You can get in over your head in a hot minute, so pace yourself.

Thanks for reading! :) Now, what did I forget?

Cramer Capital Management

In October, 2009 - Bruce and Dawn came to WoW Grafix originally to revamp their brand. As I walked into their offices in Overland Park, at the time, I noticed a really old photo on the wall of Cramer Bros. Safe Company. My Grandfather's mother, Irene, was a Cramer (before she married). Now, see this was not just coincidence... I grew up with my grandfather telling us stories about his Grandpa and how he was pretty good at cracking safes, because the man BUILT them! Now, this isn't quite close enough for us to attend the same family reunions or borrow each other's crock pots, as second cousins/once removed, but finding family ties is always fun!

Check out this article about Cramer family innovation. Really cool stuff! The Cramers actually invented the "Cramer Posture Chair" (Great-Great-Grandfather to the office chairs I'm sitting in now!) and a little kitchen stool called a Kik-Step®, (we had one growing up, that damn thing jammed my toe more than once in the middle of the night.)

Cramer family legacy also includes Stan Cramer, who, I recall as a child, had a pretty popular "Call for Action" segment on the nightly news. He would actually take complaints from residents about businesses doing business badly and investigate! If there was something to be worried about, and the company needed to be called out - Stan was The Man!! I will tell you that the name "Stan Cramer" struck fear in a shady businessman's heart in the 1980's here in KC.

So, we sat and chatted for a while and talked logo creation! WoW did a few logos for them, and honestly, they didn't like any of them. This was the first time that happened to me! I can tell you - when it does, it's a bit of a blow... but I put on my big-girl pants, and moved on.

They just weren't feeling it, and it makes no difference what I am feeling - I am not the one who needs to LOVE it. They were able to have a designer create one that they loved, and that's what's important.

So, even though we could have started out a little rocky, we dusted off and got to work. I did the layout for their envelopes, business cards and letterhead. They are very active in the business community and asked us to help with a quick ad for a Business After Hours event for the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce, which they are still active in.  Bruce has been named Chair, after 14 years being a mentor and getting involved. Congratulations, Bruce!

A number of different layouts came after that, and they were always so clear on what they were looking for, and receptive to new ideas, they quickly became one of my favorite clients to work with!

In April of 2011 Cramer Capital orchestrated the first "Let's Get Jazzed" event to benefit the American Diabetes Association. They had it all worked out! They were getting the Jazz Museum downtown for a night of live Jazz, and great food, auctions, and prizes. They needed someone to put together the branding for this spanking new event and they asked WoW! Finally! I get a second chance to blow them away with my design skill!! They loved the way the branding came together (Whew!).

WoW Grafix has had the distinct honor to donate design work each year. This fantastic and worthwhile event has raised a lot of awareness and funds over the 4 years for the ADA. It's just wrapped up the 5th year for the event, and this time the efforts benefited New House Shelter. I wasn't able to attend, sadly, but I hear it was a wonderful evening - as always!

Does Your Social Need TLC?

Do you have multiple identities or business pages?

Did you create one, and so did your website designer and so did your cousin who was helping you 3 years ago? This is confusing and puts out wrong information to potential clients. If they see 2 Google+ pages when they search for your business, which do they click on? Do they all represent you and your values equally or are they incomplete?

You have no idea what "Google Local" does for business...

Let me just briefly tell you. It puts you on the MAP. About a BILLION people use Google Maps every month which is right around a BILLION searches every single day. This gets you in front of LOCAL searches. Get yourself a business page and verify your address. Do it.

You constantly miss direct messages.

Do you have a process for following up? Do you forget to login and check? You gotta stroke it a little for it to be effective. The idea is to be SOCIAL.

So, put it on your calendar. Every Wednesday and Friday morning (or whenever works), before you even check your email or go on a run, spend 5-10 minutes engaging. Do a quick search for a topic your audience would be interested in, relating to your industry and share a good article. Then go on your run. *I hear it's good for you*

What does your "About" section say about your business?

I see a lot of these that are just blank. NO! BAD!! That's very likely the first thing they click on! Make it human, personal and fun. Share a little of yourself (if it makes sense). Always inject passion. Tell a story.

Your cover image is empty or some jacked-up version of your logo.

Each of the social channels have specific dimensions for this highly visible piece of your social identity. Take a pic of your store front, your staff at a meeting (as long as they are having fun), or relate it to your message. Take the time to resize it with the right dimensions. K?

Your links don't go to the right page.

Why would you waste that opportunity? Get someone to fix that for you, quickly. OR your social media has the wrong website address.... that's not a good thing either. Cross pollination is a noble quest.

A Greasy Thing

I talk a big game about values & making your website work for your business... and while I was figuring all this out, I then asked myself the question: what is my 3 year old website doing for me?

It was there, it had lots of fancy phrases & advertising speak, over-easy with with a side of bacon... but there was a little too much fat with the clever turns of phrase that I added to impress and amaze!!

There was so much said that I thought people wanted to hear like:

'WoW Grafix takes your marketing to the next level'

or

'Creative graphics make your business memorable.'

Of course, all of it was true - just highly polished to sound 'more professional'. I spent a lot of time crafting the wording.... when all I really needed to say was,

'Hey, I can help you.'

Isn't that what we are supposed to do: convince 'potential clients' that we are an 'expert' in the industry and that know what the hell we are talking about?

I got lost in that and it became too much. Too many words.

Too much "advertising" not enough authenticity.

Trimming wasn't gonna do it, so I tipped the greasy plate, watched what now felt like slimy language slide down that burned butter smear into the trash, and started from scratch.

The point is, nobody wants to hear that bologna anymore. There's a new way of thinking about marketing, and if we don't start talking to people like people, we're gonna lose them.

So! No more form letters, no more impersonal hand crafted poo that is meant to make us sound like 'a big company'. I give all of my clients a lot of personal attention, so I'm gonna just be me. I'm a little weird, a little goofy - I like COLORS and I love sharing my brilliant ideas with the world.

Have you thought about how you can be more authentic in your own communication?

ACTION: Look at your brochure, or sales sheet, did you include a bit of your story? If not, redesign! When you open a tri-fold the upper left is the first area people look at. Instead of having your product offering in this powerful spot, put a little blurb about why you are in business.

Have you got a greasy marketing story? It's more fun if we don't mention names. :)

Why some Freelancers Suck…

Let me preface this by saying that I love freelancers, they are my friends, they are my colleagues, they are respected mentors.

But artists and creatives are sometimes big babies. I do not exclude myself from the "big baby" label, but I have learned from experience this is what annoys clients about freelancers.

  1. If they care more about how many hours they put in then the result of their work.
  1. If they are more interested in the integrity of the "artwork" then they are in solving your problems - or the goals of your marketing... than they should be painting and selling that. Sure, we can put this stuff up on our walls, and we should be that proud of it, but that's not really the purpose of it, is it?
  2. If they talk in absolutes when you make a suggestion. There are no absolutes. (or they just ignore your suggestions completely) "I don't use that color, font, tool..." We live in a world where there are only compromises in making sure the client's needs are met. If you deal in absolutes then you are putting out the same damn thing over and over again - and that's no fun!
  3. If they act like it's a chore. Don't need to explain this, do I? We freelance because ... PASSION!

20 Signs Your Website Stinks

1. You have no access to make simple changes.

If you literally cannot make a change on your website, this leaves you at the mercy of your web designer / host or cousin's kid who is "good at computers".

2. Your Code is Naked and Exposed!!

i.e. when you see random bits of text with <these deelies>.

3. Your special effects could cause seizures.

They jump and blink or you can't click on the link! Animated Gifs with a crusty white edges or icky drop shadows are gross too.

4. Your AdWords have taken OVER!!

I understand you want to make money with your website, but do that with a great product!! AdWords should never take front stage over your business.

5. Everything is CENTERED down the page (even the bullet points!)

It's just soooo boring!

6. A casual observer wouldn't know what you do in the first 5 seconds.

5 SECONDS!

That's it, that's all you get.

7. Your keywords are not on your homepage, in your titles, or in the context!

It's an SEO thing. (hint: that's how search engines find you.)

8. When you click on a link, it takes you to another website... but opens in the same window.

Why do you want your visitors to go away? Keep them there!

9. Your visitors are ASSAULTED with an unexpected musical experience.

We've all been in a quiet coffee shop surfing or at work... and been surprised by loud noises or music! This is a giant pet peeve of mine.

If you must (*Yes, we used them on the home page. I love them!!) make them on hover or click and be short and sweet!

(side note: don't use music without the permission of the artist. this is illegal.)

10. Your text is rubbing elbows with other elements or the edges of boxes.

Let it breathe! Our eyes are easily distracted.

11. You're asking people to either give you personal information (email address) or to order from you before they "know" you!

Look, you are a business, and you are in the business of collecting user information. This is OK.

Just like a "real" relationship - build some trust first before you ask me for my phone number.

12. Bright RGB colors that cause eyestrain LIKE THIS are used in the backgrounds, or far too often.

13. You use more than a few colors.

Pick 3. (or 4 or 5 but they have GOT to go well together!) Feel free to ask me. I love colors!

14. Overwhelming amounts of text. (I have been massively guilty of this myself...)

Go ahead, go in there and start reading it.

Yeah, right now!

We'll wait......

You're back! Didja get bored? Visitors will too.

15. Underwhelming amounts of text.

When you don't spell out what you want visitors to click on, or what to expect.... "What happens if I click here?" should never go through your visitors mind.

16. There's a separate scroll for ... well anything!!

These are called "frames" and nobody does that anymore, except in special circumstances. (check out the SpaceJam website! it's fantastically 1997)

17. Pictures or videos don't load.

18. Orphan pages.

Users click and then can't go backwards or On-wards without using the browser commands. It's like being in a prison!!! Ok, maybe not, but it will make them feel like getting out.

19. You use arrows to navigate the "NEXT" or "LAST" page.

1999 AOL'ed me and wants its website back

20. You're trying to use it as a tool to convert clients, without giving them something they can use right now.

...on Bulls**t

Well, look... the title of this post will probably offend some people.

I'm sorry about that. I am trying to get a point across.

Points are better when they are sharp.

I hold out hope that someday, words won't hold such power over us...
I hope that if we are going to get hostile and waste energy,
shouldn't it should be anger over an action that we find repulsive,
... not meaningless sounds that come out of our mouths?

But here's the thing: The people who will be offended by my post title, are probably not the people that will want to do business with me anyway. Chances are, I will rub them the wrong way and we won't have a good working experience. It may seem counterintuitive to the old way of advertising think: the "cast a wide net" mentality... with that said I shall move on to the point!

So, I went on this trip over a 3-day weekend. WoW was doing the social media for a SAG supported 270 mile bicycle ride! I was having a lot of fun with it, and when the client asked me if I rode and wanted to participate, I said coolly, "Sure, I ride, and I would love to! *let me just say I was thinking of the elliptical in my basement that I had been using for cardio... not the same...

So, I trained on a real bike, exactly twice. Of the 270 mi... I put in a hefty 55!! We rode through some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in Kansas.

BullstHere's what I remembered on that trip:

  1. You gotta go outside! Play with your friends, feel the sunshine on your back, put your body in motion.
  2. Kansas has a lot of worthwhile, interesting and amazing places you just don't see if you don't get off of I-70.
  3. We can smell bulls**t.

Honesty & making a connection are what make you successful in life, relationships, as well as in business.

It's always been my philosophy and the older I get the more I believe it. No bulls**t.

**So, I was told by a web-guru - the whole word could offend some browser programs. Apparently, I'm ok with offending people though.... the irony isn't lost on me.

Have you ever had those clients that you looked back on and said, well maybe it's for the best...

7 Marketing Myths

1. You have to look and sound like a "Big Player".

This is just not true. Here's your rule: be authentic. You are good at what you do, and you have a passion that is not always evident in the bigger firms.

2. You business must be on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, yadayadayada...

Go where your clients are. Take a good look at your audience. Use the channels that appeal to them. Twitter is more widely used by millennials than any other group, Pinterest is mostly women. But what about fast foodies? or moms? Do the research and put your effort in where you get the closest to your perfect customer. (I don't even know if there is such a group as "fast foodies"... I mean, there probably is.)

Another thought: What kind of content are you creating? If you are dedicated to posting your special deals 3x a day, you are likely to lose your Facebook audience. Tech tips? You may get better engagement on Google.

Plus! Do you have any idea how much time you can spend on this stuff? The more channels, the more work is involved in finding the right image sizes, the way it posts when you click that button... etc. Each site has its own rules for engagement. If you aren't using them properly, it can hurt more than help your brand.

3. 'Email is dead' or 'Print is dead'!

I cringe every time I hear these words. Sure, email goes through cycles but it still has a definite impact on sales, when done correctly. Printed materials are great as leave behinds, especially for qualified leads who aren't quite ready to buy. They may not remember your website, or your Facebook page, but they will surely clean off their desk at some point.

4. "Content Marketing" is free.

Well, that depends on your business... but to create a solid and cyclical audience, you should be leveraging your social media and your website visitors, consistently and strategically. This takes planning, research, and time. How much is your time worth?

5. Focus should be on the sale.

This may have been true in the old days, but it's just not anymore. You will be undersold, you will compete with quality. Focus on the message. The message is how you connect with your audience, as a human. The message is a belief or a value that you possess that your competitors don't. Roll that into the sale, but not before they get a chance to "know, like and trust" you and your company.

6. Sharing your expert knowledge just giving it to your competition.

A lot of folks hold this information close to the vest. But the thing is, savvy consumers of the information age research every purchase. If you can position yourself as an expert in front of them, then you are ahead of the game, and the competition.

7. Everyone should have a blog.

Nope. If you aren't going to keep it updated, and create new, actionable or informational content. Don't do it. If you have a 3 years old post with information about social media, I'm not gonna read it. If your last post was 5 months ago and you never answered your comments, potential clients are probably going to bounce.