Thursday, November 19, 2009

It is a Great Time to be Small

The reality is that we will not be in this recession forever. We are moving from recession to transition. Yes, clients are still buying but they are buying differently. After full economic recovery, they will continue to buy differently. Thus every organization and company needs to develop responses and solutions to address this transition.
Even the larger companies will have to change and this is great news for smaller companies. Large organizations have organizational structures that are slow to move and change. Their bureaucracy prohibits the types of changes that will be required. An example is when it comes to advertising. Previously advertisers and marketers measured ad campaigns by the amount of exposure. Social marketing channels have changed that. What we need to offer our clients (no matter the industry) are metrics to measure not exposure but effectiveness.
We must realize that the digital world is no longer a specialty but rather a competency that must exist throughout all elements of an organization. So my advice to small business owners and managers of larger organizations – as a ‘60s popular song lyrics read “for the times they are a changing”. That is a good thing if you start today moving from recession to transition just like your clients purchasing patterns.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Look Smart, Act Smart, Be Smart

One of strongest selling points for an organization, especially when providing professional services, is to have current and potential clients believe you are “smart”. This does not mean that you act as a “wise-guy” rather you are known for good ideas, professional knowledge, and willingness to share your insights. We call this Knowledge Perception.

There are several ways to build Knowledge Perception:
• Give seminars, workshops, and presentations – always be open to “speak” to people. Act as a subject-matter-expert (SME).
• Write books, e-books, and white papers – get your name and your organization’s name in print
• Electronic magazines and newsletters (e-zines). Provide helpful and relevant information to your audience.

We strongly suggest that you consider e-zines as part of your sales and marketing leads generation. Develop Knowledge Perception as part of your brand awareness.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What are you colored blind?

When working with clients, especially when it comes to brand and branding, we emphasis the importance of color (quick lesson: if 80% of all purchase decisions are emotional and 60% of emotion is created by color then. . .). Yet color is often a great source of frustration for both the designer and the client. This is especially true when the client wants you to match a color from some printed material (they do not have the color code (PMS, CMYK, RGB, etc.) and are judging if you have isolated the correct print color by viewing it from their lab top. Or they are trying to view using their in-house, free ink-jet printer of 4 years ago and are thinking that you are just stupid because it does not look green to them – it looks grey. You think that they are crazy and must be color blind.

It does not work. Stop right there. The two parties will never agree and if you do wait until you print. It will look even worst (did not even mention coated or uncoated.)

Designer – color is important. Take time to instruct your client on the science of color, Explain what the various color codes are, and why at times there is not a direct match between PMS CMYK and RGB. Explain what are web safe colors and their benefits. Warn them to never do final approval for print via a monitor.

Clients – Color is important. If you selected a professional studio/agency they know what they are talking about. Invest time in learning color management. Trust them. If not, you are just causing problems for the professional you hired and for yourself. Remember the most effective color probably is not your favorite color. We are trying to sell not select a color swatch for painting your house.

One final note: more than 15% of the population has some type of color blindness, but that is not the type of color blindness I am talking about. Color is important to the sales and marketing process. Take time and learn about color and color management – do not be blind to color.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Touching the Infinite

One thing good about blogging, is that your blog can and should be personal. Your blog should also be at times controversial. Well today I enter both arenas.

Yesterday, the studio took an employee motivation day and went to the Business Motivation Seminar at the convention center. There were over 7,000 attendees just at the convention venue. Do not know how many were at the Arena downtown. NO I am not going to comment on the program or the speakers (my favorite was Laura Bush). The organizers of the seminar said that their surveys indicated attendees were looking for more topics on spirituality and personal finance.

I was pleasantly surprised that most, if not all speakers continually referenced the need to include God in what we do. This got me thinking. God is the creator of all things. Our industry often uses the word create or creative such as creative graphic design. Not that we are playing God (even though there are some out there who border on thinking they are God). There is something in us designers who try to tap into that spark of creativity given to us as a gift from God. We, on/in various forms of media try to create stories, ideas, communications, and yes even beauty. As designers we try to “create” beauty and balance that we see all around us. As designers, everything we see is looked upon from a view point that was given to us as a gift from God. We strive to touch the infinite knowing that we never can. As St. Theresa once said, "God in the blinking of an eye can create an infinite number of new realities (new designs)".

I thank God for my gifts and talents in participating in the creative process, even if it is, in terms of eternity, just a grain of sand.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Get rid of some of the hot air

We often say that a picture is worth a thousand words. This is sometimes misinterpreted as visualization can replace words. This is so – not true! When marketing and selling, words are extremely important. Designers must work hand-in-hand with copywriters. Words are necessary tools to motivate and persuade your audience. Words are still a storyteller’s strongest tool. This is such an important subject that copywriting will be the theme topic for our upcoming monthly e-zine “Studio Buzz”.

I will leave you with just one of the many skills, good copywriters must have – elimination of wordy expressions! Marketing and sales collateral must be focused and on topic. The shorter the available copy space, the more challenging the task. Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was a masterpiece. The President was able to say more in his short speech than the speaker before him did in an hour and a half oration.

So here are just some examples of phrases that amount to little more than “dead wood” Most can be trimmed to a single word.

Instead of: At the present time, use now
Instead of:At this point in time, use now
Instead of:As of this date, use now
Instead of:At that time, use then
Instead of:At that point in time, use then
Instead of:During the time that, use when, during
Instead of:At which time, use when, during
Instead of:On the occasion of, use when, during
Instead of:Subsequent to, use after
Instead of:In the event that, use if
Instead of:After very careful consideration, use after considering
Instead of:Make inquiry regarding, use inquire

These are some of the many examples that demonstrate avoiding wordy expressions.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Are you design savvy?

A couple issues back of our studios’s e-zine “Studio Buzz” we talked about the importance of design. We also stated that since customers/clients so often make buying decisions based on emotions, successful organizations recognize that their human assets need to be design savvy. It is no longer function over form but it is now form over function. So how do you become design savvy? First of all, remember that design is about usefulness and affect not about contemplation and what you like. Design needs to communicate a message or concept.

Design savvy needs to start with the designer. As designers, often the people who make the final approval of our design(s) are not visually trained. They operate in the world of budgets and market share increase. Words and logical thought are their tools. They really cannot tell if a design is good or not. They then often revert to what they like. They need and often time want to be convinced.

Designers must be able to and prepared to sell their design with words. As designers we must assure our clients that the design has merit and supports their marketing strategy – the perfect solution to their problem.

So what does this have to do with becoming design savvy? First when reviewing designs, try to separate what may work with what you like. There is no room for egos when it comes to being design savvy. Second, make your designer present as part of the design review the following three things:
• What objectives they were attempting to address
• What assumptions they used in their design
• Verbally explain how the design achieves the objectives within the assumption set

And designers remember one thing: ultimately your job exists only to help your clients achieve their objectives and they nearly always have the last word.