Honestly, kudos to the Ad Council team. Jon will be a fascinating speaker and the opportunity to hear how Dunkin' refreshed its brand and performed a spectacular turn-around will be awesome! Nice job, Ad Council.
Welcome to Monday Favorites, a quasi-regular feature to help you make the transition from weekend to work, because nobody but the boss likes Monday.
Today's favorite: typography
The following is a list of all kinds of typography-related resources. There's a metric ton of font related stuff on the web, but here are some of the best.
I Love Typography - Yes he does! John Boardley is a British designer and writer living in Japan. ILT is about fonts, typefaces and all things typographical. It features excellent articles, great writing and lovely type. Also, look for his Twitter handle below.
The Ministry of Type - I really love this one! It's published by Aegir Hallmundur, a British designer, and is about type, typography, lettering, calligraphy and other related things that inspire him. He does an awesome job putting out interesting and beautiful posts on a regular basis.
Spiekerblog - The personal blog of Eric Spiekermann. Eric is one of type and design's heavy hitters and he always speaks his mind. His blog on type is a great read.
The Cary Collection - This is one of the country's premier resources on anything to do with the history of printing. Housed at the Rochester Institute of Technology, it has rich resources on book design, type design, printing and publishing. If you need to do research the folks at the Cary Collection want to help.
This morning I discovered, to my utter joy, that my company is listed number one in a Google Search result. That's right, kids. We've obtained the Holy Grail of search engine optimization, online marketing and social marketing. We're number one, baby!
So, now, whenever anyone searches for a certain string of words, the Bob Wright Creative blog will come up number one out of 265,000 search results! Think about that. Out of a possible quarter of a million options, our company will be number one. Can you imagine all the revenues that will pour in from that free advertising? People all over the world will find Bob Wright Creative and will want to do business with us!
Maybe it's time to start hiring more staff.
What's the search string, you ask? Well ... okay, I'll tell you. A while back I posted this. It seems that due to this post and my clever use of SEO, tags, key words, punchy writing and crafty (the haters say unethical) use of someone else's content, we now own the following terms:
"Helvetica on dollar"
Read it and weep, competitors! Bob Wright Creative now dominates the helvetica on dollar market. So, if you have a client that needs "helvetica on dollar" you can forget it, because everybody in the world now knows that our company is the worldwide expert. You might as well pack up shop and find a new profession.
Competitors, we'll be accepting the terms of your surrender on Monday.
Really, it's no surprise to us. Financial Institutions is a great company to work with. The many years working together—designing annual reports or redesigning their corporate identity—have been filled with great collaboration and respect. Congratulations!
A few years ago a vendor approached us with an opportunity. They’re a large printer in town and their customer base stretches well beyond our local market. They had a customer in New England, a national financial company, that wanted to redesign a magazine. A great opportunity.
The idea was that we would go to New England with our vendor. Together we’d pitch their customer on using Bob Wright Creative to do the redesign and creative and our vendor would print the mag.
Simple enough, right?
We like to be prepared. We do presentations and pitches all the time and we win a lot. The reason we win is we come prepared. We take time to learn what problem our client or prospect is facing and we develop real solutions. It may sound simple but you’d be amazed at how many times our competitors have not done their homework and don’t correctly understand the problem.
I met with my contact at our vendor to talk about the opportunity and to begin to prepare how to approach our joint pitch.
“Oh, I can’t help you. Our owner is going to handle this one and he’s in NYC and is going to meet you at the customer’s HQ. Just go do your thing and it’ll be fine,” I was told.
A sense of dread mixed with panic started to set in, followed by a flurry of phone calls and emails on my part trying to get this thing nailed down, all to no avail. “Just do your thing.”
Like any smart business owner, I decided to take both my creative director and my senior project manager with me. If this baby was going south I was going to be flanked by the best. Of course, a smart business owner would have bailed and told our vendor “good luck.” Believe me, I thought about it, but felt like I was already committed and had to see it through, even if our partner was unresponsive.
So, my creative director, project manager and I drove eight hours to the hotel ready to ‘do our thing’ in the morning, whatever that meant. When we got to the hotel there was no sign of our vendor, so we went out and found a BBQ joint and had dinner. When we got back our vendor and his team of five employees were waiting for us, perturbed.
They were upset that we were not there to show them the presentation we had prepared for tomorrow.
Presentation? You’re kidding, right? We’re just going to wing it and “do our thing” like you told us. Besides, this is your customer and your presentation right? No, it’s all riding on me and my guys. Nice.
Back in my room I felt despair. What are we even doing here? We’re getting an attitude from the vendor who refused to give us any direction and now they want to know where our presentation is? Well, I was ready to go to bed, wake up the next day, skip the meeting and head home.
Fortunately, my creative director and project manager jumped in. We pulled an all-nighter and put a smashing presentation together. We had it nailed and ready to go. We crashed for a couple hours and then got ready for the day.
We met with the client and their team, about six women, and got to work. We put our presentation on and hit a home run. Lots of great dialog, great questions and thoughts from the client on how we would work together. It felt like we were winning the job. I was ready to close and ask for their business; get it done.
Then the owner of our vendor jumped in and shot it all to hell.
He said our two companies, Bob Wright Creative and his company, were like two fighter jets in a war, fighting on the same side. The Iraqi War had just begun. I knew at that moment we were doomed. But, just to make sure, the owner continued. He told all the women there to think of this as our first date. We would spend some time to get to know each other—over a figurative dinner. And then … then we could get more intimate, figuratively, of course. I was horrified.
I looked at my guys and I looked at the faces of the women in the room. We were going to bomb their village, my vendor and I, and we were going to make off with the women and have our way with them, after a nice dinner. It was stunning.
20 hours in a car, hundreds of dollars in hotel rooms, meals, fuel and tons of lost revenues for my top guys to be involved and this man was killing it all with just a few words. He was the Anti-Midas, turning everything he touched to turds.
We didn’t get the job but a legend was born that day. I can laugh about it now, but that printer doesn’t get our work anymore for fear that they might have another great opportunity for us.
Note: This story was originally published on www.mikegastin.com
We've been integrating Drupal into our web development offering lately. It's really impressive!
If you don't already know, Drupal is an open-source content management system (CMS). It's amazingly friendly to development, which makes it perfect for creating custom-designed web sites with a non-proprietary CMS. Developers all over the world support it and it's the CMS of choice for sites like the London government, Mensa, Kofi Annan's foundation, Intel, the Grammys and the White House, too!
As designers and developers we love it because it's flexible enough that we can make it do almost anything. Clients love it because they don't have to buy it, pay licensing fees or get locked into one vendor for life while getting a powerful and capable CMS. Everybody wins.
The more we use it the more we love it and we're really loving what it can do for our clients.
An employee told me about an article he saw in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle about a local competitor that's embraced social media. So, I went to check it out.
I tried to find the article on the D&C's website first, but no dice. The link was broken. I could find the headline through a simple Google search, but every time I hit the D&C site I got an error message.
Okay, that's not my competitor's fault. So, I figured I'd head over to their website to see what they've been doing with social media. I was really interested because I'm working hard to learn how to leverage social media for my company and my clients. I thought I might learn a thing to two.
Wow, what a surprise!
The site is the same one they've had since the early 2000's—same design, same content and all the copy is actually gif files. No text, which means it's not Google freindly. Even more surprisingly, there's no blog, no rss feed, no place for visitors to leave public comments. All I could find was a tiny Facebook icon at the bottom each page. Where's the social media?
I jumped over to their FB fan page. It had a couple contests to increase the number of Facebook fans and there were a couple of picture albums. That's it. Again, where's the social media?
Look, we aren't social media experts here at BWC. We're learning, just like everyone else. We are expert problem solvers, we know communication design like nobody's business and we know marketing. Social media is new, growing and it's exciting. We're using it, just like millions of people do every day. But, we're not selling ourselves as experts. Not yet.
Maybe my competitor's website is suffering from the same problem that the cobbler's children suffer from—papa's so busy making shoes for everyone else that the kids go barefoot. I'd like to believe that's the case. But, often there's too much sizzle in our industry and not enough substance.
We're good at image and look. We know how to get attention, to promote and to get noticed. That's what our clients pay us to do! But, I think we as an industry suffer at times because of it. It's too easy to promote yourself as something you're not and when that happens it's the clients that suffer.
Here's a tip, and it applies to every sort of marketing expert you'll meet, including social media types: Ask them how they will measurably achieve your goals, like driving revenues, increasing memberships or growing donations.
Creating buzz, adding followers, encouraging conversations and all the rest are useless unless you can tie them to your goals. If a person can show you how they will deliver on your goals, you've got a bona fide expert. Hire them.
It's tough choosing an agency to help you with your marketing. Most people approach it like buying a house. They go online, look at pictures, find a few that look really nice, take a tour and then choose the one that feels right. That approach leads to being stuck with a house that's rife with problems and an agency that feels like a boat anchor.
The following guide will make it easier to find the right agency for you.
Before you open your browser to look at portfolios, get a piece of paper and write down two things:
1. Why you need an agency
2. What you expect them to do for you
Knowing the answers to these two questions will save you a lot of time. With defined expectations you'll be able to focus your time on candidates that can meet your needs.
The "why" helps you interview and subsequently measure agencies. If you know that you need an agency because your workload is too much, you are new to marketing and need a little handholding or you have a quota of qualified sales leads you are responsible for you can assess agencies based on those issues.
The "what" helps you find the right kind of agency. Do you just need some help in creating the odd brochure and web banner? Then you should be looking at freelancers. Do you need to do a complete overhaul of your messaging and apply it to a new web design? Then maybe you should be looking at design firms. Do you have a $4 million advertising budget? Then you need to talk to traditional ad agencies with media buying departments.
Where My Money At!? aka ROI
The question of return on investment is like kryptonite to a lot of creative agencies. Make sure to ask each one how you will realize an ROI with them. If they can’t answer, don’t hire them. And by answer, I mean give you a solid, measurable answer, not some fancy dancing. Lots of folks will jump into tech speak at this point and try to explain to you that ROI is the wrong metric, etc. That's BS.
Your company is a business. Why should it spend a dime if it can’t get a return on it? And, as a marketer, why would you want to be viewed internally as overhead? All activities that do not generate income are overhead—the cost of doing business. In this economy, overheads get cut cut cut. Don’t let an agency put your head on the chopping block. Find one that understands how they can give you an ROI.
Peek Under the Hood
Ask agencies about their process. What do they do to get to the end product? Your not looking for a 32-step process documented in a binder. You're trying to get at the agency’s level of expertise. If an agency responds that creativity can’t be bound to a process, then thank them for their time and move on. You are in business and you hire vendors to help you solve problems and drive your company to strength. Relying on the creative muse to do that for your marketing is reckless.
Once an agency has told you how they do what they do, ask them to show you examples of work that resulted from that process. Ask how the results of that process delivered a return on that client’s investment. Listen for real returns.
Winning Battles vs. Winning Wars
Do you need to win battles or wars? Maybe you have your strategy all figured out. Then it’s simple, just hire the tactical experts necessary to deliver on it. But, maybe you want help on strategy. Well, then you need a firm that can support you on that. There’s no correct answer here, just make sure your agency fits your needs.
A Final Word: Beware of Sheep in Wolves Clothing
The agency space is littered with all kinds of companies delivering all kinds of services, and there's a metric ton of overlap; web development companies doing print design, ad agencies doing publishing, freelance graphic designers doing media buy and PR firms doing print media. This is because there are so many firms out there and they all are looking for ways to keep revenues flowing. So, big agencies design pamphlets and freelance web programmers offer logo design.
Go back to your piece of paper. The two answers you wrote are important. Why do I need help and what do I need my agency to do? Don’t talk to a web development company if your needs are centered around supporting your company’s sales efforts. Sure, their account rep might be lovely, but beauty is only skin deep. You need to get a job done. Hire a firm that is made to deliver.
NOTE: This post was originally published on www.mikegastin.com
The fed introduced the new hundred dollar note yesterday which is slated to hit bank tellers and wallets in February of 2011. It might take the fed many months to get the note out, but the design community has wasted no time in reacting!
Welcome and thanks for checking out our new blog! This being our inaugural post, I feel like it should say something momentous, but a simple welcome will have to do. We'll be adding new content regularly, so please add our rss feed to your reader.