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A Tale of Three Graphic Designers

March 16, 2009

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My company has been working on updating its brand, including logo, brochures and other marketing collateral.  Being the Director of Creativity, the task of finding a graphic designer was up to me.  This is my experience.

Graphic Designer A. Since I am in a networking group that has a graphic designer my first thought was to contact them.  After all, I want to support the people in my networking group.  From all of the samples of work that they had done for other people in our group, I was pretty sure that they could do a good job for us.  Plus I knew that their rates were very reasonable.

I contacted graphic designer A by telephone and email and asked for a quote, which they sent to me promptly.  Then I agreed to work with them.  There was no contract, just an email.  The graphic designer did not contact me to find out what I wanted as far as a logo design, colors, style etc.  Basically I just told them that I wanted a logo with our name.  I was very surprised they didn’t at least send me a worksheet to fill out so they could get my ideas. Working with them was difficult.  They did not return my telephone calls, preferring to communicate via email.  Once it took them a week to return a call or email, indicating, when they finally did, that they had been out of town on an emergency.

After what seemed like 20 revisions on our project, and missing several deadlines, we finally did our own research to find examples of the type of logo that we wanted.  After that they were able to get it done.  It was a difficult experience.  We loved our logo, and the cost was right, but the experience was very frustrating.  Grade C-.

Graphic Designer B was another one I met in a networking group.  I contacted them because out of all of the graphic designers in this group, they were the only one that had contacted me outside of the group on a friendly basis.  Although I wasn’t exactly excited about the style of graphic design this designer preferred, I wanted to give them a chance.  Their rates were double of Graphic Designer A.

Graphic Designer B returned my telephone call and email right away, both by phone and email.  They provided me a quote for the project I was working on and worked with me to get it to fit within my budget.  They did not send me a predesign questionaiire either.  Can you tell I was expecting this type of communication?  However, I sent a very clear email with a sample of what I was looking for.  The first draft was right on target and I was very pleased.  My only concern was that in communicating with this designer, they let me know they were very busy, going to meetings or whatever.  It took a little longer than I expected to get the project started, and the designer did not communicate a deadline for finishing.    I felt like my project was not a priority.  Grade B.

Graphic Designer C.  After going through those experiences I decided to bid out my next project on a portal called Elance.com.

Elance is a website where people can connect with service providers to get projects done.  You post your project, in my case, I was looking for logo, and business card design, and then services providers bid on it.  You get to pick from the multiple providers, which enables you to find styles, prices, etc, that work for you.

After posting my project with an end date of 7 days, I received almost 100 bids.  I narrowed the bidders down by feedback score (95% satisfaction or higher), price, and style of examples in portfolio.  If I had wanted to, I could have also narrowed it down by location, or specialty.  I finally chose a provider and accepted their bid.

Graphic Designer C immediately responded to my bid acceptance and sent me a predesign questionnaire.  Nothing too difficult, just about 10 questions asking what I was looking for, what colors, styles, and sample logos I liked, and then we were off.  Within 24 hours they sent me 8 concepts.  I was very pleased.  I quickly narrowed it down and they responded again within 24 hours.  What surprised me the most about the experience with this company was that even though they are a large company with many graphic design projects, they made me feel like my project was the only one that they were working on.  They always responded quickly and kept me current on timelines.  I never felt like I had to guess what was going on.  Their price was reasonable and they threw in additional value by designing a business card and stationary exactly to my specifications.  Grade A!

In order to build buzz for your business, you’ve got to create a customer experience like none other.  You’ve got to make your customer feel like they are your number one priority by calling them back promptly, communicating, and following up.  Graphic Designer C delivered on my expectations and then some and I most highly recommend them for your graphic design and web needs!  Want to find out who they are?  Email me me with the subject line:  Graphic Designer C, and I will send you their info!
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Coming soon!

March 15, 2009

coming-soonHow to Build Buzz for your Biz:  23 Creative and Inexpensive Marketing Strategies That will Get You Noticed is coming Soon.  Click here to be notified when it is ready!

In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite Free e-Books for download:

Lose Control of Your Marketing, by David Meerman Scott

Marketing Apple  5 Secrets of the World’s Best Marketing Machine, by Steve M. Chazin

Sticky Note Success:  25 Self- Motivating Messages to Pump up Productivity and Stimulate Sales, Scott Ginsberg, the Nametag Guy

Free Mercedes Benz SLK 350! Limited Time Only!

March 8, 2009

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Did that headline get your attention?  It certainly got mine!  But what if we changed the headline to read:

“Free Mercedes SLK 350 Brochure, Just Drop By.”

No, that one doesn’t really get me excited.  Does it you?  What’s the difference?

Free offers are one of the best ways to get your company or product or service noticed. They can create instant buzz for little cost.  But they have to be done the right way; otherwise you’ll see your efforts backfire.

Here are 7 No Fail Rules of Running a Successful Free Offer

1.      The Rule of Dollar Value. The offer has to be something that that has a dollar valued attached to it.  Case in point,   Denny’s recently ran a campaign for free Grand Slam breakfast for everyone in America.  The value of a Grand Slam is approximately $5.99.  Millions of people waited in line at Denny’s Restaurants all over the country to take them up on their offer.   Denny’s said their promotion was a huge success. According to one of the Denny’s managers, Free freaks people out; they call and say, ‘What’s the catch?'” And Denny’s thinks that by “freaking people out” in a good way, it will keep them coming back for more.

2.      The Rule of Desire. It has to be something that customers want, and wouldn’t be able to get unless they paid for it themselves.   Good examples include free Kindle books for Kindle owners at Amazon.com   or free MP3 downloads from Napster.com.

3.    The Rule of Relevance. One way to make sure that your offer is something that people want is that it has relevance to what’s going on right now or what’s popular.  Dunkin’ Donuts gave away free iced coffee in May and experienced great success.  Would they have done so if they would have given away hot chocolate instead?  The question to ask yourself is what is relevant in the market right now?  What are people talking about?  Then tailor your free offer to address that.

4.      The Rule of No Strings Attached. For free to work, it has to be 100% absolutely free.  As customers, we are weary and cynical.  We don’t know who you are yet, and we don’t trust you yet either.  Give us a chance to trust you by giving something away that won’t require us to sign up or opt in.  If you’ve followed all of the other tips above, it’s highly likely we’ll tell others and we’ll come back to see what else you have.  David Meerman Scott, Author of the “Word Wide Rave,” gives away a free eBook on his website WebInkNow.  It’s definitely worked for him as his new book, “World Wide Rave” is one of the top sellers on Amazon.com.  Scott believes that the purpose of free is not to generate sales leads but to create positive buzz about you, your product, or service.

5.      The Rule of Taste: The freebie should only be a taste of what you have to offer, not necessarily the whole meal.  Costco is very successful with this sampling strategy.  In fact people will go to Costco on Saturdays just to get the free samples, which are so plentiful they can easily score a “free lunch!” Costco doesn’t seem to mind.  You know why?  Because it works!  How many times have you tried a new food at Costco and ended up purchasing a whole package?

6.      The Rule of Limited Time: Customers who go to Costco know that the free samples are only given out on weekends.  They make sure they are there to get them or they will miss out.   Denny’s free Grand Slam was only good for one day.  Having an expiration date or a limited supply will create urgency that creates buzz and also will motivate people to take action right away.

7.   The Rule of the Right People: Have you ever noticed how much free stuff celebrities get even though they can easily afford to buy the stuff themselves?  That’s because they are influential.  Other people see what they are wearing or using and want to follow suit.  If a celebrity likes something, they may also spread the word.  Oprah ‘s Book Club is a case in point.

According to Andy Sernovitz, in his book “Word of Mouth Marketing”  you’ve got to identify the “Talkers,” that is those people who by nature enjoy spreading the word and will spread the word about you.  So who are talkers?  Talkers are people that naturally use your product or service.  A celebrity may not be the best talker for your business.  For example, if you own a retail store that specializes in organic clothing, a talker might be a well known blogger or journalist who specializes in that area.

Many business owners miss out on the buzz they can create, or even create negative buzz by doing free offers the wrong way.  Don’t let this be you, by following the 7 No Fail Rules of Running a Free Offer, you’ll be well on your way to creating buzz for your business!

Photo by:  Jiazi

Advertising is Dead!

March 5, 2009

rip-advertisingShh, don’t tell anyone, but traditional advertising is dead! I can’t remember what I had for lunch a half an hour ago, let alone what commercials I saw while watching American Idol, or what ads were in this month’s issue of In-Style Magazine.  If you think your customers can remember your ad because it’s funny, unusual, colorful, etc., you are sadly mistaken.  So if you want to get customers, you’ve got to go back to the old way of doing things: word of mouth!  Fortunately you don’t have to saddle up your horse and ride through the streets yelling “the British are coming!”  Because in this era, word of mouth spreads through what’s known as “social media.”

Yes, customers want to get back to the foundation of society:  relationships.  Just like in the days of Paul Revere, customers want to do business with people they know, like and trust.  Furthermore,  they want the people that they do business with to know, like, and trust them as well.  No more, “If you don’t come see me today, I can’t save you any money.”  We’re savvy, we’re cynical, we relational, and we’re powerful.   Through social media marketing, we can reach all the customers we need and then some.   And the good part of all of this is, you don’t have to spend a single dime.

photo courtesy of Flickr, 2005.

23 Rules for Success in Life and in Business

March 1, 2009

1.  Focus on the One Thing.success

2.  Take time every day to practice.

3.  Expect the unexpected.

4.  Have a plan B, and C, and D…

5.  It always takes longer than you think.

6.  Pick your battles.

7.  Be loyal.

8.  Make friends.

9.  Don’t tell, show!

10.  Choose to be happy!

11.  Enthusiasm is contagious!

12.  So is fun!  Have some!

13.   Fake it until you make it.

14.  Be content in the now, but always strive for improvement.

15.  Life is a journey.

16.  Enjoy the ride!

17.  Don’t forget the lessons.

18.  There is no such thing as failure, only experiments.

19.  Always believe.

20.  Surround yourself with awesomeness!

21.  It takes a team!  Make sure they are the best.

22.  Don’t trust blindly.

23.  Do everything with Love!

* Photo taken by Daniel Cooper Esq. from Flickr.com

50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business

March 1, 2009

Thanks to Chris Brogan for allowing a repost:  Check out his original article at:

http://www.chrisbrogan.com/50-ideas-on-using-twitter-for-business/

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We really can’t deny the fact that businesses are testing out Twitter as part of their steps into the social media landscape. You can say it’s a stupid application, that no business gets done there, but there are too many of us (including me) that can disagree and point out business value. I’m not going to address the naysayers much with this. Instead, I’m going to offer 50 thoughts for people looking to use Twitter for business. And by “business,” I mean anything from a solo act to a huge enterprise customer.

Your mileage may vary, and that’s okay. Further, you might have some really great ideas to add. That’s why we have lively conversations here at [chrisbrogan.com] in the comments section. Jump right in!

Oh, and please feel free to reblog this wherever. Just be kind and link back to the original article.

50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business

First Steps

1. Build an account and immediate start using Twitter Search to listen for your name, your competitor’s names, words that relate to your space. (Listening always comes first.)

2. Add a picture. ( Shel reminds us of this.) We want to see you.

3. Talk to people about THEIR interests, too. I know this doesn’t sell more widgets, but it shows us you’re human.

4. Point out interesting things in your space, not just about you.

5. Share links to neat things in your community. ( @wholefoods does this well).

6. Don’t get stuck in the apology loop. Be helpful instead. ( @jetblue gives travel tips.)

7. Be wary of always pimping your stuff. Your fans will love it. Others will tune out.

8. Promote your employees’ outside-of-work stories. ( @TheHomeDepot does it well.)

9. Throw in a few humans, like RichardAtDELL, LionelAtDELL, etc.

10. Talk about non-business, too, like @astrout and @jstorerj from Mzinga.

Ideas About WHAT to Tweet

11. Instead of answering the question, “What are you doing?”, answer the question, “What has your attention?”

12. Have more than one twitterer at the company. People can quit. People take vacations. It’s nice to have a variety.

13. When promoting a blog post, ask a question or explain what’s coming next, instead of just dumping a link.

14. Ask questions. Twitter is GREAT for getting opinions.

15. Follow interesting people. If you find someone who tweets interesting things, see who she follows, and follow her.

16. Tweet about other people’s stuff. Again, doesn’t directly impact your business, but makes us feel like you’re not “that guy.”

17. When you DO talk about your stuff, make it useful. Give advice, blog posts, pictures, etc.

18. Share the human side of your company. If you’re bothering to tweet, it means you believe social media has value for human connections. Point us to pictures and other human things.

19. Don’t toot your own horn too much. (Man, I can’t believe I’m saying this. I do it all the time. – Side note: I’ve gotta stop tooting my own horn).

20. Or, if you do, try to balance it out by promoting the heck out of others, too.

Want one of the best themes around?

Some Sanity For You

21. You don’t have to read every tweet.

22. You don’t have to reply to every @ tweet directed to you (try to reply to some, but don’t feel guilty).

23. Use direct messages for 1-to-1 conversations if you feel there’s no value to Twitter at large to hear the conversation ( got this from @pistachio).

24. Use services like Twitter Search to make sure you see if someone’s talking about you. Try to participate where it makes sense.

25. 3rd party clients like Tweetdeck and Twhirl make it a lot easier to manage Twitter.

26. If you tweet all day while your coworkers are busy, you’re going to hear about it.

27. If you’re representing clients and billing hours, and tweeting all the time, you might hear about it.

28. Learn quickly to use the URL shortening tools like TinyURL and all the variants. It helps tidy up your tweets.

29. If someone says you’re using twitter wrong, forget it. It’s an opt out society. They can unfollow if they don’t like how you use it.

30. Commenting on others’ tweets, and retweeting what others have posted is a great way to build community.

The Negatives People Will Throw At You

31. Twitter takes up time.

32. Twitter takes you away from other productive work.

33. Without a strategy, it’s just typing.

34. There are other ways to do this.

35. As Frank hears often, Twitter doesn’t replace customer service (Frank is @comcastcares and is a superhero for what he’s started.)

36. Twitter is buggy and not enterprise-ready.

37. Twitter is just for technonerds.

38. Twitter’s only a few million people. (only)

39. Twitter doesn’t replace direct email marketing.

40. Twitter opens the company up to more criticism and griping.

41. Twitter helps one organize great, instant meetups (tweetups).

42. Twitter works swell as an opinion poll.

43. Twitter can help direct people’s attention to good things.

44. Twitter at events helps people build an instant “backchannel.”

45. Twitter breaks news faster than other sources, often (especially if the news impacts online denizens).

46. Twitter gives businesses a glimpse at what status messaging can do for an organization. Remember presence in the 1990s?

47. Twitter brings great minds together, and gives you daily opportunities to learn (if you look for it, and/or if you follow the right folks).

48. Twitter gives your critics a forum, but that means you can study them.

49. Twitter helps with business development, if your prospects are online (mine are).

50. Twitter can augment customer

What else would you add? How are you using Twitter for your business?

By the way, Jeremiah Owyang has a great post on this, too.

The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.

Get the entire series by subscribing to to Chris’s blog.

Organic Marketing

March 1, 2009
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Organic:  Adjective:  of, pertaining to, or derived from living organisms.

What is organic marketing?  Does it mean we are selling green plants, food grown without pesticides; or we use recycled paper?

None of the above.  In today’s world the old way of getting customers to buy involved  “Pushing” the product or service on them through avenues such as advertising, cold calling,  sales closes, etc.

However, times have changed tremendously and the old way of doing things doesn’t work any more.  Consumers are indundated by advertising at every corner.  Everywhere you look there is an ad for something; television, radio and print media, not withstanding.  Now consumer are acosted by advertising in even the most private of places, the bathroom stall!

With all of this advertising, we are suffering from information overload!  We barely remember what we had for lunch an hour ago, let alone what great product or service we just saw on an ad.

On top of that, consumers have lost faith in the old ways and the old companies.  Like Jeffrey Gitomer says, they don’t want to be sold, they want to buy!”    And I want to buy from someone they know, like and trust.  Today’s consumers want to have relationship!

Organic marketing is all about developing relationships with your future customers, so that when they need your product or service, they gravitate to you, naturally.