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Web Hosting, Domain Name Registrations & Emails….

Web Hosting, Domain Name Registrations & Emails….

I’ve been working with advertising clients since the beginning of the web and there’s a lot of confusion about email and web hosting and the registration of your web address. If you want to understand the basics of having a website or know how to set up and manage your own website, hosting account or email accounts you will need to at least have a basic understanding of web hosting, domain registration and email set up (I’m sorry there’s a lot to say here, but the only way to do this is to write it all in one place):

#1 Registering your Domain Name: When you want to do anything on the web you may already know that you’ll need to start by registering a web name or web address (aka “registering a URL” or a “domain name registration” or “registering a DNS”). For that you can go to any online domain name registration company and do the following (Note: You can find an online domain name registration company by typing those words into Google or Yahoo, and then clicking on one of the links that appears and exploring the features & prices of each company that shows up before signing up or acquiring a new web address):

  • Search for and decide on a web address name (I’ll refer to this as the registration of your “domain name” from here on out)
  • Decide how long you want to register the name for (1 year, 2 years, 5 years, or more).
  • Follow the steps on the Domain Name Registrant company to find, pay for and acquire the domain name that you want.

When you’re “registering” a domain name, you’re essentially “renting” it for a given time period (whatever period of time you initially pay for).  Keep in mind that a web site address is sometimes called a “DNS” and also at times it may be called a “URL” but essentially they mean the same thing.  ALSO be forewarned that we no longer are using “WWW” in every case when we type in a web address.  So if you try typing the web address you want into your browser (WITH the “WWW” letters), and that doesn’t work, then try typing it again without the “WWW” at the front of the address to see if that works.  (If you have NO idea what I’m talking about – you may need to start over at the beginning by going to Amazon and buying a book about using your PC such as “Computer Basics“.)

If you register your own domain name all by yourself, you’ll have to remember to renew it at the end of the time period that you have “rented” it for (you’ll have to look for an email that should be sent to you around the time of the renewal and be sure to re-register the domain name or set a reminder in your calendar for 1 year or 2 years [etc] to re-rent your domain name….if you forget to do that your web site will go down and worse yet, you may lose your domain name altogether).

Don’t forget that when you sign up for your domain name, whatever email address you use as a contact for yourself, (on the domain registration site), needs to be working in the future so you can receive any “warning” emails about your domain name registration expiration. If it’s not working, then you will have to remember to go back to the Domain Name Registrant’s website and UPDATE your contact information in your account before that time.  By the way each year “ICANN” (or the organization that oversees all domain name registrations) will send you an email asking you to reconfirm your contact info for this very reason – so be sure you look for those notices and respond to them on an annual basis or you won’t get your domain name reminders.

Once you register your domain name, you’ll have to “Point your Domain name servers” to your “hosting servers” (there will be at least 2 name server addresses)….this just means you will be connecting your new web address [or name] up to the computer where your website will be found. This sounds more complicated than it is. In order to do this you’ll need to know (and enter) the “addresses” for your name servers into the account you just set up at your new domain name registrant’s website (more on hosting & hosting servers next). AND you won’t be able to do this until you have set up a web hosting account. Once you set that up, you will get the name servers for your hosting server, (this can be REALLY confusing, but think of the “name server” as just a combination of numbers &letters that identifies your hosting server) which usually look like this “xxx.xxxx.xxx” (and there should be 2 sets of digits, one for the primary name server and the other for a backup name server). (Note: remember, “server” is just another word for a computer).

#2 Setting up your Hosting Servers:Above we’ve just established that in order to have a website, you have to select and register a web address or name for that website. Then once you’ve done that, you’ll need a computer where you can “put” your website files and that computer is called the “Hosting Server”. Whenever you hear the word “Web Hosting Account” – that’s just a computer where you rent space and connect your web name or domain name up to (and later you’ll put your website files and perhaps even your email on that same computer).

You can find a web hosting provider online…..there are a lot of ins and outs to know about selecting a web hosting provider, so don’t just do that without first thinking it through (I’ll leave that info for another blog). But for now, you need to know that any website requires a web hosting provider (or account).

Once you select a hosting provider and sign up for a hosting account, you will be given an “address” for your hosting servers. ONCE you have that address (i.e., those letters and/or numbers) you can take them back over to your “domain name registrant” account and enter them into the appropriate fields.

Please note: once you set up (or change) the name servers at the domain name registrant, it could take up to 96 hours to propagate throughout the world wide web (or to show up or take effect). Every registrant is different so check yours for more specific information and time estimates.

  • A hosting account is something you have to pay periodically (monthly/quarterly/annually, etc.). If you stop paying for this account your website will no longer function.
  • There is such a thing as a FREE hosting account….but you still have to set it up and connect your domain name up to that hosting account. There are a lot of negatives associated with having a free hosting account an if you want your business or venture to appear “professional” you won’t want to even consider this option.

#3 Setting up your Email: When you get a web hosting account, you can put your website on that “rented” computer (once you have the website created….hopefully by a professional web programmer). In addition to holding your website, many web hosting accounts will also host or include a certain number of free email accounts. So if you set up a web address such as “www.yourwebsite.com” at a Domain Name Registrant (#1 above) and then connect that up to your Web Hosting Account (#2 above) you should be able to also set up and start using Email Addresses that go with that same account (#3 here)

(NOTE: the good news is that once you have your web address registered you can use that address for your email for examples: yourname@yourwebsite.com or youremployeesname@yourwebsite.com.) (if your hosting account doesn’t include email services you’ll have to get an ancillary email hosting server – very much like a web hosting server but that would be just for email; you can get a free email hosting server from companies like Yahoo or Google, but they have all sorts of negatives that aren’t nice if you’re trying to appear professional such as really annoying ads that appear on your web pages).

So, in order to set up your email accounts on your web hosting server, you’ll need to create the account for the email addresses on the hosting server itself (each system is different so it’s impossible for me to tell you exactly how to do that). In order to do that you’ll need to have and use the user name and password that you created when you set up that web hosting account….and you’ll need to set up each email address individually, each with its own u/n and p/w and other info that will be specific to your particular hosting service provider (which may be hard for you to figure out if you’ve never seen this before, sorry!).

Once the Email Hosting server is set up, you’ll also need to set up each individual email account you want to use on your computer(s) (and on each computer where you want to be able to receive the emails at). Specifically how this is done will depend on what type of computer you have i.e., PC or Mac and what programs you use. We use a PC and a program called “Microsoft Outlook”, so I’ll give you an idea of how this works from that perspective.(more on this in a future blog or email me for complete instructions at emily@brandx.me)

In Outlook you’ll need to create a new account (see “Account settings” from within the Outlook Program). There are a number of settings IN your Outlook program that need to be “filled out”. First you’ll need your new domain name and the specific email address you want to set up (youraccountant@yourwebsite.com for example) plus you’ll need your hosting server address and the associated incoming and outgoing mail servers (SMTP & POP), the u/n and p/w you used when you set up your new web hosting account and info from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) (your ISP will have certain “port settings” that will need to be set up according to what ports they use).

If you’ve made it this far, I think you’ll start to see why it’s impossible to find a simple set of instructions regarding how to set up your hosting & email accounts and why a client might want to pay someone (like my company) the up charge of $10/month that we ask for in order to do it for them.

ISP the last thing I’m going to explain to you today is this – your ISP or Internet Service Provider. I’m pretty sure you know what this is…because everyone has to have one in-order to be able to receive their emails at home or surf the Internet. This is also something you have to pay on a monthly or periodic basis (as you may well know) in order to be able to access the web and to be able to upload and download your emails. I can’t tell you how many times our customers have called us to tell us “something’s wrong with our web hosting account” and it turns out they didn’t pay their ISP bill that month (or they did not remember to renew their domain name registration!). All these little pieces have to be set up correctly AND they have to be maintained and renewed when necessary in order to keep your website and emails up and running properly.

In conclusion, there’s a lot to know about registering a new web address, setting up a web hosting account and email accounts…..and while it can be done on your own, it’s also nice to have someone to set it all up for you and to be there if something goes wrong (and to get your site and email back up and running as quickly as possible). If you’ve ever wondered why you should pay someone to do this for you I hope this has helped you to get a feel for why that’s a good idea!!!!


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Why should I hire a Marketing or Ad Agency?

Why should I hire a Marketing or Ad Agency?

A few years back we all got a kick watching Kate from “Jon & Kate plus Eight” trying to dance on Dances with the Stars…and if you missed that, let me tell you that Young Frankenstein dancing to “Putting on the Ritz” cut a better rug than poor Kate did. The fact of the matter is we can’t all be good at everything but the good news is, each of us is usually good at something….and if your business is accounting or sales or manufacturing….then that’s what you should focus on and hire someone else to do everything else. When it comes to business, getting the right people in place to perform each function is critical to success, and that applies to advertising & marketing as much as sales and production.

You can’t afford to use “do it yourself” marketing for your business (and forget the marketing your niece or nephew does as well). Don’t make the mistake of looking at an ad or sales piece and thinking “Hey this looks easy”. Just like any other professional skill, people study marketing and advertising for years to understand what makes people buy products. And in business you only get one or two shots at success, so do it right the first time (and if you’ve already done it wrong the first time, do what you have to do to hire a pro so you can at least make things right from here on out).

Do what you do best and let the advertising and marketing pros do what they do best. By hiring a marketing pro, I don’t mean to use the free layout services from your local newspaper or magazine that they give you when you buy an ad. If you can’t afford to hire a pro, then perhaps you need to get some funding or take on a new partner with those skills? I know it’s frustrating to have a great product that no one knows about….but too many failed businesses made the mistake of developing great products and setting up well-oiled production and accounting departments, only to leave their advertising and marketing to a recent art school graduate. OR worse yet, trying muddle through the job themselves….FORGET THAT! Don’t underestimate the value of a well-planned, coordinated and consistent advertising campaign created by an experienced professional.

Do yourself a favor….you’ve gotten this far and invested this much, so don’t drop the ball now. Take your business all the way to the goal by hiring a talented advertising and marketing firm to ensure the world knows who you are and what great products or services you have to offer.

Update:  If you do hire an ad agency to do some work for you – TRY to listen to them.  There’s nothing worse from where I’m sitting than being hired by a client to do some work for them and then never getting the chance to do what I’ve done for THIRTY YEARS!  It seems I either end up with the client who insists they know better OR I end up with the client who delineates each job down to excruciating detail BEFORE we do anything.  That just causes a whole other boat load of problems.  TELL ME what you think and what you WANT to tell me, of course – but TRY to listen to me if I push back a little or advise you to go in a different direction. I may not know everything but I do know a lot when it comes to getting customers to NOTICE and BUY, and it would be better for you if you at least considered what I have to say.   Once you do, it’s your prerogative to VETO it but at least hear me at least one time (and I mean HEAR me out not just be so intent on your own ideas that you don’t hear a damn thing I say!!!!)


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Stop bothering me with those pesky job specs!

Stop bothering me with those pesky job specs!

Recently we did some logo work for a guy who had worked with a number of other graphics designers in the past. When he first hired me he said “can you handle my graphic design needs because I’ve asked for quotes from a couple of other designers who are being vague about what they’re going to do, and that bothers me.”

So when I started doing a job for him I sent him an email & asked him the same thing I ask every client, “What are the specs for this job?”…(that doesn’t seem like an unusual question to me but  I guess it seemed like a big pain in the butt to him because the client didn’t answer the email.)  So I asked him again…..”David, can you give me an idea of how you’re going to use this logo artwork so I can be sure to set it up correctly?”   He sent me back an email that said “can’t you just do it the regular way?”.

I tried to explain that while graphics design may not be brain surgery, it’s still a technical skill that works with and outputs technical data.  The artwork we create as graphics designers is the technical information that a printer would need to be able to print a job correctly.  OR if it’s a digital job, the artwork would be the information that your computer needs to be able to display your website correctly, for example.

To do ANY job, we have to know what it’s for and how it’s going to be used.  Is it a printing job that’s going to a “CMYK” or four-color printer?

Is it a spot job such as a two color business card or a silk screened or embroidered t-shirt?  Is it a piece of letterhead that you are printing on your inkjet or laser printer?  Is it a website that you need to load quickly so your customers don’t lose interest?  All of those different types of jobs require us to set up a job with different settings or specs and those settings ensure that the job will print or appear correctly.  And no sir, there’s no such thing as “the regular setting” in advertising.

The problem with this client is that neither of the previous graphics designers had bothered to ask him what he needed the artwork for and as a result the client thought I was a big pain in the butt.  I gently explained that the ONLY reason his graphics designers hadn’t asked him for job specs in the past is because they either didn’t care about his job at all OR they weren’t experienced or trained enough to know any better.  I tend to think it was the former.  And the only reason his jobs hadn’t come out incorrectly is either because the printer fixed the specs without telling him or alternatively, he could have experienced a miracle.

What are “Job Specs”?

CMYK Inks

CMYK Inks

Color Printing – when you’re flipping through a magazine looking at the pretty pictures you’re looking at a CMYK or four color offset print job. A CMYK job prints with the standard, four ink colors that offset printers use: cyan, magenta, yellow & black (thus abbreviated to CMYK).  The artwork for this job tells the printing press how many of each of those four inks to use when they are mixed to make any one color.  If the photos are not set up as CMYK, but as “RGB” (or Red, Green, Blue) for example, the job isn’t going to be able to print at all without being fixed.  So if my client gave us job to his last printer this way they would have had to fix the artwork.

Spot Printing – This type of printing was very popular in the old days because it saved money by using less press time, less set up & clean up time and less than the standard 4 inks.  Instead of mixing the four CMYK inks as with Offset Printing, Spot printing allows us to pick a premixed ink color that the printer essentially grabs off a shelf and uses “as is” to ensure that the desired color is reached.  However with the rise of “discount printing” (which is really just “gang” printing i.e., printing multiple jobs on the press at one time) there are not as many reasons to print spot color.  Spot color printing is still used however.  Sometimes when a client is particularly concerned about their logo colors, for example, we might print a job with 2  or 3 spot colors OR we might print a CMYK job and ADD one or two spot inks (for what’s called a 5 or 6 color job).   Needless to say if we don’t put that information into the artwork, then the printer won’t know what color to use and the printing presses will be confused as hell. There are a number of different types of spot colors used, but the most famous one is made by “Pantone” and you can get a “Pantone swatch book” that let’s you pick the spot colors for your job.

Pantone Swatch Book

Pantone Swatch Book

By the way, you cannot pick your colors by looking at a job on the computer monitor…..what looks orange to me could look pink to you.  The correct and ONLY way to do this is to look at a physical Pantone book and pick the colors that way.  Anything less than that and you’d be guessing.

Digital Printing – there are digital presses now and you would prepare your artwork to print on a digital press the same way you would if you were sending a job to be printed at an offset printer.  however there is some variation in this so for that reason…..you need to ask your printer for his printing specs and give those to your artist.

Digital Jobs – not all jobs are going to print, and thus not all artwork has to be prepared for that purpose.  A website design is not for printing (unless of course you want people to be able to print the website on an inkjet printer, and that has to be considered before the job is half done).  There are not printing specs for a job like this but there is still information that has to be integrated into the file that is critical to ensuring that your job looks good and loads correctly.  For example, images that go into a website don’t have to be as high resolution as the images in printing jobs.  Here’s the rule:  You’ll need 72 dpi images for digital/web work, 150 dpi images if you’re printing a job on your inkjet or laser printer and 300-600 dpi images if you’re printing Offset/CMYK.

A note about resolution – if you give your artist a photo that’s the size of a postage stamp then they cannot increase the physical size of that job to be an 8″ x 10″ job, for example.  So always give your artist the biggest, highest resolution images you have and then depending on that, your artist should be able to tell you how big he or she can make that image.  don’t skimp on images…there’s not much worse than trying to use crappy images on a nicely laid out job (well, it also sucks to have typo ridden text, but that’s another article).

While there is a whole lot more that can be said here, I think this is a good introduction for you whether you’re a client with a print job or a young graphic designer who slept during this class in college.  If you have any questions about this please just shoot me an email….at emily@thebrandxagency.com


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Cheap Graphic Designers can = a NIGHTMARE!

Why should you pay someone a lot of money to layout a brochure or a logo or a website, when you can get someone to do it for less than nothing online?  Well, the reason is because graphic designing involves strategic, creative AND technical talent.  Designers need to know how to make something that looks good AND something that works AND something that is technically set up properly to be printed or emailed or posted on the web.  The people who know how to do that CORRECTLY have been to college for at least 4 years [to learn how to prepare the digital files to go to press] and it takes a significant chunk of time to prepare the files for you, so just using that logic we can surmise that vendor would probably NOT want to do that for $20.  IF a designer offers to do a job like that for you for an amount of money that seems “too good to be true” then remember, just like with any other vendor, it probably IS too good to be true!

I have managed a team of graphic designers & web programmers for nearly 25 years now and I can tell you that I spend at least 60% of our production time fixing artwork for customers who have just tried to work with the $25 artists.  What scares me more than those people are the clients who don’t realize that they don’t have good, solid technical files and end up sending the job to print, only to realize that they’ve lost thousands of dollars in the end.

The fact of the matter is that we’re living in tough economic times and YES there’s a lot of price pressure right now so you can probably negotiate to get the price down on your graphic design work, but just keep in mind that if a designer is willing to create your brochure or business card or logo for 1/10th the price of any other quotes you have received, then something is most likely NOT RIGHT.  Don’t waste your money with vendors who don’t know what they’re doing….get your job done right the first time and save yourself a lot of time and headache by hiring someone who knows the trade.  If the vendor is offering to create a brochure for you “overnight” or for less than anyone else, RUN don’t walk, RUN!


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Write your text first, the rest will follow…..

A previous blog was about figuring out How & where to start your new brochure.  This blog will give you a little info about what to do next and help you answer the question about “brochure size”.

I often get calls from clients asking me to quote a brochure, but that’s hard to do without more information than that.  If you reviewed my last blog, you can use that info plus you’ll especially need to know how much text you’re going to have.  The size and design of the brochure is, to a large degree, driven by the amount of text you have (aka “the ad copy”).

To determine that, start with an outline of what you want the brochure to “cover”.  If you’re working with an experienced advertising copywriter, and I hope you are, then they should be able to tell you if your outline is “correct” or not.  Don’t be offended if the writer uses your outline as a general guide and creates a new one based on his or her experience.  AFTER ALL that’s what you’re paying them for, right?  A wonderful author. Roy H. Williams. who wrote “Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads”, said:

In one critical aspect, the advertising business is unlike any other.  The idea that the customer is always right may be true in every other business, but it will lead an advertising person to ruin just as surely as if he had jumped off a cliff.  The ad writer who believes the client is always right will give the client what he requests instead of what he really needs.  Everything will be roses in the short run, but when the campaign yields disappointing results, the ad person will get all the blame for the client’s bad idea. 

With that in mind, don’t forget ADVERTISING RULE #1: “Copywriters and designers are NOT MIND READERS”.  No matter what you ask them to do, it’s very likely you’re going to have to provide them with feedback, and as a result, changes will need to be made.  THAT’S TOTALLY NORMAL and an important part of the proofing process.

You’re the one that knows your business and your ad consultant knows advertising and marketing.  To get the best results out of any consultant, try to give them as much input as you can from the beginning.  On the other hand, try to make them feel comfortable giving you feedback in return.  There’s nothing worse than when a client verbally attacks a consultant.  That only makes them afraid to tell the client the TRUTH (which is what they so desperately need to hear).

Once you’ve agreed on the outline, then the writer can develop the text based on that.  It’s usually at this point that a good ad person can give you an estimate of the size brochure you should do, even before the text is written.  Just remember this, most clients want to say a lot more in their brochures than the ad person will generally recommend.  Try to see things from your clients’ perspectives….they’re only going to give you so much time, so keep things short.  (look who’s talking J)

There’s a lot more to say about “advertising copy” but I’ll leave it at that for now.  Next time, I’ll give you a run-down of the different “standard” brochures sizes.


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Your Website Checklist

You’ve just hired someone to design and program your new website and they’re asking you Checklistto give them all the things they will need to create the site. The problem is you don’t know the first thing about it, so what do you do?  You can start with this list of  things that most if not all website designers and programmers will need in order to create a new website:

 1)      Unformatted digital text – be prepared to give your development team all of the text for your website in one UNFORMATTED, Microsoft Word or Word Pad document (or other digital word processing file).  Be sure to label each section of text with the page names that the text goes on (so put “About Us” at the top of the text for the About Us page and so on). Make sure that the headers for each page in this section match the names of each page.  These page names should correspond to and match the primary navigation tabs on the home page and any sub tabs or links that may be included with your site. Don’t forget to include all the headlines, sub headlines, and other text that you want used through the site (you may want “pull quotes” to be used on side bars, for example or quotes or captions to be used on photos; also include all the contact information, copyright dates, email addresses, names of employees.)  To ensure you don’t forget anything use your initial “site outline” that you should have created when you asked for the quote for the job, as a guide for the text you need to write and prepare.

2)      Website Instructions – First let me say that there’s nothing more dangerous and confusing than receiving 35 emails each with a snippet of text or a photo with a name like “25944GP.jpg” or other files that are not properly named and prepared to be handled by the development team.   Be sure to include any and all instructions for the website in the above “Digital Text” document (these instructions can be before or after the text for the site). Be sure to make a clear differentiation between the web text and your instructions, perhaps by writing the instructions in colored text or a different font.

3)      Correctly prepared and formatted Images – The exact size of photos that your team will need won’t be clear until AFTER the design phase of the web development is File format imagesdone.  For that reason it’s just better if you give your team the biggest, highest resolution images you have. If you have those images on your computer, do not try to email them to the team by embedding them into a word document or an email.  You CAN send them as an attachment to an email OR better yet use a service like “drop box” or see if your team has an “FTP” server that will make it easier for your to transfer files that are very large.  If you try to email these images they may clog up your email software’s outbox and even if they go out of your own email system, you won’t have any way of knowing if the client can accept files that are that big.  For that reason it’s just better to upload them to an FTP server or use a system similar to Drop Box.(to use an FTP site, someone from your development team will have to send you the instructions and log-in information separately).  Be aware that not all images are “ready to go”…and your design crew may have to do some photo retouching, cropping, resizing and other word that may or may not be included in your initial website quote.  If you have a choice to send your images in a variety of different file formats, most designers would prefer .jpg images (pronounced J-peg).

4)      Image and file Naming – Be careful how you name the files and  images that you give to your development team because it’s REALLY hard and very confusing when they get files or images that are named “qap239r809.jpg”.  If you could name the photo or file WHAT it is……that is very helpful and avoids unnecessary delays.  If the image you are sending is a photo of “Mary Smith” then you could just name it Mary Smith.  It would be even better if you could add the name of the page where you’d like that photo, for example marysmith_pricing.jpg  (don’t forget you can’t ADD a period in the text name…. you CAN add an underscore OR a dash, without a problem – no other characters can be inserted into a file name and the .jpg part is added automatically so you don’t need to worry about that part…just name the first part of the file name (before the period) as I’ve explained here.

5)      Captions – if you would like a caption on or above any of the images, please provide the information to your team by creating a list using the Image file name (see above instruction about naming your files) plus the text that goes with that image next to the name. You can include this list with the text for the website (with the instructions, before or after). If your website is going to have a series of photos with captions, you’ll want to consider how those photos will look next to each other and try to keep any text or captions that go with the photos in a similar style and length.  It’s better not to have one photo with a big, long sentence under it while another photo has two words.  Also remember that if your site is going to have any moving images or text, which are usually programmed with FLASH instead of HTML, for example, you will want to have those captions of similar length and style as well.

6)      Forms – if you plan to have a form on your website, be sure to include the text for the form (or the field names, in other words) with the unformatted digital text that you’ll be providing to your development team.  Also you’ll need to include the email address where you want the form information to be sent to (so for example if you have a form on your “contact us” page, then whenever someone fills out that form, your team will need to know what email address you’ll want that information to be sent to).

7)      Logos – you development team will also need any and all logo artwork that you use for your company and possibly the name of the font that goes with your logo and business package (some companies have a typeface or “font” that they use for all of their outgoingfavicon 1 materials and some organizations even have instructions or rules that go with those fonts & logos, that a marketing team would have to have in order to use those items correctly).  Be sure to send your logo in the highest resolution possible and if possible send the version that’s color and the one that has a clear background or no background.  If you are not sure which logo to send, then I’d suggest that you send  them all the logos you have (you can include these files with the images you will be emailing or posting to the FTP site or putting into “Dropbox”).

8)      Social Media Links – if you want social media links on your website please send 20-social-media-iconsthe links or web addresses to each of your social media webpages.  Try to avoid telling your programmers “can you link my website up to my Facebook page?” because this opens up a whole new can of worms and a number of opportunities for the programmer to connect your website up to the wrong Facebook page.  If you want your site to be developed quickly and correctly, make it as easy and clear as possible for your team so that you minimize confusion and maximize the chances of things being done right the first time.

9)      Contact info – Don’t forget to include any and all current contact information with the content for the website including all the email addresses you want listed on the website (and where you’d like those items to be listed or located).

I often hear horror stories of companies who have hired someone to work on their website, only to have that person drop off the planet or stop working on the project abruptly with no explanation.  I’d wager to say that these people get frustrated asking for materials, waiting for them, asking for the next thing, then waiting for that item and so on….only to lose time and money and ultimately any and all profitability on the project.  This isn’t inevitable however and you’ll greatly reduce the likelihood of having any major issues if you will take the appropriate amount of time on the onset of the project in order to prepare the materials that your team is going to need.

Finally, don’t forget that your development team is most likely made up of a number of people – you may have a marketing person who is helping you plan and outline the site, a copywriter who will help you to write the text, a designer who will develop the design of the website, a programmer who will program the basic site (an HTML programmer or WordPress Programmer, for example) and possibly other programmers who will do specialty programming such as FLASH, database or E commerce programming.  Finally you may have someone to help you after all that’s done to market your website and get it listed on the quality management teamssearch engines.  You may not need to send all the above information to each person who is working on the site, but it will be helpful to you and certainly the initial people working with you to be able to see all the information in one place – well-organized and clearly thought out – before they start on your web development project.


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How often should you change your ad campaigns?

On one hand, it’s important for all your marketing pieces to have a consistent look but it’s also important that an advertising piece that’s sent out periodically (such as a brochuresales_marketing_intersection or an ad) changes in some way, because you don’t want the reader to look at it and think “I’ve already seen that”. Any ad you create has to be “similar” enough to previous work to maintain your brand continuity and at the same time “different” enough to make the reader recognize it’s something “new”.

It’s very hard to know when to draw the line (and when to change your campaign) and I can honestly say that YOU will probably get sick of your own campaign before your target market will (unless you have an irritating jingle that makes your clients scramble for the remote). Many big companies change their campaigns annually, but sometimes they’ll stretch that time out if they’ve hit on a winner. If you decide to keep your existing campaign for a while, don’t think that means your ads and brochures will never change during that time period. If your driven to maintain a consistent look & feel for your advertising, that’s great! Just be sure to make some [design] changes that are quickly & easily identifiable, to ensure your readers don’t think they’re the same pieces they saw last year or last week.

Once you’ve thought about how frequently you want to change your ads or your ad campaign, you should spend a little time thinking about how you can create brand continuity and what design and contextual elements should stay the same from ad to ad and which should change. Brand continuity is one of those “hidden” aspects of advertising that great designers think about, but most people on the outside don’t realize it’s even a matter of discussion. Ask your ad pro to show you how they’ve maintained brand continuity for other clients and to give you some suggestions about how they might do the same for you. If you’re currently proofing a new ad or brochure, be sure and ask your designer what aspects of that design might be maintained on future brochures to create & maintain your brand continuity.


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Need a New Brochure, but not sure where to start? Read on….

Need a New Brochure, but not sure where to start? Read on….

You want to create a new brochure for your company but you have no (or little) idea about where to start. This is blog’s for you! First, you’ll need a quote and before you can get that, you’ll have to give your ad agency or independent advertising person a little bit of information.

How do you figure out what brochure is right for you?

First, here are 3 basic “assumptions” about your brochure you should start out making:

1. Offset Vs. Inkjet: First your brochure should be printed at an OFFSET printer. FORGET printing your job on your inkjet because that just looks cheap. Also don’t waste your time (or money) with a quick printer like Kinko’s or Office Depot. While they’ve gotten better at creating decent looking temporary or mock-up brochures, IT IS ONLY VIABLE WHEN YOU NEED A VERY SMALL QUANTITY. If you need more than 30 pieces, use an offset printer.

2. 4 Color Vs. 2 or 3 Color: Next, in this day and age, a brochure should be printed in four-color printing as opposed to 2 or 3 colors. It’s actually MORE expensive to print 2 & 3 color jobs than it is to just print a 4 color job at a “discount printer” (I’ll explain what Discount Printing is in a future blog).

3. One Sided Vs. Two Sided: It’s also ridiculous to print a one-sided piece in an effort to save money. Anything less than a full color brochure printed on BOTH SIDES is just a waste of space & paper; and who wants to get a brochure with a back side that’s “white” anyway? It just leaves your potential client with a negative feeling like “These people don’t have anything more to say about their product!”. Considering the minimal incremental additional cost YOU MAY AS WELL JUST DO IT! If you need to save money, read my blog and do it some other way.

I realize I’m talking about the printing of your brochure and not the design or copywriting, (i.e., the two other elements you’ll need to figure out to get your brochure done for your company). However, you will need to know in advance how the piece is going to be printed, so the ad person (layout artist and copywriter or ad agency) knows what type of quote you’ll need.

Next, to quote your job we will need to determine what SIZE brochure you’ll need. To figure that out, you’ll need to think about the following:

• Your target market – How sophisticated is your potential customer? What kind of person will you be talking to? What kinds of things are they used to seeing? Will they think you are “rinky dinky” if you do a Trifold Brochure for example or is that your industry standard? How many different target markets do you need to “speak to”? Can you speak to all of your different markets at once or do they each require a slightly different sales pitch, and thus a different brochure?

• Competitive Marketing Materials – What type of brochure does your competition use and how can your brochure look BETTER when it sits next to theirs?

• How is the brochure going to be used – By sales people on a sales visit? To be mailed out to clients? To be part of a bigger sales package (which may need to sit next to and look good with existing pieces?) If so what size are those existing pieces? etc.

• What’s the goal or purpose of the brochure? – To make the sale or to get people to call you so YOU can make the sale? To get potential clients to your website? Or to create brand awareness?, etc.

• HOW MUCH do you have to say to reach that goal? – What do you need to say to make the sale? Or to get the person to call you? How much space will the copywriter need to write-up an intelligent sales pitch? (if you have a LOT that must be said or a particularly complex sales message, you may want to consider using a multi-part sales approach and have your brochure lead the potential client to your website, for example, where you can elaborate more on your sales information. NO one wants to read big huge blobs of text (unless you have something really juicy to say or are providing extremely crucial information).

• Quantity – how many brochures will you need? If you’re doing a mailing, how many “extras” would you like to have? If you are attending a trade show, how many do you generally need for similar events? How often do your products change (because if that’s frequently you don’t want to print a huge quantity that might eventually have to be tossed). Your advertising person or agency should be able to help you with this….if they have very little input on this subject you might want to find someone who can help you with all aspects of your advertising or marketing campaign.

• Budget – of course you have to consider what you’ve got to spend on your brochure….but it’s also hard to create a “budget” if you have no idea what you can get, for how much. So perhaps you should ask your ad person or agency to give you a few options at different price points?

• Comparative cost when considered next to other options – In other words, once you have the quote, consider the cost of one option compared to another. For example, how much would it cost if I need a folder + a few flyers vs. 11 x 17 single fold brochure or 25.5 x 11 brochure that can stand on its own (without a folder)? Is any incremental increase in cost WORTH it for some other reason, such as to make the customer think your company is “top notch” or sophisticated?

OK that’s it for today. Look for my blog about the different brochure SIZE options you will want to consider.


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Why does my website quote keep going up????

OK you’ve had your website quoted, paid the web developer and hired them to create your new website.  So why do they keep asking you for more money?

After 25 years in the business I’d say that one of the primary reasons job quotes go up (after the quote has been finalized) is due to changing Job Specs.  Sometimes clients ask for additional features that were not in the original quote and they don’t realize those add-ons are going to cost money.  ALSO, often the web development team is guilty of NOT telling a client when changes will cost extra.  Just keep in mind that each item or “function” on a website requires some amount of labor to implement, even if it’s a minor thing like changing some text on the site.  We recently developed a site for someone and they opted to write their own text…which means they submitted the text to us for the website in a digital file that was supposed to be “ready to go” (and that text should have been proofed before they gave it to me).  Unfortunately they hadn’t proofed it and didn’t notice the excessive typos until AFTER we had programmed the web site and inserted the text (and done all the “behind the scenes” things that go with that, such as creating the CSS or the cascading style sheet…the instructions in the programming that tell the site how to display the text).

The most frustrating aspect of this for everyone involved is this:  to the client a change may look very simple but for the development team, even a simple change may take multiple steps to implement, which takes time and costs money.  For smaller changes my company tends to let a few of those changes go before we start talking about money…but the problem with that is by the time we bring up money to a client they’ve forgotton about all the other little changes we’ve made (that may have added up to significant lost time).  To the client it may seem that we’re being unreasonable to ask for additional money but to the developer, we’re losing money on the job and getting frustrated at the same time.  The best thing to do is to at least TRY to make sure you’re ready to move forward before signing off on a prior development stage…and recognize that EVEN THE BEST DEVELOPMENT TEAM is going to require some input from you, the client.  I often get the feeling that a client is irritated that i can’t  just take the ball and run with it without any input from them but that’s not logical.  Any web developer is going to need to talk about your goals & strategy, get your product photos and related information, get the hosting and DNS registration information from you as well as many other things that are required to start a website (for more information on what’s required to start a website job please see my blog called Website Checklist – What do I do after I hire someone to develop our website?).

Of course it IS possible that the web development team mis-quoted the job to begin with and if that’s the case, unless there are mitigating circumstances, it is their responsibily to deliver a website that has all the features and functionality included in the written quote.  That is one reason it’s SO IMPORTANT to make sure all the aspects of your website are listed individually in your initial quote and on your opening invoice or contract.  If anything is missing don’t take it for granted that the item is included in your job, rather ask the development team to redo the quote or contract so no one has to wonder about that halfway through the project.  I admit, if you are not super famliar with all the intricicies of web development you might not think of something that should be in your quote, so to avoid that take a minute to read my blog (that will help), make sure you ask who’s responsible to pay for stock or custom photography, videos, music (gag), ancillary programming (templates, e-commerce software, Paypal functionalitly and programming time to integrate that into your site, copywriting, etc.  And as a final safety net…ASK your development team if anything has been left out of your quote that you might have to eventually pay for.  And be sure and ask that question in an email and get a written response from the developer that you can keep in your files.  When there are a lot of details involved people can forget…having those details fully spelled out in a quote or contract is one of the best ways to avoid future nighmares.

I think it goes without saying, but I’ll say it just to be sure you leave this article with the most important tid bit firmly in mind…it’s more expensive to make changes to a website AFTER the programming stage is done than before, so do your best to make sure all the various aspects are ready to go before telling your team it’s ok to start the next phase.  And if for some reason something is overlooked, don’t be surprised if someone asks you for a little more money.


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What Mardi Gras Beads can teach you about Advertising….

Whether you’re a business owner or an ad exec or an ad sales person, you need to hear this little story!

 

This story is about trade shows but it applies to any advertising or communications project.  If you’ve never been to a trade show, sooner or later someone hands you a bag and you fill it up with brochures and “giveaways” as you stop (or run) by each booth at the show.  It can be pretty tiring and after a while, all the booths & people and brochures look the same.  It really is hard to tell one from the other.

At one trade show, years ago, I remember trudging into the last room of the show, with my overfilled bag in tow, when an exhibitor called out to me “Hey miss, would you like some Mardi Gras beads?”.  My first thought was “NO”….make that “HELL NO”.  I really didn’t want to talk to anyone else, nor did I want any more junk… especially not some crummy, plastic Mardi Gras beads (who does, unless you’re in New Orleans in February?).  But to be polite I took the beads and listened to his “spiel”.  I swear I didn’t think of that guy again until I got a phone call SEVERAL weeks later from a man who immediately identified himself by saying “Hi, remember me?  I’m the guy with the Mardi Gras beads!”.  And of course, I DID remember him.  Despite the fact that the beads were really a “throw away” item, that was the ONLY person…in the ONLY booth at that entire show that I could actually picture and remember.  Why?  Because of those stupid Mardi Gras beads!  It may not have been anything particularly classy, but it was memorable.  That man had used the age-old MEMORY technique of associating his product or business with something ELSE that was memorable.  A great part of advertising is just helping people to remember who you are so that they can recall your name or product when it counts.  Sometimes it doesn’t even matter if your product isn’t remembered in a positive light…because sooner or later the customer will forget the negative part and just remember your product.  (That’s why they say even bad publicity is good publicity i.e., who even thinks about the Tylenol scare of the 80’s?  All we remember now is that when we have a headache, we buy Tylenol).  I recommend using this memory technique each and every time you create an ad or brochure or go to a trade show.  Of course it would be nice if it was something applicable to your business…preferably something classier than Mardi Gras beads, but just remember that every time you communicate with the world, it will help your reader to remember you if you give them some “Mardi Gras beads” to grab on to!!

Emily Andros is a 25 year Advertising Industry Veteran with both “In-house” and “Ad Agency” experience in the B to B and B to C arenas.  She graduated from University of Texas Austin with her degree in Advertising and has a wide array of experience that she is happy to share with the business world.  She can be reached via her email at emily@mdept.om


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Why does it take so long to create a website?

I cannot tell you how many times my clients have commented on how much work is involved in creating a website. I think that when anyone sees a finished product, no matter what it is, the tendency is to think about how simple things look, but the fact is that any intelligently developed product or project requires time, thought and effort (and experience and education don’t hurt either).

The fact is that a website cannot be created in a vacuum. And as much as I hate having to say this before I get a job from someone,  I have to have SOME input from my client about what they do, who they want to target, what TYPE or style of website they like and want, etc.  Of course I can and will help them to think through all of these types of things (called “Ad Strategy”) but sometimes it’s hard to get the clients to give me ANY time to talk about their businesses and what they want to accomplish with their marketing.  This isn’t a step you can overlook – all good advertising starts with strategy.  Strategy is thinking about who you are, what you do, how you want your market to perceive you, who your competition is, what their advertising looks like and on an on  Way too many people hire independent graphic designer or web programmers and think they are going to provide them with everything they need. What they don’t know is that those people are just one part of a bigger team that works together to make excellent advertising products and websites.

A website starts with strategy first and then moves on from there to “site structure”.  Site structure thinks about what pages a website will have and how they will be organized.  Clients sometimes don’t recognize how their site’s structure is tied to their design.  You may want to have three basic areas of the site, one each for each category of product you sell, and so the site structure and site design have to consider that. For example, if you sell widgets and you have three different categories of widgets…let’s say Widgets for kids, Widgets for Adults and Widgets for Dogs, then the site design might have three columns.  If you plan on adding 3 new product categories later, then the designers will keep this in mind and find a way to set things up so that more categories can be added to the site later.

After developing a site’s structure the client or the ad team will need to write the text.  If the client opts to write their own website text, I have to get that text from them and that can take a while.  Then I have to proof the text and edit it and send it back to the client for their approval.  The website development project will usually go faster if you hire us to write your text for you, but that still takes research time and multiple drafts before the content is ready to go.  The text is essential to any project because it tells me how many pages we’ll need and how much space is going to be need for that text. In a time crunch, I might be able to get the development team started on the site with JUST an outline of the text, but it’s always better to have the full text before proceeding.

All this has to be considered BEFORE any design work is done or it will take twice as long to do the project when things have to be redone.  Many times a client is just figuring things out as they go along and as a result the job specs change in mid-stream.  This can be very frustrating for the web development team….not because we care if you change your mind, but because we’re losing time and money if the job takes longer than what we have originally estimated.  I can tell you that I try to do many of these mid-stream changes without charging extra, but what happens is we reach a point where we’re losing money.  If I haven’t mentioned the negative impact of these changes before that point, then the client usually gets frustrated or mad because they’re not considering all the other “free” changes that have come before.  Just keep in mind….that if you don’t mind paying for extra changes…..then we don’t mind making them for you.

Once the client gives us the text they want on their website (preferably 100% ready to go and in a digital format with little or no formatting like bold words or bulleted text, etc.) I can start assigning all the different aspects of creating a website, which includes:

  1. Outlining the text
  2. Formatting (or unformatting) the text
  3. Determining the page names
  4. Creating the site structure
  5. Considering the functionality of the site and loading the plug-ins or creating the custom programming required to integrate these functions into the site.
  6. Hiring the appropriate designers and programmers for each aspect of the job.
  7. Designing the site or searching for and selecting a site design template (depending on if you’ve paid for a custom designed website or a template designed website).
  8. Searching for, getting approval for and buying the images from a stock photo house.
  9. Acquiring the product images and logo artwork from the client.
  10. Editing the photos or other images.
  11. Selecting the site fonts.
  12. Programming the basic site – which can include many different types of programming and multiple different programmers who work in HTML, WordPress, PHP (the native language that WordPress uses),  CSS, Javascript and on and on.
  13. Programming any ancillary functionality to the site (such as E commerce/Paypal, membership only access, databases, etc.)
  14. Proofing the site
  15. Making the customer’s changes
  16. Writing and programming the site Metadata (title, description and keywords)
  17. Marketing the website (I could make a whole new list for this item).
  18. Web marketing – none of that even considers the work that is required after the site is built to market the site and get i t listed on the search engines.  That is a whole other article!!!!

I recognize that once you see this list, that developing a website can seem like an insurmountable pain in the neck.  It may be somewhat of  a pain (as everything worth doing is) but it’s not insurmountable because we know what we’re doing.  If you’ll let us, we’ll guide you through the project to completion and satisfaction and you’ll end up with a top-notch website that will make your company look great to the public and make your target market WANT to visit your site.  For more information please don’t hesitate to contact me at emily@mdept.com.  I am more than happy to offer up advice and answer any of your questions, whether you do business with my company or not!!!


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What is Public Relations?

Public Relations uses “the media” and/or “the press” to deliver stories about your company, product or service creating good relationships with the public, product users, investors, other writers and many other target markets.Press conference

Public relations or “PR” is really the opposite of advertising because with advertising you pay someone to print an ad or broadcast a commercial that you create for your product (for example). But with Public Relations, writers or journalists write stories in various media based on press releases that you submit to them and other information they research (via the web, interviews, research studies, etc.). Sometimes they print the story exactly as you submit it to them and sometimes they rewrite it based on what you’ve given them.

PR can be less expensive than advertising because you don’t have to pay a publication to release the story and if the media your story appears in is national or international, you can reach a much larger audience at a lower cost. You do however, have to pay someone to spend some time creating a plan, developing an “angle” (aka “a hook”) and determining the best day or time to release the story (there are special PR event & editorial calendars that PR Pros use to evaluate timing). You’ll also need to pay someone to write & edit an intelligent press release (which is completely different from writing advertising copy, by the way). You will also have to pay for the release to be distributed (which is not cheap these days, if you want it done right). You’ll also pay someone to follow-up on the release by emailing, calling and going to events to interact personally with writers, editors and other influencers in an effort to get them to run you story. That’s why many times when you hear someone talk about PR you hear them talking about “relationships” or wanting someone with a “Rolodex®” (i.e., a list of media or industry contacts that they know well enough to be able to pick up the phone and talk to them).

In the end, PR generally costs less than advertising and it has the added bonus of having the unspoken “endorsement” of the publication or the journalist who wrote the story. That’s not always the case because a good journalist doesn’t just take the word of the person who wrote the press release. If upon further investigation they discover that your widget pollutes the local rivers or your pill doesn’t cure cancer, there’s no telling how negative the story could be. So be careful not to overstate your message and don’t forget that a Press Release is not supposed to be so obviously written by the company itself. It’s supposed to be have been written by an outside, unbiased observer who is giving the outside world an impartial appraisal of the subject matter. Far too many times the people who own the company (and who naturally love and praise their own product) write their own press releases. In that case, it’s next to impossible for the journalists who read those press releases not to wonder how much of their story is overstated due to the writer’s overly enthusiastic perspective.

One last thing….as with any marketing related effort, don’t expect a couple of stories to save your company. Any business communications must work with all the different aspects of a marketing program to create product awareness and to generate demand for a product. If you run an ad or two, you cannot expect that to generate enough demand to salvage a business. In the same way, if you run a press release or two, it will be good for you, but don’t expect the phones to ring off the hook. If a magazine runs an article about you and someone sees it, that’s great; but if that someone visits your website as a result & the website looks like hell, well, then your sales efforts will very likely fail. Your target consumer doesn’t have the patience or the forgiveness to overlook the elements of your marketing program that have been thrown together or that are essentially broken.

Make sure that each piece of your marketing “puzzle” is as good as it can be and THEN you can expect to receive the best results. If you don’t have the budget to create & maintain a comprehensive marketing program [with each and every piece being just the way it should be]…then consider selecting 2 or 3 marketing projects or areas (PR, Web & Social Media, for example) and make THOSE segments as good as they can be.

Here’s an article on LinkedIn that talks about the difference between Advertising & Public Relations – LinkedIn Article  


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Does Social Media spell Traditional Advertising’s Demise?

This is a post that I made a while back that didn’t make it onto this blog.  It follows a slightly different stream of consciousness (than my more recent posts)….but I think you’ll still find it interesting. 

Nothing’s hotter than Digital Media and Social Web Marketing, no one would argue that point.  But does the incredible growth of digital media spell the demise of print advertising?   

There is no doubt there’s a credibility gap between print & digital media for one reason: consumers know that almost anyone can create a professional looking web presence without a particularly huge investment. How many times have you wondered what kind of company is really behind a fabulous website?

However, whenever you hand your customer a printed brochure or ad, they can immediately recognize when that printed piece has been well designed and professionally offset printed (or digitally printed as my colleague so kindly pointed out the other day). When that happens, the clients senses that the company “must be legit” and must have the corresponding budget to have been able to produce that item. As a result, printed materials exude credibility in ways that digital media does not.  Whenever I distribute marketing materials digitally (for my company or for a client) I still often feel like I should send a printed brochure out in order to “reinforce” our legitimacy in the minds of consumers.


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Top Mistake made in Advertising

The biggest mistake I see businesses making in regards to their advertising is that they don’t understand what it is that makes people remember, react to and ultimately purchase their products & services.  The answer to that question is MEMORABILITY

Potential customers have to be able to remember a name and be able to retrieve it when they’re ready to purchase that product.  Period.  That’s it.  They don’t even necessarily have to LIKE a product or remember it in a positive light.  Likeability does play a part, but it is far more important that people be able to connect to and retrieve a product name when they are ready to spend their hard-earned dollars.  It only matters if they LIKE your product if they happen to be able to remember more than one item in a product category.  And in that case it’s not as much if they LIKE it as it is HOW FAMILIAR THEY ARE WITH IT.

For example, if I go online to look for and purchase a book, I have to be able to “retrieve” or remember the name of some book before I can buy it.  I may really want a particular book, but if I can’t retrieve that book’s name when I’m ready to buy, then that doesn’t matter.  I have to be able to remember and retrieve that book’s name at the time of purchase or I’m going to buy some other book.  The same applies to appliances, electronics, restaurants, grocery store food, cars and most other products (including YOURS).  You can talk about your product until you’re blue in the face, but if there is no easy way for your target client to remember your product name and to file it away for later retrieval, then you might as well just forget it .

If a potential client can remember your product name PLUS some other competitive product’s name, then that is when it becomes important for them to have a sense of familiarity with your product.  That’s also why “frequency” plays an important role in advertising, because it helps people to graduate from being able to remember your product name, to having a sense of familiarity with it.  They have to have heard your product name multiple times and SEEN some visual element that they can associate with that name, in order to be able to retrieve it at will.  IF THEY DO, then later when they’re ready to buy something and they see that visual element again, they’ll be more likely to select the more familiar product over another.  So in other words, if they can remember the names of two potential new products, they’ll buy the one that they’ve SEEN more often and developed a sense of familiarity with, even if they don’t know much about the details or benefits of one product over another.

This point has been proven when products have had negative publicity, but have still gone on to become prosperous brands.  For example, back in the early 80’s Tylenol was part of the original “cyanide” scare when someone inserted that poison into the product’s capsules.  It wasn’t long after that event, that most people couldn’t remember that negative publicity, but they could remember the name “Tylenol”…ultimately launching it into becoming a power house consumer brand.

Moral of the story:  Make sure you have a name that people can remember and HELP them to remember it by creating some visual element that you can repeat throughout your advertising materials in order to establish memorability and develop familiarity.  Pictures or visual metaphors can foster an immediate understanding of information and create more efficient retrieval from memory”

 ¹Kim Levine, LJN’S Legaltech Newsletter, Vol. 24, No. 3, June 2005; “Are they getting it?”


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Why doesn’t my Graphic Designer “get it”?

Does it seem like you struggle communicating with your graphic designer?  There could be a number of reason why this happens, not all of them are his or her fault.

1) Graphic designers are not mind readers…..MOST designers can do a design in just about any style, but if you don’t tell them what you like or what you have in mind, then don’t expect them to figure that out with the first set of designs.  IT IS PERFECTLY natural to go back and forth with your designer a few times as part of the design process.  That’s one of the reasons not to wait until the last-minute to do a job, because that reduces the amount of “creative time” that can be invested into the project.  Unlike fine arts, graphic design is a group process that’s based on many more things besides what the artist likes or even what YOU like.

2) Not every Graphic Designer is highly gifted….and they are not all equally skilled.  The BEST graphic designer is a gifted artist that is very creative. But just as with any workers, there are a lot of mediocre ones and only a small handful of brilliant ones.  LOOK AT YOUR ARTIST’S ENTIRE BODY OF WORK closely before you hire anyone – if you like the majority of the work they’ve done, then that’s a good indication that they’ll be able to do something you’ll be happy with as well (I know, “duh!”, but people forget to do this all the time).  In any case, don’t blame them if you don’t like ALL their designs because sometimes they have to do things they don’t like (based on some other client’s likes or needs).

3) Most graphic designers are fine artists and  fine art is highly subjective…  ADVERTISING, on the other hand, is a different thing all together as it’s part “creative” and part “logic”.  For this reason, you’ll get better results of you work with a team of people that includes an Art Director who manages your graphic designer.  The Art Director makes sure that your advertising is not only interesting & creative (and visually attractive) but they also ensure that your Graphic Artist understands who your target market is, what your significant margin of difference is and what your company’s goals and needs are (to name just a few of the things they do).

4) Advertising is a process…I can’t tell you how many people are under the impression that the designer should be giving them a final design when they deliver the first draft to the client.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Hopefully you’ve communicated your tastes & wishes to your advertising team and when they submit the first design drafts to you, they will be CLOSE to what you want.  But if not, try to think about the design work they’ve submitted to you.  What do you like about it?  What don’t you like about it?  Try to visualize your artwork with a different color or photo.  Ask yourself if there is enough “white space” AND communicate all that to the Art Director (who will discuss it with the Graphic Designer).  Don’t hesitate to ask your Art Director to tell you what they think and to help you analyze and understand the pros & cons of each layout option.

5) Rely on the pros…..too many times I’ve had a client come back and tell me that her daughter didn’t like something about a design or her receptionist didn’t like the colors.  Of course it’s ok to ask other’s what they think….but try to remember who the pros are and who your target market is.  Ask your ad team what THEY think or call someone you know that’s in the same age and has the same demographics as your target market.  It is far more important for you to ask yourself if you think your target market will “like” it (or react to it) than it is for your 17-year-old daughter (unless she happens to be IN your target market and in that case remember that her’s is just one opinion out of a larger group.).

If you’re working with the right team you should be able to work through the design process and get to the point where you are satisfied with the work you’ve received.  If you’ve been through 3 or 4 sets of revisions and you still feel like you’re very far off then that is the point at which you can question if you’re with the right artist/team or not.  But ask yourself if you’ve been clear with your designer & team (and if you told them you want your ad to have a lot of “swish pop” or to be “interesting” then that doesn’t count because who the heck knows what that means anyway?).

(Please feel free to read my blog postings “How to Proof a Brochure” and that will help you in this area as well; also read “First the text, the rest will Follow”).


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Website Checklist – What do I do after I hire someone to develop our website?

You’ve just hired someone to design and program your new website and they’re asking you to give them all the things they will need to create the site. The problem is you don’t know the first thing about it, so what do you do?  You can start with this list of things that most if not all website designers and programmers will need in order to create a new website:

1)      Unformatted digital text – be prepared to give your development team all of the text for your website in one UNFORMATTED, Microsoft Word or WordPad document (or other digital word processing file).  Be sure to label each section of text with the page names that the text goes on (so put “About Us” at the top of the text for the About Us page and so on). Make sure that the headers for each page in this section match the names of each page.  These page names should correspond to and match the primary navigation tabs on the home page and any sub tabs or links that may be included with your site. Don’t forget to include all the headlines, sub headlines, and other text that you want used through the site (you may want “pull quotes” to be used on side bars, for example or quotes or captions to be used on photos; also include all the contact information, copyright dates, email addresses, names of employees.)  To ensure you don’t forget anything use your initial “site outline” that you should have created when you asked for the quote for the job, as a guide for the text you need to write and prepare.

2)      Website Instructions – First let me say that there’s nothing more dangerous and confusing than receiving 35 emails each with a snippet of text or a photo with a name like “25944GP.jpg” or other files that are not properly named and prepared to be handled by the development team.   Be sure to include any and all instructions for the website in the above “Digital Text” document (these instructions can be before or after the text for the site). Be sure to make a clear differentiation between the web text and your instructions, perhaps by writing the instructions in colored text or a different font.

3)      Correctly prepared and formatted Images – The exact size of photos that your team will need won’t be clear until AFTER the design phase of the web development is done.  For that reason it’s just better if you give your team the biggest, highest resolution images you have. If you have those images on your computer, do not try to email them to the team by embedding them into a word document or an email.  You CAN send them as an attachment to an email OR better yet use a service like “drop box” or see if your team has an “FTP” server that will make it easier for your to transfer files that are very large.  If you try to email these images they may clog up your email software’s outbox and even if they go out of your own email system, you won’t have any way of knowing if the client can accept files that are that big.  For that reason it’s just better to upload them to an FTP server or use a system similar to Drop Box.(to use an FTP site, someone from your development team will have to send you the instructions and log-in information separately).  Be aware that not all images are “ready to go”…and your design crew may have to do some photo retouching, cropping, resizing and other word that may or may not be included in your initial website quote.  If you have a choice to send your images in a variety of different file formats, most designers would prefer .jpg images (pronounced J-peg).

4)      Image and file Naming – Be careful how you name the files and  images that you give to your development team because it’s REALLY hard and very confusing when they get files or images that are named “qap239r809.jpg”.  If you could name the photo or file WHAT it is……that is very helpful and avoids unnecessary delays.  If the image you are sending is a photo of “Mary Smith” then you could just name it Mary Smith.  It would be even better if you could add the name of the page where you’d like that photo, for example marysmith_pricing.jpg  (don’t forget you can’t ADD a period in the text name….you CAN add an underscore OR a dash, without a problem – no other characters can be inserted into a file name and the .jpg part is added automatically so you don’t need to worry about that part…just name the first part of the file name (before the period) as I’ve explained here.

5)      Captions – if you would like a caption on or above any of the images, please provide the information to your team by creating a list using the Image file name (see above instruction about naming your files) plus the text that goes with that image next to the name. You can include this list with the text for the website (with the instructions, before or after). If your website is going to have a series of photos with captions, you’ll want to consider how those photos will look next to each other and try to keep any text or captions that go with the photos in a similar style and length.  It’s better not to have one photo with a big, long sentence under it while another photo has two words.  Also remember that if your site is going to have any moving images or text, which are usually programmed with FLASH instead of HTML, for example, you will want to have those captions of similar length and style as well.

6)      Forms – if you plan to have a form on your website, be sure to include the text for the form (or the field names, in other words) with the unformatted digital text that you’ll be providing to your development team.  Also you’ll need to include the email address where you want the form information to be sent to (so for example if you have a form on your “contact us” page, then whenever someone fills out that form, your team will need to know what email address you’ll want that information to be sent to).

7)      Logos – you development team will also need any and all logo artwork that you use for your company and possibly the name of the font that goes with your logo and business package (some companies have a typeface or “font” that they use for all of their outgoing materials and some organizations even have instructions or rules that go with those fonts & logos, that a marketing team would have to have in order to use those items correctly).  Be sure to send your logo in the highest resolution possible and if possible send the version that’s color and the one that has a clear background or no background.  If you are not sure which logo to send, then I’d suggest that you send  them all the logos you have (you can include these files with the images you will be emailing or posting to the FTP site or putting into “Dropbox”).

8)      Social Media Links – if you want social media links on your website please send the links or web addresses to each of your social media webpages.  Try to avoid telling your programmers “can you link my website up to my Facebook page?” because this opens up a whole new can of worms and a number of opportunities for the programmer to connect your website up to the wrong Facebook page.  If you want your site to be developed quickly and correctly, make it as easy and clear as possible for your team so that you minimize confusion and maximize the chances of things being done right the first time.

9)      Contact info – Don’t forget to include any and all current contact information with the content for the website including all the email addresses you want listed on the website (and where you’d like those items to be listed or located).

I often hear horror stories of companies who have hired someone to work on their website, only to have that person drop off the planet or stop working on the project abruptly with no explanation.  I’d wager to say that these people get frustrated asking for materials, waiting for them, asking for the next thing, then waiting for that item and so on….only to lose time and money and ultimately any and all profitability on the project.  This isn’t inevitable however and you’ll greatly reduce the likelihood of having any major issues if you will take the appropriate amount of time on the onset of the project in order to prepare the materials that your team is going to need.

Finally, don’t forget that your development team is most likely made up of a number of people – you may have a marketing person who is helping you plan and outline the site, a copywriter who will help you to write the text, a designer who will develop the design of the website, a programmer who will program the basic site (an HTML programmer or WordPress Programmer, for example) and possibly other programmers who will do specialty programming such as FLASH, database or e-commerce programming.  Finally you may have someone to help you after all that’s done to market your website and get it listed on the search engines.  You may not need to send all the above information to each person who is working on the site, but it will be helpful to you and certainly the initial people working with you to be able to see all the information in one place – well-organized and clearly thought out – before they start on your web development project.


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Brochures: write your text first, then determine size

Brochures: write your text first, then determine size

My previous blog was about figuring out where to start your new brochure.  This blog will give you a little info about what to do next and help you answer the question about “brochure size”.  I often get calls from clients asking me to quote a brochure, but that’s hard to do without more information than that.  If you reviewed my last blog, you can use that info plus you’ll especially need to know how much text you’re going to have.  The size and design of the brochure is, to a large degree, driven by the amount of text you have (aka “the ad copy”).  To determine that, start with an outline of what you want the brochure to “cover”.  If you’re working with an experienced advertising copywriter, and I hope you are, then they should be able to tell you if your outline is “correct” or not.  Don’t be offended if the writer uses your outline as a general guide and creates a new one based on his or her experience.  AFTER ALL that’s what you’re paying them for, right?  A wonderful author. Roy H. Williams. who wrote “Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads”, said: 

“In one critical aspect, the advertising business is unlike any other.  The idea that the customer is always right may be true in every other business, but it will lead an advertising person to ruin just as surely as if he had jumped off a cliff.  The ad writer who believes the client is always right will give the client what he requests instead of what he really needs.  Everything will be roses in the short run, but when the campaign yields disappointing results, the ad person will get all the blame for the client’s bad idea.” 

With that in mind, don’t forget ADVERTISING RULE #1: “Copywriters and designers are NOT MIND READERS”.  No matter what you ask them to do, it’s very likely you’re going to have to provide them with feedback, and as a result, changes will need to be made.  THAT’S TOTALLY NORMAL and an important part of the proofing process.  You’re the one that knows your business and your ad consultant knows advertising and marketing.  To get the best results out of any consultant, try to give them as much input as you can from the beginning.  On the other hand, try to make them feel comfortable giving you feedback in return.  There’s nothing worse than when a client verbally attacks a consultant.  That only makes them afraid to tell the client the TRUTH (which is what they so desperately need to hear).  Once you’ve agreed on the outline, then the writer can develop the text based on that.  It’s usually at this point that a good ad person can give you an estimate of the size brochure you should do, even before the text is written.  Just remember this, most clients want to say a lot more in their brochures than the ad person will generally recommend.  Try to see things from your clients’ perspectives….they’re only going to give you so much time, so keep things short.  (now look who’s talking). There’s a lot more to say about “advertising copy” but I’ll leave it at that for now.  Next time, I’ll give you a run-down of the different “standard” brochures sizes.


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What kind of website do I need? Beyond the basics…

Website Options can be complex....If you’re hiring a web development team to create a new website for you it’s most likely that they’ll ask you some questions about what you want.  BUT most people don’t know enough about what the options are to be able to answer the questions.  This article is about the options….the choices you’ll be faced with when you create a new website (or when you upgrade or update an existing one).  This article is meant to go beyond the basics, but to get there I’ll have to do a quick summary of the basics.

There are two basic types of websites, a brochure site and an e-commerce site:

Brochure Site

A brochure site is an informational site without a lot of interaction on the part of the customer.  At the most, a brochure site might have a “form” that your customers can fill out to send information to you, the website owner.  If that’s the case, the form information (name, address, phone number, for example) can be either emailed to you or put into a database.  Emailed form data (as it’s called) is a lot easier and cheaper to set up than a database so you won’t want to hire someone to create a database for you unless you really need one. (more on databases below)

E-commerce Site

An E-commerce site has the information of a brochure site but also provides a way for the customer to purchase products, services and/or memberships or subscriptions online.  An e-commerce site can and almost always does include forms & databases…but in addition to that, it has the systems that work together to process customer purchases such as merchant accounts (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc.), payment gateways and shopping carts.

Other options: Beyond the Basics

Starting with one of these two basic types of websites, you can add any number options that are available to you from your web development team. Every time you interact with a website you are benefiting from programming that was created or integrated into the site by a web programmer.  Some options may be very simple and others may be quite complex and require extensive planning.  You can ask your team to integrate these functions into your website when you first create the site and also many of these features can be added into the site at a later date (or in a secondary phase of your website development project).  SOME FEATURES however must be “purchased” or at least planned for from the beginning as they may influence other programming options and choices that are made along the way.

The difficult thing is that beyond the basics, the list of optional functionality is nearly endless. Also you might not even know that you’re looking at an “optional functionality” when you look at a website.  Try to keep in mind that no matter what you do on any website – i.e., if you click on a button, move from page to page, see a menu drop down, have a window “pop-up” appear, etc……each one of those seemingly simple functions is added by some kind of programming and the more complex the function, the more complex and costly the programming.  Additional functionality beyond the basics requires specialized programming and thus takes time to develop and costs money.

These functions are either custom created or sometimes available “ready-made”, however even a ready-made functionality module has to be integrated into the programming of a site (costing time and money).  With a ready-made module, keep in mind that you’ll be getting generic functionality as opposed to custom functionality so you’ll have to investigate the options they come with to make sure they’ll work for your needs.

In any case, website add-ons & options can do just about anything you can imagine – if you can dream it up, someone can probably find a way to make it happen.  Some of the types of functions that are added to websites include things such as:

  1. Chat rooms
  2. Sign-up/registration functions (letting a customer register to be a member of your site)
  3. Secure or restricted portions of the sites (for members only requiring a log in and u/n & p/w management system)
  4. Integrated Twitter, Facebook or Blog feeds
  5. RSS Feeds (or whole sections
  6. Advertisements (add ads to your site and make money each time someone clicks on an ad)
  7. Ad rotation functions
  8. Social marketing integration
  9. Press pages (automatically post press releases on your site about your company)
  10. Site authoring (let writers post articles to your site without you having to do it manually)
  11. Customer comments – let customers make comments about your products or services.
  12. Google Analytics (keeping track of your web statistics)
  13. Live chat robot
  14. Help menu with search function
  15. Customer account access
  16. Customer file access
  17. Customer content interaction (i.e., allow the client to edit text in certain files or documents)
  18. Web content editing
  19. Website/QuickBooks integration
  20. Calendar or appointment function (show your customers your calendar of events or allow them to make appointments in real-time, online)
  21. Print webpages
  22. Convert content on pages to PDF & print or increase font size
  23. Photo gallery/portfolios
  24. Video or audio content with player interface (i.e., music or YouTube)
  25. Translation functions (translate into any language)
  26. Computer site reader (for blind or poor vision visitors)
  27. Product availability maps (with vendor listings and related contact information)
  28. Site visitor action tracking (tracks movements of site visitors)
  29. Employee work tracker
  30. Amazon or Ebay store integration (view products from either site on your website)
  31. Customer marketing module (sends pre-designed direct mail ads to clients at periodic dates) and many more.

Databases 

A database is a place where information is organized & stored…it may be helpful to think of it as being similar to an “Excel chart” with columns and rows as well as the information about how the database is supposed to be used.  A database is a good way to store information for later retrieval and if you intend to use your customers’ contact information to do mailings, for example, a database is a great way to manage & store that information.  However a database has many uses way beyond managing contact information; a database can be used to organize and present (show) the products or services you’re trying to sell, for example, and is useful when there are large quantities of products.

Many websites are actually  controlled by a database and the pages are created when a user does a “query” or makes a request to see certain types of information.  For example if your business sells toys, a customer may ask to see all the stuffed animals at one time or all the Giraffes (stuffed, plastic, metal, musical, books and otherwise) and a database can make that happen.  Another way to organize information in this case might be by manufacturer – perhaps the site visitor wants to see all the toys from Mattel or Disney.  The way a web programmer makes this happen is by using a database…otherwise they would have to create a static page with every conceivable method & combination of organization, which would represent a HUGE number of pages and way too much money and work.

Databases are also used in membership websites to capture and hold members’ usernames, passwords and other contact information.  They can also be used in conjunction with an e-commerce system to automate the management of new, expired or cancelled memberships.  As you can imagine, trying to manage these types of memberships manually can be quite a handful with 50-100 members and almost impossible if the number of members gets into the thousands.  If you need a username/password feature for your website, a database is an absolute must (otherwise you would have 1 username and password for everyone which defeats the whole purpose of buying a membership when everyone figures out what that is).

Hopefully this article has at least given you the basics about additional functionality for your website.  I know it’s hard to determine what YOU need so a good way to do that is to visit all your competitors’ sites and see what functionality they have.  That can often give you some ideas about what you might need for your website.

For more information about added functionality, please feel free to contact me, Emily Andros, at emily@thebrandxagency.com .


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The Secret of the Sales Cycle: REVISITED

The Sales Circle

The 4 secrets of the sales cycle

I’ve rewritten this article and elaborated on each of the points for a more comprehensive article. I hope this will help you to determine how and where to spend your advertising & marketing dollars and the importance of supporting your sales cycle.

Not everyone knows this but there is a secret formula to success when it comes to marketing: Every business MUST follow 4 basic steps in order to be successful.

First you must create & establish a memorable corporate identity. A corporate identity, also known as your brand, is made up of a consistent look and feel and a cohesive message, both of which contribute to your target market’s ability to remember you and your product or service name. A potential client has to be able to remember you when it comes time for them to purchase your product or service and a memorable, unique and consistent brand helps them to do just that.

Second, you must have a way to bring in leads. A famous entrepreneur once said “you won’t even be able to sell $10 bills for $5, unless someone hears your message”. In order to sell anything, you have to be able to present your sales message to someone and for that you need leads. A lead is simply someone who’s willing to listen to what you have to say (your sales message).

Third, you have to qualify and sell those leads (or sort out the bad ones & keep the good ones). In any group of potential customers there will be some that are interested but not ready to buy, some that are interested that are ready to buy and others that aren’t interested at all. To move your potential client through the sales funnel, you need to present your message and then sort out those that are interested and ready to buy from the rest of the pack.

Finally, you have to build relationships with those qualified leads…i.e., you must put some effort into keeping your name or brand in front of your potential & existing clients, so they don’t forget you. Whenever you push a lead through a sales funnel, they will need to hear your advertising or sales message more than once (aka frequency). During that time, you can build a sort of “business relationship” with that lead that will hopefully develop interest in your offering, cultivate trust in your product & brand and eventually lead to them recalling your name at the time of purchase.

It’s my job as a marketing & advertising professional to encourage our clients to invest in some advertising activities that support each of these four areas. If any one piece of the above “cycle” is missing or weak or unsupported by your marketing efforts, then your sales cycle will collapse and you’ll miss or lose sales. I could write a book on each and every one of the above “rules” because I’ve made a career out of understanding and implementing tactics that will achieve results in each of these areas, but that’s not the focus of this article. The main message of this article is to help you to understand that you can’t pick some advertising tactic arbitrarily out of thin air and then depend on that one thing to bring in fantastic advertising results. People do that frequently and that’s one of the reason’s why I always hear clients say “I placed an ad once and it didn’t work.” Whenever you embark on an advertising campaign, it’s important to recognize the steps that potential clients go through to locate and get familiar with a brand in order to make a purchasing decision. Then it’s up to you to make sure that your advertising efforts support the entire sales process to best support and encourage your target market to consider & select your product.

Here is a list of advertising tactics divided up by the sales area they will best support. Not all ad tactics are mutually exclusive….they often support more than one area of the sales cycle. When deciding how to spend your advertising dollars, make sure you have some “tactics” or projects in each of the following areas:

1. Corporate Identity/Brand DevelopmentCreate a unique & memorable brand

  • Marketing, Advertising, PR & Social Media plans
  • Name & Tagline creation
  • Logo
  • Campaign/look & feel
  • Business Package – letterhead, envelopes & business cards
  • Web URL – get your web address and host it so you can use that email account
  • Email signature
  • Uniforms
  • Signage

2. Lead Development Get leads coming in the door and collect basic lead contact info

  • Web Advertising:
  • Pay per click
  • Landing page (for banners & PPC ads)
  • Banner Ads
  • Web listings
  • HTML Emails
  • SEO/Site Submissions
  • Print Advertising:
  • Direct mail
  • Magazine Ads
  • Newspaper Ads
  • Broadcast Advertising:
  • TV Commercials
  • Radio Commercials
  • Theatre Ads
  • Trade shows/Trade show booth/promotions

3. Lead Qualification & Sales Once you’ve got leads, tell them who you are and sell them!

  • Website
  • Brochures – print or digital
  • Flyer/Product Spec Sheets
  • Product Packaging
  • Point of purchase displays
  • Presentations/PowerPoint
  • Product photos
  • Product samples
  • Client Bio Sheet
  • Corporate Background Sheet
  • Referral sheet
  • Quote/Proposal presentation format/design
  • Folder
  • Sales Pitch
  • Giveaways
  • Pricing Strategy

4. Relationship Building/Brand Promotion Keep your customers coming back for more

  • Social Media
  • HTML Newsletter
  • Referral Program/package
  • Promotions/Sweepstakes/Contests
  • Customer Loyalty Programs
  • Public Relations/Press Releases
  • Sponsorship of local sports teams
  • Join Chamber/Networking events
  • Uniform
  • Signage

Ok that’s it for today.  I hope this little article has helped you to get an idea about what has to be done to have a successful advertising campaign.  Of course the issue is way more complicated than this but this is a start.  Please feel free to contact me any time – we are here to help you and I am more than glad to spend a little time helping you figure out what you need to do to market your business.  Email me at emily@mdept.com.


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Why your advertising SUCKS…

For your advertising to work you need it to reach the right customer and to make it easy for them to remember your name or product. To do that, a potential customer needs to see and hear your message a number of times. The old “adage” says they need to hear an advertising message 8 or 9 times before they will even consider buying the product (aka “frequency”).  There are a lot of other prerequisites for advertising to work including the need for good branding & positioning, a consistent message, a memorable visual, a clear & unique selling proposition, a convincing call to action and many more things too numerous to mention here.

Advertising is one of those things that can look simple, but has a lot going on “behind the scenes”.  It has a lot of interdependent elements that only work when ALL those pieces are done and done right.  Naturally, each one of those “pieces” costs money to do (professionally) and as a result clients pick & choose which projects they want, to the exclusion of other items that are often critical to something else working.  No one can blame an advertiser for letting budget constraints drive his or her choices…of course not, but if you’re guilty of doing that, then you have to stop blaming your advertising consultant when your advertising doesn’t work!

Here’s what I’m talking about – let’s say you hire a pro to conduct a direct mail campaign for you and they create an intelligent post card that considers who the target market is and all the other essential factors needed for a good advertising piece. The mailing goes out and the call to action drives the consumer to your website to get more complete information and to begin the sales process.  BUT you lose the sale because your website sucks.  The site is old and doesn’t match the new campaign and oh yes, it was written by your son in law’s lawn boy who does weekend websites…and quite frankly it stinks (but you don’t really KNOW this because you really like your website….as a matter of fact you participated in making it and you think it’s just fine).  However, it still may suck because in advertising it does not matter if you like it or not, nor does it matter if your daughter likes it or your neighbor or all of your employees.  It ONLY matters if your customer likes it.  Or better yet, it only matters if it makes your customer decide to purchase your product.  NOTHING ELSE MATTERS…and if you have an advertising person who doesn’t get this then you need to get a new ad person.

It’s hard to find competent help and it’s even harder to let go and let other people do what they’re trained to do especially when it comes to advertising & marketing. BUT we’re not talking about FINE art here…we’re talking about finding a way to elicit a reaction out of your customer and to sell your products.  Save your likes and dislikes for something OTHER than your company’s advertising or marketing materials.  Find an intelligent marketing person who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth & then give them a budget and let then help you figure out what you CAN accomplish within those constraints.  Most of the time a client comes to us and already knows what they want to do, with very little consideration of whether or not that one project or ad piece will do anything all by itself.  Also, we’re usually damned if we do and damned if we don’t – because if we push too hard then the client gets mad at us for being too pushy; but if we let them have their way, then they blame us if the advertising doesn’t work.

Advertising & marketing is about building a set of consistent materials that are visually attractive & intelligently designed using the decades of knowledge & experience & data we have about what makes people buy thingsBe honest with yourself;  if you’ve been trained to do this type of work, then go ahead and manage your own advertising projects. But if not, stand aside and let an educated & experienced professional do it for you.  Trust them to write the content, trust them to art direct the design and trust them to pick which projects will be best for you.


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