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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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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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Top 13 reasons to update your website

Top 13 reasons to update your website
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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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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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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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