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Top Pinstripe Blog Posts of 2016

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We have enjoyed a tremendous year at Pinstripe! One thing we really enjoy is sharing information about creating great marketing and communications to grow your business. Throughout 2016, we have written hundreds of articles, and it’s always interesting to see what pieces you like most. Our most popular posts are always our client spotlights – you really like to learn about some of our favorite people! Features about Pinstripe projects and case studies also generate a lot of readership. But the ones that prove most valuable are the ‘how to’ articles – so in case you missed one, or just want a refresher, here are the top 15 articles of 2016!

 

15. Logo Design and Corporate Identity Manuals

The history of graphic design is extensive and can be traced back hundreds of years. For the sake of this article, we are going to focus on graphic design as it was forming during the industrial era, and how the appearance and growth of corporations affected one aspect of graphic design in particular – logos.

 

14. Do You Have Your Elevator Speech Ready?

You and a stranger are standing in a hotel lobby waiting for an elevator. He has the appearance of a fine, upstanding chap and you’re in an affable mood so you comment on what a nice day it is. He’s welcoming of conversation. Additional pleasantries ensue, followed by introductions and the customary handshake. The elevator finally arrives and just as you and your new friend step inside, he asks about your business.

It’s time for the ‘elevator speech.’

 

13. Trade Shows: To Participate or Not … That’s the Last Question

At some point, you may hear of a trade show for your industry and entertain the notion of attending. The immediate question is whether such an excursion would be a worthwhile investment of time, effort and money.  Reaching that determination will require carefully considered answers to several other questions, first.

 

12.The Physics of Marketing

People may tell you that marketing is “more art than science.” And at first blush, this assertion seems valid. Consider the stimulating imagery and compelling prose that accompanies a typical advertising campaign. However, when it comes to attracting and keeping customers, we should take instruction from Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion.

 

11. Proposals – Advice from the Selection Committee

Recently, Pinstripe Marketing attended a webinar hosted by the Society of Marketing Professionals (SMPS) Tampa Bay called “Secrets of the Selection Process,” by Gary Coover. The course was designed to enlighten us about creating a proposal as well as presenting the proposal to the selection committee, and we came away with a few great tips that we thought we would share.

 

10. How to Leave an Effective Voicemail Message

When trying to reach someone, having to leave a voicemail (VM) message can be very frustrating. The exercise is especially tiresome if you’re in sales—leaving message after message with little hope of a callback. Pessimistically you go through the motions; repeating words you’ve said countless times before.

 

9. Social Media Superhero: Tips for Curating Social Content

Social media accounts for businesses are now the norm rather than the exception, so keeping up-to-date with your posts is something that must be done on a regular basis. We understand that this is time-consuming and is yet another item to add to your to-do list, but below are some tips for streamlining the process and keeping your content interesting and fresh.

 

8. Online Marketing: 5 Things That Most Smart People Don’t Know

Online marketing is one of those things that’s easy to start, but difficult to do correctly. That’s because the internet makes it easy for people with little or no experience to present themselves as experts and give lots of bad advice. It’s bad enough when this bad advice doesn’t produce results, but in many cases, it can even harm your business for the long term. Just like with medical and legal decisions, it’s not what you know about marketing that gets you in trouble—it’s what you don’t know. These tips will help you avoid making some of the common marketing mistakes that a lot of smart people make simply because they followed bad advice from someone who presented themselves as an expert.

 

7. Copy vs. Graphics: Bickering Spouses of Advertising?

In this age of social media, viral videos and search engine optimization (SEO), the role of imagery and copy in marketing is like ever-present background noise. And yet from billboards to websites, the healthy marriage of copy and graphics is almost always a critical component in the successful execution of promotional efforts.

 

6. The Importance of a Trademark Search

A trademark is a name, word or logo used to indicate the source of a product or service. While a “trademark” technically refers to a brand used on goods and products (e.g., coffee, sneakers, jewelry), a “service mark” refers to a brand used in connection with services (e.g., restaurant services, insurance services, accounting services). Almost every company imaginable has a trademark or service mark – either the name of the company advertised to the public or the name of its product.

 

5. Writing a Compelling Biography

If it hasn’t already happened—don’t be surprised one day to have someone ask you for your bio (e.g. short biography). Employers often want them for the “About Us” or “Our Professionals” sections of their web sites. Bios may be needed for a press release announcing an important new hire. Meeting planners ask for bios of important guests or speakers at conventions and conferences. If you have your vital information on hand and ready to go at a moment’s notice, you’ll earn the sincere appreciation of a lot of people … and may save yourself some embarrassment.

 

4. Tips for Hiring a Professional Photographer

At some point in our lives, we all need a professional photographer. Whether you need a photo for your web site, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, product shots for your business or photos for your wedding, there are some things that are best left to the pros. Here are some tips for hiring the right photographer for your business needs.

 

3. How to Sell a White Elephant

From time to time, we’ll find it necessary to sell something that might lead one to question the sanity of anyone who buys it. This could be a product, a service, or even an investment opportunity that’s missing readily apparent value. While a challenge, successfully unloading (or rather, locating a buyer), is often just a matter of looking at the offering a bit differently ourselves, and then getting a prospective customer to see it the same way.

 

2. Utilizing Nostalgia and Vernacular in Graphic Design

Graphic design as a promotional tool dates back to the 19th century, when the earliest form of graphic design relied solely on typography to make a point. During these early days, text, font style, and font size were the main vehicles of emphasis; you can see how designers started playing with different typefaces and boldness to draw attention to certain information. Over the years, as graphic design became more prominent, methods and styles evolved. People in the advertising industry began to experiment with different techniques to attract attention to products, as well as instill confidence in them and the companies that sold them.

 

And the most popular article of 2016 is…

1. What Makes a Business Card “Cool”?

If you’re someone whose work puts in you in contact with new people on a regular basis, you probably have a substantial supply of business cards. Doubtlessly, you also have a nice collection of business cards from the professionals you meet. Perhaps you’ve encountered one or two that caused you to pause and examine it more closely, thinking “Wow, that’s a cool card!”

 

Based on this list, it appears you’re just as nerdy as we are. 🙂

 

If you’d like to receive our articles right to your inbox, you can sign up here AND receive a complimentary copy of our Guide to Public Relations.

 

THANK YOU for giving us the opportunity to be a small part of your marketing initiatives. We wish you the very best for a healthy and prosperous 2017!

Pinstripe Brands Florida Nature Preserve Cemetery

funeral cemetery marketingIn May 2014, we were invited to visit a 40-acre parcel of what was formerly part of the J.B. Starkey Ranch to hear about an idea.

After attending a workshop at a national land conservation conference years earlier, Laura Starkey had an idea to develop a business model that would allow her to conserve natural lands while sharing the beauty of laura_and_frank_starkeyFlorida’s woods with residents and visitors – the same woods she grew up in and is dedicated to preserving. Heartwood Preserve would be a nature preserve and conservation cemetery – only the second in the state – to provide ‘green’ burial options.

Natural, or ‘green,’ burial is a safe and environmentally friendly practice that allows the body to return to the soil naturally by using biodegradable materials, and avoiding vaults and toxic embalming fluids. Conservation burial takes this practice a step further by burying in a nature preserve rather than a conventional cemetery, and utilizing a portion of the burial fee to help permanently protect the natural environment.

More than two years after that first walk in the woods, Heartwood Preserve is a reality.

The Pinstripe Marketing team had the pleasure of working with Laura to design the brand and create marketing tools that tell the story of natural burial and illustrate the beauty of the preserve she fought to protect.

The brand is, of course, inspired by nature. A hand-drawn pine cone referencing the thousands that drop from the long-leaf pines throughout the preserve serves as the iconic mark. The stationery package was printed on natural, FSC Certified, Green Seal certified, 30% recycled paper (minimum). The colors and texture throughout all marketing pieces are earthy and exude the beauty of Heartwood Preserve.

stationery suite design branding

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logo design and professional services branding

The web site is a source of information about natural burial and for the Florida nature preserve as an asset for the community, available for enjoying the flora and fauna. It’s also the platform to show off the beauty of the preserve. The home page video, shot by nature documentary videographer, Jennifer Brown, draws the visitor in with stunning visuals of the pine trees, palmettos, flowers, and animals who call the preserve home. The photo gallery highlights the environment and events hosted at the preserve. The site, including font selections and simple navigation, was designed with a senior audience in mind.

website design website development

The brochure also features a brief introduction to the preserve and photography by Andrea Ragan. As a stand-alone piece for prospective families or as part of a comprehensive package for funeral directors, the brochure provides information about conservation burial and what loved ones can expect by selecting Heartwood Preserve as a final resting place.

brochure design printing

With all the elements for a great story, the Pinstripe public relations team is anxious to begin pitching the media about this beautiful new conservation cemetery and the Florida families who make arrangements to be buried among the long-leaf pines and palmettos.

For more information about Heartwood Preserve, visit the web site or stop by for a peaceful walk in the woods.

Contact a Pinstripe project manager to start developing your brand and marketing materials.

What Makes a Business Card ‘Cool?’

cool business card design If you’re someone whose work puts in you in contact with new people on a regular basis, you probably have a substantial supply of business cards. Doubtlessly, you also have a nice collection of business cards from the professionals you meet. Perhaps you’ve encountered one or two that caused you to pause and examine it more closely, thinking “Wow, that’s a cool card!”

It’s an accomplishment when something as common as a business card can hold anyone’s attention for more than a split second. But their purpose is to tell recipients something about the person handing it out. Bright colors, gilded printing, or odd shapes that don’t inform others about what makes you (or the business you represent) worth knowing, is the equivalent of an engine backfiring amidst the usual background noise. Folks notice briefly; then go their merry ways.

A quick Google search for ‘cool business card designs’ will quickly turn up many, many examples of some that aren’t so easily forgotten. For instance, we ran across this list at boredpanda.com. Included are a fitness trainer’s card in the form of an overweight man. A perforation lets you instantly remove his pot belly. Another from a yoga instructor shows a young woman contorting herself. Fingers inserted through holes in this card, creates the illusion her touching the top of her head with the bottom of her feet. A card from a divorce lawyer is perforated to split right down the middle. (The attorney’s contact information is on both sides.)

These examples are very clever, but more importantly, they help reinforce the value of the purveyors’ services. That they get the message across in a unique and entertaining way, also suggests that this is not just another cookie-cutter operation. (Of course, a nifty business card may have been the only innovative thing any of these businesses have ever done, but “so what?” as long as they produce sales leads.)

Now words of caution: clever or ‘cool’ business cards may not be right for your business. Or rather, any unusual element about your business card should match your brand image. Humor isn’t automatically the right tone for every kind of business. Additionally, some companies prefer to stress seriousness and authoritativeness over wit and frivolity. This isn’t to say that sober professions can’t have distinctive business cards. However, a funeral home with a card that lets you lift a casket cover to reveal information, isn’t something you want to give grieving clients.

And no matter how breathtaking the design, a business card must always be functional. First, there’s a reason most cards are sized and shaped as they are. Often when we receive a business card, our shirt or blazer pockets, wallets, or pocketbooks are about the only places that we can easily save them. Otherwise, we’d either have to carry them or look for a trash can. The design must also accommodate the person’s name, contact information, a company name and probably a business tagline or statement about the kind of services or products being offered. Finally, business cards should also complement existing branding in terms of color choices, fonts or use of imagery. That’s a lot of design boxes to check!

Is it worth the effort to attempt a cool business card? Well, it’s probably not a ‘must have’ for your marketing materials. Don’t be pressured, and don’t force anything. Have your attractive, functional and brand-consistent business cards, but keep an open mind. Then, when great idea comes to you—or from an employee, friend or family member—go for it!

Check out some of our other articles about design and business development.

Thinking about Stock Photography Choices

Tampa Bay marketing firmIf you’ve spent any time perusing ads or websites of SMBs (or larger companies that don’t do much consumer advertising), you’ve probably seen identical photographs pop up occasionally.  Those are stock photography images — and for a reasonable fee, they are available for just about anyone’s use.

Overexposure of popular images is the most obvious danger of using stock photography. There have been cases of different companies with the same stock photo seeing their ads placed side-by-side ads in a publication. (Whomever did the layout deserved a good spanking!) By and large, however, the relatively miniscule cost of stock photos versus a professional photoshoot can make the risk worthwhile when budget is a factor.

And actually, the embarrassment of seeing a photo of “your” smiling customer service representative apparently moonlighting for an unseemly industry, isn’t really the worst thing that can happen when it comes to using stock photography.

No, the biggest stock photography danger is having an image that doesn’t work with the message that it’s supposed to convey. This could be due to pictures which are so generic that they carry the visual impact of plain beige walls at the local DMV. Or they could be quite interesting images that are, nevertheless, badly mismatched to the message. Unfortunately, this problem comes from the “off-the-rack” nature of stock photography, so to mitigate such inherent deficiencies, here are a five helpful strategies:

  • Be mindful of your brand image – The message in any marketing communication is more than just the words to be read or heard. It should also express your brand’s most important value proposition—e.g. what makes your company special and most inspires people to do business with you. So when you flesh out the theme for your particular marketing piece with imagery, keep in mind that you’ll want to reinforce a specific, clear message and also complement your brand identity

 

  • Let the message drive the process – Before you start looking for images, you’ll need a concept or theme for your ad, brochure, website, etc.  Basically, this means copy first—or at least you should have some headlines and subheads in hand to substantially narrow the image possibilities. This may seem limiting—mostly because it is—and that’s a good thing. The narrower your imagery focus, the less likely you’ll use the same picture as a thousand other companies; and the better the picture reinforces the copy, the more effective your message will be. And if you can’t find a picture that works with your copy, you can alter the wording or look for a new concept … but don’t force it.

 

  • Use search filters – Assuming you’re getting your stock images from one of many online services (Deposit Photos, Shutterstock,  iStockphoto, etc.), how you set your search parameters will greatly affect your ability to find a good image. For example, with or without people, a specific color scheme to match the piece (or your company/logo colors). You can also filter by orientation (horizontal, vertical, square) so that any necessary cropping will be less likely to damage the picture’s visual impact.

 

  • Choose your search key words thoughtfully – Your online search will also require some key words. As a starting point, try to think of a noun to match your target audience. Now throw in a couple of important words from your proposed headline. Next think of a word that could convey a specific benefit or activity associated with the message you’re hoping to convey. Finally throw in a word associated with your brand. Once you do this, you’ll probably get nothing … or nothing useful. But this exercise is still worthwhile in making you cognizant of the parameters you should honor with your key word search. Even as you tweak the word choices, you probably won’t be able to find an image that checks every box. Just make sure not to choose any picture that works in direct opposition to any of the qualities you were originally seeking.

 

  • Get feedback – You’ve looked at the images and headlines together and think you’ve achieved perfect symbiosis for uniformly conveying your message. Now get the opinions of a few people whose marketing judgement you trust. If you ask five people for their opinions, you’ll probably find that two enthusiastically like it, one will say it’s “okay,” another will offer a different concept idea completely, and one won’t get it at all. If so, congratulations, you did alright! Any reaction worse than this, though, you might want to rethink things. Of course, you should take any valid criticisms to heart and make adjustments accordingly.

Unless you have a very robust marketing budget, stock photography will probably be an important element in your marketing materials and online presence. That’s fine. Just as a suit off the rack may not fit as perfectly as a tailored garment, with a little forethought and a critical eye, there’s still no reason you can’t still look very, very good.

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