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The Benefits of Serving on a Board of Directors

joining a board

Being on a board is a major commitment, but incredibly rewarding both personally and professionally. Working side by side with colleagues across many different disciplines is a great way to learn more about other companies as well as share your story. A board is a great place to meet new friends, new clients, learn new skills, and in general build strong, lasting relationships.

When deciding whether or not to join a board, take the time to do some research. Do an internet search in your area for organizations that fit your interests. For example, if you are a marketing professional (like us!), you will find the Society for Marketing Professional Services Tampa Bay (for which our senior project manager, Nikki Devereux, serves as Director of Communications), American Advertising Federation Tampa Bay, the American Marketing Association Tampa Bay, and more. If you are an artist, a builder, an educator, or just about anything, there are several associations throughout Pinellas and Hillsborough County, so do some research and see what you find for your industry.

When you’ve found a couple organizations, check out their event schedules and attend a few events. Prepare by looking through the list of presenters and find out if any of them are people you’d like to meet personally – then make a point to do so at the event. At the event, see if you like the content of the program, mingle with other attendees, and perhaps introduce yourself to a board member or two. This exercise is not just a good way to do some research on the organization and its programs, but a good way to practice networking and hopefully meet some good people.

After you’ve decided on an organization that matches your career and interests, become a member and start attending events on a regular basis. Get to know the board members and find out if you can sit in on the board meetings to see how they operate. Take a board member out to lunch to build a relationship with them and to learn more about the board. Eventually, a position will open up, and since you’ve been proactive and are already attending board meetings, you may be a favored candidate.

networking

Society for Marketing Professional Services board members.

Once you’re on the board, it starts getting interesting. You may have signed up for a position that you’ve never had in your career before, so you’ll be learning on the job. You will be working closely with the rest of the board members, and planning events and monthly board meetings can be fun. It gets even more interesting when you start forming committees to take on special projects. For example, last year the Society for Marketing Professional Services Tampa Bay worked on an image campaign to rebrand the Tampa Bay Chapter into something more unique and thematic. The campaign brought a lot of the members closer as they were working in smaller groups and often meeting a couple times a month to work on the project. It was a super creative project, so it was a lot of fun for all involved and the results were amazing. Everyone on the board was proud of the final campaign.

In addition to learning a new position, you will find yourself spending a lot more time with these new people at meetings and events, and thus you become something of a family. You work together, you play together, you learn together. It’s a great way to build those long lasting business relationships and sometimes even friendships! Either way, it’s good for business as your fellow board members will learn to trust you as they work alongside you, and if they need your company’s products or services, they will more than likely turn to you. It’s a win-win situation.

Video Production: Tips for Staying Organized

video production staying organized newsletter

We have been doing a lot of video production lately, so our minds have been on video production and best practices for smooth sailing. Specifically, we want to discuss how important it is to stay organized.

It is important to be specific, concise, and to think about every angle in video production from the very first brainstorming session. Below is a list to help you stay more organized in your production, or at least to understand the process a little better when you hire a company.

  • Brainstorming – This is the foundation of your video. During your first brainstorming session, look at samples of work you love, choose elements of those videos that you love and take note of those so that you can incorporate them into your final video. Start thinking of the individual shots that you will need and keep a list.
  • Storyboarding – This is where you start to get more specific. With the initial shot list and favorite samples in mind, you will start to visualize the video and how that final product will look. This is a very detailed process in which you imagine what each frame will contain and, if you can sketch, you sketch it out. If not, a paragraph or notes will suffice. From this you can begin building a more detailed shot list as well.

video storyboard

  • Equipment list – Now that you have a shot list, you’ll want to make sure you have the equipment you need to execute the shots you want. Again, be very specific and make sure to cover every single base. There’s nothing worse than realizing that you don’t have a key piece of equipment when you need it on the day of the shoot!
  • Scheduling – Once you have your storyboard and detailed shot list complete, you can start scheduling your shooting days. The shot list will inform this scheduling. This is another place where being very organized and specific will help cut down on resources like time and travel. Make sure to leave time for retakes, breaks, and travel between locations.
  • Organizing Files – Sometimes, you’ll be downloading files on location, so you’ll want to think about your folder structure before the shooting day. This will help you to be more agile when it’s time to download the files on the fly, but also, this will make post-production run more smoothly. You cannot be over-prepared for a video shoot.
  • Editing – Another time where it is important to think the process through very carefully so that you can organize your files in a way that makes sense. You will refer back to your storyboard during editing to use that as a guide for your decisions about composition, sound, color correction, etc.

Video production is a creative endeavor, but it also requires a technical, organized mindset in order to execute it efficiently. Pinstripe Marketing offers full video production and animation, as well as consulting services to help your team create videos in house.

 

Pinstripe and Southern Roots Realty Win Silver Davey Award

Tampa Bay web designPinstripe Marketing and Southern Roots Realty – proud recipients of a silver Davey Award for the Southern Roots website. What is a Davey Award? We asked the same question about a year ago, and the path leading to us receiving one is a prime example of good marketing (both on our part and the Davey Awards).

We receive a lot of mail. Much of it is promotional mail of various types, and the Davey Awards piece we received was no exception.

Except it was.

I opened the envelope, which has since been discarded, but must have been compelling in and of itself to prompt me to open it. Inside I found this Davey Awards poster. pinstripe davey awards website design I loved the design! I couldn’t throw it away. It wasn’t just a promotional piece – it was a work of art, and just so happened to look nice on my wall. There it stayed for several months until one day I really looked at it and noticed the deadline to enter was approaching. Come to think of it, I hadn’t really bothered to visit the website, I just liked the poster enough to hang it on the wall – indefinitely. So, that morning I decided to go to the website.

Upon entering the site, I realized that the Davey Awards suited Pinstripe Marketing perfectly.

“Small agencies. Big ideas.” That’s us.

Meanwhile, we had also just put the finishing touches on the Southern Roots website – and it was beautiful. I browsed the award entries until I found the right category for Southern Roots, took a look at some past winners and decided that we had a fighting chance. So we entered. A few months later, I received notification in the mail – we won the silver! It’s such a great feeling to receive outside recognition for something you’ve worked hard on. To be sure, the Southern Roots team loved their site and showered us with endless praise, but to have a panel of judges tell us that we deserve recognition as well, that was a good feeling. Also, it’s plain old good marketing. Sometimes you have to seek outside recognition for your work, and once you do, you are sharing that work with many people who may not have seen it otherwise (plus the bonus bragging rights if you win).

And on the part of the Davey Awards marketing team – kudos for coming up with an idea that hooked me, even though it took six months for me to realize it. If they had sent a regular postcard, I probably would have thrown it away, especially if I didn’t have a project to enter at the moment. But, because the poster had the longer shelf life of a work of art, something I really connected with, an entry materialized over the several months that the poster hung, and it all came together eventually. We try to keep this in mind with our marketing materials as well. Good design connects with people, people connect with it. Find that connection, and you’ve found a pot of gold.

residential real estate web site wolfnet integrationHere’s to a job well done by all involved, from the Pinstripe Marketing creative team, the Southern Roots team, and the Davey Awards team. Each of these people played a role in this award. We all decided to do a photo shoot with our trophy and then celebrate afterwards, (minus the Davey Awards team because they are in New York and we thought it was too short notice to fly them down for the shoot). Here’s to a job well done for all of us who worked on this site!

~ Nikki

If you are craving good design, let’s chat!

 

Photo: Judson Kidd, Sarah Calabrese, and Natalie DeVicente from Southern Roots

Evie Larson, Nikki Devereux and Lyndsey Shaw from Pinstripe Marketing

Not pictured: Chris Jenkins, ImTheirWebGuy, developer

Maybe You Should Write a Blog

St. Petersburg online reputation managementAre you publishing your own business-related blog?  Maybe you’ve looked at the endless array of verbiage already on the web and wondered why you should add more. We get that, but we’re going to try to talk you into it anyway.

Your blog is about your business, not the millions of others on the Internet. You don’t stop talking just because billions of other people are already flapping their gums, do you? You’ve got something to say, and a blog could be an effective way to be heard by a receptive audience.

A blog shouldn’t be that hard for you to write. Blogs can be short; 250 – 500 words is perfect. You shouldn’t have to do (much) research because you are the expert! Keep the focus narrow then write as though you’re explaining something to a client or new employee.  If you aren’t confident of your grammar, spelling or construction, let someone with those skills clean it up for you. (Your friends at Pinstripe can help!) The goal is to convey interesting information in a way that’s easily digestible. You don’t have to wow anyone with your literary style.

A blog enhances your relationship with customers. This is a simple way to turn your expertise into a resource that’s easily accessible by your clients. Your willingness to make this effort, along with your display of knowledge, builds trust. Writing about things to which customers can relate helps you connect on a personal/human level.

A blog helps improve how your website is ranked by search engines. Google and other search engines like to see that a website isn’t just sitting stagnant on the web. Regular updating indicates the website is dynamic and has worthwhile content. Adding a blog or two a week is a good way to accomplish this.

Blogs work well with other social media. Having a new blog gives you something to tweet about, or to mention on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Then the more the article gets retweeted, liked or shared, the more traffic is generated for your website … with stronger PR for your company.

A blog can re-enforce marketing campaigns. Your promotions will be directing customers to make a purchase, but a blog can come in handy for delivering a more subtle, thoughtful message that complements the advertising. Share an anecdote or interesting statistics that help highlight the value of your offerings in a way that makes prospective customers think and understand as they work toward a buying decision.

A blog can help explain “who you are.” Many companies have mission statements, but lofty words are often vague. A blog lets you continually sharpen and define that message so that everyone associated with your business—whether it’s clients, employees, suppliers or investors — grasps the issues you believe are important.

Do we have you convinced to give it a try? If so, you might like to check out “The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post: The Data on Headlines, Length, Images and More” as a helpful, how-to article.

Use a Welcome Letter to Help Hang on to a New Client

welcome client letterIf you’ve ever been fishing on the bank of a river or pond, you’ve probably had a fish that you caught spit the hook out just as it hits the ground. It’s flopping and flailing just inches from the water’s edge, and you must act quickly to prevent it from getting away. The fish has been landed, but not secured for the long term.

New clients can seem like that. They may not be comfortable in their new situation with you, and may want to get away. Unlike the fish, however, your client isn’t a victim of deception, and will benefit from being “reeled in.” A welcome letter (or more likely an email) is an easy way to keep new clients by reassuring them that they’re now in good hands.

Here is a six-point checklist for your new-client welcome letter:

Know who you’re writing to. Address the letter recipient by name in the salutation—first and last. This is going to sound a little hard-edged, but using someone’s full name indicates you know who they are and you have them “on record” as your client. It’s okay though, you are going to be warm, friendly and reassuring throughout the letter; potential intimidation will be purely subliminal. (Okay, maybe write, “Welcome, John Smith,” instead of “Dear John Smith.”)

Along with identifying your new client as an individual, you are also acknowledging their change of status—they’ve gone from being a prospect to a member of your clientele. So, give the active selling a rest! A welcome letter is not the place to upsell a new client or tell them about a sale or new offerings. Your purpose here is to make them comfortable in their new relationship with your business, that’s all.

Cement your relationship by referencing their affirmative action. They’ve either purchased something, agreed to purchase something, or have signed up to have you provide a product or service if their need arises. Mentioning their agreement to buy—like using their name—is a way of saying “we’ve got you down for this,” but quickly ask them how they are enjoying their purchase, or emphasize the benefits they can expect.

Reiterate your value proposition. When someone makes a purchase, they are acknowledging, and then attempting to satisfy a need (or desire). But just because someone came to you this time, doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get him/her the next time. Somewhere in your welcome letter, you should remind your new client of your company’s value proposition (e.g. the thing that best distinguishes you from your competitors).

Emphasize your brand. Your welcome letter isn’t an ad; in fact, it may come to your new client as plain text. But along with referencing your value proposition, there are other ways to help make your brand resonate with the client. Use your business name at least twice in the copy. Look for an opportunity to mention your tagline. Make sure the tone of your copy matches your other marketing materials (i.e. serious, professional, light-hearted, humorous … etc.). And of course, if there are graphic elements, they should match the color schemes and design of other public-facing collateral. In addition to building top-of-mind awareness, branding gives your clients something to which they can personally connect.

Include contact information. Communication is vital to every successful relationship … and that means two-way communication! Be sure to include a phone number, email address, URL … etc. for questions or feedback, then encourage their use.

And be a real human being! You used their full name, so put the name and title of a prominent representative of your company at the close of your welcome letter.  New clients will know that there’s a live person who is standing by the words of the letter and is offering to listen if they have something to say.

Thank them! We almost left this off the list because it seems so obvious, but let the new client know how much you appreciate the trust they’ve put in your company.

Keep in mind is that no one likes to be fooled (e.g. taken in by a shiny lure). That concern will work in your favor, because new clients want to be believe they made the right to decision about your business. When you send them a welcome letter, it’s kind like giving them a pat on the back that says, “Congratulations! You did good!”

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