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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.

The Physics of Marketing

marketing tactics hero headerPeople 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.

The first of these important principles states that “an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” Or to apply this concept to a sales perspective, people who are not your customers won’t become your customers, and people who are your customers will continue being your customers—unless something happens to them.

Okay, hold the ‘’d’uh.” There’s a reason it’s called the First Law of Motion, or the Law of Inertia. And sometimes, when dealing with a critically important matter (and this is!) it’s best to focus on the basics.

Consider people who are ‘at rest’ as your customers. Newton says you have the physics with you … they want to stay where they are. But what are the “unbalanced forces” that can act upon customers that will cause them to alter their states? This could include a new competitor offering similar goods at lower prices, or one that has a more convenient location or hours. Other things that could get a once happily inert customer moving away from you might be dissatisfaction with a purchase, or an unpleasant encounter with an employee who was having a bad day.

logo design digital marketing

The good news is that it might take more than one incident or changing circumstance to drive a customer away—thanks to Newton’s Second Law of Motion. This says, “Acceleration is produced when a force acts on a mass. The greater the mass (of the object being accelerated) the greater the amount of force needed (to accelerate the object).” The ‘mass’ in this case, is the thing that holds your customer in place with your business. For lack of a better term, let’s call it “Good Will.” Just as it takes a lot more force to move a boulder than a pebble, it will take more force to overcome years of accumulated good will than a superficial business-client relationship.

Of course, you shouldn’t rely on your accumulated goodwill to withstand all challenges ad infinitum—it’s like a checking account—you must make deposits occasionally. Plus, as the saying goes, “business is business.” There’s a definite “what have you done for me, lately?” mindset among consumers that demands staying on your toes at all times. You should react to the whatever is trying to move the mass of your customers elsewhere.

This brings us to Newton’s Third Law of Motion: “For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action.”

The standard demonstration of this theory is a rocket being propelled by a stream of ignited fuel exploding out in the opposite direction. It’s not exactly like this in marketing. Here, it might be better to substitute the word “opposite” with “counter” when describing the response to any marketing initiative. Also—unlike the rocket—the reactions may take many forms.

When someone advertises (exerts force) to move the mass of your customers away from you and toward their business, you’ll probably push back with your own advertising, or perhaps some kind of incentive promotion. But let’s say that you do nothing. Physics will require that something still has to give. For instance, your competitor would have to jettison some other marketing idea to direct his or her resources toward your existing customers.

marketing physics

In other words, there will be consequences for every marketing decision. Your goal is to figure out how to direct any counter reaction so that it helps your business take off, rather than causing something to catastrophically blow up.

Check some of our other articles for more marketing and creative ideas.

Proposals – Advice from the Selection Committee

proposal-tips-website-heroRecently, 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.

  • Ask yourself if it’s a good fit for you. If it’s not, why waste the time and money?
  • Make it about the client, their problems, their pain points. It’s NOT about you, so be brief and to the point when you’re talking about your company.
  • Dress similarly to your audience. I.e. if you’re in Texas, do your research, they may be wearing cowboy boots and a hat. Don’t be inauthentic and go overboard so you look like you’re in a costume, but in this case, you could wear a western style shirt to the meeting instead of suit and tie. If you’re in Hawaii, don’t be afraid to don a Hawaiian shirt in lieu of your starched shirt if that’s the client’s style. Be subtle and respectful, but show that you are aware of their culture and are willing to assimilate.
  • Include only the most relevant information, don’t stuff the proposal full of useless information – long, hefty proposals work against you.
  • The RFP doesn’t tell the whole story, so make sure to get ahead of it. If the RFP is the first time you’ve seen or heard anything about the project, it may be too late.
  • Know everything about the project and the client.
  • Call the number on the RFP to ask questions – if you don’t have any, think harder.
  • Make the information in your proposal jump off the page. The committee has a lot of proposals to review and they don’t want to spend weeks or even days in the process, so they will be skimming and cutting frequently. If the info and graphics in your proposal stand out, you have a better chance of making it to the final cut.
  • Go above and beyond – if you really want the project and you know you stand a chance, go the extra mile and make a mockup or rendering for the specific project. Show them how you would solve their problem.
  • Bring your doers – the client doesn’t want to just see the president and vice president of the company. They want to meet the team that will be doing the work. Bring any willing team members and key players to the meeting to show your team’s solidarity. However, no more than five people should be in the room, and you don’t want your team to outnumber the selection committee, so do your homework.
  • Simplify it!
  • Bring extras, backups, anticipate all problems, check everything three times
  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Preferably in front of a committee of your own to get feedback and critique.
  • If you don’t get the work, request a debriefing so you know where you can improve next time.

Many of these tips seem obvious, but cannot be repeated enough times. Others are not so obvious and may provide you with the small, unique edge you need to win against a close competitor. Remember that the selection committee members are people too and use the power of empathy to imagine their job of reading through potentially hundreds of proposals (which, let’s face it, can be rather dull), and decide which company is best for the project. That’s a tough job, so go easy on them. Think about what you would like to see if you were in their position.

Check out some of our other articles for more tips on relationship building and business development.

Spotlight On: Joel Malizia, Director of Development for Et Cultura Festival

spotlight joel malizia et cultural art festival st. petersburg

We never pass up the chance to help improve and grow our community, so when we met Joel Malizia at the BurgBorn event back in June at the Mahaffey Theater, we were intrigued. He briefly talked about Et Cultura Festival during that encounter, and that was the seed that quickly grew into our sponsoring the event. Now, we are lucky enough to see Joel a couple times a month to excitedly discuss Et Cultura Festival, a brand new interactive, film, music, and arts festival in St. Pete. Joel has the heart and dedication necessary to grow such an extraordinary event from the ground up, and it seems the timing is perfect. St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area in general are primed and ready for rapid cultural growth, and the inaugural Et Cultura Festival is helping to build the critical mass of that growth. The following interview details some of Joel’s history with his film company, Pilot Moon Films, and how Et Cultura Festival was born.

Joel Malizia

Director of Development

Et Cultura Festival

St. Petersburg, FL

www.etcultura.com

What inspired you to found the Et Cultura Festival?

Our production company, Pilot Moon Films, has been sponsoring and covering festivals for the past 8 years. We made a groove for ourselves in the music industry helping musicians create live performance videos which led to us covering entire music festivals and we really enjoyed it. Three years ago we got a call from SXSW, a huge festival in Austin, TX, asking us to work on their Pro Media Team and we have done this every year since. Participating in this world class festival is what inspired us to see if we could instigate a “next-level” event in St. Pete.

What do you like most about the your industry and community?

The people. It is full of dreamers and creatives.

What challenges does your industry face?

The people. It is full of dreamers and creatives.

How do you measure your success?

I think a good way to measure success is if, and how well, I am able to connect with others. No matter what I am doing. I always do my best to connect with humans and when that happens, the rest takes care of itself… in addition to a lot of hard work.

What has been your greatest accomplishment in your career?

Starting Pilot Moon Films. In the beginning, just the idea of being my own boss gave me a charge, but now I am incredibly proud of the content we are able to create with our clients. That and I made a video for my daughter’s 1st grade class a few years back that gets me everytime I watch it.

What do you think is the biggest mistake companies make when working in your industry?

Doing jobs with money being the #1 priority. Production companies whose primary focus is making money usually find themselves working on projects that are far away from what feeds their spirit. They lose their original identity and become a machine that cranks out packages, formulas, templates, etc. so they can quickly move to the next job.

What is the most interesting trend you see in your industry?

People relying on bigger and better cameras to improve their product instead of focusing on content. Not sure why, but it seems to work for some companies. This makes more companies follow suit.

How has technology helped/hindered your work?

Focusing on technology in this business is a very sexy and dangerous distraction. Of course, the newest equipment is amazing and it enables anyone to provide a better “looking” product.   I have found myself coveting gear and equipment that I don’t currently have access to. But, content is, and will always, be king! And the only technology need to come up with great content is a piece of paper and a pencil.

How do you stay on top of your field?

I have never been on top of my field.

What resources do you recommend? (Books, magazines, web, etc.)

–        I recommend reading a lot of books and collaborating, in person, with as many people as you can.

–        Connecting with people is the best way to open up your entire world and books are great portals into the human experience.

If you could give one piece of advice to Tampa Bay companies, what would it be?

Do what you love, find a niche and your business will grow.

What was your first job?

I worked at an AMC Movie Theater. Cleaning the theater between movies. Endless supply of pretzel bites, Cherry Coke and stomach aches. I had a blast.

What are your hobbies?

I love guitar and used to play all the time. But now, I think my hobbies are the same as my work. Ill get back to it, though.

Favorite food?

Lasagna

Last book you read?

Stranger In A Strange Land – Robert Heinlein

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