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Top Pinstripe Blog Posts of 2016

tampa marketing firm
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!

Building a Reputation Through Volunteering

building-a-reputation

“Oh! I know Ginger!” My team often hears that phrase while talking with people at events around Tampa Bay. When the topic of work comes up and they mention Pinstripe Marketing, they frequently get that response. Years ago, after hearing dozens of those exclamations, our former creative director joked, “Geez, we should have buttons!” A project manager agreed and they decided to arm themselves with a response of their own at the next event. It caught on. Although silly, people would actually wear the buttons, causing others to say “I know Ginger; where’s my button?” or “Who is Ginger? I want a button.”

building reputation through volunteering

I am what many would consider “a habitual joiner.” Perhaps suffering from a severe case of FOMO, I wanted to be involved in everything – professional associations, business organizations, non-profit boards – wherever I could surround myself with people (typical ENFP) and give back to my industry and community. By being involved and serving on boards, I had the opportunity to illustrate my work ethic, organization, communication and marketing skills, and (hopefully) that I was friendly and easy to work with.

Through the relationships I’ve built volunteering, I have met some of my very best friends, business colleagues, and, most importantly for my business, clients. In fact, I can directly trace a significant portion of the agency’s annual revenue to connections made from my volunteer work.

Just recently, we landed a new client in a fast-growing segment of the GPS technology industry. When I asked the vice president of operations how they initially heard about us, he said, “I sent a query out to my circle of trusted associates and your name came back twice.” Similarly, when meeting with a local law firm that week, I asked the same question. The marketing director said, “I asked a group of legal administrators and you were recommended seven times!”

While most professional services firms attribute more than 70% of their business to referrals, I know our involvement in the community is responsible for even more. How do I know? Because we have rarely proactively pursued a client.

However, now is the time to leverage that reputation and implement a business development campaign to strategically target new clients. We’re looking forward to growing the business and building relationships with new clients who will ultimately make new referrals.

I understand that we’re all busy, and over the last several years, I have become more selective about where I spend my time. It’s important to identify what organizations will provide what you’re seeking – more knowledge, more connections, or more passion for a cause. Getting involved and serving in trade associations or volunteer organizations is an excellent way to build a network, particularly for introverts who may cringe at the thought of attending a big networking event or non-profit fundraiser. The idea of “working a room” is unappealing to most, but getting to know a small group of like-minded individuals working toward a common mission creates bonds that last.

I wrote this article because we have been planning for 2017 and analyzing many aspects of our business. This year especially, my involvement in the community has really paid off. So whether you are making resolutions or just looking to approach business development from a different perspective, hopefully this is a good reminder. We always recommend to our clients to stay heavily involved in trade associations and the community – for many reasons. Best of luck capturing more of an audience for your business in the new year!

Oh, and let me know if you want a button. 🙂

 

Below are some resources for getting involved and building your own reputation.

Find a Trade Association

Networking for Introverts

Fundamentals of Serving on a Board

 

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.

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.

The Importance of Measuring Client Satisfaction

Tampa Bay marketing firmAre your clients happy with you? You might answer, “Business is good. In fact, it’s never been better!” If that—or something similar was your response—frankly, you haven’t answered the question. You see, customer satisfaction is just one among several factors that motivate buying behavior. There’s also price (a big one!), convenience and brand familiarity. One of those may be the reason for your success. So why is customer satisfaction still a big deal if you have another of these important business-drivers as your ace-in-the-hole? Here’s the thing. Customer satisfaction affects loyalty, so when a competitor matches your best general attribute (and one will, eventually), happy customers stay with you. That’s why you should be measuring client satisfaction.

To gather information that will allow you to evaluate customer satisfaction, conduct a survey or some form of live interview … or maybe both. Take a look at the following questions for your survey subjects:

  • How would you rate the quality of our products/services?
  • Do you feel our products/services fit your lifestyle in terms of ease-of-use and convenience?
  • Are you satisfied with the range of products/services that we offer?
  • Do you feel that our products/services are a good value for their cost?
  • How well do we meet your expectations in terms delivery or provision of our products/services?
  • How satisfied are you with the level of courtesy you receive from our staff?
  • How would you rate the availability of our staff?
  • Are you satisfied with the knowledge levels of our staff?
  • Would you describe our staff as friendly and responsive?
  • If you have ever had a problem or question in regard to a purchase, how would you rate our ability to resolve your issue?
  • What would you say is the public perception of our company?
  • When business with us is concluded, how do you usually rate the experience?
  • Would you recommend us to a close friend or family member?

Please note, the questions above should serve as information reference points for your research. Simply rephrase them to match your own survey format. The questionnaire design should allow easy comparison across all respondents (apples to apples), and you will want to distinguish differences in intensity such as “very satisfied” to “not at all satisfied” for easier quantification. Survey templates are readily available on the Internet (i.e. Survey Monkey, Qualtrics) and many of these are free, so explore your options.

There are a number of ways to conduct your survey including regular mail, email and website, phone or in person. Regardless of which best fits your circumstances, it’s most important for your survey to be randomly drawn from the same population pool—presumably current and/or former customers. As much as possible, avoid letting respondents self-select themselves. (This is one reason that phone surveys and face-to-face interviews may result in more accurate results than mail or online surveys).

Naturally, you’ll review the survey results looking for potential trouble areas. If your “report card” is good to very good across the entire of range of questions with little variance, that’s great! Doubtlessly, you can still find something to improve—even if your customers haven’t noticed—but be proud of yourself. And if you have mostly good customer ratings, with only one or two trouble areas, at least you now know what to work on—immediately!

But—just theoretically speaking—what if your ratings are uniformly abysmal? Where do you start? The best approach is to choose the easiest thing to remedy first and go from there. That way, customers who stick with you can see improvement quickly as you set about making things better for them.

One thing you should always do with a customer satisfaction survey, is let everyone know the results. You don’t have to get into details (especially if the results, were really, really bad), but make it plain that you value the feedback you received, note that areas for improvement that will be getting your immediate attention (and possibly the specific steps you’ll be taking) and promise to continue to maintain high standards in the other areas (a little humble-bragging never hurts anyone). And if (theoretically) you got a massive FAIL on your report card, let your customers know how hard you’ll be working to regain their trust. It’s been done before, very successfully, so don’t panic and get to work.

Customer surveys, just like any other, need to be carried our consistently over time in order to measure progress toward your customer satisfaction goals. Because, ultimately, happy clients are your best defense against determined competition.

Some of the information in this article was culled from Customer Satisfaction Surveys & Research: How to Measure CSAT.

Other links to check out:

12 Steps to Creating an Effective Customer Survey

How to Develop and Effective Customer Satisfaction Survey

How to Write a Customer Survey