Tag Archives: Design

Ads on Napkins, Becoming a Consultant, and Get $1,000 to Quit

This site has moved. Go to MarketingInProgress.com to read Ads on Napkins now.

I’m a little behind on sharing some great reading, but here are some highlights from the past couple months.

  1. Finding an extra 15 hours in your week. Seems the Marketing Minute posted all the great marketing blogs out there, and the next question became “How in the world do I find time to keep up with all that?” Here are the answers. Pooping productivity is especially key.
  2. Turning Points: How I Became a Consultant. Steve takes a look back at the moment he realize it was time to do it himself. The entire post is excellent and enlightening, but I believe this quote sums it up: “If I was going to fulfill my professional desires and drives, and add maximum value, I had to “create it myself,” and not vainly hope that someone else would conform their business to my ideals, or custom-create the perfect position for me.”
  3. Early Retirement is a False Idol. The norm is to slave away during our “working years” so we can finally enjoy life later because we don’t have to work. However (as quoted in the post): “Why does the idea of work have to be so bad that you want to sacrifice year’s worth of prime living to get away from it forever?”
  4. Focus on the Goal, Not the Mechanics. If you’re requesting the help of a designer or other creative service, don’t micro-manage the process. You obviously aren’t an authority to begin with, or you wouldn’t be asking for help. Be the champion of the end-goal, make it clear to your partners, and let them, the messengers, craft their message. As Jay Moonah is quoted in the article: “If you are working with an agency, what you need to help your agency partners understand is WHAT you want to accomplish, not HOW they should do it.”
  5. Here’s $1,000 to Quit. John cites a post on the new-hire policy of Zappos, a growing online shoe retailer. They offer any new employee $1,000 to quit within the first week. Why? Read the post. It’s smart, and probably quite cost-effective.
  6. Did You Know? – Brand Loyalty. Insightful quick stats on the price and profit of increased usage by repeat customers. Fascinating. For example, did you know It costs 7 times more to get a new consumer for the brand than it does to get a current consumer to make an incremental purchase?
  7. Not Even Cocktail Napkins Are Safe. Advertising on napkins at bars? C’mon . . . .

Low Design Gains High Communication

Who said effective design needs to be high design?

Watch this video (PR Web in Plain English), and try to tell me its simplicity doesn’t actually communicate better than a slicker version they could’ve done.

When you care more about the listener than you do the speaker, communication gets better.

p.s. Anybody got any tips on using PR Web before I jump in headfirst?

Similar posts on Brett’s Blog:

  1. “Coming Soon” = Not Our Specialty
  2. The 10 Most “Robust” Words in Marketing


Hourly Rates, Eliot Spitzer and Formulas for Follow-Up: 9 Links Worth a Read

Great reading from the past few weeks – enjoy!

  1. Charging By Project, Not By the Hour: If you keep up with my blog on a regular basis, you know I’m anti-hourly rates. The Freelance Switch, one of my favorite new blogs, nails it on the head in this post. In Skellie’s words, “Setting up timers and staring at a clock can feel a little like office work.”
  2. Spitzer Can’t Communicate His Way Out of Sex Scandal: Common Sense PR captures the uselessness of damage control in the Eliot Spitzer ordeal. As Eric begins, There are times when the public is willing to forgive the indiscretions of public figures. This ain’t one of them.”
  3. The Power of Free Samples: Interesting study using instant formula samples given free to new mothers as they left the hospital. I’m not convinced this translates well into many other industries, but it’s still intriguing.
  4. The 8 Types of Creative Directors:FUNNY! I actually like the 8 Types of Bad Creative Critiques more.
  5. The Proper Way to Throw a Golf Club: Because we all need to get better at this.
  6. Advertising’s Legendary Letter by Bill Bernbach: It was 1947, and a young creative director saw the writing on the wall for his now big ad agency in an industry that was still in its adolescence at best. Very inspiring, and still very relevant. My favorite quote: “The danger lies In the natural tendency to go after tried-and-true talent that will not make us stand out in competition but rather make us look like all the others.”
  7. 11 Ways for Web Designers to Gain Exposure: Useful, common-sense tips on how to get the word out if you’re a web designer.
  8. 6 Reasons to become Self-Employed: Wisebread shares some pretty good reasons for doing it yourself in the business realm. I think the most appealing to me is no vacation days.
  9. A Simple Formula for Follow-Up: Ever get stuck in copying and pasting a follow-up email to prospects and clients? Ilise thinks you’re missing out – here’s some good advice on little things that could make a big difference.

Similar Posts on Brett’s Blog:

5 Signs of a Bad Client

Got problems with bad clients? The Freelance Switch has a list of 5 tell-tale signs of those time-suckers that offers quite a bit of insight.

Try this: read this post as if YOU might be the bad client. Chances are, esp. as a marketer, that you often request the services of freelancers and third parties to help you accomplish what needs to be accomplished. Are you bad about scope creep? Do you require lots of meetings? Do you talk big but do nothing?

I’ve definitely been guilty of being a bad client, which just shows how easy it is to fall into a pitfall like this. It usually has to do with a lack of organization and direction at the onset. I would daresay the #1 underlying characteristic of bad clients is poor communication.

Think of what your freelancers need from you to help them get you what you want, and then do it. It just might put you on the Good Client list.

p.s., check out the site of the author. It’s simple, clean and you have no doubt what he offers. I just can’t help but point that out.

Charging For Time is a Bad Idea

The long-running standard in working with many consultant/agency-based professionals is to charge by the hour. Web designers, lawyers, PR firms, marketing agencies – they all normally ding you with a certain min. fee for a project, then an hourly rate on top of that.

Which is stupid.

Charging By the Hour is a Bad IdeaCharging for time doesn’t care about the customer. Charging for time is centered on how the person doing the service will come out.

But no client ever goes into a project thinking, “You know, what I really need is about 20 hours from a great designer,” or “If we could bump our marketing firm up to 35 hours a week, then that would take care of everything.” No, clients are looking for results, and the service provider is only a means to that end.

When people charge by the hour, the client automatically reacts in two ways:

  1. “I wonder how much time it’s going to take to accomplish what I’m shooting for.” The catch here is that the client has no idea – that’s why she’s looking for someone to do it for her. So this leads to endless questions which only make the service provider squirm and hem and haw and nobody’s left comfortable.
  2. “I wonder if this guy is going to take his time getting this stuff done so he can earn more.” Whether it’s warranted or not, this thought always, ALWAYS enters into the mind of the client when you charge for time. Which is natural, because the very nature of the consultant’s compensation is based on time spent working on it. More time = more money.

Both reactions above are seeds that you really don’t want to have planted when starting a new relationship with a client. They’re starting out with doubts and second thoughts, and you’re starting out with a client that’s not completely sold out to the way you’re going to do things. In addition, you know most of your competition is also charging by the hour, which means a) you don’t stick out in this area, and b) there will always be someone cheaper, which is attractive to clients when they’re being charged by the hour.

If you know the way you charge a customer makes them uncomfortable, and if you know your pricing model makes you just another hourly consultant in a dime-a-dozen world, why don’t you change it?

Start charging by the hour. Better yet, charge by results. Your clients (the guys who pay you) will love you for it.

Branding: A Product of Strategy

Alternative title = Branding: Not the Instigator of Strategy

John clarifies the very conundrum my feeble mind has been wrestling with the past few days: How are branding and strategy different? The answer, in short, is they are almost synonymous.

More importantly, why are some people declared as gurus in branding and others as gurus of strategies? The answer, in short, is that same person is a guru of both.

When people start to separate strategy from branding, and vice versa, you can bet the farm that someone has a bad idea of what branding is. In fact, they probably think it mostly affects the logo, the packaging and the colors and fonts used on the website. It’s a common mistake.

But if branding is “the difference,” then it’s the strategy that identifies those differences and determines how to act on them, and branding is then more a product of the strategy. It’s the result of the impressions you make.

Once you have that strategy in place, and once the impressions are being made, then your brand becomes clearer by the day. At which time you can be sure your logo, packaging and website are all aligned to communicate in a way that supports that brand.

But don’t do it the other way around. Cuz if your customers think your brand means something different than you do, then you’ve wasted a lot of time and money on all the frilly stuff.

Similar posts on Brett’s Blog:

  1. The Best Branding Presentation I’ve ever seen
  2. If You’re Business Had a Tag Cloud

A New Website is No Field of Dreams

Shoeless Shoe Jackson - “If You Build It, He Will Come.”Shoeless Joe Jackson and Terrance Mann might’ve known a thing or two about getting people to a new ballpark in the middle of an Iowa cornfield. But they don’t know jack about driving traffic to a new or redesigned website. If you build it, they still probably won’t come. So what do you do?

Here are some great resources from around the web on how to get your new site off the ground fast.

  1. Promoting Your New (or Redesigned) Website: These are some pretty good grassroots ideas on getting the word out. Most of these are something anyone can do in a relatively short amount of time.
  2. Promoting Your Website (Headscape): I found this interesting just in the fact that the writer suggests using some more traditional ways of communicating to get the word out.
  3. How to Launch Your Website to Internet Stardom: Just some quick ideas on link building and link exchange. Nothing new, but definitely worth a reminder.
  4. Don’t Launch That New Website Yet: If you’re launching a new design on the same domain, be sure you read through this article first. There’s a lot you’ve invested in that old design that can help you get a leg up with the new design, so leverage it.
  5. How to Launch a New Website and Quickly Attract Traffic: Here’s a simple list of tactics to get traffic flowing quick: press releases, blogs, articles, directories and pay-per-click.
  6. Free SEO Tools: Here’s a link to some useful Search Engine Optimization Tools.

Got any other ideas on launching a site?