Posts tagged ‘marketing’

Lessons Learned, Part 4

LigiaSix months ago, I graduated from TCU and jumped right into this internship; I didn’t know what to expect, and I definitely did not anticipate how much I would learn.

Working here at Zag is not like your typical internship. It’s a real job and everyday is a learning opportunity, and more importantly, a chance to get better at what you do.

Here are a few of the many things I have learned at Zag:

Control your stress, don’t let it control you. As a designer, some days the stress can be overwhelming.  You have to meet a deadline by a certain time, and your design ideas don’t seem to work. These days, stress can start to control you. Once that happens, you’re not focused anymore and your work suffers. So even on those high-pressure days, take a moment to step away and take a deep breath. Give yourself a pep talk or take a short walk. I’ve learned that just 5 minutes is enough to calm down and get back to work.

Inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes, your mind is exhausted and it’s hard to come up with ideas and/or designs. You feel like you hit a wall and a project suddenly starts to seem impossible. I have learned that ideas and designs don’t always spontaneously appear — sometimes you have to look for them. Talk to people around the office; look at books; browse the Internet or just stare outside the window (my favorite). If you give it a little bit of time, one of those things will trigger a good idea instead of settling for a mediocre one that you forced out of yourself.

Lastly, I’ve learned that it’s okay to ask for help. Here at Zag we are very lucky to have GCG and Site Smart Interactive employees as resources. Their opinions and guidance have been crucial to our success, because we are all very young, and most importantly, we are all still learning about this business. I’m the kind of person that when I run into a problem, especially in web design, I want to figure it out by myself no matter how long it takes so that I can truly learn how to fix it. Unfortunately, I don’t always have the time to do that, so instead of spending over an hour figuring out a code, I can just walk down the hall and ask someone from Site Smart Interactive in a matter of minutes.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see what my fellow designer Rolando has to say!

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11/13/2009 at 2:15 AM Leave a comment

A belated look at the fair

kelsey-polaSo, I finally gave in and made my way out to the State Fair of Texas two weeks ago. In hindsight, what was I thinking? Not only was it the day of the Red River Shootout, it was also the last weekend of the fair. Later I found out that Saturday set the single-day sales record for the fair. Let’s just say I truly got the full experience.

Even though I didn’t make it to the fried butter stand (thank goodness), I did see a lot of things I hadn’t originally expected.

The first thing that comes to mind was the auto show. It’s amazing how much money is spent on marketing for this event. There was also an entire building dedicated to home items – it was like a mini-tradeshow. I got to check out the latest in saunas, high-tech windows, rustic furniture, cookware and jacuzzis. For these vendors, this may be the main form of marketing utilized all year.

While there is nothing wrong with that, it does seem a bit like a shot in the dark. For example, I would talk with the salespeople, but I really had no intention of buying from them – there was no way I would walk around the Midway all day clutching a set of pots and pans.

The question I ask myself is, “was it worth it for these companies to have booths?” I saw one cookware company with four different sites throughout the fair grounds. Yes, the chance for increased awareness is a valuable thing, but that does not necessarily translate into direct sales. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but as a marketer I found it interesting how much time and money seemed to have been invested by these companies.

As always, you can count on me to bring marketing into anything. I have to ask, what do you think?

10/26/2009 at 12:57 PM 1 comment

Style versus subtance

AlexScott Porter, copywriter for GCG Marketing, loaned me a book titled “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads” by Luke Sullivan. In the opening pages, the author posed the question, “If an advertisement is memorable, does that make it good?” Think about that for a moment while I write a memo.

(Note to self: return the book to Scott, you’ve had it since July.

Okay, back to the question.

To me, Sullivan’s thought relies heavily on the context and placement of the advertisement. An advertisement can be memorable, but there is a big difference between ‘establishing’ and ‘established’ brands.

At Zag, we serve a lot of clients that are still new to marketing themselves, so the number one goal for any of the projects I execute is to inform and create awareness for the brand or product – in this case, the advertisement has to balance information and attention-grabbing visuals to serve its purpose: battle the clutter of today’s fast-paced, attention-deficit society.

When a brand is already synonymous with the product it sells, I believe they is much more leeway to make an advertisement that has little or nothing to do about the product. It won’t necessarily be a good, informative advertisement, but market leaders are there for a reason. Here is an example by Levi’s. I love the visuals and presentation, but a clear message is tough to identify:

For the businesses we cater toward, the main struggle is achieving the right balance of style and substance to make their advertisements and collateral materials shine. We live in a era where the average American sees 3,000 advertisements a day and an acceptable return rate on direct mail campaigns is two percent.

There are established brand leaders with deep pockets and there are budding businesses that want exposure. This is what makes the creative process exciting for a writer and an art director of a small agency. We have to make the most with what we have, and to me that requires the resourcefulness of McGuyver. Who doesn’t like McGuyver?

10/19/2009 at 12:48 PM Leave a comment

Finding the right social network

kelsey-polaAs a marketing agency, being located in Fort Worth definitely has its advantages. For one, it’s Fort Worth, and really, who doesn’t love this city? Second, local businesses are the best here – Kincaid’s and McKinley’s are definitely at the top of that list. And third, TCU is right down the road.

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity last Friday to attend a seminar on business online networking, and I got some pretty interesting definitions out of it that I thought I would share.

These definitions really are a great metaphor for the whole microcosm of social media:

  • Facebook is a pub – an informal place to talk casually with people and get to know them on a more personal basis
  • LinkedIn is a trade show – a slightly more formal place to meet other business professionals and connect with them primarily for business purposes
  • Twitter is a cocktail party – an energetic place where there are many conversations going on at once, amazing applications that allow you to see topic trends and reach many “followers” with your message
  • YouTube is Times Square on New Year’s Eve – a place where it’s hard to break through, but if you do, a lot of people will see you
  • MySpace is Woodstock – wild, crazy and perfect for the younger generation or cause-oriented marketing
  • HubSpot is the stock market – it brings you the measurements of what your online activities are doing for your business
  • introNetworks is like a trade show on steroids – it gets your groups and event participants interacting with each other before, during and after the event
  • cubeless is the company newsletter on steroids – it gets your employees interacting and collaborating with each other

The question now is, “which medium best fits your needs?”

10/01/2009 at 1:56 PM Leave a comment

The Pitch

kelsey-polaWhat is it about a pitch that gets your heart racing? I’d have to say the adrenaline of putting all your ideas on the table for critique is more than enough.

The ominous pitch. It’s the backbone of most agencies because it’s typically one of the primary ways to gain a new client.

You’re probably wondering what a pitch even is. To put it simply, a pitch is an initial presentation of strategies and tactics to accomplish your client’s goals and expectations. It’s usually presented in this order:

  • The team
  • Challenges
  • Market situation
  • Competitive analysis
  • Goals
  • Positioning
  • Strategies
  • Tactics
  • Timeline

I know, it seems like a lot of ground to cover, but a pitch moves much faster than you would think.

My advice to you would be to practice, practice, practice. It really does help. And if you have any questions, just email me. Enjoy!

08/10/2009 at 1:36 PM Leave a comment

Printerrific!

RolandoBeing a successful graphic designer means knowing all facets of the industry: PMS colors, contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity, software, product packaging and more.

But one area most amateur designers do not take into consideration when creating their work is the printer.

In a world consumed with computer screens and 1080ppi, people are progressively losing the love and admiration they once had in holding a well-designed printed piece in their hands.

The printer is a graphic designer’s best friend – they can make your work look terrific or terrible –  and I thought I’d introduce myself: Alex and I were off to Curry Printing Inc. for a press check and a mini tour.

Below are my top three experiences at Curry, in no particular order:

  1. The Smell. As you walk into the front office, you are greeted by intense smells of ink, oil and glue. You have to get used to it, but it lets you know what you’re getting yourself into.
  2. The Eyes. I consider myself to have a pretty good eye until I met Cody Curry. He is the owner/president of Curry Printing, and he put my attention to detail to shame. While we were conducting our press check, Cody pointed out spots and blemishes (what he called hickies) that were the size of a grain of salt – no exaggeration.
  3. The Hands. Everyone at Curry Printing is so nice. We are greeted with smiles and firm handshakes – it definitely put me and Alex at ease at our first press check. Quality, precision, and customer service are what Cody said sets Curry Printing apart from the rest.

One thing is certain, printing is serious business that could make or break your hard work.

08/05/2009 at 11:03 AM 1 comment

Gimme some lovin’

AlexWith the entire office scrambling to get work done this week, I decided a trip to The Love Shack was in order.

For the hungry Fort Worthian, the second Love Shack is set to open in the new So7 development across from Montgomery Plaza. The original, which opened two years ago, still stands in the Stockyards.

The last couple days this week have consisted of soft opening lunch services – to work the kinks out. The official grand opening for the So7 Love Shack is this Friday, July 31.

The New Love Shack Bar

I recently visited to see how things were working out. Expecting utter chaos – that’s what soft openings are for after all – I was instead greeted with controlled chaos. Everybody was scrambling to get something done, but things were moving smoothly, and of course, the food was spectacular.

The Double Dirty Love Burger, Fries and a Abita root beer - bliss

The Love Shack is the project of celebrity chef, and native Texan, Tim Love. He is also known for his upscale Lonesome Dove Western Bistro and White Elephant Saloon in the Stockyards. Love was also a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters and a winner on Iron Chef America.

This chef-driven burger is easily my favorite bite in Fort Worth.

If you don’t trust me, recent accolades for The Love Shack include spots in Texas Monthly’s “50 Best Burgers in Texas” and renown publisher Conde Nast’s “Top 105 New Restaurants in the World.” A Star-Telegram review said the signature Dirty Love Burger was “quite possibly the most perfect burger on the planet.”

Is your stomach growling yet? Stop reading this and go get yourself some Lovin’!

Some Love Shack photos (some old, some new)

07/29/2009 at 11:21 PM 1 comment

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