Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Client Showcase—A Direct Mail Piece That Won't Be Ignored

For their 100 year anniversary, the law firm of Gresham Savage wanted a direct mail piece for community leaders, clients and prospective clients that would make an unforgettable statement about their firm’s legacy. For this, we worked with them to create a handsome gift box that paired a brochure with a Gresham Savage pen and five custom-developed note cards that featured historical images of their community.

This allowed us to not only tell their story but to acknowledge the role their community has played in reaching this milestone. The vintage note cards showcase local sites and leave the recipient with a handsome collection of cards and envelopes to use as they see fit. It isn’t often that a direct mail piece delivers something of value to the recipient, but when it does, you can guarantee a higher level of impact.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." —John F. Kennedy

We wish all of our followers, friends and clients a gratitude-filled Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for today?

Image source

Monday, November 22, 2010

Beware the Nasty Mug Shot in Your Ads

Think you're saving money by using a photo in your ad that was taken by your personnel department—or someone else in the organization who fancies himself a photographer? We'd suggest you can the ad altogether if you can't produce a good, professional-quality picture.

Whenever you're promoting a professional service, a strong photo of the right kind is imperative. We've seen too many similar ads where the  photo looks like a passport photo or police mug shot—conveying him or her as lifeless, unengaged, unprofessional and even incompetent.

By contrast, the images used in these two ads capture the vibrancy and personality of these physicians. They invite you to trust them with your health, and are warm without being overly chummy.

When we work with health care clients, we insist that physicians wear uniforms or lab coats—sometimes to great resistance. In the same way the public expects a police officer, military personnel or airline captains to be in uniform, they still want to see evidence of this professionalism in the apparel worn by health care providers. If you're inclined to disagree, ask yourself how you'd feel boarding an airplane with staff wearing jeans and polo shorts—or worse yet, t-shirts.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You Can Be Indispensible

Ever notice how easy it is for all of us to see all that is wrong with the world? Anyone can point out problems, but it's the one who brings solutions to their organizations that stands out.

You will be surprised how quickly you can distinguish yourself by observing this one simple rule. By seeing and addressing the strategic issues that impact the success and future of the organization, you can establish yourself as a visionary, a leader and a valuable member of the team.

More often than not this requires more persistence and positive attitude than it does brilliance. As Albert Einstein once said, "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good Ad/Bad Ad—Don't Make Your Reader Work Too Hard

Ads that work don't make consumers work hard to get their point. If it takes more than a second or two to figure out, most of us will move on unless we're highly engaged in the topic.
Even if you can't afford a formal research project, you can test for this by running your ad by people (more than one) who know nothing about the topic. Make them do a walk-by and ask them what the ad is for, whether they remember the name, and what they could do if they wanted to buy the product or service (is a call to action evident).

Here are two examples of a similar message—one that's effective, and one that isn't. The first billboard:
1. Is too busy—impossible to read it all while flying down the freeway—so some key messages will be lost.
2. Doesn't immediately telegraph the problem that I can relate to—a need to lose weight.
3. Buries the potentially relevant "judgment free zone" message in fussy, small type.
In the example below, by The Johnson Group, the message is both simple and clear. Most of us can relate to the bulge, and the tipped angle of the board cleverly reinforces the overweight message. A URL might have been a nice addition, if it were available—but fortunately, the fitness center's name is dominant enough to remember—and to search for online later, when one has the chance.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Social Media—Can we make it easy, please?

Like most everyone else in this field, I’m still observing, analyzing and sorting through the ideas I read about how to use social media effectively.

One truth seems to be emerging, however. Social media is about creating relationships—not “talking to” or “talking at.” And there are no quick fixes for doing this.

Just like creating face-to-face relationships, these virtual relationships are built over time as two parties assess one another and decide if there’s a match. There’s no value in doing the peacock act—trying to look bigger or better than you are—because ultimately people get to the truth about us or our businesses by observing what we do—not just what we say. It calls us to pay as much attention to who we are becoming as people or as organizations as it does to crafting a message. And that's a tall order.

So the answer to my question—can we make social media easy—is no. We can’t. It’s even less about fluff and posturing and self-promotion than the more traditional forms of advertising or communication, because it opens the conversation up to the crowd, who is now able to collectively pool their observations about our company or product. And it's more like one-on-one relationship, that demands more than sanitized PR messages—and wants something of value.

There is no substitute for substance. Care about your work, your clients or customers, and then talk with and listen to them. Social media is a great tool—but it is only that, the tool. It is not the message, nor is it the deliverables. But it holds great promise for a new kind of truer, two-sided relationships and evaluation of our products and services. And I like that.

Image Source

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Freedom Isn't Free

I recently came back from visiting Washington, DC, where I spent some time at Arlington Cemetery.  One cannot visit this sacred place without a renewed sense of the great price of freedom.

As I stood quietly overlooking that sea of graves, I had an even deeper sense of gratitude for the great sacrifice made by those who have given their lives for this country--as well as those who are presently in active service and in harms way.

I invite you to join CMBell Company in saluting our veterans not just on Veterans Day, but every day. May we live in a way honors their service.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reaching the 18- to 29-Year-Old

In John Zogby's fascinating book, The Way We'll Be, he offers insights into how 18- to 29-year-olds think:
  • They care about more than just themselves—contrary to how they've been depicted
  • They celebrate diversity—and expect marketers to realize that
  • They think and buy globally, and travel extensively
  • Just about everything in their lives is public, and they're far more comfortable with this lack of privacy than their parents
  • Their space is the Internet—and they're easily accessible through social media
Whatever your business, you'll likely need to be talking with (not to) this demographic. Zogby helps start the interesting and relevant conversation about how best to engage them.

Source: The Way We'll Be, John Zogby. Buy it here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Color Psychology—The Facts About Black

"Black is beautiful." —Huey Newton

Black will always have a presence, not only in the world of fashion, but in all design disciplines. Adding black to a color or design adds impact, depth, weight, substance and even subtlety.
Black wields a strong presence and is perceived as powerful, stylish, contained, modern and yet classic.

Of course, black is often an accent color that takes on variations in meaning based on the color with which it is paired. As you choose black in your design, consider the moods it conveys: power, elegance, sophistication, boldness, mystery, strength, luxury, magic, darkness, seriousness or prestige.

Use black whenever you want to convey these attributes, but remember that quantity and context can influence the overall impact.


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