ISSUE NO. 10
why is this in your inbox? We believe that at some point (if we’re not working on something together already) that you will need creative thinking in the design and development of some marketing materials. We love building long-term relationships and understand that this only happens with repeated success. AXIS visual has been supporting the business community for 15 years and has many valued long-term relationships. If you have any thoughts or questions about how we work or how we might approach an upcoming marketing challenge, give us a call (610-527-0332), drop us a note, send a carrier pigeon, whatever you prefer.
Here the shortlist of what we do:
- Branding / Logo Development
- Corporate Communication
- Publication Design
- Website Design
- Print Design (All Kinds)
- Package Design
- Exhibit Design
- Email Marketing
- Product and Service Literature
- You Name it
The 30 Second
If you circulate in any networking events or organizations this is a common phrase. The question of how to talk about what you do in a concise statement is not easy. There are many different approaches. One of the most annoying ones I have ever heard is “I’m a consultant.” The reason it annoys me is that it tells me nothing more than this person talks to other people about something. Another annoying opening statement is “I help businesses become more profitable.” UGH! It’s so generic it’s practically useless. Both of these make the mistake of assuming that the audience knows what the individual does before a single word is said.
So in my regular, OK, semi regular newsletters it occurred to me that I may be doing the same thing. I assume that anyone who receives these knows what AXIS visual does. I have enjoyed writing about different aspects of the design, branding and marketing industry and hope that from time to time the content inspires someone to think about their companies marketing a little differently. But I too get promotional emails and informational newsletters on an ever-increasing basis and it is increasingly difficult to remember each and every company and what they do. So, this newsletter will be devoted to my 30-second elevator speech.
“We build the face that companies use to promote themselves to their prospects, customers and clients.”
Hopefully, after saying this I will see a glimmer of understanding and a splash of curiosity, although from time to time I get the “deer in the headlights.” My next statement is usually “Most companies do what they do very well, but talking about it clearly to their customer base is frequently a challenge for them. They are so close to what they do that they make the mistake of assuming that their customers know as much as they do and have the same degree of interest in it. They usually launch into high level business details right away without creating an inspiring message of benefit to the customer first.” The dear in the headlights usually calms down with a cautious nod at this point. “What AXIS visual does is to create a visual message that promotes a company’s product or service to their customer base in a visual and verbal language that is both understood and motivational.” Being understood is critical. Every business has some product, service or capability that they want their customer base to understand. And “Motivational?” It’s not rocket science here. Every business wants to motivate their customer base to consider them as a valued product or service. At this point I sometimes sense a little impatience. I can almost see the thought balloons forming above their heads “But what the ____ do they do? Assuming that they’re not considering thumbscrews to get the information out of me, I consider this curiosity is a wonderful thing. People often think in tangible terms not often in ethereal concepts. They want to be able to say, “Oh, you’re a plumber,” or “an accountant,” or “a chemist.” So, after my attempt at describing the problem and an intentionally nebulous solution, it is time to get to, as Frank Zappa put it in his album “Apostrophe” “The crux of the biscuit.” “AXIS visual is a graphic design, branding and marketing company. We develop tactics to promote your business either on an as needed basis or as part of an overall campaign. We create the materials that help your company succeed.” A long sigh of acknowledgement is heard from the audience. AXIS visual is now understood. Yet, I have not listed tactics and these are often the things that people “click” with. It’s like walking down through a shopping mall and seeing a pair of jeans in a store window and suddenly it jogs your memory “Wait, I do need a pair of jeans.”
You may have noticed that my 30 second elevator speech has expanded into… well… more. As one who loves to think and talk about how creativity can help business, I am now the proverbial “pig in ____.” I might run off a list of tactics that we develop to make sure that the “product” of AXIS visual is understood. I might say that our end products are frequently:
- Corporate Identity
- Web sites / banner ads
- Email campaigns
- Trade show booths
- Annual reports
- Direct Mail
- And any visual tactics that businesses need.
I have just created a box that I am now being placed in. “Oh, he makes brochures.” The risk of listing tactics is that there are many businesses that make these things. But, in the end, it is the results of these tactics that companies want. And experience and broader thinking is what delivers results. It’s kind of like having a new roof put on your house. You can get an inexperienced roofer and it will hold out the weather for a while but experience will keep your property safe a lot longer. Broader thinking about how a trade show booth design fits with the current branding will create better results than simply a pretty booth. So it’s the initial strategic thinking, the initial (and invisible) work that keeps a visual message on point and in the end more productive.
We are now probably coming up on floor 412 and if there is a real interest in digging into my profession further I’ll launch into visual hierarchy, cohesive branding strategy, or creative risk tolerance (I wrote about this in a previous newsletter). And out of a curiosity about almost everything. I too will ask about their business and “what makes it tick.”
An hour or so later we’ve both learned something and possibly built the start of a good working relationship. So, a good 30 second elevator speech is… expandable.
This is an issue that comes up frequently in one form or another when thinking about promoting almost anything. And it is a question that’s been around as long as promotion itself, although the delivery options have expanded in recent years. Is it better to spend a promotional dollar sending ten inexpensive messages to ten people for 10 cents each or to send a more substantial message to one decision maker for a dollar?
If you are expecting me to “pick sides” here, my apologies. It is not that simple. Each and every option has benefits and liabilities. But before we list the different approaches to marketing your “thing” we need to ask some questions.
1) Who is the decision maker? – Who is buying (or choosing) your company or product? If possible think about their age, gender, education level, their interests, their working environment, technological expertise, etc.
2) How many are in your target group? – Is it a select and small group (like C level executives in Pharmaceutical companies) or is your target audience larger, like every human with a cell phone?
3) What is your product? – Is it a low cost item that’s more of an impulse purchase or is it a specialized and expensive product that needs to be positioned as a top level?
4) What is your competition doing? – How do they promote themselves? And, do you want to follow in their promotional footsteps or separate yourself from them by doing something different.
5) What is your budget? – In this time of economic flux this is usually more critical than ever.
The answers to these 5 questions direct us to various solutions. It may be a single ad campaign or a direct mail solution sent to 100 of your top customers, or it could be a mass emailing and a little grass roots buzz generation on Facebook. Of course, it could also be any combination of numerous marketing methods, a sort of custom mix to best connect to your audience. The answers to these questions are also are critical in the design of effective materials.
I started this article with the statement of “Quantity vs. Quality.” But I don’t really believe that the two are mutually exclusive. Whether sending out one message or a million, in print or electronic media, a well-constructed message will get better results. In most of the electronic media there are methods to quantify the results. And depending on the product and sales method there are ways to quantify print results when combined with electronic media. I have however, seen businesses “shoot themselves in the foot” by putting a bad, confusing or forgettable brand image out to millions of people thinking that trackable technology will save the day. Now, I am not promoting one media over another. My point here is simply that a poorly designed brand message is still a poorly designed brand message whether it is delivered to one person by hand or to millions by email. And all the “tracking” in the world won’t make a bad design better.
So focusing only on the visual message or only on the mix of marketing tactics is like having either a nice car with no map or GPS, or like having all the great navigation but no car. With either you can say, “Cool, look what I have.” but without both of them you just can’t get anywhere.
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1600 Lower State Rd.
Doylestown, PA 18901