Blog Posts

Postcard Design Webinar for Ripon Printers.

Don’t dismiss postcards as low-end, low-value promotions for companies that can’t afford anything else. Postcards can certainly be used to attract high-value buyers, promote sales and offer coupons, even change the narrative surrounding your brand.

In this one-hour webinar, you’ll learn about:

Design postcards with an edge.

  • Understanding postcard design building blocks
  • Incorporating content elements (including photo-personalization) into your design
  • Designing postcards to support your business goals
  • Exploring creative substrates
  • And using metrics to improve your design solutions

Using Illustration to Cut Through Visual Clutter.

brushOff-ink-250When  Julia and I first began discussing this topic, we were determined to take an illustration vs. photography approach. But the more research I did, the less I wanted to talk about photography. It’s not a competition, really, but rather a matter of making a choice based on which form will best accomplish your marketing objectives.

The Illustration Edge

According to the AIGA, the professional association for design, here’s what illustration can do for you: “Illustration can provide a unique sensibility to certain projects. Illustration brings spontaneity, freshness and a unique point of view to the design of content. It helps to communicate both simple and complex messages while enhancing a design through the unique vision and skill of the selected illustrator.”

“A Rationale for the Use of Illustration” published by Creativebusiness.com, offers further insight by noting that the new way of communicating in an age of tech-driven sameness is often the least technical and most unusual. Illustration cuts through today’s visual clutter to get ideas and products noticed. Illustration can:

  • Provide the best solution to a problem. There often is no better way to capture and manipulate emotion, atmosphere, flavor and mood to validate an idea or maximize a product’s allure.
  • Offer more flexibility. Reality has distinct limitations, but illustration can give personality and form to intangible ideas and concepts for which there are no practical photographic solutions. Think about:
    • Presenting products not yet built
    • Bringing back people and events long past
    • Revealing hidden sections
    • Communicating products that are in the works
    • Adding, moving or eliminating surroundings
    • Emphasizing details
  • Reduce costs. Not only are there a growing number of stock illustration sites, but also keep in mind that virtually 100 percent of the costs of a commissioned illustration go directly into the creativity. There aren’t always travel costs, elaborate sets and other costs often incurred with a custom photo shoot.

If you’re considering stock—or just want to get inspired by the great illustrative styles that are out there—check out these sites:

http://www.hireanillustrator.com
http://www.behance.com
http://www.istockphoto.com
http://www.veer.com
http://www.gettyimages.com

When working directly with illustrators, we recommend creating a standard form that outlines your licensing requirements. For example, having a contract that says, “We pay $X for Y license for Z time or Q medium,” makes it really easy to accept because the illustrator knows how much, for what, for how long and where.

Illustration Meets Technology

Keep in mind that illustrators haven’t been lost in a time warp. In fact, many illustrators use Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and other programs to create artwork that may include photography and other graphic elements. Ben Heine, a Brussels-based artist, combines photography and illustration to generate interesting images and new spaces that are comic, fun and a surreal. A new visual concept invented by Heine in 2010, the “Pencil vs. Camera” series encourages an expanded view of an otherwise normal subject. This technique has many possibilities for use in advertising, packaging and graphic communications.

Technology can also be used to animate illustrations in order to tell a story or convey an idea. Animated GIFs are a way to add animation to email campaigns (with caveats for newer versions of Outlook*) and Flash banners can be used in many magazine websites.**


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This banner ad for Prinova is a perfect example of using illustration to creatively communicate how customers can use Prinova’s ingredients in their food manufacturing solutions. Photography also would not have worked as well to introduce the new company tagline. If you’re reading this from a smart phone, the backup JPG is displayed.

Remember that Original Artwork Belongs to the Illustrator

AIGA points out that an artist’s copyright is owned by the artist and is protected by the 1976 Copyright Act from the moment it is created. This protection covers the work for the artist’s lifetime plus 70 years. If agreed to in writing, the copyright may be assigned elsewhere, usually for an additional fee.

But original artwork is provided only temporarily to licensees for reproduction. Even the purchase of “exclusive rights” represents rights to reproduce the artwork only. The original illustration remains the property of the illustrator unless it is purchased explicitly and separately from the rights.

Original artwork also cannot be changed without the creator’s approval. Changes to an illustrator’s work must be made by the illustrator, unless you secure permission from the illustrator first. Many people are simply not aware of this law and unintentionally violate it. Please take the time to learn the rules of the road.

Call an Illustrator Today

There you have it—lots of reasons to incorporate more illustration into your communications.  So get moving. Or do I have to draw you a picture?

By Larry Bauer

*Outlook 2007/2010/2013 and Windows Mobile 7 will display the first frame of an animated GIF so keep that in mind when building animations for email use. Most other email apps will indeed take advantage of the full animation.
**While Flash is often an accepted format for website advertising, always provide a backup JPG in the event that users are viewing the website without Flash, such as via iPhones or iPads.

Do’s and Don’ts of Using Illustration.

reFereez-MVBA-250Original and distinct communication materials with the right illustrations can help boost your product or service in a crowded marketplace. These do’s and don’ts will help you get the most return on your investment.

Do

  • Obtain exclusive rights for any illustration representing your brand.
  • Experiment with different types of illustrations to find out which types work best for your brand.
  • Use manual illustration to add a classic charm to your materials.
  • Use digital illustration to combine media, programs and techniques for very unique artwork.
  • Create a licensing agreement form to expedite direct transactions with illustrators.
  • Have a clear idea of what you want an illustration to convey or express.
  • Work with the illustrator to create a specific set of art review and approval stages.
  • Specify what individuals need to be part of the art review and approval process.
  • Educate yourself about copyright ownership vs. licensing agreements. US Federal law applies copyright ownership to the artist while you are free to negotiate licensed usage agreements for the copyrighted illustration.
  • Trust your artist to be the artist. If the illustration conveys your message, let the artist decide the details of the artwork.

Don’t

  • Dismiss illustration because you think it’s too expensive—it’s often not.
  • Treat typography as an afterthought in the overall design—awful type can ruin great artwork.
  • Alter any illustration without getting the creator’s permission.
  • Think that illustration is a low-tech medium of a bygone era.
  • Try to illustrate materials yourself if you’re not a professional artist.
  • Reject the use of a certain color just because it isn’t one of your favorites.
  • Edit the life out of the illustration. Nitpicking the position of a character’s thumb or the shape of a chair corner (yes, people do it) won’t likely improve the artwork.
  • Forget that hand-drawn style illustrations can be a unique way to add character to digital deliverables like video, banner ads, and websites. Just because the deliverable is digital doesn’t mean the illustration has to look like it.
  • Ignore the nature of your brand personality. Illustration style, like photography, should support your brand, not fight with it.

By Larry Bauer and Tom McCain

Series of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts now available online.

mb-2010-do-dont-v22bMissed Getting Your Copy of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts? Not to worry. We’ve made digital versions of all three volumes available via SlideShare. The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts is a collection of the most viewed “Do’s & Don’ts” published by our MondoBeat newsletter including:

  • Taglines
  • Print Advertising
  • Referrals
  • Trade Shows
  • Corporate Brochures
  • Direct Mail
  • Thought Leadership
  • White Papers

Simply visit our SlideShare page to download your complimentary copy.

Q&A White Paper Follow-up to the Catalog Cover Design Webinar.

The Q&A document from the Catalog Cover Design Webinar includes all questions submitted after the webinar along with additional info and links.

Catalog Cover Design Webinar Created for Ripon Printers.

Your catalog cover demands more time and resources than any other page for one simple reason: consumers judge your catalog by its cover. That’s your big opportunity to build excitement and expectations for what’s inside.

In this webinar, you’ll learn about:

  • Maximizing use of both front AND back covers
  • Building the brand experience with your cover
  • Making photography vs. illustration decisions for covers
  • Applying special marketing techniques like personalization and QR codes
  • And utilizing a list of do’s and don’ts for cover text

You can also download the followup Q&A document that contains additional info and links.

Business Gift Giving on a Budget.

  1. Give a donation with a twist. Donations in honor of your customers aren’t novel, but getting them involved in the act is a fun twist. Select four or five charities and establish a pool of money (you don’t need to reveal the size of the pool). Send a letter explaining the program and ask them to designate the charity of their choice from the list. Customers can respond through a postage-paid postcard, an email or a personalized URL that takes them to their own landing page. You simply divide the money by the percentage of votes and have the charity send a recognition letter to each participant without stating the amount of the gift. Low cost. Multiple touches. Customer involvement.
  2. Send a product. This doesn’t work so well if your product is cement, but lots of companies make consumer or business products that are appropriate for gift giving. Or perhaps your company makes a range of products where the customer can make a choice. One of our favorite examples was an ad agency with a client that manufactured a line of high-end “arty” coasters that looked really cool on your table. They came in a wide range of choices, and the agency let each of their customers select a set from the brochure the agency had created for its client.
  3. Get intellectual. A popular business book (especially one on marketing) can make a thoughtful, moderately priced executive gift that doesn’t break the bank. It also gives you an opportunity to personalize the selection based on what you know about your client and provides future opportunities to discuss the content. If you’re not sure what book they would want or you’re afraid you’ll buy something they already own, then give them a few choices and benefit from the interaction.
  4. Gift the group. You can save money by sending a share-the-gift food item to the entire department in care of your lead contact. These types of group gifts tend to fly under corporate radar and can save you money if you’ve been providing a lot of individual gifts. You might also score points by paying attention to your customers’ employee health objectives. If they’ve been making a big push on the health and wellness front, try to find foods that are tasty but are also reasonably good for you.
  5. Do a service day. Don’t have any budget at all? Donate a service day (or morning or afternoon) to an area charitable organization. Your local homeless shelter, food bank or no-kill animal shelter are especially appropriate for the season and the economic climate. You can add to your time by having employees collect items from the organization’s urgent needs list. Whatever you do, be sure to take your camera along and share the story with your customers. Communicate that you performed the service in their honor in lieu of business gifts.

So what’s our holiday gift to you?

mb-2010-do-dont-v22bWe’ve made all of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts tip books available for download! The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts is a collection of the most viewed “Do’s & Don’ts” published by our MondoBeat newsletter including:

  • Taglines
  • Print Advertising
  • Referrals
  • Trade Shows
  • Corporate Brochures
  • Direct Mail
  • Thought Leadership
  • White Papers

Simply visit our SlideShare page to download your complimentary copy.

The Growing Case for Video Marketing.

Everything today is about adding value, and that’s the number one reason to use video marketing. It plugs interaction — including face-to-face interaction — into your website, print promotions and events. You get a unique opportunity to blend your company’s personality and message into either an online or offline experience.

Still not sold? Here are 10 additional reasons to use video marketing:

  1. Raises your website’s search engine results — web crawlers recognize video.
  2. Improves the potential for your message to go viral through the social networks.
  3. Increases the average amount of time visitors spend at your site.
  4. Makes you stand out as an expert since not as many sites use video.
  5. Offers opportunities to provide a tremendously rich offline media experience — stuff a disk with MP3s, video, personal messages, mobile apps, high-res product photos, web links and free downloads.
  6. Augments and supports your existing online strategy when used with direct mail, providing a seamless physical/digital experience that encourages double-digit response rates according to research studies.
  7. Appeals to people who like to see something before they read it.
  8. Provides an opportunity to educate customers about a product or service.
  9. Puts a face on your company and builds your brand.
  10. Engages your customers’ senses, triggering emotional reactions that influence buying decisions in ways that static content can’t.

Professional vs. Homegrown Video.

The nice thing about digital video is that it doesn’t always have to be high end and expensive. The key is to know when you can use your flip camera and when you need a professional team.

And really, the rules are pretty simple:

  • Homegrown video is fine for website demos, new product intros, how-to presentations, brief commentaries and the like. For example, interLinkONE, an integrated marketing solutions provider, has a media page that features short videos covering topics ranging from using QR Codes in a printed catalog to live reports from their booth at a trade show. Homegrown solutions work great for these purposes where immediacy is important and viewers don’t expect premium content with high-end production.
  • Professional video is a must when the production represents the official, animated face of your brand. That’s when you need a quality script, title slides, smooth transitions, excellent lighting and sound, multiple shooting perspectives and top-notch editing. It can also be a good investment when the video will have multiple purposes — website, direct mail, trade shows—and a longer life span. You also need to consider professional video whenever your audience is more sophisticated and has high expectations.

What’s the Right Length?

Everyone wants to know how long is too long. And the general consensus for the appropriate length of online video is one to four minutes. Attention spans seem to grow shorter everyday, especially online.

But purpose means a lot, too. So a one- or two-minute product intro is not the same as a four- to six-minute in-depth case study.

You can also cut longer videos into segments that allow people to access only the parts that interest them. In general, you need to think of the video as an overview from which you can then link buyers to more detailed information in print or electronic form.

Regardless of length, relevance dictates how long people will view the video. Provide information that people want to know, and they’re far more likely to stay for the duration. When you’re trying to keep their attention, it pays to be tactical in selecting content and forget the broad-brush stuff.

Video Media Types.

Video is definitely an evolving medium, and different media types are emerging including video:

  • Product demos
  • Product overviews
  • Testimonials
  • News releases
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Corporate presentations
  • Commercials
  • Trade show and event previews
  • “How-to” demos
  • Blog posts

As these media types mature, more specific standards for length and other factors will emerge as well. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to experiment. Viewership will tell you quickly enough what’s working and what’s not.

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox Creative Group can help you create online video, DVDs and CDs that result in more customer interaction and sales. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

You can connect with Julia Moran Martz on LinkedIn. Or follow her on Twitter.

Do’s and Don’ts of Video Marketing.

Take advantage of video’s remarkable ability to add value to your marketing program. Here’s how to ensure that videos will gain the positive attention that helps set your organization apart from the competition.

Do

  • Display your brand logo occasionally throughout the video to help build recognition.
  • Offer both low- and high-resolution options to accommodate different connection speeds.
  • Select content with a tactical perspective.
  • Experiment with different media types.
  • Break longer videos into segments with the ability to move from one section to the next and to jump between sections.
  • Connect people to more in-depth print and online information.
  • Include rich media video with direct mail packages for added lift.
  • Invest more in videos that will serve multiple purposes and have a longer life.

Don’t

  • Assume that everyone has the video player you choose—offer a link to a free download.
  • Forget that relevance rules in keeping peoples’ attention.
  • Overlook the value of a DVD to support your online strategy.
  • Use homegrown videos for corporate branding purposes or with sophisticated audiences that expect more.
  • Hesitate to use homegrown video for a product, service or event that has a short timeline and lower ROI potential.
  • Neglect to post your videos to YouTube and other video sharing sites in addition to your company’s website.
  • Fail to take advantage of the many free and low-cost video publishing, editing and post-production services that are available online.
  • Make excuses for not creating videos—go out and do it.

By Larry Bauer