Friday, July 31, 2009

August Calendar - Free Download

The next month in my 2009 Calendar series is right around the corner. August is now ready for download from my website. I call this month Ode to Catherine. Catherine is my husband's mother and I've always admired her handwriting. I find it so captivating that I had a custom font made from a sample of her writing. August features that font. Thanks to Font Shop for doing such a great job at recreating her artistic strokes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Finding Focus

If you've been following this blog you've noticed my lack of attention to it in the past few months. I'm sure the reason is similar to those you've read on other blogs - lack of time, lack of energy, lack of, well, creativity. Marketing Engagement started out as a collection of marketing thoughts from my everyday life. And there are moments throughout everyday where something strikes me from a marketing perspective. But the reality is you can get those thoughts everywhere and I'm not adding much value in that space.

In light of that, I've been struggling with where to take this blog. And while I've been taking a break from blogging I've become addicted to Twitter. I'm following a lot a great people and I feel the content I share there is valuable. And that leads me to where this blog should go next. The most valuable content I share on Twitter is for the A/E/C market. I've worked in various design firms over the past 12 years (minus a 2 year voyage to the dental insurance industry) and it's an industry I'm truly passionate about. Most design firms are small and there are minuscule resources dedicated to marketing. Often there's no marketer on staff, other times it's a junior person or the joint responsibility of the office manager. However, marketing is one of the most important things a firm can do for itself. I've been in the industry long enough to know where the pain points are and I'm confident I can dispel useful information to anyone involved in marketing their design firm. With that I'm realigning the focus of this blog to marketing within design firms. I'll still have the occasional non-related, thoughts from everyday posts, they'll just be interspersed with industry related posts. And I'll still be posting my 2009 calendar month by month. When I'm not here, I'll be contributing to Help Everybody Everyday, another blog, with lots of guest contributions on marketing in the A/E/C industry. If you find my content helpful, you'll find the content there just as good.

Thank you for reading and I hope you find the next iteration of this blog just as useful as the first.

image credit: Juan Eduardo Donoso on Flickr

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Great Interactive from Barnes & Noble

I was reading my stream of Twitter updates and was excited about a tweet from @themarketingguy. He pointed his followers to the Barnes & Noble app on the iPhone. If you download it, it comes with a coupon for a free tall hot or iced coffee at a Barnes & Noble Starbucks stores. The tweet was simple "The Barnes & Noble iPhone app comes with a free cup of coffee." I immediatley downloaded the app to my iPhone and retweeted @themarketingguy's tweet. Barnes & Noble gets more face time with me, @themarketingguy gets validity to his tweet through an RT (that retweet speak in twitter) and I get a free cup of coffee and an app that I'm likely to use regardless. The lesson to be learned? Sometimes it's a tiny little thing (like a cup of coffee) that helps you to interact with your audience, gain word of mouth and make a great impression. Just think, already this went from app to twitter to blog. Where will it go next? Good press for a buck plus change.

image credit: webgrl on Flickr

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Don't let industry jargon consume your firm's identity

Let me guess, you work for an “award-winning interdisciplinary (or multidisciplinary) firm that partners with its clients to offer sustainable, leading edge designs which solve complex problems.” And you do this by offering “personal service using the collective wisdom of your collaborative staff in a team approach.”

It’s not that this description doesn’t sound great. The problem is it doesn’t mean anything. And if you argue that it does then I’ll counter with it doesn’t differentiate you from all the other firms that also think it means something.

Think back to when you took your first position in your first design firm (assuming you’re not a trained architect or other design professional that was already intimately familiar with the vernacular). Did you truly understand what your firm did and how it was different from all the other firms that surrounded it and claimed to be doing the same thing?

If you didn’t understand how your firm was different by reading the available materials (website, brochures, industry profiles, etc) than how are your prospective clients supposed to know what makes you different? An important reminder for us is that our prospective clients are not likely to be architects or know the language of architecture. They’re hiring us because they need our expertise.

Take a look at your marketing materials with fresh eyes and evaluate what the material is really trying to tell its audience. Do you use unique methods to provide innovative designs to your clients’ complex problems using a collaborative team approach or does your team of 3 designers spend a day on site with your clients before they begin designing a new space so that they can fully understand, and design a space that responds to, the clients’ challenges and goals? Which is clearer to you? Which do you think is clearest to your prospective clients?

There isn’t a secret formula for achieving clarity. All you need to do is write with your audience in mind and be transparent about your firm’s strengths. Don’t hide them in a sea of buzzword-laden text. Your prospective clients will thank you for your clarity by awarding you with their business. It sounds simple, but looking at the majority of design industry websites, instilling clarity through the written word remains a challenge.

Originally written for Help Everybody Everyday

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July calendar ready for download

We may be having cloudy skies in Boston this summer, but July's calendar is designed to evoke a zen like state of soaking up the sun (wearing sunscreen of course) on the beach. Download today and print out on 5x7 cardstock.