The customer is always right, but is the client?

They say the customer is always right. Does this hold true for the client? Not always.

When it comes to branding and design, oftentimes it is important to note that the client will forget the point of the exercise that is marketing. Regardless of the inherent aesthetic taste of the client, it is his or her customer whose needs and tastes are most important. The client never has to sell his product or service to himself but to an audience who may have no idea of what to make of him. It is up to the designer to consider the customers of his or her client – the target audience – and what will drive them toward that client’s product.

One of the most important tenants of branding is consistency of message. It is easy for a company to get bored looking at the same branding day in and day out, but it is important that boredom not drive that company to throw away a brand that they’ve worked hard to establish. If the target audience becomes confused about who they are dealing with because of a radical shift in image it can cause unease in your marketplace by making the audience unsure of the stability of the company in question. Occasionally it is important to update an image, but that update must be carefully considered and, if the brand was strong in the first place, revealed to the public in a way that shows purpose and stability. You never want reputation to be the price of a flashy new corporate image.

Remember, it is the customer after all, who is always right.

The myth of the agile company…

I’ve been noticing a trend. There’s this thought in many companies that staying agile in their marketing affords them the flexibility to react to the market in which they do business. Unless the company in question serves an incredibly flighty market (of which I can think of… virtually none), this is the last thing they should do.

Simply put, this method is an enormous waste of money and time.

Advertising and marketing should almost always be proactive, rarely reactive. Companies should stay ahead of the curve and their competition. The best way to do this is to strategize.

At the end of every year a most remarkable strategy tool is made available in just about every bookstore and mall in America. It is called a calendar. Most companies can plan out advertising pushes based on a schedule. Whether it be a once-a-month magazine-style approach or a holiday special approach – the vast majority of businesses can and should plan ahead. This planning allows for campaign advertising, which is most effective across a broad spectrum of media and time. It also allows a creative team to do their very best work. Given time and a schedule, an agency can craft a concrete, persuasive message to present to the market. Time allows the agency to give their very best work, without the mixed messages and pressures of a last minute thought from the client. True, there are times when an opportunity comes along, a new product or service developed, or a curveball from a competitor which calls for a certain amount of flexibility, but those things are rare. A good account manager or marketing director should recognize this and set aside some of the marketing budget to handle this. But there’s no way to budget without a strategy. No one would dream of running a business without considering their budget – and a company’s marketing is (or at least should be) accounted for in the operating budget.

Considering both the company’s bottom line and best return on investment, a strong marketing strategy and targeted vision will always be the best choice.

Fighting for a good cause

tiny little mind is honored to have been engaged by the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens to design material to promote their hosting of one of the Golden Gloves events. The Golden Gloves is an annual amateur boxing tournament sponsored by the Daily News. This event will help to promote the good works of the Boys & Girls Club and sponsors will be contributing greatly to supporting their efforts. If you are interested in contributing and having your business’s advertisement in the event program, please feel free to contact us.

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On austerity and advertising…

Hi, folks. Just a quick thought:

In these hard financial times, there’s a tendency to cast about looking for ways to cut your company’s overhead. Certainly on a larger scale countries like Greece have been trying that with their austerity measures. We all see how that’s going. And that’s a problem. I’ve noticed that companies, in an effort to keep the profits flowing in lean times tend to look at outside contracts as a way to cut costs. There is certainly merit in this, but I can tell you one thing that should probably remain in the budget.

Plastics.

No… no… sorry. I mean advertising. In these days of metrics and ROI, it is easy to look at advertising as a place to cut. After all, it is difficult to quantify the affect advertising has on your sales. Sure you can see that you don’t have to cold-call customers anymore, but putting a “how much does this earn me” number on it is hard. Impossible even. If you are talking about online advertising you can look at page hits and impressions, etc., but even that’s kind of a shot in the dark. An impression isn’t the same as a sale. When I’ve been asked what the ROI on the advertising budget is, all I can say is: stop advertising and see what happens. If you feel you can risk that, then go ahead… I, for one, don’t think you can. You have to remember what the point of advertising is. It gets your name out there. It gets your product or service into the public consciousness. Even if a person just glances at an ad, if it is well thought out and designed, then the subject will have that little barb stuck in their brain. And then you’ve got them. It may not bring in a sale every time, but it gets the product in there. It’s like an ear worm. You know… those songs you can’t get out of your head? Same thing. If the idea has planted a seed in the subject’s mind, then it is there forever. Good advertising does that.

In the end you are trying to sell a product or service. If people don’t know about you because they’ve never heard of you that’s simply not going to happen. Wishful thinking and austerity measures are not going to get you out of the hole. Sales will. And that’s why we in the advertising field are here. To get the word out so you can get that sale.

Advertising isn’t a shovel to dig yourself deeper into that financial hole. It is a ladder to get you out.

Perhaps an overstatement.

This is a small self-promotion piece to run as a business section sponsorship at the local Patch.com site. It simply states our philosophy that anyone and everyone is entitled to good design for their business – regardless of size or budget. It should begin running in April of 2011. It is an attempt to gain some local clientele for tiny little mind since we believe in working with and supporting local businesses.