Think Outside the Box

I wanted to share a fantastic article in regards to creative problem solving and how we all think. I found this very enlightening and I hope you all do as well!

Today I am going to share with you a question I was asked in a job interview 8 years ago. This question really inspired me and changed my outlook on the way I thought and approached problems.

Question: You are driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night, it’s raining heavily, when suddenly you pass by a bus stop, and you see three people waiting for a bus:

1) An old lady who looks as if she is about to die,

2) An old friend who once saved your life,

3) The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride to if there could only be one passenger in your car? This is a moral/ethical dilemma, so let’s look at the options that were in my head at the time:

* You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first;

* or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back.

* However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.

I won’t tell you what answer I gave, but needless to say, I didn’t get the job. But I was intrigued, so I called back a week later and asked what the right answer was…

Here is what they told me:

The candidate who was hired gave this answer:

“I would give the car keys to my Old friend and let him take the lady to the hospital. I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams.”

Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations. Never forget to “Think Outside the Box.”

SOURCE: Dean Hunt, www.deanhunt.com

Is Your Mail Being Opened?

Direct mail campaigns are very similar to trade show exhibits.  Both allow very little time (no more than three seconds) to catch the attention of an audience. If you can’t peak your targets’ interest immediately, then you’ve lost them. Just like a trade show display, appearance and creativity are key – especially when you’re competing with a multitude of similar looking envelopes in every mailbox. With some simple steps, you can make your direct mail campaigns stand out from the crowd.

1. The Value of Exclusivity

Studies have shown that when limited opportunities are presented to specific groups of people, they are perceived as being of high value. Using urgent language on your envelope can help boost its level of importance to your target viewer.

2. Using “Eye-Magnet” Words

As odd as it may sound, certain words actually attract the human eye more than others. Some examples of these include “announcing”, “introducing”, “new”, “now”, “finally”, and “soon”. Try using some of these words in your copy to help increase overall engagement with the piece.

3. Social Proof

Customer testimonials can be a powerful tool to utilize in your marketing materials, mainly because it drives interest towards a product or service based on the positive experiences of others. Decision making tends to be influenced based on the success of others so including customer related information will always be beneficial.

4. The Power of Pain

People tend to prefer the avoidance of pain over the achievement of pleasure and your copy should reflect that. Instead of saying “Take advantage of this great offer”, try “Don’t miss out on this great offer!”

5. Keep Design in Mind

At a trade show, the goal of your exhibit is to capture the attention of attendees before your competitors do. Your direct mail campaign has the same purpose. It must stand out amongst the other envelopes in your recipient’s mailbox. For that reason, it’s important to take extra time to ensure what you’re sending out is carefully designed to look very important and official. The more your piece stands out, the more likely it is to be opened.

SOURCE: Nancy Harnut, Direct Marketing News, February 2011

“When One Bad Apple Spoils the Bunch”

I understand we focus a large portion of our blog articles on customer service, but we can’t stress enough how essential it truly is to the value of a company. While your collective team has a crucial role in emanating your company’s core values, it’s important that each individual also contributes with that same mindset, otherwise, you’ll see how “one bad apple can spoil the bunch”.

On a personal note, I enjoy what I do for a living and my work environment encourages a constant flow of creativity so naturally, I’ve adopted the culture of my office into my work ethic. Establishing a set of values that can really grow on people with different personalities is an effective morale booster. Unfortunately, this tool will not always be successful with every team member you bring aboard.

During instances like those, it’s important to recognize the signs that will differentiate those who help your organization thrive, and those who are simply in it for a paycheck. Thankfully, it’s very easy to pinpoint the “MVPs” of your team. These individuals will normally display a positive attitude in the workplace, which in turn will contribute to exceptional customer service. Team players will also be instrumental in bringing new ideas to the table on a regular basis while showing an interest in helping your company flourish.

From experience, the “bad apples” normally make themselves known from the start – Illustrating detachment from a team environment and being hesitant towards adding input with any discussions. An “MVP” has no trouble voicing questions and opinions while a “bad apple” will simply keep his or her mouth shut. The ultimate issue with having unenthusiastic team members is the risk they pose towards your customer service. One bad phone conversation can ultimately destroy a relationship with a client.

There’s no doubt you deserve a team of all-stars to represent your company, so make sure you identify the players that will benefit you in the overall scheme of things. Recognize the individuals who will help you succeed and don’t be afraid to let go of those who will be harmful to your core culture. Remember, it only takes “one bad apple to spoil the bunch”.

Scott Bykowicz is the Marketing Coordinator for FB Displays & Designs, Inc.

14 Words That Lose Money

For all those setting up e-commerce sites, writing marketing copy or simply communicating with a client via e-mail, it’s important to know that there’s many commonly used words that can prove to be detrimental in achieving a sale. Below is a list of 14 normally used words that can be hazardous when applied to selling as well as some ways to avoid them:

1. Price

Price is a hard word to avoid, but it’s always worthwhile to substitute other words in its place. With e-commerce sites, including the actual price can actually prove more beneficial than using the word “price.”

2. Cost

Similar to “price”, this word is sometimes hard to avoid as well.

3. Sign

“Sign” can overwhelm your potential customers with a feeling of permanence in their purchase. Instead of asking customers to “sign in” to your page, try using the phrase “log-in”,”For your convenience, enter your details” or even “For faster checkout, enter your details”.

4. Buy

“Buy Now” buttons can intimidate potential buyers as it gives them a small window with their buying decision. Try something more friendly such as “Add to Cart” or “Proceed to Checkout”. By doing this, the buyer will feel more comfortable knowing they have time to contemplate their purchase.

5. Expensive

Just avoid this word all together.

6. Deals

Refer to any kind of “deals” as “Sales” or “Specials” instead. The word “deals” can imply the products could be cheap or that the rest of your products must be normally overpriced. The ultimate perception is in the eye of the consumer.

7. Sold

“Sold out” can come off as a negative phrase. Instead of listing products on your site as being “sold out”, either remove them completely or refer to them as “Currently Unavailable”.

8. Charge

“Charge” is another one of those intimidating words to customers. Replace words like “Charge Information” or “Charge Account” with “Billing Information” or “Credit Card Information”.

9. Try

When cross-selling products, refrain from saying “Try these other products you may like”. It can come off as making you sound pushy. Instead, use “Other Items of Similar Interest” or a phrase along those lines.

10. Bad

“Bad” is simply that. Replace “Bad Login” or “Bad Credit Card Number” with “Invalid Login” or “Invalid Credit Card Number”.

11. Lose

Saying “You have nothing to lose” may “lose” you a sale. Discuss benefits of the product or service to your customer instead of using this tagline.

12. Complicated

“Not Complicated” can be a heavy sounding phrase. Try “Easy to use” in place of it.

13. Risk

Next to “expensive”, one of the words you should steer clear of.

14. Obligation

“Obligation” can scare customers by implying a sense of commitment to your products and services. Even in the negative sense, “No obligation” can work against you.

SOURCE: Eric Leuenberger  “14 Words that LOSE Money” , zencartoptimization.com

My Favorite Super Bowl Ad (and the Story Behind It!)

During the Super Bowl, we all anxiously wait for those memorable commercials. My personal favorite this year was a Bridgestone ad where a company employee accidentally hit “reply all” when sending an inappropriate e-mail to his co-worker. While the ad itself was quite hilarious, the scenario was actually based on the real, humiliating experiences of a creative at the Richards Group.

A few months after last year’s Super Bowl, the agency started brainstorming ideas for this year’s potential hit. Creative Bill Cochran decided that in order to get himself and partner Patrick Murray psyched about competing for the next Bridgestone ad, it would be a good idea to write an informal e-mail discussing all the other creative teams they were up against. “I started breaking it down by name–the teams that I thought were really gonna bring it, as well as some teams that I thought we didn’t have to present against… It was pretty much unedited thoughts from my head.”

After Cochran finished the e-mail, he accidentally hit “Reply All”, sending it to everyone in his office. A few minutes later, he got a puzzling email from another co-worker about this “strange email” Cochran had just sent out. “All I know is just the blood completely rushed out of my head. I felt lightheaded.”

Six hundred Richards Group employees worked in the building and Cochran estimates that the e-mail reached most of them within minutes. He became the laughing stock of the agency and even worse, he had to face all the creatives mentioned in that e-mail on a daily basis – those he admired, those he deemed unworthy, and those who he felt weren’t even worth mentioning.

He contemplated whether or not he would survive at the agency but kept his focus on the work at hand. At the next pitch meeting, Cochran knew that only one thing would be on people’s mind as he spoke, and that he “might as well walk through the fire and address it.” As a sort of self-effacing joke, he floated an idea of a spot called “Reply All.”

The more he and his partner thought about it, though, they realized that the idea had real potential and decided to develop an actual spot concept based on Cochran’s faux pas. To his amazement, the concept he and Murray came up with won over his colleagues, and finally Bridgestone. The ad aired just this past Sunday and the full version can be viewed here:

Source: David ZaxHow a Real “Reply-All” Faux Pas Yielded Comedy Gold”, www.fastcompany.com

4 Ways to Capture a Client and Make Them a Buyer Forever

In chess, there’s only one way to win: Capture your opponent’s pieces. Marketing is similar, because, unless you capture people with your message and your value proposition, you won’t win. So what are the best ways to capture your audience?

1. Capture Their Attention

Because there is a lot of competition out there, creativity must be utilized in order to stand out to prospective clients. Instead of discounting prices, which only lessens the value of a brand, offer courtesy services that will demonstrate your high level of customer service.

2. Capture Their Imagination

It’s always a great idea to stimulate a clientts’ imagination. While some may respond to just facts and figures, it’s usually wise to bring visuals to the table. Illustrating your solutions will make a larger impact and allow their creative side to shine.

3. Capture Their Affection

Engaging emotions is a very powerful sales tool. Mention stories of past clients in similar industries who have benefited from your solutions or talk about how your company made a difference in the community. There’s no need to go into technical detail, you’re simply providing an emotional foundation for your client to relate to.

4. Capture Their Self-Interest

Clearly explain the WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me?”) Putting the spotlight on the clients’ wants and needs will be effective in peaking their interest. Failing to focus on the WIIFM is showing a prospective client that you’re more concerned with selling rather than offering a solution.

You need to structure your communications to touch all four of these “captures.” Grab your audience in the first 15 seconds. Move their minds and hearts immediately after. Make the call to action clear and compelling. These four moves will go a long way toward achieving the goal.

SOURCE: Steve Woodruff, http://www.marketingprofs.com

Not Just For Trade Shows!

Believe it or not, trade show displays and components are commonly used in both television and movies. FB Displays & Designs’ major partner, Nomadic Display, is constantly proving how their custom products can transcend the trade show floor. Here’s some of their work that you may have seen on the screen!

Nomadic created the black and yellow backdrops used behind the commentators for FOX’s Sunday Night Football. In a frame of four days, eight custom made fabric backwall displays were created to be used from coast-to-coast. These displays were designed to be easily broken down and set-up for the filming of game highlights.

The NFL Network was so impressed by the FOX Sunday Night Football set designs, they asked Nomadic to create the backdrops for their sets on Thursday Night Football. The goal was to create a unique custom display that gave maximum visual impact with ease of setup.

Nomadic has been providing the backdrops for “American Idol” since 2002. The  backdrops can be seen at the first weeks of each season during the audition process. The popularity of the American Idol sets caught the attention of NBC who requested Nomadic create the set for their popular reality TV show “America’s Got Talent”.

This portable backwall was used on set during the audition episodes of the show.

Back in the late 90s, Nomadic’s C34 Instand frames were used as an element on the set of Start Trek Voyager. The frames made up the design of the Holodeck, a cyber portal on one of the most advanced vessels in the star fleet. This set marked Nomadic’s television debut.

Nomadic displays have also appeared in the recent films “Up In The Air” with George Clooney and “Love and Other Drugs” with Jake Gyllenhall. For more information on Nomadic Display’s projects in the entertainment industry, please visit http://www.nomadicdisplay.com/news/entertainment/