Archive for April 30, 2009

Communicating messages through art

The Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, was commissioned artwork for the church. He was asked to paint most of his well known work by the church in much the same way our clients commission marketing work from us.

Illiteracy was very high In the 1500s. The only way for the church to communicate the words in the Bible effectively was using artwork. Much like we use print media such as billboards or e-newsletters, the church used paintings and sculpture to communicate its vision to the masses.

I still find it fascinating that the most prolific and talented artist in our history was, in essence, a graphic designer whose work communicated the vision and voice of his client, Pope Julius II. I like to think that the relationship we have with our clients is healthier than the one Michelangelo had with Pope Julius II. They were always arguing over payment and creative vision.

Michelangelo did, however, sneak in his own agenda whenever possible. It’s cleverly portrayed in his most famous painting in the Sistine Chapel depicting God touching the finger of Adam. This painting was to illustrate how God gifted man with a soul. Michelangelo disagreed with that premise. He believed God gifted man with the ability to reason and think. That is why he cleverly painted God’s robes in the shape of a cerebellum. You can clearly see it in the photos. I had the chance to see the painting first hand on a trip to Rome. We are drawn to it and find a need to understand it. It’s a powerful communication tool in the right hands. It has shifted cultures and documented history. And that’s pretty cool in my book.

Alex Raffi is the Creative Director for Imagine Marketing.
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Is Simple Really Better?

Today I was chatting with a co-worker about the way we get our information nowadays. We were discussing a speech we had heard that had a great message but very little depth.

“Maybe he was trying to simplify his message enough so everyone could understand it,” my co-worker said.

Maybe. But is simple really better?

Although I work as the director of Media Relations for Imagine Marketing, I graduated from UNLV with my degree in journalism and media studies. In journalism we are taught to write at an eighth grade level so everyone can understand it. Keep your stories short and to the point and maybe your reader will read it to the end.

With the advent of text messaging and social media, our messages to one another have become as simplified as possible as well. Overnight, it seems, our culture transitioned from saying “thank you” to texting “thx;” from using complete sentences to writing almost unintelligible fragments; from taking the time to learn grammar and punctuation to simply sprinkling commas and apostrophes haphazardly throughout our work.

Today we turn novels into Cliff’s notes and read quotes instead of the speeches they came from.

Instead of challenging our audiences (or ourselves) to use a dictionary, we communicate in the simplest of terms, settling for whatever word or phrase comes to mind – regardless of whether it’s actually the most appropriate.

I know I’m as guilty of this as anyone else. In fact, I find myself chuckling when people use words like “errant” and “iteration” and “somniferous” when instead I should be writing those words down when I read them or hear them, challenging myself to add them to my own feeble vocabulary.

But, then again, why should we push ourselves to go that extra mile? Why expand our vocabulary when everything around us is communicated using words we already know? Why use spellchecker when only four or five words have a red squiggly line underneath them? Why take the time to understand grammar and punctuation when people can already decipher what we’re saying? Who cares whether we’ve shortened the story to the point of losing its meaning?

We should – because we take pride in ourselves and what we represent.

Melissa Rothermel is Director of Media Relations for Imagine Marketing.
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Why Online Marketing Matters

Recently our company has been “retooling” itself to better fit the needs of today’s constantly evolving marketplace. Among those retooling efforts is repackaging our technology marketing services so our clients, and prospects, better understand just how cost effective, yet impactful, marketing via technology can be.

I can repeat the same cliché phrases everyone in marketing is saying right now about the cost and development of Google ad words and pay-per-click ad programs, e-newsletters, blogs and such, but I won’t. What I’ve found most interesting, especially lately, in all matters of marketing and technology is the resistance so many organizations continue to have in using technology as a driving marketing vehicle for them – even still, in 2009 and in this economy. … Although I am feeling the resistance lessening a bit.

Why such resistance? The common response to my question is typically: Will anyone use/see it?

My answer: Yes.

My answer is yes if you market sugar-free/wheat-free cupcakes to children. My answer is yes if you market your personal fitness training services to individuals. My answer is yes if you market your hospice services to caretakers and family members of sick individuals. Yes, yes and yes.

Behind every e-mail address, Yahoo! Web search, Tweet, Facebook status change and Web visit there is a potential consumer.

Granted, there will always be those who lag behind when it comes to using new communication vehicles. However, to keep your marketing program operating as “business as usual” to appease these few naysayers will set you two steps behind your competitors who are already getting a jump on your market share.

One of the most glorious benefits of marketing technology programs is that they provide you with tangible results – and sometime the lack of results. Either way, it provides you with tangible information to help you tap into customer trends and interests and well as help to drive sales. It’s a smart tool to use to help your organization properly “retool” itself for today’s new economy.

Think moving a portion of your marketing program online is risky? Don’t. Your consumers are there. (You’re here reading my blog aren’t you?) The real question you should have is: What type of marketing expert do I bring on to help guide me through the Internet “weeds?”

Amber Stidham is the Director of Strategic Planning for Imagine Marketing.

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Relationship Building 2.0: cultivating genuine relationships through social networking

As far back as I can remember I have had a burning desire to connect with people and better understand human nature. As a child I would stick my head through the fence to get the neighbor kids’ attention, hoping and praying they would see me and invite me over to swim in their pool. In junior high I moved to a new neighborhood, and in an effort to make a new friend, I chased down a girl from my economics class because she was walking home the same way I was. As an adult, the tactics have changed and are hopefully more tactful, but the desire to be connected to people has not changed. I am lucky my job requires an outgoing personality and, in turn, provides the opportunity to meet new people and learn things along the way.

It’s easier now than ever before to create and cultivate new relationships with people all over the world. In fact, with the growing popularity of social media, you don’t even have to get dressed and leave your house to have worthwhile connections with people. Some people complain that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (to name a few of my favorite tools) are invasive time wasters, but I beg to differ. Through these tools I have had the chance to re-connect with people from childhood who, chances are, I would never have talked to again; strengthen client relationships; and stay connected with family members who live far away. Yes, I spend quite a bit of my time keeping track of my various networks, but in the long run, the results are gratifying both personally and professionally.

The question I hear the most when it comes to social networking is, “Why would anyone care what I have to say?” My answer is to consider the network of people you are interested in connecting with, and consider this question from your “audience’s” perspective. For example, if your “friends” on Facebook mostly consist of clients and work associates, they probably would be interested in hearing about your work-related experiences. This is an opportunity for you to position yourself as an expert. You don’t even have to create your own content to do this either. By posting links to information available on the Internet and asking questions of your network, you are engaging your audience and starting conversations. Chances are, the longer you are involved in social networking, the bigger your networks will grow. You may have more than one group of people you are staying connected with, and it’s important to consider all of these groups before you post any personal information.

This brings me to the other question I hear a lot: “Why would I want to post my dirty laundry for the world to see?” You have complete control over the content you share through these Internet-based tools. My best advice is to think before you post. I never post anything I wouldn’t want my mom to see. It’s possible to be transparent and let your personality show without sharing overly personal information that might get you in trouble down the line.

I have embraced social networking and encourage others to do so as well. But, just as an e-mail will never have the impact of a handwritten note, social networking will never replace one-on-one real-world connections. So, I leave you with one question to ponder: What are you doing to strengthen relationships in your life – both on- and off-line?

Megan Lane is an Account Executive for Imagine Marketing.
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Change or Die: What to do in the New Economy

On the surface, a presentation entitled “Change or Die: What to do in the New Economy” might seem, well, a little negative. But for the more than 60 people who attended an April 14 event at Lawry’s, nothing could be further from the truth.

Craig Galati of Lucchesi Galati and I made the case that today’s challenging economic environment (dubbed the “New Economy”) actually provides once-in-a-generation opportunities and long-term benefits. But only for those who know how to take advantage of the new rules of the game.

Below is a slideshow version of the presentation.

Brian Rouff is the Managing Partner for Imagine Marketing.
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