Monthly Archive: August 2010

Client Showcase #5

Danville Development Corporation is a property management firm providing HUD-subsidized senior housing in Salt Lake City, Ogden and surrounding communities. Bonehook was commissioned to refresh the company’s website.

One of the primary goals for this project was to streamline the application process, making it simple for low income seniors or their loved ones to locate an available apartment, fill out all the necessary paperwork and know exactly who to contact about the status of their application.

We also helped identify and highlight key selling points like free utilities, an allowance for pets and on-site Service Coordinators at each property to help residents with community services like Meals on Wheels or transportation to the doctor’s office.

We partnered with Corporate 3 Design in Omaha on this project.

Client Showcase #4

My friend and art director partner Cathy Solarana has successfully completed a rebranding project for Omaha health food restaurant, Blue Planet Natural Grill.

Blue Planet’s new brand identity is expressed in its new logo, menus, packaging, merchandise, signage, interior design and its recently relaunched website.

Cathy asked me to write copy for the web. She can be a demanding task master (which most writers need from time to time, myself included). Thankfully, her push for me to dig deeper unearthed some good copy.

In addition to their new site, Blue Planet also runs an active Facebook page with lots of deals and updates. For instance: “We started growing our own organic wheatgrass about two weeks ago and it grows fast! We’re sitting on a a bountiful harvest so we are temporarily cutting the price in half from $3/shot to $1.50.”

Perfectly Integrated Campaigns Are Tough To Achieve When Managing Multiple Shops

Steve McKee of McKee Wallwork Cleveland Advertising, and author of the new book, When Growth Stalls argues in BusinessWeek that it is harder than ever for clients to implement and manage integrated marketing campaigns.

He believes there are too many cooks in the kitchen.

Most marketers don’t know that an epic struggle is going on just beneath the surface of the marketing communications industry. Digital agencies are starting to offer more traditional services. Traditional agencies are adding digital capabilities. Ad agencies are offering PR. PR firms are selling graphic design. Design firms are calling themselves ad agencies. And every one is staking a claim to the new ground of social media. It’s a mess out there, with each company kicking the others under the table like too many siblings vying for too few pieces of pie. Somebody has to manage the chaos, and unfortunately, that’s you.

By “you,” McKee means the client. However, clients in my experience are typically busy managing much more than marcom vendors, or “partners,” as the case may be. Clients, especially in small- to medium-sized businesses, are busy with day-to-day operations like sales, cash-flow, hiring, etc.

McKee suggests the glue that binds here is strategy. “You may employ a host of companies to implement a variety of tactics, but to be effective they all must serve a singular strategy.” I agree, but where is the strategy going to come from? If it comes from the PR firm, it may look and feel nothing like the strategy from one’s design firm.

All of which brings me back again to the value a well-rounded background in marketing communications. I started at a high tech business-to-business agency before moving to a big sales promotion agency. I’ve also worked in general market advertising agencies, event marketing, design and digital shops. I’m a generalist, and there’s been much written about how in marketing it’s imperative to be a specialist, not a generalist. Yet, specialists tend to live in silos. The way they see the field and play the game is silo-centric. Let me give you an example. I recently advised a client to integrate their corporate blog into their main site. My client’s SEO firm has a different idea–they want the blog to be a stand alone site, so it can generate inbound links to the main site, something Google likes to see. I’m all for inbound links, but I believe you generate them with exceptional content (regardless of where the blog lives). This is one of those cases where we’re both right, although one of us may be more right than the other.

McKee’s article is about complexity and there’s little doubt that configuring an effective marcom plan in today’s media environment is a challenge. In my estimation, providing on-point strategic insight is key to a leadership position and the viability of one’s consulting practice. So is the ability to see the whole field and know what each player is capable of, and how best to use these different players to win the game on the client’s behalf. That’s what we’re striving for, and in the best cases, that’s what we deliver.

Amazing Brands Create More Than Great Experiences, They Make “Meaning” For Customers

My friend Tom Asacker sends his monthly newsletter subscribers his thoughts in neatly packaged PDF files. It’s interesting to me how this method of conveying his message is different from merely posting the essay to his blog. It doesn’t take Wi-Fi connectivity to read a download, but it’s also something of a collectable, an artifact, whereas just another blog post is merely bookmarkable.

In his latest offering, Asacker provides some random thoughts on business, brands and organization success. I particularly enjoy this bit about meaning…

The marketplace is, was, and always will be about meaning; meaning that communicates to the world—and to ourselves—who we are, what we believe in, and to what groups we belong. We choose products, services and causes based on a feeling of receiving distinctive value—a unique bundle of social, aesthetic, and functional meanings that feed our hungers to be liked, respected, and discerning. Apple, and a handful of other organizations, understand and embrace this reality and therefore continue to draw meaning-making consumers towards their high-margin models. To my utter confusion, the rest continue to chase the elusive, deal-seeking consumers with large, leaky nets of promotions, discounts and incentives. And that’s no way to grow.

Providing “distinctive value” to customers is what business is all about. When a company does that there’s less need for promotions and such, but there’s still plenty of room for marketing and brand building, for those two activities are all about how well a business conveys its “distinctive value” to customers and prospects.

Marriott Knows Who They Are And How Best To Express Themselves To Guests

It’s not everyday that we see well crafted blog post from a corporate leader that reveals the true character of the brand, so when one does appear, it’s worth taking note of it.

Bill Marriott, Chairman & CEO of Marriott International produced such a post recently while vacationing at the family lake house in New Hampshire. It’s a personal story about his dad, John Willard Marriott, who founded the family business in 1927 when he and Mrs. Marriott opened a 9-stool A&W root beer stand in Washington, D.C.

Marriott describes his dad as a perfectionist, which, of course, is a great thing to be in the hospitality business.

He kept his Hot Shoppe restaurants spotless. Every Friday was inspection day, and in my teenage years, I often accompanied him as he visited the various Hot Shoppes.

We not only inspected the kitchen and the dining room, but also the parking lot, which he insisted be hosed down and scrubbed every morning. When we started opening hotels, he demanded that the bellman have a cleaning cloth and a bottle of window cleaner to keep the fingerprints off the front doors.

His pursuit of perfection was hard on my mother, my brother and me as everything at home had to be as neat and clean as it was in his Hot Shoppes. He built a great business and left behind an enduring quest to always be improving and trying to make the customer experience as close to perfection as possible. He left an inspiring legacy of that great pursuit. He really believed that success was never final.

A company gets its values from its founders and leaders. Some firms lose their roots as they grow, but the best companies never do.

[via Mashable]

Stored Potential Unleashed

My friend and art director partner, Cathy Solarana, is excited to see her art work stretched 80′ high by 20′ wide in downtown Omaha (and I’m excited for her).

The community art project is called Stored Potential. It’s a large-scale installation attempting to show the interrelatedness of land use, agriculture, and food.

Cathy chose the iconic drive shed as her focus of exploration. Although humble wood structures, the drive shed’s function is important: to protect farmers from the weather while unloading their grain. A simple structure resembling a wooden lean-to, the drive shed is nonetheless an important part of the uniquely North American “architecture of grain,” designed for function and simplicity without unnecessary decoration.

The project is sponsored by Omaha-based Emerging Terrain, a non-profit research and design collaborative.