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Sandy
Sandstorm is a SAVO Partner

We are excited to announce that Sandstorm has been selected as an Emerald Partner with the SAVO Group as their go-to marketing agency for SAVO clients who require brand positioning, content marketing, messaging and creative marketing execution to better leverage the SAVO platform and improve sales productivity and effectiveness.

SAVO is a leader in sales enablement. They create software as a service (SaaS) that bring together sales tools, automation, analytics, and content management to support companies’ sales processes.

Sandstorm is honored to be recognized for our marketing expertise to improve sales enablement and looks forward to helping SAVO clients meet their goals with targeted, relevant messages that support their brand and drive sales.

This blog was posted by Sandy on June 4, 2014.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

Sandy

We recently had an amazing opportunity to share our story of building a culture of gratitude, fun, and recognition with Marcus Lemonis from CNBC's "The Profit" (who is totally awesome by the way). Like any other small business, we had growing pains. By focusing on defining and building our culture, we absolutely flourished. The results are staggering. We doubled our staff, moved into new digs, grew revenue 250%, and are growing another 30% this year, too. 

Here are 5 things that transformed our culture:

1. "Leading by example" is only half the work. "You are what you tolerate" is the second half. So if you're a CEO or manager, step up and speak up. 

2. We held a company meeting called "The best place I ever worked." Everyone on our team shared what they loved most about past companies they worked for... and why. This was the beginning to our multi-year plan to learn from other successful organizations and implement. I would recommend Tony Hsieh's book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose.

3. We established ground rules. We call these "Sandstorm Expectations" and they show you how to be a Sandstormer. 

4. We defined our core values to work by, to hire by, and to live by. Not core values on a poster, but meaningful, concise, memorable ones (call our office and anyone who answers will be able to tell you what they are).

5. We celebrate successes every month in a company meeting called a "You Rock." CNBC did an amazing job capturing this in their video - thank you!


So, how did CNBC and Marcus Lemonis find us? Through Vistage, a CEO leadership group that I've been a member of for 8 years. They were looking for small businesses with a story to tell. I replied, and many weeks later, Sandstorm was selected as 1 of 12 companies featured. 

We are so grateful for the opportunity to share our story with other business owners and hopefully inspire them to embrace a culture of celebration at work.

We hope you enjoy the show: Check out the video

This blog was posted by Sandy on .
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

Sandy
Building a Website RFP needs these essential elements

Having trouble putting into words what you are looking to accomplish with your website? Not sure how to get all of your web development agencies aligned with your goals and objectives?

Writing a request for a proposal (RFP) is a challenging process if you don’t know where to start. By taking a moment now to think about your organization and your users’ wants and needs, you’ll save time later and increase the possibility of attracting the best agency to deliver success.

We can help! By following the website RFP response template below, you’ll have a clear strategy and a solid start for your next initiative:

 1. Brief Overview of the Project
Describe your current website situation or desired campaign and a description of what your investment will entail.

 2. Project Goals and Objectives
Define the motivation for your project. Why are you making this investment (i.e. expanded services, growth, new target audience, lead generation, attract job candidates)? What do you hope to accomplish? List your objectives.

3. Current Web Statistics
Include relevant web analytics such as top content, goal conversions, traffic sources, bounce rates, keyword phrases driving traffic, social referrals, mobile traffic, etc.

4. Technical Requirements
Are you integrating with any existing systems? List them. Do you require a specific programming language (e.g. .php or .net)? How is hosting currently handled?

5. Usability Requirements
How many different user groups do you have, and who are they? Are you interested in conducting usability testing? How about user research or developing a persona? 

6. Functional Requirements
What features and functionality do you need on your site? Some needs might include:

  • Secure user/password
  • Contact forms or dynamic forms
  • File uploading option
  • User account management
  • Social media integrations and social sharing
  • Database development
  • Video integrations
  • Member dashboards
  • Content management system (Drupal, Kentico, Wordpress, etc.)
  • E-commerce
  • Newsletter sign up
  • White paper lead capture
  • Blogs
  • 3rd party API integrations (LMS, AMS, HubSpot, Salesforce, etc)

7. Content Requirements
Approximately how many pages are on your current site? Do you have a content strategy? Who is going to be responsible for writing or editing your content? How will your social media channels be integrated?

8. Mobile Requirements
We only build websites that respond to your user’s device (i.e. mobile, tablet, desktop) – so we have that covered. Do you have any other special mobile needs that we should be aware of? 

9. Budget
Has your budget been set and approved? What is the range?

10. Timeline
What is your ideal project complete date? What is driving that time (i.e. trade show, new product launch, leadership change, board of directors, it should have happened last year)?


Ready to rock?

This website RFP response template can be the perfect tool to align all stakeholders on the essential building blocks for your project. It ensures you have a solid, thoughtful, and organized plan to guide your chosen agency, too.

A little upfront thinking and decision-making goes a long way in constructing an optimal site experience or campaign. You’ll be the rock star whose project launches on time, within scope, and under budget.

[Once you’ve completed all these steps, please send it to us. Sandstorm might be the right partner for your new project.]

This blog was posted by Sandy on April 3, 2014.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

Sandy

Local design firm owner, Sandy Marsico, has been selected to judge upcoming Web Awards in Chicago.

As the number of nominations continue to grow for the 2005 North American Marine Industry Web Awards, today, boats.com and the National Marine Manufacturers Association announced the judging panel for this prestigious new industry initiative. Judges include: Sandy Marsico, Stephen Meade, James Nolan, Fernando Regueiro, and Dana VanDen Heuvel.

The Awards are designed to recognize companies that lead the North American marine industry's drive towards higher standards of excellence in website design and content. Closing date for nominations is Tuesday, November 30, 2004. Five award categories have been created to honor different segments of the North American marine industry and the companies in those segments whose websites demonstrate creativity in design, ease of navigation and up-to-date, relevant content.

Winning companies will hold one of the prestigious titles for a year and will also receive a trophy exclusively designed by world renowned yacht designer, Tony Castro to be presented at a special awards ceremony during the 2005 Miami International Boat Show, being held February 17-21 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

This blog was posted by Sandy on October 20, 2004.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

Chicago B2B marketing communications firm, Sandstorm Design, is one of 4 gold sponsors for Northwestern University's industry leading journal for the Department of Integrated Marketing Communications.

The Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications documents and helps define the changing role of communications in today's evolving business environment. Published annually, this journal of best practices publishes thought-provoking articles from the leading minds in marketing practice and academia. The Journal is celebrating its ten year anniversary in 2000 and was formerly the Journal of Corporate Public Relations when the publication began in 1990.

"We're excited to be involved with the leading integrated marketing communications program in the nation," said Sandy Marsico, Sandstorm Design's Principal and Founder. "Our sponsorship reflects our commitment to continuing education and the advancement of marketing as an investment, not an expense."

The mission of the Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications is to provide a forum for communications industry professionals and academia to discuss the theory and application of integrated marketing communications (IMC).

Sandstorm Design offers strategic and integrated web, print and marketing communications. Services include brand strategy, print communications, and web design.

Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism The graduate program in integrated marketing communications combines the traditional areas of marketing communications with business skills in marketing, finance, statistics and organizational behavior to form a unique program on the cutting edge of marketing communications and customer relationship management.

This blog was posted by Sandy on November 1, 2004.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

Sandstorm Design wins first place in the Illinois Press Woman's Association Annual Report Awards for their work on the 2003 Annual Report for Cathedral Shelter of Chicago, "Heroes". 

The 2003 annual report theme promoted the multitude of "Heroes" from the Shelter. This 28-page annual report consisted of success stories, photography from volunteer events, financial statements, and lists of donors. Illustrating how, when and where the donations were being used played a major role in the success of the annual report.

"We want to thank you again for lending your considerable talent and passion to this project," said Marcy Darin from the Cathedral Shelter of Chicago.

Restoring hope and dignity has been at the heart of Cathedral Shelter's mission since the agency was founded in 1915. The Cathedral Shelter of Chicago offers counseling, education, job preparation, emergency services and provides the emotional and spiritual support to help individuals and families in recovery.

Sandstorm Design is a marketing design firm offering strategic B2B marketing communications. From print to web, Sandstorm helps companies identify, craft, and clearly communicate their marketing message. 

This blog was posted by Sandy on July 6, 2005.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

Sandstorm Design wins first place in the Illinois Woman's Press Association Annual Report Awards for their work on the 2004 Annual Report for Cathedral Shelter of Chicago, "Celebrating 90 Years" for the second year in a row, and is now entered into the National contest.

The 2004 annual report theme visually demonstrated how Cathedral Shelter of Chicago evolved over the past 90 years. This 28-page annual report consisted of a vintage cover photo of the founder, vintage photography from volunteer events, financial statements, and lists of donors. Illustrating how, when and where donations were being used integrated with past memories played a major role in the success of the annual report. 

“We want to thank you again for lending your considerable talent and passion to this project,” said Marcy Darin from the Cathedral Shelter of Chicago.

Restoring hope and dignity has been at the heart of Cathedral Shelter's mission since the agency was founded in 1915. The Cathedral Shelter of Chicago offers counseling, education, job preparation, emergency services and provides the emotional and spiritual support to help individuals and families in recovery. 

This blog was posted by Sandy on June 12, 2006.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

Marketing and usability experts at Sandstorm Design have recently moved to accommodate their growing team.

Committed to providing a creative and comfortable workspace, Sandy Marsico, principal of Sandstorm Design, knew the move was imminent during their rush last year. "I am so excited about our new space and growth as a company. This past year has been wonderful for us."

The new space is located at 4619 N. Ravenswood, Suite 300, just down the street from their previous office. The building is a recent renovation, and Sandstorm got involved at the forefront to ensure their desired space. 

The office is nearly twice the size of their previous facility, equipped with a larger conference room, a usability lab and a secluded office for the boss. "The space allows me to have the privacy that's occasionally required both professionally and personally," says principal, Sandy Marsico. Director of Usability and Research, Mark Jodlowski, anxiously anticipates the possibilities afforded with the usability lab. "We have been winning such a variety of work lately, it will be exciting to see how versatile we can be with the space."

Since the move, core employees Janna Fiester and Alma Meshes have returned from maternity leave and an on-site IA consulting gig, respectively. With their added presence and Sandstorm's latest hire, senior designer Lisa Janunas, it will be interesting to see how long the space will accommodate this growing company.

This blog was posted by Sandy on February 21, 2008.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

Sandy Marsico, Principal, Sandstorm Design was selected from hundreds and hundreds of submissions to be featured in the 2009 Woman's Advantage Calendar. The calendar will provide advice for women business owners from influential women leaders across the US and Canada.

Mary Cantando, Growth Expert of The Woman's Advantage, today announced that Sandy Marsico's advice will be included in the calendar which is to be released in September.

"Sandy Marsico's quote was selected because it was powerful yet easy to understand. Her idea is relevant to almost every woman in business today." says Cantando. "Women business owners and those who dream of starting a business will learn so much from the advice provided by Sandy Marsico and the other successful women quoted in the calendar."

The Woman's Advantage 2009 Calendar, will provide sound bites of advice on key business issues including: organization, promotion, sales, and human resources

About Mary Cantando:
Mary Cantando is a nationally-recognized expert on women business owners. She is the developer of the successful Woman's Advantage line of products, geared specifically to women entrepreneurs. As a member of the National Speakers' Association, Cantando provides keynotes and workshops for women who want to grow their businesses.

About The Woman's Advantage:
The Woman's Advantage is a line of information products, including books, workbooks, audio CDs, and calendars designed exclusively for successful women business owners. For more information, call 919-841-0401 or visit http://www.womansadvantage.biz .

This blog was posted by Sandy on September 1, 2008.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

JamesHardieColorPlus.com, a site Sandstorm Design was fully responsible building through their user-centered design methodology, is today's webpick on CommArts.com. Sandstorm Design conducted user research, usability testing, designed, wrote, and developed the site. Innovative interactive applications including the Find your Shade Quiz, Product Comparison Tool, and Sample Color Swatches contributed to the editor's webpick.

"We are so proud to be recognized by Communication Arts Magazine for our user-centered web site work," said Sandy Marsico, Principal of Sandstorm Design, "We built the site from the user's perspective and learned directly from homeowners what types of assistance they were looking for to make the best siding decision for their home."

James Hardie Building Products come from a world leader in fiber-cement technology. James Hardie invests heavily in research and development, with a special emphasis on product quality and production efficiency to develop durable and low maintenance siding products, backerboard and pipe. 
 

This blog was posted by Sandy on March 4, 2009.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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