Tom, President, uses his keen strategic eye to help clients create groundbreaking creative campaigns. And he's been a thought leader appearing on Bloomberg, WGN, NBC, CMO.com, and Wall Street Journal.
At Sandstorm Design, we live and work by the “Yes, and” marketing strategy. It is one of our core values and reflective in absolutely everything we do. So what is the “Yes, and” marketing strategy? For us, “Yes, and” is a way of thinking. It is being open to new ideas, thinking outside of the box, and drawing outside the lines. It is doing what is asked for, or expected, and then coming up with something new and interesting to also think about. It is always striving to be better, and innovative, and three steps ahead of what’s next.
If you’ve worked with us before, the “Yes, and” marketing strategy is very evident in our creative work. Usually, we will give you one concept that’s exactly what you want (we hope), and another that gives you a new idea to consider. The goal is that, regardless of which concept you go with, we challenge you and show you something unexpected.
And, until now, we sort of thought that we coined the “Yes, and” marketing strategy phrase. Recently, I came across this article that proved otherwise. It also outlined how special “Yes, and” truly is (we invent airplanes ☺), and how the counterpart “Yes, but” also plays into the mix.
The idea of Google advertising on TV is a little weird to me. They’re a search engine, and the leader in their industry...what do they need to advertise for? But when I saw the first commercial in their “Search Stories” campaign, I was very impressed. They took something as quick and trivial as a 20-second search, and demonstrated the monumental impact that it has on a person’s life.
Before learning search engine optimization and working at an interactive marketing agency, I never really understood the importance of search engines. But in today’s world, Google is the first place that most people turn for literally every decision they make. If you have a question, odds are that Google can answer it.
And that is a really important thing. Because in doing so, Google, a search engine that is mathematically pulling data based on relevance, obtains a persona and a voice. It’s your trusted advice-giver, resource, and industry-expert for everything life throws your way. And it knows me so well! Today, I found this fun little tool that lets you create your own Google Search Story. I built a quick one about a user’s first experience with Sandstorm Design. Check it out, and please share your stories with us too!
Zak recently emailed me an article about why bronze medalists are happier than those who win silver, with a small note that read "reminded me of you". I didn't even have to read the article to know what he meant. I hate the B+, the second place, the silver, the most defeating words from a potential client, "We really struggled with this decision, the two companies we narrowed down to were so great..." you know the rest. You get the B+, the 89%, the race through your head if there was anything else you could have done, had a stronger pitch, shown more expertise, presented a more cohesive plan, a better demo, etc.
For years we have been working on going for the gold, striving to make that emotional connection, and helping our clients do the same. Strategic marketing and strong branding can't necessarily help silver medalists, but it can help companies who are tired of hearing from their sales team that a competitor just won their business, again. With strong positioning, a consistent brand, and a strategic message, marketing can bring a brand to life, clearly demonstrate added value, and in the end, be that one "gut" feeling that makes your company win the gold (over and over again). Ready to start training for that gold medal?
The Web Marketing Association has honored us with the 2009 WebAward For Outstanding Achievement in Web Development and Design for National Association of Realtors' Green REsource Council website. The Green REsource Council was founded to make the knowledge of green real estate practices available to everyone and is the only environmental real estate designation addressing multiple specialties for agents and property managers.
We are very proud to be recognized for our green design work, and continue to strive to build intuitive online user experiences.
Today Lisa and I attended the Women's Business Development Center's Annual Conference at the Navy Pier. There was a lot of buzz in the room, the attendees were really friendly, and the exhibitors were exceptionally helpful and unbelievably willing to introduce us to marketing and interactive directors, as well as pass along contact info. Wow. It was a really terrific conference and networking event, and we both left quite exhausted. The big question is if the leads will turn into sales...
I learned something about Microsoft today. They spent over $1 Billion on WBE/MBE businesses and worked with 1200 WBE/MBE businesses in the past year. $1 Billion... Impressive. We'd be happy with .1% of that :)
If you want to build organic SEO traffic, the traffic you don't need to pay for each time someone clicks on your link, then you need to build marketing content everywhere. I'm talking on your web site, adding press releases, adding articles, writing regularly on your blog. And you need to build content elsewhere on the web by submitting your press releases, writing marketing articles, and commenting on blogs. And here's the real deal - it has to be unique content. You won't get the same results copying and pasting the same content everywhere.
When it comes to investing, it is often recommended to “ride out the market” to achieve the most rewarding results. History has shown that patient investors are often the most profitable, not to mention the least stressed out.
Now think of SEO as an investment…for your business. But unlike mutual funds and other financial investments, an SEO marketing investment will require a significant amount of work - not just time. (the work can be done by yourself, your staff or an SEO marketing consultant). But before you get started on all that content, you need an SEO marketing strategy.
Your SEO marketing strategy will help you define:
- who you want to attract
- what web site goals you want to achieve
- which keyword phrases you need to work for
- which keyword phrases are easy wins
- how competitive your SEO landscape is
- what tactics you will need to achieve your results
- which baseline web analytics are important
- what kind of maintenance and support you'll need to retain your rankings
After your strategy has been refined, you are ready to work on marketing and refining your web site. Then you'll most likely find out that a few of the keyword phrases you felt were exactly the right fit, are actually driving traffic, but the wrong kind. It's funny how marketing works. Sometimes you have to be careful what you ask for.
Oh, PowerPoint presentations can be so painful. And just for the record, they can be just as painful if not more so for us designers as well. We want to build a brand experience, convey a message, and shout to the audience that we are not boring!
So I heard a presentation about how people learn: kinesthetic learning, auditory learning and visual learning. (I am a kinesthetic and visual learner - go figure). While in the presentation, it dawned on me that powerpoint fails for most of us because it relies so heavily on an auditory learning style, and some ridiculous low percentage of people are auditory learners.
Ok. I admit it. I am stalling today. I have three proposals to write and I am blogging instead. I tell myself that blogging is marketing and it's part of our social media and SEO strategy so it's just as important, but I know in my gut that I should be writing those proposals. I should be grateful that I have proposals to write (and they are really cool ones from facebook application ideas to some web site interfaces utilizing our user-centered methodology) but I am struggling to actually write them. So how does one find inspiration in writing proposals? I already ate my bag of skittles.
How much effort goes into a brand name? Sometimes millions of dollars and hours of user research and analysis. Sometimes it's a random employee who comes up with the idea through a contest (think Accenture - accent on the future). We do a lot of naming for our clients whether it be for a new initiative, a new product, a renaming of a company, an internal program, and there really is no one way to go about it. From a brainstorm to all the legal intellectual property searches, I wonder how many hours really went into some of the most well known names out there?
Many people ask me where Sandstorm came from. I should come up with a highly conceptual meaning, but that's not how it happened. Sandstorm was a nickname of mine from college so I went with it because it was fun yet strong, spontaneous and energetic. Plus my maiden name was very difficult to pronounce, spell and remember. When I started the company in 1998 I had no idea that someday I would have an incredible agency filled with Sandstormers. Still wows me today.