James Wynne is Director of User Experience for Sandstorm and has been in digital product development since 1996. He has worked as a UX designer for a myriad of clients including large eCommerce brands, mobile device manufacturers and integrated marketing agencies.
We just recommitted to writing our employee manual (thanks Janna!). It's been 10 years since we've been in business, and we have started on this project multiple times. But as we're back in growth mode and on the rise for a few more hires this summer and fall, we've decided that we're going to actually complete it this time. Ok, Janna decided it is really way overdue and we need to get this done.
Our approach? An employee-centric model of course! Our plan is to have Mike get the rough draft done, then let the rest of the staff read, edit and add so that the employee manual is truly ours, not another boring corporate book. Wish us luck!
As a growing marketing firm, it feels like we're always adding new services, new staff, new processes, new clients and new creative ideas on how we can integrate marketing across all media. Social media marketing is no different. A company really needs to have a strategic plan, a well positioned message, and an appropriate voice and tone before they start chasing their customers and prospects to become their friend, fan or follower. Social media can really help define a company's personality unlike any type of media we've had in the past - so use it wisely my friend, fan and follower...
This weekend is the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago. Volunteers walk along the lakefront 26.2 miles on Saturday, and 13.1 miles on Sunday. Part of our efforts to give back to the community include our sponsorship of local events (like this weekend). In addition, we're always in the midst of an annual report design for one of our favorite local non profits. :) I am really proud of the difference we have made over the years - humbled and proud.
A non profit client of ours recently asked for a list of internet marketing tactics to consider while building her online marketing strategy. Here's where our user experience design firm started with our list:
- SEO (organic search engine optimization) and linking campaigns
- PPC (pay per click)
- Affiliate marketing (think amazon.com’s books)
- HTML Emails and Auto-responders
- Conversion Concepts (getting people to do what you want them to do on your site)
- Web Analytics and Testing
- Online Video
- Blogs and Social Media (facebook, twitter)
- Banner ads
- Article writing
Does anyone else have more to add?
Sandstorm Design officially has over 1,000 followers on Twitter now! From wishing one of our employees a happy birthday (go Alma!), sharing the latest words we've added on Marketing Addictionary and random social networking tips, people are following Sandstorm and getting to know who our web design company is from the inside out. Now I owe Holly Potbelly - her social media goal has been achieved with 1,000 followers :)
I got a text today that read "Your VISA account is closed due to unusual activity, call us at 1-(888) 568-2788." After doing a quick search online I came across 800notes.com that shows a string of other people like me who have gotten these texts but with a different 800 number.
It's fraud, but it made me second guess that maybe we did have an issue with our company credit card. I have mixed feelings about mobile marketing as I don't like having to pay for someone's ad to me, but this is even worse - paying for spam and fraud. Ug.
Sandstorm Design is pleased to announce the launch of MissionGetHired.com, a new CareerBuilder.com site that helps U.S. Veterans find jobs. Sandstorm Design proudly developed the new brand name, information architecture, experiential design and messaging for the site, adapting the CareerBuilder.com brand to cater to U.S. Veterans. "We wanted to create an online experience that spoke directly to Veterans," creative director, Janna Fiester, said regarding the brand strategy.
The site launched in April of 2009 and instantly received recognition. Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, mentioned the site on CNN's Road to the Rescue segment – the only feature thus far with a positive spin on unemployment. Veteran employment is currently at 8.1%, compared to the 8.8% overall United States unemployment rate.
I had a creative block for today's blog entry, but I really wanted to write. Alma popped into my office, so I asked her for some ideas (this is a very common scenario here at Sandstorm... I have an idea, or at a loss for one, and the staff member in the closest proximity to me gets "chosen" to help brainstorm the solution). She jumped right in and rattled off like 5 ideas, and the one that struck me the most was her perspective about how unique we are in how we openly share ideas here - and that anyone can add insight and make a contribution. Some may say this is an inefficient use of time... these random unplanned idea-dreaming water-cooler conversations, or is it really one of the perks about working for a boutique?
Last night we had our 3rd class in our 8 month program where we had a pretty interactive discussion about the five stages of business growth. We broke out into teams that were in the same growth mode, and shared personal stories on how we each got there. My favorite part of this SBA e200 group so far is hearing the personal stories of each CEO - how they got started, what factors motivated them, and what risks they took to get here.
Each CEO has their own story of courage, recognized opportunity and personal growth. I bet this group would make a great twitter novel... (hmm, note to self). But I wonder how much time that novel would take away from me working on building our web design company.
Sandstorm Design has been selected by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to participate in their Emerging 200 (E200) initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to provide 200 nationwide businesses with the network and resources to build a sustainable business and create more jobs. Candidates for the program are emerging small businesses that have a high potential for growth, are headquartered in an inner city and are at least 3 years old.
CEOs from the 200 selected emerging small businesses take part in an 8-month intensive curriculum focused on developing an expansion strategy, and participate in a graduation ceremony upon completion. "The SBA Chicago group is like having our own Board of Directors. Each CEO is bringing a wealth of information to the table, along with experience doing business in a variety of private industries and public sectors. It's an amazing learning and growing experience." principal, Sandy Marsico said regarding her involvement.
Fourteen cities across the country were selected to participate in the initiative (out of 55 eligible cities), including: Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans, Memphis, Portland, Albuquerque, Jacksonville, and Des Moines.
Why small businesses? According to SBA’s Office of Advocacy, small businesses are the greatest source of new employment in inner cities and account for 80 percent of total employment. The SBA hopes to expand the E200 program in the future to more cities and businesses.