No Escape: The Not-So-Sinister World of Graphic Design

19 08 2011

You're surrounded by graphic design intended to add to your life experienceYou’re surrounded. It’s out to get you. It’s closing in on you from every side. There’s just no escaping…

Graphic Design!

Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ references aside, graphic design is the kind of art form that’s literally everywhere. You ARE surrounded, just not by soul-sucking zombies. Instead, everywhere you turn are the brainchildren of creative minds that have a message to impart. And that message is intended to ADD value to your life.

When you think about it, graphic design wraps the world you live in in a dazzling array of visual ingenuity. The genius of it all is its ability to influence decisions, inspire actions and sway opinions in as quick as a fraction-of-a-second glance.

The occasional political propaganda notwithstanding, design’s intent is hardly sinister. It’s simply the visual counterpart, when done expertly, of a really compelling speech. What you do with the message is up to you.

People often associate graphic design with the bold and brazen shout of billboards and glossy ad slicks. But the truly fascinating thing about it is that it doesn’t have to be loud to be effective. Some of the world’s best graphic design “speaks softly, but carries a big stick”.

Take a look around you right now. You might see some obvious design in action – corporate calendars, website banner ads and newspaper advertisements. But I challenge you to look deeper. Have you ever paid attention to the design on your candy wrapper? Or the logo on your computer? What about the screen layout on your cell phone or the label on your nearest fire extinguisher? And have you ever given a second thought to the sticker on your vitamin bottle? The cover of your favorite book? The text emblazoned on the pen you’re holding in your hand?

Every single one of these was designed with purpose. The design has a function or functions to serve, and the designer gave those functions a visual “voice”. As you can imagine, this is not an easy task, and that’s why we graphic designers take such pride in a successful design launch.

DMT Challenge of the Week
Wherever you are as you’re reading this blog post, stop and look around you. Tally up the number of times you see graphic design in action. If you find less than 50, look again. Everything from product logos, to product labels, to planner pages, to the print on your keyboard keys, to the store signs, street signs and automotive insignias you can see out your window are graphic design. If you find 100 or more, NOW you’re thinking like a graphic designer!

Your visual language expert in the graphic design field:

Dawn M Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

All content on this site is Copyright © DMT Artistry LLC. All rights reserved.





Choking on Butterflies: The pretty v. practical compromise

4 08 2011

Choking on butterfliesI saw someone choke on a butterfly once – my husband, in fact, though we were dating at the time. It was on a mountain biking expedition that this kamikaze Lone Ranger of the insect world fluttered headlong into my husband’s unsuspecting mouth. It wasn’t pretty… for either him or the butterfly, but it sure made for a memorable date!

Businesses choke on butterflies daily. Only their butterflies aren’t winged insects. They’re the fluff and glitter and show that bedazzle their customers into a purchase. They’re the colors, and sounds and snippets of wittiness that draw attention to what you do or sell.

As humans, we’re all susceptible to the influence of beauty, whether that beauty be a gorgeously arranged display, a stunning store model, a picturesque shop location or a brilliantly designed ad. And, visual beings that we are, this facet of marketing is critical.

Where problems arise is when a business focuses too much on its “butterflies”, and not enough on its content. No matter how flashy your marketing may be or how exquisitely your store may be laid out, if there’s no substance to your offers or no real purpose behind its presentation, there’s nothing to keep your customers coming back. And at that point, you’d better be prepared with the Heimlich maneuver, because your business will be choking on butterflies.

DMT Challenge of the Week
Take a look at the layout of your store and your marketing materials and techniques. How much of it is pure show, and how much has a practical foundation for the betterment of your business? How much actually gets across your company mission?

Be ruthless. Cut the fluff. And remember, more customers isn’t necessarily better. Your time and your resources should be dedicated to the visuals and activities that bring you the RIGHT KIND of customers for repeat business.

DMT Artistry gets to the heart of your message, so that your marketing is both visually stimulating and purposeful. Call us to learn more!

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com





Fo’ Shizzle My Nizzle: The marketing language gap

28 07 2011

Ah. The Great Cultural Divide. And I’m not necessarily talking about geographical culture either.

Did you know that every business on the planet – whether it’s 1 person or 1,000 – has it’s own culture? It’s true!

A business culture forms from a way of speaking, a set of ideals, a way of doing things…

And where culture forms, language is hot on its heels. Your business’ language consists of shared lingo, attitudes, processes, interests, missions, experiences and more. It’s a way of communicating that is unique to your company and to your industry.

And when your customers speak that same language, the results are… magical.

Unfortunately, many business owners lose sight of a maxim that’s as true to marketing a business as to personal self growth: “This above all: To thine own self be true.” They warp their cultural language to conform to some ideal market they want to target.

Guess what. Capital N – O… NO!!

It’s not the market that defines the culture, but your culture that should define your target market.

Think of it this way – a Porsche dealer would hardly use mommy talk to promote it’s 911 GT2 sports car. And you sure as shootin’ wouldn’t hear street slang used to market a Ford Aerostar minivan. Each of these cars has its own micro-culture, and to market them any differently would be a disservice to all involved.

When you try to be something you’re not, be prepared to be called out.

Please don’t misunderstand me. There is an element of genius in being able to adapt your communications to make different customers feel welcome, special and comfortable. But the point is this: Hold true to the core culture that makes your business the unique success that it is.

This Week’s DMT Challenge

PART I: Take a look at the website home pages of some of the corporate giants – Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, NASCAR, McDonald’s, choose-your-own. Look at the colors, the images, the content and the layout. These are companies that have spent bookoo bucks and quality time defining the culture of their company. Do you think their websites succeed in getting the right message across?

PART II: See if you can define some cultural features of your own company or the company you work for. What’s your company mission? How does your staff interact with customers? How do they interact with each other? What’s the dress code? What are the most popular topics of conversation?

PART III: Now take a look at your own website – or any other marketing materials. Again, look at the colors, the images, the content and the layout. Do they communicate what you’ve defined above?

Incidentally, for those who are curious, “fo’ shizzle my nizzle” means something along the lines of “Most definitely, my African American brother.”

Is DMT Artistry the “bees knees”? Fo’ shizzle my nizzle. Let us prove it to you.

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com





How to Ask People to Talk You Up… Testimonial Style!

8 06 2010

TestimonialsEvery business has customers who love them. They love the service. They love the product. They love the experience. They love the staff. Whatever it is that floats their boats, you can capitalize on it by asking them to “share the love” with others.

First and foremost, there is NOTHING WRONG with asking customers for testimonials. Let’s banish the misconception that this is a selfish or mercenary act right now. Testimonials are a POWERFUL source of marketing, and marketing is all about keeping your business alive, so that the people who love it – and the ones who love it, but just don’t know it yet – can enjoy your product/service/staff for years to come.

When you ask for a testimonial, there are three ways to approach it:

1) True/false, multiple choice, rate this, or one word answers. These are hardly helpful in generating warm fuzzies, but can offer statistical proof that people think your business rocks.

2) Free for all. Ask your customers to write something nice about your business. Just don’t be surprised when you get back everything from commentary on the day a bird got stuck in your store, to single sentence factorial statements, to epic novelettes. This can occasionally be helpful… once you sift through the deserts of irrelevant material.

3) Guided questionnaires. You will love these! Say, for example, that you want to know what your customers think about your customer service. Ask an open-ended question:

“What has been your experience with our customer service?”
“How does our customer service compare with other [insert your industry here] businesses you have used in the past?”

Some of the answers may surprise you, and some may even prove helpful. But ultimately, when you want to market your phenomenal customer service, you’ve got a plethora of customer-service-relevant content from which to cherry-pick your testimonials.

Also consider:

“What is your favorite part of shopping here and why?”
“What words would you use to describe us to your friends and family?”
“Would you recommend us to others and why?”

Give your customers a direction and the resulting testimonials will be magical!

NOTE: You will want to be considerate of your customer’s privacy. Ask permission before using their names and, yes, it’s worth the effort! Who’s to say you didn’t write the testimonial yourself? But if Alan of Howell, MI says “This is the coolest group of widget-makers on the planet”, now it’s personal!

So, if I may ask YOU for a mini-testimonial, what has been your favorite DMT Idea Board blog and why?

I include testimonials in my clients’ marketing as often as possible. Because. They. Work! Wondering how to integrate customer kudos into your own marketing plan? Please contact me!

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry, LLC  |  (810) 923-4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com





Why Can’t We be Friends? 5 Tips to Reduce Your Spam Complaints

2 06 2010

You’ve worked hard to collect those email addresses for your monthly or weekly e-Newsletter, and now one of your recipients – a client, in fact – has just reported you as “Spam”. What gives?!

Those abuse complaints can hurt, but if you catch a person with the wrong content on the wrong day, sometimes it . just . happens. And it has nothing to do with whether or not they like you.

HOWEVER, there are ways to improve the odds that your e-mail Newsletters will be well-received. Here are 5 of my top techniques to help my clients max out their open and click-through rates:

1) Stick With Who You Know. A list of 100 loyal clients who specifically signed up to receive your e-Newsletter will consistently outperform a purchased (which, by the way, doesn’t jive with today’s internet marketing regulations) list of 1,000 random strangers who have no reason to trust or even need your business.

DMT clients build a super-glue-strong email following the good, ol’ organic way – by getting permission!

2) Keep the Subject Line Real. Contrary to popular belief, witty email subject lines drop open rates like deadweight. If it’s not immediately obvious what your e-Newsletter is all about – “Acme Co. February Newsletter”, “Acme Co. Summer Blow Out Sale” – then it’s suspect. And we all know where “suspect emails” end up, don’t we? The graveyard of the email world a.k.a. the Spam Folder.

DMT e-Newsletter subject lines blend simplicity, honesty and stating-the-obvious to keep those open rates up!

3) Include YOU. In an earlier post, I talked about the importance of putting a face to your marketing. Add some humanness to your e-Newsletter with images of – and stories about – you and your staff.

DMT includes clients, staff and their photos in every e-Newsletter send.

4) Variety is the Spice of Life. Newsletters, by their very nature, contain a little bit of something for everyone. If one topic doesn’t interest a reader, another one will. That’s how you keep ’em coming back for more!

DMT incorporates feature stories, fun trivia, staff spotlights and more to appeal to a broad audience.

5) When You Think It’s Short Enough, Keep Going. Online attention spans range from short to shorter, so your content should follow suit. A three page dissertation on the qualities of your product is more appropriate for a pamphlet than an e-Newsletter.

DMT e-Newsletter articles feed relevant, useful and cool information in byte-sized pieces.

Don’t wait until your favorite client banishes your e-newsletter to the Spam Folder. Makeover your e-Newsletters with your readers in mind, and watch those open rates climb and spam complaints plummet!

DMT Artistry, LLC has been consistently, successfully and significantly exceeding industry average open and click-through rates for all of our e-Newsletter clients. Want to raise the bar on your own email marketing? Contact me any time:

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry, LLC  |  (810) 923-4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com





Professional Farrier Services… Expect Excellence

28 05 2010

If you ever get the urge to see art and science partnered in perfect harmony, watch farrier Charles Lanning in action. He is a master of precision and symmetry. He has to be. Horses’ soundness depends upon it.

And this is not a responsibility that Charles’ takes lightly. His knowledge of trimming and shoeing hooves is remarkable, and his craftsmanship even more so. He specializes in custom corrective shoeing, and is generous with his remarkable store of experience-based wisdom.

Charles launched Professional Farrier Services with the goal of providing  excellence in “Education, Craftsmanship & Integrity”.

The Challenge: With Professional Farrier Services gaining rapidly in popularity, Charles was in need of a logo – pronto. That logo had to reflect his dedication to precision and symmetry, while maintaining an easily recognizable appearance. It also needed to be easily scalable for a wide variety of potential uses, including embroidery, letterhead and business cards.

The DMT Solution: I designed the graphical logo below to reflect the precise symmetry of Charles’ work, plus the critical component of equal weight distribution necessary for a sound horse. I kept the design “readable” with an instantly recognizable hoof and horseshoe (pointed up for “good luck”). The simplicity of the design is what makes it multi-purpose.

Professional Farrier Services logo design





The Psychology of “NO”

18 05 2010

Have you ever played this fun, little mental game with people?…

“What’s the opposite of least?” — Most.
“Casper the Friendly…” —
Ghost.
“If you’re not the guest, you’re the…” —
Host.
“What’s the part of the fence that goes in the ground? —
Post.
“Another word for shore.” —
Coast.
“What do you put in a toaster?” —
Toast… er, oh shoot, I mean Bread!

If you ask the questions fast enough, guess what? You’ve just built a pattern and, whether we recognize it or not, we humans LOVE patterns and will see them through to the end. It’s human psychology 101!

People LOVE patterns!So if people intuitively follow a pattern, what happens when that pattern is “NO”?

Think about the advertising you’ve seen on television: “NO long waits! NO shipping fees! NO hidden costs! NO re-routed customer service calls through Siberia! So don’t you want to buy this widget?!”

Um, no thanks.

The listed benefits are good ones. How wonderful that you can relax in the comfort of your home while your widget is delivered to you free of charge, and your questions will be answered by John at the help desk instead of “not-so-good-English-me-speaky” Bjork in Siberia. Great.

But the “NO” pattern was ingrained in us from the start, and the most natural thing in the world is to keep that pattern going… even into our subsequent decision.

Take a look at your own marketing. How often do you use negatives, such as “never”, “not”, “no”, “won’t”? You may be using them with the best of intentions – “never late”, “not a problem”, “no more worries”, “won’t disappoint” – but your customers are hearing a pattern that might unintentionally give them other ideas.

Use your negatives with extreme caution.

Better yet, flip it upside down, so that you’re “always on time”, “can handle any problem”, “make their lives worry-free”, and “will impress the socks off of them each and every time.”

Create a pattern of “YES”s, then let human psychology do its thing!

Have any examples of negative or positive marketing of your own? Go ahead! Advertise!

Want to appeal to a broader audience? Want to create a positive vibe around your business? Want to morph your marketing into something spectacular? Then how about giving me a call? I’d love to work with you on creating a psychology-friendly campaign!

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry, LLC  |  810.923.4582  | dawn@dmtartistry.com