KSFY & Washington Pavilion Media Camp

By: Carol Oren

Last week I was honored to be a part of the first ever Washington Pavilion/KSFY Media ksfyCamp. The idea was the brainchild of General Manager Jim Berman. When I was approached to be the client the kids would pitch the sponsorship to, I enthusiastically said, “YES!”

The camp was free of charge and open to high school students. Applicants were to submit a 3 minute video and were hand-selected by KSFY staff. These young adults learned all aspects of a television station from writing, reporting, weather, and even sales. That’s where I came in. They sat down with my Account Executive, Leah Jones to learn more about the agency and the client they were going to pitch the sponsorship to, PizzaRev, a real ADwërks client.

washingtonpavillionI was ushered in to the board room on the 4th floor of the Washington Pavilion to hear the presentations by 3 separate teams. What I expected to get out of the experience and what I actually got was nothing in comparison. These kids were polished, professional and had statistical information regarding news viewers, social media followers and what they were going to bring to the table for PizzaRev.

The first group was a little nervous and mostly read from their scripts, but the second and third groups blew me away! One young lady really stood out. She walked in the room, dressed in a business suit, walked over to me and shook my hand. She then led the group by introducing herself and her team. This young lady wowed me with the social media stats of all the campers, and she explained what that could mean to the viewership level of the two newscasts. She then handed the pitch over to the rest of the team – what the client would get, how much it would cost, etc. These kids put their everything into selling the sponsorship to PizzaRev so their newscast would air on Friday.

We had time after the presentations for a question and answer session and I also offered up some advice and tips on selling to a client. When all was said and done, the group came in at a higher priced sponsorship than I expected, but paying it was well worth seeing the huge grins on their faces when I accepted the sponsorship.

If you missed Friday’s newscast, you missed a glimpse at our future anchors. These youngsters hit it out of the park! They were dressed professionally, smiled and were well-polished on camera. Way to go Washington Pavilion and KSFY! I hope you make this an annual event for kids to learn more about the world of journalism.

The Passing of a Legend

By Jim Mathis

You’ve probably never heard of Tony Mikes, but he has made a tremendous impact on my life, helping to shape my career and my business. It’s a bit of a strange path from his home in Eastern Pennsylvania to my small agency in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but I’m a better person for taking it. Tony Mikes passed away on Thursday, June 25, 2015. I’m proud to call him a friend and he will be missed.

In 1988 Tony started a company called Second Wind. Second Wind is a network of smaller to mid-sized advertising agencies, design firms and marketing shops all over the country. What Tony did was give the owners and managers of these businesses a place to come together, learn from each other, share successes and failures. For more than 25 years, Tony sat at the helm of Second Wind, helping agency leadership find their way through this tumultuous business. Craig Lawrence and Paul Schiller (the founders of Lawrence & Schiller) were early members of the network and the agency still belongs today.

secondwind

Prior to starting Second Wind, Tony had a successful career as an advertising agency owner himself. He had already experienced many of the growing pains and tough decisions that the network members were experiencing. He was there to help guide and grow; the perfect mentor for small agency owners like me.

I met Tony over 20 years ago. I was a media director for Lawrence & Schiller. The agencytonymikes had planned a manager’s retreat in the Twin Cities and Tony was brought in to facilitate. At the time, I was a disgruntled employee; not happy with some of the direction I saw the company going and was seriously considering quitting. At the end of the meeting I was feeling better, but I still had reservations. Then I had the opportunity to drive Tony to the airport (which was more coincidental than intentional, I was picking up Kara so we could spend the weekend in Minneapolis), but the 45 minutes I got to spend one-on-one with Tony were invaluable. He was able to see my concerns and walk me through them. In that short ride he talked me off the ledge.

Years later when I started ADwërks, I decided to join Second Wind as soon as I could afford it. Since then I’ve made many dear friends in the Second Wind network. I’ve learned things that have helped make me successful and avoid many pitfalls that could have been quite costly. In mid-July I’ll be traveling back to Wyomissing, Pennsylvania to spend a few days with other small agency owners at the Second Wind headquarters. I will miss Tony, but I am grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned from him and the others in the Second Wind family.

Breaking Out Of The iTunes Prison

What started out as a revolutionary way to consume music, has today turned into a formidable, tyrannical beast that feeds on cash and freedom and keeps its minions on a leash. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but that’s how I feel about iTunesFix-iTunes-Error-0xE8000065

It’s not just the nonstop software updates, nor the constant inexplicable errors that I
experience; it’s the fact that you don’t really own the music that you buy.

With iTunes, you’re only buying a nontransferable license that gives you the right to listen to music, and this is subject to “Usage Rules” that Apple can change whenever they want, giving them all of the power over your content. If they wanted to, they could just take back your music for any reason without an explanation or a refund. And when you kick the bucket, don’t even think putting your iTunes collection in your will; it’s not allowed. Maybe that’s not a big deal to some people, but for me, it’s the principle – we’re buying music that we don’t really own in the end, giving us a false sense of ownership, and that’s unfair to consumers.

And let’s not forget the control-freak nature of Apple. If you haven’t noticed, your iTunes music is in mp4 format, as opposed to the standard mp3 (which you can do anything you want with it). An mp4 is a restricted audio format that makes it difficult to copy and/or move around the files on your computer, and it can only be played through a limited number of devices and software. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand the idea of not having complete control over my music.

If you encounter any problems or errors using iTunes, good luck getting assistance. If you want to talk to a customer service rep, you’ll have to pay for it. Otherwise you’ll have to rely on combing through message boards and YouTube tutorial videos to find an answer, which, I never find.

I believe that with iTunes, we have traded our ownership rights and freedoms for convenience (it’s ridiculously easy to buy iTunes music), but I don’t think it’s a fair trade. That’s how I came to realize that buying music directly through the artist or the record label can be much more beneficial to both parties, especially if it’s an independent label.

avatars-000001287388-79bcvf-cropOne of my favorite record labels is Polyvinyl Records, for so many reasons. First of all, my all-time favorite band is on this label. But also, when you buy an album, whether it’s a CD, vinyl record, cassette, or digital copy, you get an instant download link that you can access as many times as you want, from any device you want, as opposed to iTunes’s one-time-download policy and five-device limit.

Polyvinyl, like most other independent labels, is a small business, and because of that, you get to experience all kinds of perks by shopping with them and being a devoted customer. They have weekly giveaways on social media, from posters and albums signed by their artists, to concert tickets, to anything else from their store. Also, they regularly have sales and bundles that you can take advantage of. (When was the last time you’ve seen an iTunes sale?) On a couple occasions I bought 5 CDs for $25. The same purchase would have cost me at LEAST $50 through iTunes, and I would’ve only been “leasing” the digital copies, rather than owning the digital AND physical copies that feature breathtaking album art worth putting on your shelf.

And when it comes to customer service, you have access to real people who are helpful and appreciate your business.

But I think the most powerful thing that has drawn me to shopping with record labels is the fact that you establish a direct connection and relationship with the label and the artists. You can be confident that buying your favorite artists’ music supports them, and only them. And their interests lie in the pursuit of their art, rather than strictly in commerce.

So the next time you want to buy a song or album, before clicking the “buy” button, first consider, is it really worth it?

– Andrew

A Contact is a Terrible Thing to Waste

A few weeks ago I ordered a gift for Mother’s Day, one of the fruit bouquets you see fruit_bouquetadvertised just about everywhere. I placed my order a week in advance, arranged for delivery and thought I was done. But what I had inadvertently done was sign myself up for a barrage of attacks on my inbox. You see, when I placed my order I innocently clicked the box saying it was OK to send me special offers. What I didn’t know was they would email me twice a day, every day through Mother’s Day, reminding me it was not too late to make the purchase that I had already made.

I thought that was it, with the holiday over they would leave me alone. Oh no, Monday morning they hit me again to tell me it would be a great graduation gift. I thought maybe they would let me update my preferences to let them know I only need an email once a month or even once a week. Nope, my choice was all or nothing. I voted for nothing.

About that same time, I made another online purchase and once again the emails started coming. Today I got two from that retailer before 8:00 AM. Update preferences? Yes, I think I will. But they didn’t give me the chance to get fewer emails. No, they only gave me the chance to sign up for more emails from other companies. Unsubscribe to all was my choice.

In both case they had a chance to keep in contact with a happy customer but they abused that opportunity. In both cases they spent money on advertising in both traditional and online media to attract me as a customer. In both cases I was very happy with the product, but right now I don’t want to do business with either. They had a chance to keep in touch with a valuable contact but they squandered it, now they have nothing.  If you’ve had similar abusive email relationships with companies, please don’t email to tell me your story, my in-box is already full.

– Jim

When a Favorite Product Goes Away

Does everyone remember the Seinfeld episode when Elaine discovers that her favorite form of birth control, the Today sponge, was off the market? She spends the first part of the show finding and hoarding the sponges from every available source. She fills a closet with her beloved sponges. But she goes beyond just gathering the remaining sponges, she rations them too. At the end of the show she queries whether or not a boyfriend is “sponge-worthy.”

Well, that scenario is happening to me. Years ago I fell in love with the Listerine jj-1894_1zPocketPaks Breath Strips in Fresh Citrus flavor. Then, the company that made them changed hands and through some terrible twist of fate, the Fresh Citrus flavor was discontinued. The horror!

I consider the Listerine PocketPaks Breath Strips to be one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century, right behind the automobile and the internet. I’m not alone; Esquire magazine has praised them as a modern marvel.

Like Elaine, I began hoarding. I ordered dozens of packages from every source I could find. I had stashes at home and stashes at the office. I kept looking for new sources and hidden caches to be uncovered. Alas, I’m down to my last couple of packs. I’ve ordered a few more off Ebay, paying well above retail price, but I know the end is coming soon and I will not be able to get them ever again.

I’ve started experimenting with other flavors. The Cool Mint is OK, and I can live with the Fresh Burst, but the Arctic Berry and Cool Heat are non-starters for me. But none of the new flavors come close to my favorite Fresh Citrus.

Yes, I’ve started to wonder whether the person I’m talking to is worthy of a coveted Fresh Citrus Listerine Breath Strip, or should I just confront them with bad breath. If anyone knows where a guy can score a few Fresh Citrus PocketPaks, please hook me up before I have to determine whether or not you are breath strip worthy.

– Jim

ADwërks Helps Engineering Firm Rebrand Itself

Over the past year ADwërks has worked with its client DGR Engineering to help redefine and modernize its brand.

The firm has been around for more than 60 years, and as their business grew, their number of clients, employees and locations grew as well (branches in Rock Rapids, IA, Sioux City, IA and Sioux Falls, SD). And you don’t grow as large and successful as they have without running into a few snags along the way. So they turned to ADwërks for help.

DeWild, Grant… Who?

The new logo and name, brought to you by ADwërks.

The new logo and name, brought to you by ADwërks.

Part of the rebranding process involved revisiting their company name. Since 1952 they had been known as DeWild, Grant, Reckert and Associates, named after the original founding partners. The problem was that today it’s an employee-owned firm, and the founders’ connection and relevance to the company has ceased, making it hard for clients and employees to relate to. Not to mention the name was a bit of a mouthful and a little confusing, spawning many different variations, from DeWild, Grant and Reckert to DGR Consulting Engineers.

So we suggested they officially change their name to DGR Engineering – concise, memorable and descriptive, without deviating too much from their roots. And this way the name remains consistent across the board.

Who Am I? Why Am I Here?

A crucial part of the rebranding process involved brand discovery. We helped the company discover and define who they truly are as a brand. We did this by meeting with a few employees at each location and subjecting them to rigorous interviews and tortuous self-realization; but it was ok because we brought them food. In reality, we only helped these employees have a great open dialogue; we just took notes. We asked them questions that got them thinking and talking about the company and brand, who they are and what they stand for – discussions you don’t normally have with your co-workers day-to-day.

The interviews helped us create a brand manifesto that solidified what everyone was thinking. The manifesto established and redefined their brand, producing a mutual understanding of their brand identity by every employee and creating brand unity across the company as a whole.

New Look, Same Great Brand!

With the interviews finished and the new name established, we went to work, creating a bunch of new materials including a brand new logo, website (desktop and mobile using responsive design), brochure, brand standards manual, the aforementioned brand manifesto, marketing materials, the photography that was used in these materials, plenty of new stationery and business documents, and finally a press release announcing the newly rebranded company and its new logo.

DGR-blog-photo

The brochure.

DGR-Ipad

The new website with responsive design, complete with desktop and mobile versions.

All in all we had a great time helping a great company. The entire experience was rewarding for us and we are proud of the work that came out of it.

Check out DGR Engineering’s new website here, and for more examples of our work check out our website and YouTube channel.

– Andrew

The Holy Grail Found In A Small Pub

TimsTap4

Hearthside.

Walking into Jim’s Tap is like walking into the pub that all the beast slayers and bounty hunters hang out at after a long day of escapading, exchanging tales of adventure and whimsy over tall flagons of ale. The dim orange lighting and red carpet is accompanied by the warm glow of a fireplace illuminating a mounted boar’s head above its mantel. The walls are adorned with various medieval décor (including knight’s armor) hanging over the bar’s wooden tables and black chairs with silver-studded upholstery.

When I was a college student in Brookings, SD, Jim’s Tap was my bar. I and my social circle could frequently be found there next to the fireplace, tables pushed together, enjoying a bounty of brew (sometimes perhaps too bountiful) and exchanging our own tales of whimsy, our conversation getting louder and louder as the night ages. (My social circle was pretty big, comprised of many smaller, more close-knit cliques.) When we weren’t drinking tap beer we’d be downing Backpackers – a concoction unique to Jim’s Tap. Not much is known about the Backpacker other than the fact that it’s enchantingly delicious and neon green in color, which only adds to the bar’s fanciful mystique.

JimsTap3

Not my hog.

When I think of Jim’s Tap today, I think of the many laughs I shared around those pushed-together tables. I think of some of the greatest times I had with old friends and new. I think of the initial formative moments I spent there getting to know my now fiancé (who hailed from a neighboring clique), chatting and crushing on each other over the noise of our surrounding friends. I think of all this, set to a scene of perfect ambiance that sparked the imagination.

Every once in a while you come across a business that doesn’t need to talk you into liking it. It doesn’t need to have big sales promotions to keep customers coming back or launch social media campaigns with an inhumanly gregarious presence; it’s perfectly happy with its 133 Facebook Likes and sparse, punctuation-less updates. Sometimes businesses win consumers over by just being themselves, humbly doing what they do best. If they do it right, they can acquire what I think is the holy grail of business – true customer loyalty. This loyalty is not won by drink specials or fast service; it’s won by consistent positive experiences, experiences that turn into life-long memories.

So what makes Jim’s Tap so special to me? Why does it ignite such passionate nostalgia? Is it the boar’s head or the free snack mix? Nope, it is the memories. To me, Jim’s Tap isn’t just some bar; it’s a symbol of the good times. And if I lived in Brookings today, you can bet that I’d still be frequenting that old pub.

After living in Sioux Falls for about a year now, I have yet to find a Jim’s Tap replacement. Any recommendations? A mounted boar’s head is a plus.

– Andrew

_ _ _R _ _ _ _ _ _

The other night I was driving home on I-229, probably paying too much attention to the billboards, businesses and illuminated signs along the road. I couldn’t help but notice the number of businesses and buildings that had signs with burnt out letters. One in particular read “_ _ _R _ _   _ _ _ _” (or something like that; I just remember seeing a lonely lit “R”), on the side of a large building, probably retail of some sort.

If they just took care of their sign, I’d be able to tell you the name of their business, but instead, we’re left trying to play hangman. This is definitely one of the worst cases of sign-neglect I’ve seen.

They had one chance to tell me who they were as I zoomed by at 67 mph, and they screwed it up. And the neon red “R” sign immediately left me with all kinds of preconceptions about their company. Thoughts scrolled through my head as I continued home.

“Their merchandise is probably out-of-date and disorganized.” “Going inside would be like being in a Kmart. Eww.” “They definitely have a bunch of fax machines in there.” Then my imagination really started to run wild. “On the upside, maybe they sell fun obsolete technology that you can’t find anywhere else, like shoe phones or mini disc players, and not as a ‘retro’ gimmick, but because their building lies within a rip in space-time that has frozen them in a perpetual state of 1993.”

A consumer’s first impression of a business, whether it takes place online or on the street, is extremely important. Often-times signage is a part of that first impression. The sign can say a lot about a business, almost foreshadowing what kind of experience consumers may have if they come inside. So based on the sign “_ _ _R _ _   _ _ _ _,” what kind of shopping experience would you expect to have? It definitely would not be like a trip to the Mall of America; I can tell you that.

Letter burn-outs can also result in comical changes to the sign’s meaning. Here’s a bunch of unfortunately funny examples.

– Andrew

I Tried to Shop Local

A few weeks ago I had decided to buy a new paella pan, thirteen inches of gleaming stainless steel. I had seen what I wanted at national kitchen stores like Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma in other cities, but since those stores don’t have outlets here in Sioux Falls I sought to find it locally.

My first stop was a downtown kitchen specialty store that sells the All-Clad brand I was looking for. They didn’t have it stock. No worries, if I can’t get it there, several national chains with stores here in town carry the brand, so I’ll try there. Alas, I struck out at Macy’s, Yonkers and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

So I went back to that small local retailer and asked if they could order it for me. I explained that I knew I could get it online but if I could support a local small business I would. They were my first choice. The woman at the counter took all of my contact information and carefully wrote down what I wanted and promised to pass it on to the store owner.

Two weeks passed and I hadn’t heard anything, so I stopped in the store again. The woman working knew who I was and she had heard them talking about my order but didn’t know the details. She again wrote down my contact info and promised to call me when the store owner arrived, which should only be a few minutes. About 4 hours later she called to tell me that they could order the pan, but it would take at least 3 to 6 weeks to arrive and they couldn’t really promise if I would get it even then. No thanks. I’ll get it somewhere else. So much for trying to shop local.

That afternoon I logged into the Zappo’s app on my iPad, typed a few words and a 13 inch All-Clad Stainless Steel Paella Pan was on its way to me.  That was on a Saturday afternoon. The product arrived at my office Monday afternoon. No charge for the shipping and I actually saved about 10% off the retail price.

So here’s my question, if you were that small retailer and you knew a good customer wanted something, and they preferred to buy it from you, why wouldn’t you do everything you could to get it for them? I think if I owned that little shop, I would have ordered it from Zappo’s, marked it up 10% (back to the regular retail price) and sold it the customer. But that’s just me. Trying to keep the customer satisfied.

If she had done that, this post would have been about how great her service was and I would have named her and her store. As it is, I’ll give the glory to Zappo’s.

– Jim

Sticks and stones can’t break their bones, but words can hurt brands.

In the past, if someone had a beef with a business, the worst they could do was to tell their friends and family about the horrible service at “Al’s Diner,” and maybe send a spiteful letter to Al. But now they can unleash their opinions and words of venom to the world through a never-ending list of business review sites, social media channels, forums etc., for all fellow consumers to read.

A major part of a brand’s identity comes from the way its consumers perceive it. And a part of the consumer’s perception of a brand is influenced by what other people are saying about it. In this Digital Age in which we are all connected, the modern consumer is capable of reaching a lot of people, potentially affecting their opinions, perspectives and feelings about a business.

When you think about it, that’s a lot of power, much more than consumers have ever had in the past, and both good and evil can come from that. As the old adage goes, with great power comes great responsibility.

I completely support the consumer’s right to be heard, as long as they’re honest and fair. The consumer voice of reason keeps businesses in line and helps them improve. It’s the unreasonable people that I have a problem with. It’s way too easy to turn on the laptop and rip a business a new one just because the cashier “looked at you wrong.”

We may assume that our lone little rants, out there amongst thousands of others, don’t have an impact, but they do. They’re out there for the world to see. Whether just one reader or 1,000 readers stumble across the consumer review, it has the potential to affect people’s perception of the brand. And if the review is unfair, irrational, unnecessarily mean, or a flat out lie, then that’s not fair to the business (no matter how big or small it is), nor the  bystander who now has the wrong impression.

The Digital Age has connected businesses and consumers in an unprecedented way. Both are now on an even playing field. And just as we expect integrity and fairness from brands, we are responsible for reciprocating. If we as consumers aren’t fair and judicious with our comments, reviews and complaints, then we’re just as bad as the allegedly loathsome businesses we’re complaining about.

– Andrew