Category Archives: Digital

The speed trap.

By now we all realize that technology has taken over. Information can be obtained at the speed of 4G. Mobile devices with GPS can pinpoint our every step. Not sure about something? Find the answer with your smartphone in a snap. These are all very convenient tools, and we would be hard-pressed to think about life without them. They have given us the ability to do more, but at what intellectual price?

As producers, we are getting information out there faster than ever, but what is sacrificed is the ability to connect and communicate with others in a meaningful way. We keep hurling more fill dirt into an ever-widening void. We’re like gluttons feasting on so many empty calories. It’s commonplace now to visit the home pages of most major news sites and see numerous “articles” about how to lose weight or top ten lists of the best sitcoms of the ‘80s, all replete with typos and the occasional nonsensical phrase. It’s classified as content. But, where’s the value? Do we really need to know these things? I’ll admit I quite often click on these items, not because it betters me in any way, but because it’s easy. What’s the harm? I think to myself.

None, really – at least not to the consumer of this information. The harm comes to the producers. The speed at which all this data is generated leaves too many opportunities for errors. And those errors will slowly diminish the credibility of a company. Being up-to-the-second and fresh is one thing, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the bigger picture–your brand.

Although we all feel the pressures of this digital age bearing down, it’s always a good idea to pause and take inventory of what we’re putting out there. Dig deeper, if necessary, to find at least a little piece of information that stands out and resonates with your audience–something that will stick to their proverbial ribs. The extra time will pay off in how your company is perceived and whether they come back for more.

— Kurt Miller, EVP, Executive Creative Director

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Do QR codes make great marketing tools?

In a recent post, I asked what people thought would be the hottest trend in 2011. A lot of responses discussed the popularity of location-based social networking sites, but there were also quite a few mentions of QR codes.

QR codes are those interesting, fuzzy-looking squares that you may have seen pop up recently on

qrcodeproduct containers, convenience store shelving, or even online. First established in Japan in 1994, the QR code is a 2-dimensional barcode consisting of black elements arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The intent is to scan data at very high speeds, usually with a camera phone or barcode reader. Due to an estimate projecting that, in 2012, more smartphones will be sold than PCs, QR codes are going to affect the way websites are designed and products are promoted.

Take an athletic shoe product, for example. At the next World Shoe Association trade show, a company can add a simple QR code to its handout, which links to a sweepstakes landing page providing key information or even a special offer. Or perhaps it can be taken further to incorporate the product and the use of a durable hiking shoe by creating a QR scan treasure hunt – where each scan links to a new splash page featuring a clue to the next one.

QR codes can be used to swap contact information. Instead of exchanging business cards, a single QR code can be scanned, and the contact information will save to your smartphone.

As this technology becomes more and more popular, there are a few ideas that should be considered to optimize results:

  1. Offer exclusive prizes, offers, or information to those scanning the QR code that are different than what is available to everyone else.
  2. Optimize the website for mobile-browsing.
  3. Include an obvious call-to-action so that the audience is encouraged to scan the code.
  4. Establish a plan to engage people who scan the code over time, rather than a one-time promotion.

The important idea to remember is that QR codes create a new opportunity to enhance the relationship with a customer/prospect who has already engaged with the brand, building positive word of mouth or even a future sale.

— Jonathan Ginburg, Senior Account Executive

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Checking the Press in a Digital Age

The digital press check can be markedly different than the traditional press check. In a majority of instances, you never have to leave your office. Here are some basic tips to follow to ensure that you’ll have a successful experience.

1) What You See Is What You Get – When you review a proof for a digital press job, you’ll be looking at an actual press sheet printed from the digital press. And this is a key difference between digital printing and traditional printing.  The digital press gives the printer the capability of showing you exactly what you can expect on the actual paper you’ll be printing on.  While some proofing systems can run on the actual paper and generally serve the same purpose, you would have to go on a press check to make sure you’re getting an accurate representation of your client’s material.  With digital printing, you can check the sheet at your desk.

2) I Can See Clearly Now – Just like any traditional press check, you should carefully check for all the basics like type, color, clarity, crop marks, and any other potential problem areas.  Since you’re checking an actual press sheet, use a set of the color printouts of the final file you sent to the printer – this will give you something to check against, just in case there was an issue with the file.

3) The Times They Are A-Changing – Digital printing is the perfect fit when you’re using variable data to reach your client’s prospects. Look at the position of the variable data to make sure it is consistent in placement. Ask your printer to bring you several different press sheets so you can see a variety of line lengths for the names, addresses, and any other area that changes.  Remember to watch for type that might reflow in a paragraph due to length of the variable data.

4) Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t It – When you have to “color match” a digitally printed piece that was previously printed on a traditional press, ask your printer to run some test sheets so you can see if you need to make any file adjustments. You may encounter this situation from time to time, so it is worth the minimal expense to maintain your client’s brand integrity.

— Tim Kedzierski, Production Manager

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The Internet Summit—One point worth repeating

I had the pleasure of attending the third annual Internet Summit, held in Raleigh, N.C. Two days of wall-to-wall presentations and conversation on the future of the Web, social media, mobile marketing, online video, privacy, security, you name it and someone was talking about it.

One of the keynote speakers at an eye-opening 8 AM was Chip Perry, president and CEO of AutoTrader.com. AutoTrader.com generates over $500 million in revenue each year and has an eye-popping 3.5 million new and used vehicles listed. AutoTrader.com is part of Cox Enterprises, which also owns Manheim, a client of ours. In fact, Mr. Perry was asked by Manheim to launch AutoTrader.com and was its first employee, back in the day. The company is now considered to be the world’s largest online automotive marketplace, and Mr. Perry is recognized as a pioneer in the industry.

What I found the most fascinating about Mr. Perry’s presentation was one simple point. It was quite striking, especially in light of the venue and reason we had all gathered together.

He said, “Success is more about business fundamentals and common sense than it is about the Internet.”

The point should resonate with brands, businesses, and marketers in the throes of the technology tsunami. It’s easy to get caught up in your underwear over the latest widget, gadget, etc. The basics still remain the basics. Know your customers. Respond to their needs. Use technology as a tool, not as a strategy in and of itself.

– Chris Schlegel, Principal, Chief Creative Officer

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