Monday, October 4, 2010

Our Blog as Moved!

The official dgs blog has been moved to - please visit us there.

Speaking of, it's brand new. Check it out!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tips For Twitter and Facebook

by Jim May, Senior PR Associate

First of all, apologies to those of you that read these and have been wondering where my last entry on social media has been. As those serving our target industry can attest to, IMTS wreaks havoc on schedules in the pre-show months. That said, with the show starting Monday, there’s a slight (very slight) lull before the storm. Let’s see if we can wrap this up.

- First and foremost, know your audience. When you start building a group of followers, look at their profiles and see what other feeds they’ve subscribed to. Are they looking for a news stream? If so, what kind of news? Are they internal or external to your organization? Do they care about your company or your products? Are they just subscribing to everything they’ve ever heard of in the hopes of reciprocity building their own following? These questions are generic and just a start, but knowing what your followers want to hear will be vital to your success.

- Establish separate feeds for separate needs. Companies segment the market and offer different products to different targets. There’s no reason Twitter should be any different. Once you have a grasp on what people are looking for, set up separate channels so that people can get the info they care about without having you dominate their incoming Tweets. One group might only want info on upcoming seminars. Another might want your take on trends in your industry. Another might be looking for technical info on products. Maintaining separate feeds for people with diverse needs will pay off, even if there’s some overlap among groups.

- Remember to listen as much as you push. It’s entirely too easy to focus on what’s going out and ignore the true potential of Twitter. If your customers are there and they’re talking about your products, there’s no excuse for letting their comments float into the void unnoticed. In increasing numbers, large retailers are providing a great example of how Twitter can be used to identify customers with a negative experience and rectify their issues. Done properly, that’s a free tool for building customer loyalty that it would be foolish to ignore.

- Keep things interesting. This somewhat overlaps with the first two points, but seriously, keep your feed interesting. It’s better to post infrequent items that truly engage people than to spew out a stream of monotony with only the occasional island of interest appearing.

- Go young. As mentioned in a previous post, while Facebook has users of all ages, they still skew young. On top of that, younger users are much more likely to accept your presence on the site as natural, rather than feeling like your company’s intruding on their personal life. When you generate content and pursue fans, keep the twenty- and thirty-somethings at the forefront of your mind.

- Ask yourself if people care. A lot of companies think that their customers will automatically find anything they post to be of interest. That couldn’t be more wrong. A lot of users don’t like it when anyone shows up “too regularly” on the front page of their news feed. Start posting 3 or 4 items a day about topics people don’t care about and they’ll start abandoning your profile en masse.

- Pay attention to what people like. This goes somewhat with the previous point. When you post comments, watch what topics generate comments or ‘likes’. If every post about one of your products looks like it’s playing to an empty house, re-focus your efforts onto topics that actually engage people.

Alright, that wraps up this series. Obviously, all of these entries have been designed to provide some food for thought and are little more than a starting point. There is worlds of data on social media vehicles out there, so if the topic interests you, please don’t just rely on something you read here. Do a little in depth research and maximize your chance at success. And feel free to contact me at may@dgsmarketing if you have any questions, comments or insults. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Seasoned Marketer in a New Industry

by Amanda Borshoff, Account Coordinator

As my first month with dgs Marketing Engineers comes and goes, I’m taking this time to reflect on everything I have experienced and what it means to be a part of the dgs team, where technical marketing and public relations is our forte.

I came from a world of nonprofit and health care, so the transition into industrial marketing was a big one. However, it has been a fantastic fit for me.

With the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) on our heels, I’ve been able to dive right in. I’ve already learned a great deal about manufacturing and business-to-business marketing, client services and what it means to be a part of a premiere full-service marketing agency.

Already, I’ve played a part in developing print and advertising pieces, managing event logistics and assisting in the creation and execution of influential news articles and press releases.

In just a few days, I will be front and center as many of our clients introduce cutting edge technology and machining at the 2010 IMTS. Hope to see you all there.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Business relationships start with being nice

by Chuck Bates, Director of Public Relations

Be nice to everyone. It’s as simple as that when it comes to establishing business relationships. By nice, I mean cordial, truthful, and fair with people.

Well-established relationships not only make for smoother more successful business transactions, they can also help in other aspects of your business career. If people feel they have a good relationship with you, they will go out of their way to treat you with the same respect that you have shown them.

Being nice to everyone, in my opinion, is important, especially in business, because you never know whom you’ll be working for tomorrow. That guy that just took the last cup of coffee and didn’t start a fresh pot could be your boss tomorrow. And do you want that business relationship to start with his thoughts of you being the person that chewed him out for not making coffee. I’m not saying to roll over and let people take advantage of you, just that there is always a tactful way to handle situations without leaving people with negative impressions of you.

People naturally want to associate themselves with people they get along with and who feel the same way toward them. In their mind, they have a good relationship with that person. They trust this person, and trust is a powerful tool in business interactions, especially when it comes to selling.

I was once told that there is no such thing as a “relationship buy” and that products and services should sell themselves based on strong brand awareness. I agree that products and services definitely should have the brand recognition and reputation of being better than anything else out there. But when it comes to that face-to-face between salesman and potential customer or service provider and client, a relationship/trust needs to be partnered with that amazing product or service being offered.

The one caveat to relationships is that they can take time to establish, and the business world doesn’t often allow the luxury of time. However, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Think of relationships as long-term investments that keep paying business-interaction dividends. Think of being nice as a sound business investment.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Simplifying Technical Marketing

by Marc Diebold, President & CEO

I think it’s safe to say we’ve all known someone who is a really nice person but has the annoying habit of talking too much. We might end up feeling guilty about this, but what happens at times is that we sort of tune them out, and, in the process, maybe miss something really important they said.

It’s the same way with industrial marketing communications. Some companies simply talk too much and lose their audience’s attention.

This can take many forms…an ad with too much copy, a cluttered brochure with small pictures and type so small you have to strain to read it, or, my personal favorite, PowerPoint slides loaded with content.

When it comes to selling technical products, it’s often one or two compelling things that, if communicated effectively, can make the difference between a successful marketing project or campaign and one that fails to produce results.

So, next time you take on a communications project, try simplifying it by focusing on saying the things that really make a difference about your product or service. You just might get more people to listen.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

IMTS Right Around The Corner

IMTS is right around the corner, and several dgs clients are gearing up for a great show. If you're planning to attend, don't miss the chance to experience these great companies up close and personal. Visit these booths:

Exsys Tool - W-1474
GF AgieCharmilles - S-8754 and E-4440
Mazak Corporation - S-8300
MSC Industrial Direct - W-1464
OMAX Corporation - N-6228
REGO-FIX - W-2364
Sandvik Coromant - W-1500

As with every IMTS, dgs will be on hand to ensure that our clients have a successful show. We will be providing public relations services throughout the duration of the event, and we're working hard now on graphics, booth designs, web promotions and a slew of collateral material.

If we can help you, give us a call.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Introductions Are In Order

By Chuck Bates, Director of Public Relations

I’d like to introduce myself. I’m the newest member of the team at dgs Marketing Engineers. I come from the “other side of the fence,” so to speak – a business-to-business trade publication that covered the manufacturing/metalworking market sectors.

As an editor at the publication, I worked with industrial marketing agencies on a daily basis. They were excellent sources for editorial content, kept me abreast of new industrial products and developments happening at their client companies, and pretty much catered to my every need. I considered these agencies a valuable tool.

And while most editors are happy to keep to their side of the editor–agency fence, I jumped at the opportunity to expand my professional portfolio to include business-to-business public relations and technical product marketing.

What I will bring to dgs Marketing Engineers, besides my extensive experience with the workings of the industrial market sector, is a devoted effort to serve its clients with the same integrity I served my readers while working at the trade publication.

It may take a little time to adjust to this side of the fence because I now have a few more entities than just magazine readers to constantly keep on my radar. But I’m up to the challenge. It’s all just part of business-to-business public relations and technical product marketing world.

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Apple's new iPhone 4 is available today. Are you on board?

Monday, June 14, 2010

IMTS 2010 - Are you ready?

91 days.

That's all we have until IMTS 2010 is officially upon us.

And lots to do before then.

If you're exhibiting at IMTS 2010 and you're not yet thinking about marketing your booth and presence at the show, you should be.

If your name appears on any metalcutting-related list anywhere, you've likely already received a barrage of marketing opportunities offered by IMTS show management, many of which are quite effective.

That said, now is the time to really get creative. To plan. To make the most of the IMTS captive audience. And, most importantly, to get closer to your customers and prospects.

If you ask management of most companies planning to attend the show, I'd bet they'd say a lot is riding on this one. So, let's make the most of it.

Things to think about this week:

-Public Relations - Pre-show deadlines have arrived. Make sure you have delivered your new products and technology messages to the press. Don't be left out of these important show-planning issues.

-Direct Mail - Now is the time to start crafting your booth invitation messages and thinking about how to deliver them to your customers and prospects.

-Web - What will your online presence look like? You must have an online presence for the show, and the sooner the better.

-Booth Signage - Don't put this off until August. No good can come of it. Start thinking graphics now.

And hey, if you're feeling overwhelmed, give us a call. We can help.

More to come next week...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thinking Outside The Box In Technical Marketing Can Be A Bad Thing

by Marc Diebold, President & CEO

Is thinking outside the box a good thing, or a result of poor strategic planning?

I’m not trying to discourage creative thinking here, but my point is that if your people are constantly having to ‘think outside the box’ to come up with a good idea, you might need to take a closer look at your planning process.

How many times have you had someone come to you with an idea that they were excited about (and prepared to reverse engineer the marketing program to accommodate) that in an isolated way may have sounded good, but when held up against the company’s brand image or marketing direction wasn’t a fit at all? The person in question believes they are doing something extremely creative by thinking outside the box, when in fact they may be undermining the very foundation of your marketing communications program.

In the world of industrial marketing (my world), if marketing strategy precedes creative strategy, which I believe it should, then it stands to reason that marketing strategy should clearly define the parameters of possibility to guide the creative thought process. This position may sound a bit simplistic, but if put into practice as we strive to do here at dgs, can yield some of the most compelling creative work you can imagine.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Google Technology Solutions (for you, me and my unborn son)

by Justin Brown, Senior Art Director

Google is indisputedly one of the world’s largest provider of free technological resources and applications, cloud computing solution. With technologies ranging from search, advertising, applications (apps), and now mobile, Google is on track to accomplish their mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

The massive growth in Google technology is more than one blog post can handle. With this in mind, I will only cover thoughts/insight on Google’s web technology, advertising and some of the services Google provides through cloud computing.

Google Web Technology
Working from a cloud-computing concept whereby users have the ability to share resources, software and other information across multiple platforms all from the Internet, allows Google to provide innovative technologies that no other company has to offer to millions of users at any given time.

Google’s web search technology is predominately the company’s most popular service, setting rank as one of the Internet’s most visited sites and seen as the most dominant search engine. Utilizing over a million server technologies worldwide, Google’s ability to process billions of search queries daily allows users instant gratification whether they’re searching stock quotes, sport scores, current headlines, images, videos, maps, recipes, the latest Apple technology and much more, all combined in one query.

The ability to provide the end user with the more relevant results for faster searches, Google’s engineering team is continuously improving the way people find what they’re looking for. Using technologies such as their Google Chrome browser platform, personalized search services and Google Toolbar plug-in, Google is able to provide the user with tailored results for all their favorite websites in a split second.

Google Advertising
On the backend, Google provides a way for advertisers, interactive developers and programmers to gather information using Google Analytics. This easy to use code tracks end users trail through a web site, from where they came from, what they viewed, down to the kind of browser, device and screen resolution. This technology allows for better-optimized content to viewers so advertisers can measure and ultimately give back what is searched for.

In addition to Google Analytics, other web-based programs are provided such as AdWords and AdSense to help advertisers promote products and services globally based on the relevant content from search results. Each service gives businesses the tools to analyze their campaigns and adjust them accordingly to be more efficient and effective. You can find these services at work during a search or viewing video on YouTube as examples.

Google Web App Technology
As an extension of cloud computing, Google engineers have, and are continuously developing web apps as a way for users to share information, get things done efficiently, and lower the expenses of locally run software programs. Because the information is stored online, technologies from email, calendars, word processing, maps, shopping, photo editing, social media (Blogger, Buzz), video (YouTube - visit dgs’ channel at, to even browser chat provides people with a virtual collaboration center so that all information is accessible from any device connected to the internet. The global accessibility this provides business users opens the door for more people to be technically minded on the same material at the same time.

With the seemingly endless possibilities of the Internet itself, Google’s latest reach into the mobile market with their Android platform, the cloud computing concept has reached a completely new technological advancement, linking everyone old, young and unborn together. What technologies will you Google today?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Managing Your Time

by Sarah Showalter, Account Manager

Part of being a successful account manager is time management. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done, but with effective time management skills you can accomplish what needs to get done and prioritize the remaining tasks.

Developing effective habits will allow you to stay in control and feel less of the outside pressures of stress and havoc by following these simple guidelines:

1. Develop a list
In order to understand what projects or tasks you need to get done, it is easier to write them down. This allows you to visually see what is on your plate and allows those little tasks not to fall through the cracks. Everyone has his or her own preferences, but I recommend typing out a list organized by client and including as much detail as possible (status, due date, etc.).

2. Prioritize tasks
Now that the list is developed it makes it even more effective by deciding which project requires your attention first. I ask myself this when deciding the order or prioritization:
1.Does it have an absolute due date? Is it due “next week” or May 25th at 1:30pm?
2.Does it require an approval process?
3.Do you have all the details and materials you need to complete the task/project?

If the project does not have a firm deadline, it can go after a project that does. Firm deadlines are the golden rule when prioritizing- they always come first.

If the project has an approval process, it will have multiple deadlines. The deadline to get a proof and the deadline that it needs to be finalized. It is important to stay aware of both and to consider what type of process it has to go through.

If the project requires gathering of materials (images, copy, etc) it is important to work ahead and collect them as soon as possible. It is a waste of time to wait until you “need” them to ask. Multi-tasking is key in this area of the project life span. Focus your energy on tasks you can get done while you wait for approval.

3. Stay organized
Staying organized means actually utilizing steps #1 and #2. Update your list as you complete it- cross it off, write notes on it, draw pictures on it- whatever you need to do to stay up to date on your list. Have your list easily accessible, my list sits by me all week long where I can glance over at it and it serves as a constant reminder as to what I need to complete. I also get a sense of accomplishment when I can cross something off- it’s all about the little things☺

If your project requires outside materials (images, copy, etc) make sure you know where they are. Are they in a folder? On your computer? Do the right people have what they need to work on the project? This allows the project to flow smoothly and more efficiently.

4. Avoid distractions
As I previously mentioned a deadline is the golden rule. If something is due at noon, you better sit down and get it done by 11:45. Distractions are everywhere- telephone calls, emails, the great view from your window, but rather than being easily side tracked, be motivated by the sense of accomplishment you will feel when the project or task is off your desk. After it is completed, then can you take a mental break, and then move on to the next one.

5. Open communication
Although we try to avoid setbacks and “emergencies” they always tend to happen now and again. Examples of these “emergencies” include approval process delays, waiting on images/copy, and deadline changes, etc. During these set backs it is important to stay calm, proactive, and make sure you notify all parties involved of the change in plans. For example, if an ad is going to be late, tell the publication (usually they can grant you a few days leeway) tell your client and your staff the new deadline, so they are all aware of when it has to be complete and do this while you are waiting on the revisions. Try to avoid last minute surprises and everyone involved will have a successful outcome.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Some Tips For Reaching Customers Through Social Media

by Jim May, PR Manager

So you’ve identified which social media could provide your company with some significant value, but now you have to actually execute. Here are tips for some of the vehicles that have been discussed in previous entries.

Message Boards/Forums

- Go where it makes sense. If your company makes power tools, you probably don’t have a reason to be posting about it in a forum dedicated to world travel. This seems obvious, but a lot of companies take a scattershot approach, posting salesy product information on completely unrelated sites. Doing so accomplishes nothing but to create a negative association in the minds of those sites’ users.

- Don’t be anonymous. Message boards are all about people with a shared interest swapping information among themselves. Promoting your company’s goods while posing as just another interested consumer would clearly be dishonest and is the kind of behavior an online community will punish as soon as they discover it.

- Check the terms of service. Some message boards won’t allow representatives of companies to join to discuss their products. Others will, but require a special account that clearly labels the contributor’s vested interest. Before joining any specific community, it’s always a good idea to email the site’s admin team to make sure you’re staying within the rules.

- Keep it active and open. This applies to those few companies that establish their own message boards to foster discussion among current and potential customers. First, make sure the board has enough regular posters to guarantee constant new content. To this end, it’s perfectly acceptable to encourage employees to participate in the board. Second, don’t stifle the information being shared just because you don’t like it. If a discussion turns towards something negative about your company or product, feel free to jump in and offer a counterpoint, but don’t resort to simply deleting topics you dislike. If people feel prohibited from offering honest opinions, your message board will turn into an online ghost town.


- Demonstrate your expertise. Once you’ve set up a blog, it’s vital that you offer up information or opinions that your customers wouldn’t otherwise see. To build a base of regular readers, you have to develop content that provides value to those who consume it. Occasional ‘fluff’ pieces are acceptable, but make sure the majority of your entries have some meat to them.

- Choose relevant topics. While expertise is vital, it’s not enough on its own. A blog entry of highly technical data that provides no value to the end user might be interesting to others in your field, but it will likely leave customers scratching their heads.

- Let some personality show. It seems a bit obvious, but people really do tend to like and identify with other people a whole lot more than with organizations. Encourage the contributors to your company’s blog to let their personalities shine through. If your entries are in a drab, corporate tone, few people are going to want to sit through reading them.


- Integrate videos into other forms of communication. Once you’ve created a YouTube channel and posted some videos, tie them back into your other marketing efforts. If you issue a press release on a new product and have posted video of it in action on YouTube, include a link to the video in the release. If you work with trade press specific to your industry, see if they’re interested in including links to some of your videos on relevant areas of their own websites. These types of actions don’t merely increase exposure of your videos. They also create a more comprehensive value proposition for your customers.

- Go for substance over style. This holds especially true if you’re paying to develop assets specifically for YouTube. Most marketers, current company included, tend to think they’re fairly clever. It’s easy to see a humorous video go viral and get millions of views, then think gee, I could do one of those. Such thoughts can quickly turn into a quest of catching lightning in a bottle. Make sure your top priority is creating content that will provide your customers with something they’ll appreciate.

- Ok, style’s important too. While content is vital, few people want to sit through a 20-minute video of someone staring into a camera and droning on about a specific topic. Even if you don’t have the budget for professional production, there are plenty of ways to spice up a video. Intercut images or videos of the products or processes being discussed. Throw in text with bullet points summarizing the video’s content. Use some royalty free stock footage relevant to the subject. These types of things can easily be done on a personal computer and will make it much more enjoyable for customers to sit through the content you’ve created.

Ok, that’s all for this week. In a week or two, I’ll have one more entry that focuses on tips for Tweeting and social sites and wraps up the series. Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ten Steps to Writing an Effective Press Release

by Janae Cummings, PR Associate

There’s a common misconception that press releases are a foolproof method for increasing client exposure at minimal expense. Technically, I suppose that is true, but what most people forget, or, perhaps, never realize is that the likelihood of a press release not only being read but also published really depends on how well it’s written. By following these simple steps, you should be well on your way toward developing press releases that will be hard for the media to refuse.

1. Is the topic newsworthy?
Just because your client is excited about something doesn’t mean it counts as news, so consider your audience and their interest. Next, a press release should answer the 5 Ws – who, what, where, when and why. If it can’t, it likely reads like an advertisement and either needs to be re-written or not written at all.

2. Write strong headlines and first paragraphs
This isn’t a five-paragraph essay. State the good stuff first to capture the attention of the journalists who will publish your press release and the audience who will read it.

3. Just the facts
Avoid the fluff and exaggerations. Journalists will see right through it and either edit your release or not run it at all.

4. Concise language
Make every word count. Don’t distract the reader with flowery language or unnecessary adjectives and phrases.

5. Beware the exclamation point
Using exclamation points to generate hype is a fantastic way to destroy your credibility. It really ought to be a cardinal sin!!!!! (See what I did there?)

6. Strong, active voice
These verbs add clarity and strength to your message. Avoid passive voice whenever possible.

7. Less is more
If your press release is reaching two pages in length, revisit steps 3 and 4 and then check your document for extraneous news. Something has to go.

8. Timeliness
Have an event? Sign a new client? If it’s newsworthy, the time to write about it is when it happens and not weeks or months later.

9. Contact information
Journalists and readers need to know who to contact if they have questions or need more information. Always include an e-mail address and/or phone number.

10. Mind the media
Make it easy on them by distributing well-written releases that follow these steps and don’t require (or compel) them to do any heavy editing.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

IMTS 2010 - Make or Break?

by Leslie Galbreath, Executive Vice President/CMO

Believe it or not, another IMTS is just around the corner. It seems as if it was just yesterday that the machine tool industry gathered at McCormick Place in Chicago for the International Manufacturing Technology Show. In fact, it’s been almost two years since IMTS 2008, and a lot has changed. I mean, a LOT.

In the last two years we’ve seen a recession unlike anything this generation’s global economy has ever experienced. According to Gardner Publication’s Capital Spending Survey & Forecast, the machine tool industry overall was down 47% in 2009 from 2008. In terms of units, it was down 54%. As a result, in addition to dismal sales, we saw the demise of multiple publications, the merger of seemingly strange bedfellows in the interest of survival, the failing of several iconic companies, a decrease in marketing budgets, reduced production and countless lost jobs. Needless to say, it was a tough year for everyone.

That said, things are on the upswing.

Now, I use the term ‘upswing’ loosely. Sales are improving for many builders and some jobs are coming back to the US, but we have a long way to go.

Enter IMTS. First held in Cleveland, Ohio in 1927, IMTS is the largest manufacturing technology trade show in North America, and has served as the launching pad for many a technological innovation. The show has taken place every two years in good times and bad, and has always been considered the premier event for the industry. But with things so very different now, the entire industry is eager to learn what the show will bring this year.

In the last few weeks, I’ve read several editorials published by key editors in our industry urging capital equipment builders and accessories and peripherals manufacturers alike to make this the best IMTS yet. In fact, it’s been suggested that it MUST be. That this show will be a (not the, but a) deciding factor in the success or failure of the US manufacturing industry going forward. I’m not usually one to believe that the outcome of a given situation results from the last shot of the game per se, but I’m beginning to wonder if they might be right this time.

I think IMTS 2010 will set the tone at the very least.

Our clients are already gearing up for a big show. We’ve been fortunate to have clients that have remained relatively strong during the recession, and most are looking at IMTS as the time to pounce on the competition. These companies are heeding the urgency of the IMTS message this year – to connect global technology and re-inspire the industry. They have developed new technology and are prepared to demonstrate it in an interesting way. They have upped their marketing budgets to ensure they reach their audiences and drive them to the booths. They have planned an interactive experience for their visitors. They are using social media and capitalizing on public relations and advertising. In short, they are serious. And this is a good thing.

Only time will tell if IMTS is the restart button the industry needs. I hope that as we’re all icing our aching feet on September 18, we can look back and celebrate a show that did indeed re-inspire and, perhaps more importantly, reinvigorate US manufacturing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The ‘Science’ Of Branding In The World Of Industrial Marketing

by Marc Diebold, President & CEO

I ran into an interesting guy once a few years ago. I had just walked into a banquet room – a bit early for once – to attend a marketing association meeting. I’m not the most outgoing networker in the world, but I try to make an effort at these things to meet some new people, so I walked up to the first person I saw and introduced myself. It turned out this guy was the guest speaker, a branding research expert from a high profile brand consultancy out of the Chicago area. At first, he was politely going through the motions, making small talk with me while he glanced at anyone new that walked in the room. But that changed when I answered his question about what kind of clients we work with, and what kind of people they sell to. “Engineers! I am fascinated by them,” he said.

He went on to tell me about one of the intense exercises they do with target audience subjects on behalf of the clients they work for. One aspect of this particular exercise, he said, was boring for their researchers because it almost always yielded the same results, regardless of the type of people being observed. What they do is sit a person down in a chair, tell them to close their eyes, and proceed to ask a series of ‘what comes to mind’ type questions. When they get to a question that asks the subject to describe a situation that sets their mind at ease, most everyone answers with something like ‘sitting on a beach listening to the ocean.’ However, he explained excitedly, if the subject is an engineer, they will often answer with something like ‘the sound of one of their machines running smoothly.’ Imagine that. Sounds a bit geeky doesn’t it?

This story illustrates a simple but unique reality we have to consider everyday here at dgs. Technically minded people process information (and make purchase decisions) differently than the rest of us.

Branding can be a very important part of an integrated marketing program for companies that sell manufacturing equipment. That may seem counterintuitive to some marketing folks. Don’t technically minded people purchase things based solely on a detailed, process-oriented analysis, and therefore concern themselves only with the features and specs of a product? The short answer is ‘not exactly.’ There’s no question that their decision making process is more analytical than other business-to-business audiences advertising agencies may deal with. But we’ve learned from studying research and our own observations from years of doing this kind of work that technically minded people are in fact deeply affected by brand perceptions, and even emotions, much more than they might admit if the question is posed to them in a group setting.

Most of our clients sell a very expensive piece of high-tech manufacturing equipment. As a marketing service company for these types of clients, we do a lot of technical product marketing designed to inform and influence engineers, plant managers, scientists, and other industrial audiences. To do that effectively, you have to be able to get inside a technical person’s mind to understand how they think and what influences their brand perceptions. Besides traditional forms of marketing communications like print advertising, public relations, website development, direct mail and trade show marketing, the actual experiences a customer has using a piece of equipment, and the chemistry of their relationship with the people at the company making the product collectively contribute to that company’s brand image. So, at least for a technical audience, branding is much more than logos and slogans. To build a brand image, you better have your key messages right, and deliver them in a believable, creative, and, most importantly, compelling way.

There’s another interesting dynamic at play here, particularly for our clients. The machines they sell often run productively for 10, 15 or even 20 years before they are replaced. So, good or bad, the impression (read ‘brand image’) left with the user endures longer than most other company’s products. In many cases, that presents an opportunity. Through the life of the product, support services like applications engineering, training, parts and service, etc. can serve to enhance the brand image of our client, so we look for opportunities to include those things as part of our marketing communications approach. It’s all part of the science of branding in the world of industrial marketing.

I could go on and on about branding and technical marketing, but in the interest of keeping this blog post to a reasonable length, I’ll just close by offering to continue the conversation ‘offline’ with anyone that is interested. Please feel free to e-mail me at or call me at 317-813-2220 if you have any interesting thoughts on this subject.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Creating Technically

by Justin Brown, Senior Art Director

Let’s say we have a client who needs an ad or piece of literature focused on a new series of machines. After I understand the creative and marketing strategies, I start experimenting with layouts. For inspiration, I avoid looking at the typical B-to-B magazines and go straight for my car magazines. Car magazines are filled with very creative and technical ads for new car models and ads for safety innovations. That car is the focal point of the ad. I look at the advertisers’ use of space, color, tone, purpose, and whether or not it makes me excited like a 15yr old boy on a beach. I also explore social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and blogs for the latest creative trends and dos and don’ts.

Keeping in mind that the copy often drives the design, I work with layout options that presents the information our clients want to get across most effectively. I’ll never go back to a copywriter and tell them that their copy doesn’t fit my design. I frequently make adjustments to my concepts in order to accommodate the size of content. The exciting part about this is that it keeps me on my toes creatively and allows me to continue producing unique looks for each project. I also like experimenting with page orientation. Vertical layouts are traditional. Horizontal layouts are rare. If I think the information presents better horizontally, I’m all over it like ugly on an ape. It’s unique and stands out from the other ads in the publication. However, I’m still waiting on a client approval for an upside ad. Waiting… still waiting… I should grab a Snickers®

Now that I have some layout options and I know the tone of the copy, I pull keywords from the copy and start researching images focused on the targeted audience. I’m looking for those digital, high tech, sophisticated images. Not the ones that are plain, dull and straightforward – I’m after the dramatic angles, abstract views and well-taken photography.

While images are key, I also explore new ways of incorporating color to prevent pieces from blending in with those template driven ads. Most of our clients have their main corporate color palettes but also include secondary color palettes. As much as possible, I try to work in these secondary colors to add more depth to the creative. Today’s consumer market color trends are very minimalistic. A lot of black, darker colors or whites, lighter colors are being used in printed materials to achieve that sleek, elegant look. I work from this in my own style to give each ad that high level sophistication that presents the product as if it’s the best of the best.

With the layout structure, dramatic imagery, highly technical copy and sophisticated color scheme together, I feel we have developed an ad that presents the information effectively and also stands out in a magazine.

The Wrap

Looking back on the evolution of my design process over the last five and a half years, combined with the collaborative dgs approach, I feel we have been able to develop some highly effective and influential creative designs. No designer has it all figured out. We have to keep our eyes open and minds alert for new ways to help clients evolve, while remembering who we are marketing to – people. Even though B-to-B consumers rarely make spontaneous purchases like Apple enthusiasts do when the latest product is released, there is still an emotional element that should be acknowledged and respected.

A machine tool or a spindle will never obtain the same excitement for a buyer as the latest Corvette or iPhone, but emotions control much of what we do, and when communicating to a person whose purchases have the power to change the way his or her company does business, finding ways to engage, entice and persuade them is vital to any advertiser’s success.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

dgs Client, Harry Moser, Promotes Re-Shoring on CBS

Longtime dgs client, Harry Moser, chairman emeritus of GF AgieCharmilles, appeared on the CBS morning show, Monsters and Money in the Morning, on April 12, 2010.

Harry was promoting the upcoming Re-Shoring Fair, which will take place May 12, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency Irvine Hotel in Irvine, California. For more information, please visit

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Communication Chameleon

by Sarah Showalter, Account Manager

As the point person for clients, media reps and vendors it is necessary that I act as a communication chameleon; depending upon my surroundings I must adapt to fit in. This holds especially true when communicating with various clients throughout the day. Each client has their own preference for how they choose to do business and through what mode of communication. For the sake of discussion I will categorize them into: The Emailer, The Caller, The Follow Up, The Old School, and The Socializer.

The Emailer Client
As most of the population, this client communicates through email. They send you emails for everything- questions, requests, simple “oks” and this is what they prefer. As schedules vary and are unpredictable, this is a convenient method to get the communication out there and as they multi-task they wait for a response. I must adapt and be available through email and respond in a timely fashion. It is important to follow up and notify the client that you received the email and are working on their request. Professional tones, greetings, and thoroughness are key to email replies, as tone and sincerity can be lost in the translation in this type of interpersonal communication.

The Caller Client
The Caller Client seems like is a rarity with email around, but as one could guess, this client prefers to pick up the phone. They find it easier to get the answers they need to ask over the phone and this is certainly a benefit of phone calls in addition to being able to build a relationship and having the ability to gauge their tone. This style also allows for immediate gratification since waiting for an email reply is not a factor. The downfall of phone calls is that you take the chance of the person not being at their desk, relying on voicemails and trying to schedule time when all parties are available to talk. Phone calls also fail to provide a “paper trail” as opposed to email; one cannot go back and reference details or what the conversation entailed. When communicating with The Caller it is important to maintain expected phone etiquette: speak clearly at a reasonable volume, ask questions if you do not understand and follow up to voicemails.

The Follow Up Client
This client type lies between The Emailer and The Caller. They tend to use both methods equally and often will follow up one method with the other- hence The Follow Up Client. They may email you and then immediately call to ensure that you received the email or have any questions. This method allows for both the benefits and disadvantages of emailing and calling, but this also allows for twice the thoroughness and immediate access to the client if you have any questions. An additional benefit is efficiency as any questions get answered without the time delay of email or phone tag.

The Old School Client
The Old School Client tends to feel more comfortable using old school methods such as fax and snail mail. Overall, this is not the primary way of communication they use for everyday communication, but as clients still use it is it worth mentioning. The benefits of old school methods are that they are fairly easy to use and require little effort. On the other hand, these types of modes require more time to get to the intended party and they are behind in most technological aspects.

The Socializer Client
The Socializer is on the other side of the spectrum than The Old School. This client embraces new methods of communication and may elect to use this method over other options because it can be more convenient for them. For example, if a client uses BlackBerry Messenger, AIM (or another type of instant messaging), Facebook or Twitter and you use that method as well-they may send you a message while they are using that program or ask you a question while they see you online. These social media outlets are unarguably popular and growing so the odds of connecting via one of these modes is common. The benefits include instant gratification and accessibility, but all business formality is lost.

Every client may not neatly fit into one of these categories, but as the Communication Chameleon it is important to be able to adapt to client preferences while maintaining professionalism and follow through no matter what the mode. The communication that is relayed is more important than through what mode, but it is how you respond is what determines your success.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Determining The Social Media Vehicles That Fit Your Company – Part 2

by Jim May, PR Manager

After a couple weeks away from the blog, I’m back with our next installment on the use of social media. Let’s take a look at some more avenues you’ve heard about and may be considering.

How much do customers want to talk about your product?
With all the attention paid to the latest and greatest in social media trends, marketers often overlook one that’s been around for quite a while, relatively speaking. Message boards, aka discussion forums, gave birth to some of the first online communities. Now an everyday occurrence, it used to be revolutionary to consider that groups of people with a common interest could come together and interact without regard to geographic boundaries.

Message boards still hold the potential to offer companies significant value. Whether it’s to trash talk over last night’s game, compare side effects of a course of medical treatment or engage in political discourse, millions of people visit message boards everyday. If you haven’t already, spend some time looking for boards that are relevant to your products. If you’re a large company, chances are you’re already being discussed somewhere on the web. Those are conversations you’ll want to at least monitor, if not participate in.

In addition to looking for existing message boards, many companies could be well served by creating their own. If your customers would enjoy or benefit from the sharing of information among themselves, there’s a good chance you could build a message board community around your products.

How valuable is your expertise?
As of January 2009, over 133,000,000 blogs had been launched. That comes out to one blog for every 50 or so people in the world. Sure, the majority of those are personal efforts not intended for mass consumption, with individuals reaching out to small groups of family, friends or peers. Still, the blogosphere’s immense and if your company is thinking about starting a blog, you need to carefully consider who you’re trying to reach and how you’re going to stand out.

One way to quickly gauge the potential of a blog for your organization is to consider the degree to which customers value your expertise. If you are in a position to offer insight that will truly benefit them, a blog can be an excellent avenue for sharing that information. For instance, if effective use of your product relies on user expertise, you probably can offer a lot of data that customers will be grateful to have. The same holds true if you’re a company providing a knowledge-based service. You know, like a marketing agency for example.

For smaller companies that serve relatively limited groups of customers, a blog can also provide value by building and strengthening personal relationships. If you tend to think of clients, as opposed to customers, you’re likely operating in a realm where a blog can help those you do business with become better acquainted with the team they’re relying on.

Have a lot of videos lying around?
Over 100 million Americans visit YouTube every month. It’s all but guaranteed you have current and potential customers that use the site regularly. So you definitely want to have some videos posted, right? Maybe.

We’ve reached the point where 15 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube every minute and, for the immediate future anyway, that number’s only going to increase. With such a heavy saturation of content, there’s a slim chance of posting a video that becomes an internet phenomenon and helps drive awareness of your brand. More likely, any value from the medium is going to come from establishing a channel and linking to it from your website and other social media profiles.

The choice of whether to use YouTube should rely heavily upon your company’s pre-existing video assets. If you have a library of professionally produced videos that are consistent with your brand messaging, it requires minimal effort to post them and there is little downside to doing so. More problematic is the issue of whether to create videos specifically for the medium. Video production can be a very expensive affair. Ask yourself if video will allow you to achieve something that could not be accomplished in a more convenient and cost-effective manner. Unless the answer is yes, you’ll likely see little benefit to producing videos specifically for YouTube.

Ok, that completes the round-up of the various social media vehicles. Please keep in mind that this series of blogs speaks to using these resources to build loyalty and communicate with customers. To maintain this focus, aspects such as search engine optimization have been intentionally left out. Hopefully, the last couple entries have at least stimulated you to think about social media in a new way. I’ll be posting one more write-up next week, with some tips specific to implementing the various tools. Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Avoiding Repetitive, Nonspecific Verbiage in Copy

by Janae Cummings, PR Associate

When creating marketing communications for multiple clients in the same industry, it’s hard to avoid repetitive verbiage. It’s not for lack of trying, mind you, or an inability to locate a thesaurus (I own two). The problem is that companies in the same niche often develop products that are best described by a few generic but somewhat enticing words. You’ll know them if you see them. They are terms such as clean, modern and, my favorite – bold – the ubiquitous word of the moment for beer manufacturers.

For the machine tool manufacturing industry, marketing communications seem to center around these four terms: dynamic, robust, versatile and precise. I don’t care what the product is or what it can do; one of the following will always be true:

1) It is so dynamic, robust, versatile and precise that the owner will increase productivity and profitability
2) It is so dynamic, robust and precise that the owner will increase versatility, and, thusly, boost productivity and profitability.

Persuasive stuff, right? I’m sure it was – the first time around. But when you are writing copy for companies seeking to stand out amongst a sea of competitors who always use variations on the above language to communicate, you have to find more compelling ways to get your points across.

The first step is recognizing that terms like these are little more than all-encompassing buzzwords. Are they accurate? Sure – to one degree or another. Do you have to use them? I don’t think so. They may sound good but, in the end, they fail at the mission, which is piquing a reader’s interest and motivating them either to seek out more information or make a purchase.

If I say that a machine tool has dynamic features, what does that really mean? Compared to an ’83 Yugo, my ’03 Jeep Wrangler may be dynamic, but next to a Ford Mustang? Not so much. But what if dynamic is actually referring to design or even the behavior of specific parts and not the overall performance. Who’s to say?

That is why the second and most important step is returning to the technical information to see what more you can learn. While gaining a better understanding of a product’s various features and benefits, you will also figure out which elements separate it from the competition. Maybe it offers higher power or faster acceleration speeds. Perhaps it’s better for the environment. Whatever the advantages, they should be your primary source for developing enticing, persuasive copy. If you can find a way to communicate that information in a concise and compelling manner, concerns about repetitive, nonspecific verbiage will be a thing of the past.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

dgs Marketing Engineers Earns Spot on BtoBʼs Top Agencies Report

We are pleased (thrilled, as a matter of fact) to announce that dgs Marketing Engineers has been named to BtoB magazine's Top Agency list for 2010.

Here's an excerpt from our recent press release:

dgs Marketing Engineers has been named to BtoBʼs 2010 list of top business-to-business agencies, which was published in the magazineʼs March 8 issue. dgs was one of just sixty agencies nationwide that were recognized in the small agency category, which consists of companies with annual revenues of up to $10.9 million. dgs was also the only agency from Indiana to be named in this category.

Agencies are selected for BtoB's annual list based on a variety of factors including percentage of revenues that are business-to-business, revenue growth, new client wins, innovative work and expanded service capabilities. Focused exclusively on business-to-business marketing of technical products, dgs added five clients to its portfolio in 2009.

BtoB also took into consideration several significant successes that dgs achieved for existing clients, including branding of the newly launched MAXIEM line of waterjets by OMAX Corporation and conceptualization of the innovative Virtual Technology Center for Mazak Corporation. dgs also created GF AgieCharmilles' Urban Edge campaign, which represented a significant deviation from the manufacturing industry's traditional approach to advertising.

"The last year was tough for marketing agencies in general, especially those focused in manufacturing," says Marc Diebold, president and founder of dgs. "We worked hard to overcome these challenges and achieved substantial successes, both for our clients and as an agency. This recognition by BtoB is a great testament to the expertise, creativity and dedication of our team of employees."

Recognized as the leading publication for business-to-business marketing professionals in the United States, BtoB is published by Crain Communications. The magazine covers all aspects of business-to-business marketing and has a circulation of 45,000.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Determining The Social Media Vehicles That Fit Your Company

by Jim May, PR Manager

Determining The Social Media Vehicles That Fit Your Company

Last week we talked about some of the common misperceptions about social media. Now let’s take a look at some of the specific tools at your disposal.

Is there an audience for your Tweets?
If more companies were honest with themselves in answering that question, a lot less of them would be on Twitter. Anyone who thinks Twitter’s a great tool for marketing their product should take a minute to look up the 100 most-followed Tweeters. It’s a list filled with actors, musicians, athletes, celebrities and the occasional news feed. Those that make the list have attracted anywhere from 1,500,000 to 4,500,000 followers.

Now take a minute to look up some of the world’s most successful brands. How many people do you think are following McDonald’s, Coke, BMW, Honda or Amazon? Would you believe none of them have cracked 20,000? In the case of BMW & Honda, it’s less than 3,000. Or course there are exceptions. By offering coupons for free coffee and pastries via its Tweets, Starbucks has amassed nearly 800,000 followers. Keep in mind, though, the following fact: Throughout 2009, Nielsen Wire reported that only about 30% of monthly Twitter visitors returned the following month. It’s guaranteed that those numbers are abysmally lower within groups of users lured to the site with the promise of free treats. As a general rule, unless you have a group of customers that rabidly seeks out information about your company or products, trying to push communications at people through Twitter is a waste of time.

In my previous entry, I mentioned that many social media tools have more in common with customer service than marketing. For the overwhelming majority of companies, this is especially true with Twitter. The site is a great listening tool, giving you the ability to see what individual customers are saying about your brand. Go there and run a couple searches for keywords associated with your company. If people are talking about you, it’s very likely worth signing up and letting them know that you hear and value their opinion. On the other hand, if no one’s Tweeting about your brand, you’re not going to have anything to respond to. Just make sure to check back from time to time so that you can respond if anyone does take to Twitter to comment on your brand.

Do your customers consider your company a friend?
Nearly everyone’s familiar with sites that allow people to take their social network online and expand it. Friendster led the way, followed by MySpace, which has since been dethroned by Facebook. An October 2009 Mintel report showed that 59% of those ages 18 and up have set up a profile on at least one of these sites. As would be expected, usage is heavier among younger demographics, with 87% of 18-24 year-olds on the sites compared to just 29% of those in the 65+ category.

As social networking sites became prevalent, many marketers worked themselves into a frenzy over the possibility of getting their brand in front of so many eyes. From pop-up ads to corporate profiles, it’s impossible to browse many social networking sites without encountering a slew of brands. By treating these sites as nothing more than a new avenue for traditional advertising, companies have ostracized many of the people they hoped to reach. In fact, that same Mintel report revealed that 34% of all users of social networking sites prefer the sites not allow advertising and other forms of corporate presences. Companies would do well to keep this in mind while developing a strategy for making use of these resources.

Despite some users’ aversion to perceiving advertising on their social networking sites, others are perfectly fine with it. Looking once more at the Mintel report, it showed that 18% of users in the 18-24 segment are friends with or fans of a company via one of their online profiles. Again, that number diminishes drastically with age, dropping to less than 5% of users over age 45. These numbers are an encouraging sign, though they should also be taken with a grain of salt, seeing as how the survey at issue did not separately track users who are only friends/fans of their employer.

Like with all social media, the companies that see the greatest return on social networking sites will be those who embrace them as a way to interact with customers, not just point a message at them. For the overwhelming majority of companies, a corporate profile on a social networking site should be about bringing customers together, letting them identify each other and share their experiences with your brand. It’s about strengthening the loyalty of existing customers, not trying to acquire new ones.

Ok, that wraps it up on Twitter and social networking sites. Next week, we’ll talk about whether you should be on discussion boards, YouTube and blogs. Thanks for reading and feel free to shoot me an email at if you have any questions or comments.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Advertising Isn't Very Social

by Jim May, PR Manager

It’s amazing how many companies are caught up in the social media craze, while completely ignoring the plain meaning of the name of the medium. These folks are easy to spot. Look at a business’s Facebook page. Are 90% of the wall postings by a representative of the company? Even worse, are they all links to press releases, print ads and commercials? If so, that company doesn’t get it.

Now hop over to Twitter and look at some company feeds. How do the Tweets break down? Are they just a bunch of links to the aforementioned traditional messaging vehicles? Is the tone conversational or formal? Are any customers responding to the company’s Tweets? How many of the company’s Tweets are responding to customers? See where I’m going with this?

Yes, social media is exciting. Yes, it holds the potential to transform the way companies interact with their customers. It seems that just about everyone knows that much. Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of companies out there that have no idea why the phenomenon’s exciting or how it can transform customer relationships. They just know it’s something that everyone who’s anyone is doing and they’ll be damned if they’re going to be left behind. If you’re wondering if you’re one of those people, there’s a good chance you are. It’s ok. Relax. Let’s talk a bit about social media.

This Technology is About Community
Advertising is a one-way communication with the goal of getting customers to identify with a brand or product. Social media isn’t. At all. Some say it has more in common with customer service than with advertising. That’s definitely the case, but it’s still missing the mark. It’s a substantial evolutionary step beyond interacting with customers on a one-on-one basis.

Social media is all about community. Companies that want to have success in the medium need to really think about the ramifications of that statement. You might set up an online forum or Facebook profile, but once they’re out there, they belong to your customers and you’re just a participant. If you can’t accept this from the get-go, you’re not ready to participate in the technology.

Here’s a quick litmus test. Say a customer visits your Facebook wall and posts a lengthy rant about how they had a product fail and then received horrible customer service. Within a day, a couple more customers post that they’ve had similar experiences. Would you:

1. delete the post and pray that very few people saw it?
2. leave the post, but provide a strongly worded response indicating libelous statements may be met with legal action?
3. post an apology and tell the affected customers that if they provide their contact information, someone will be in touch to remedy the situation?

If you went with #3, congratulations, it sounds like you have a good grasp on the medium. If you picked either of the other two options, you’re not ready to play this game.

Companies have to realize that once you establish an online location for your customers to form a community, you’re no longer in control of what’s said about your brand. If you stamp out any whiff of dissent, customers will be quick to abandon the presence you’re trying to establish and your efforts will have amounted to a waste of time, at best. Even scarier, if customers have already started identifying with each other and building relationships and they see you ‘breaking the rules’ to preserve your image, there’s a good chance that they won’t just leave. They’ll form a new virtual meeting place that you don’t know about and can’t participate in.

The above scares the hell out of many executives. There’s an upside, though, and it’s a pretty big one. Say the hypothetical situation above actually occurred. If you’ve truly fostered an online community for your customers, guess what… they’ll come to your defense. They’ll respond with their own positive stories about your products and services and it’ll be far more credible than anything you possibly could have said. Yes, you may still want to post a quick ‘Sorry, give us a call,’ to the disgruntled party, but if your satisfied customers start talking, let them defend the brand. They’ll do a better job than you could ever hope to.

By now, I’m hoping anyone reading this understands that social media is about giving customers a place to connect and discuss your products. That said, I’m guessing at least some people would still think, ‘Bah, I don’t need to build a community. People are there and I just want to use these sites to expand my brand presence and drive sales.’ That’s all social media is to a fair number of executives. They’ll adapt or they’ll pull out of the medium. Establishing a profile on a social media site for any kind of push communication is going to be about as effective (and beloved) as cold-call telemarketing.

That’s all for this entry. Next week, I’ll be talking about different avenues of social media and how to select the right ones for your business. If you have any questions in the meantime, leave a comment or send me an email at

Friday, February 19, 2010

Navigating My First Year As An Account Manager

by Sarah Showalter, Account Manager

While studying advertising and public relations at Purdue University, I always wondered where my advertising aspirations would take me, as the industry is so expansive; the opportunities are endless. After getting my feet wet in various advertising experiences, four years later I am at dgs Marketing Engineers. I started at dgs as an account coordinator and just completed my first year as an account manager. The first year was a great learning experience for me, and I would like to share some tips that I believe will be helpful to those aspiring to be in account management or going through their rookie years with me.

1. Be Organized
Organization is crucial in account management. As an A/M, you are literally managing all the details of every single project and it is imperative you know them all (i.e. deadlines, objectives, budget). These details will come to you via phone, email, snail mail, and maybe even on sticky notes and, of course, not all at the same time. During the project lifeline you will be asked about these details from your copywriters, art directors, clients, vendors, media contacts, and maybe even your hairstylist and neighbor, having all those details in one place will save you a lot of time and headaches. It is also an advantage when are able to answer their questions right away ☺. BUT it is acceptable and appreciated when you say, “Let me check on that and I will get back to you.” Managing client expectations is great for relationship building. Everyone has his or her own way of “organizing,” find what works best for you.

2. Never Assume
Never assume that the person you’re talking to understands exactly what you are trying to communicate – never assume you are on the same page. For example, a client may ask you to produce an ad and to place it in a magazine, but do not assume that they are aware of the publication deadline or that the publication is focusing on “shoes” that month. It is your job as an account manager to communicate these details and to inform your client. The ad may be your biggest project at the time, which puts it at the top of your list, but it might be #10 on your client’s list. Always check and double check on the details.

3. Be Assertive
As an A/M you will find yourself in meetings…many meetings, maybe even meetings about meetings. During these meetings you will assume various roles - you may be the supporter during one meeting and the lead the next. During this time you may be asked questions or your opinion or just have a chance to speak about what is on your agenda this week. Speaking loudly, clearly, and assertively is very important. This communicates that you are a well-informed account manager. As the A/M, you are the person on the front lines – demonstrating confidence in yourself will help cement the confidence of your clients. This is a quality that can be of high value throughout your entire career, no matter what industry you choose. I believe practice and developing your own style over time will allow you to be more confident and assertive - this is something I am still learning.

4. Ask Questions
During meetings- ask questions. On phone calls- ask questions. Through email- ask questions. During Charades- ask questions. No matter how you do it- ask questions. Going back to that details rant, it is crucial you ask questions and the right questions. I recall teachers saying through my school years, ”No question is adumb question,” and they were right. If you do not fully understand something or it is not clear…ask. It will save time and effort if you ask questions the first time rather than waiting until you have started the project in the wrong direction. You may have to go back and ask questions 10x before you get all the details you need, but over time and with experience you will ask all the right questions the first time and be that more efficient. As the account manager you come into contact with co-workers, clients, vendors, and media reps, each person having a different objective in mind when they communicate with you- it is your job to ask questions and ensure you have what you need and they have what they need to complete the job at hand.
Remember: Email is faster than snail mail and a phone call is faster than an email - sometimes you just have to pick up the phone and call.

I hope these tips are helpful to fellow account managers or those wishing to enter the field and don’t know what to expect. To sum it up, practice, experience and making mistakes will allow you to excel in the future. After completing my first year as an account manager, I am now more aware of my strengths and where I have room to grow, but I am excited to learn and be challenged to become stronger in this position. Year two…bring it on.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wor(l)d of Mouth

By Justin Brown, Senior Art Director

Have you noticed what’s trending on Twitter? Did you tell Facebook what’s on your mind? Are people watching your videos on YouTube, Vimeo or uStream? How many Flickr albums do you have? Where does Foursquare say you are? Oh my…

Welcome to a new way of life called social media. Shake hands, sit down and learn it, live it, deal with it.

Social media has become a fundamental shift in the way we as individuals, businesses and business leaders communicate globally. We no longer have to find news but rather the news finds us. Let’s face it – social media is not a fad but rather a new way of life. You don’t even have to like the idea of social media but you should learn and understand it in order to build a level of credibility with your customers and be marketable to your business. Even though your mother told you all the kids are doing it and you shouldn’t, do it anyways – at least this time. But tell her you’re sorry. You may need money from her later on.

I’m a self-proclaimed early adapter of social media. Whatever it is, I probably have an account for it. Do I use them all? No. Do I remember my login information for some? Nope. But do/did I use them to learn something new? Yes. I would say I’m more social in media. I tweet and post to Facebook. I have followers and I have friends. I’m a designer – a creative genius if you will ☺. (That’s self-proclaimed too I guess.) The majority of people I follow are other design professionals who have made their career in sharing what they know with the world. They write and share and I learn and do. Do I know them? No. Do I feel like I do? Yes. Why? Because they have the same interests as me and on some level we can relate to each other. I may never meet these people but I feel by reaching out to other designers has allowed me to learn new things. Since Twitter is searchable, I can search for all sorts of Photoshop tips and tricks, creative portfolios, latest technology – whatever I want (as I sit here with an evil grin and tapping my finger tips together… muwahaha).

Unfortunately, *sigh, there are some who have not embraced the idea behind social media and the impact it can have on a brand. Shame. Frankly, they are stuck in their old ways and refuse to accept, at times, personal opinion as a way of thinking. But in fact, this refusal is what keeps them from utilizing the invaluable ways of communication. The majority of social medium is comprised of free tools for goodness sake. Why not use them? Sure it costs to pay someone to do it, but perhaps consider interns or new graduates.

Can social media be disappointing? Sure. Take the newest device created by Apple – the iPad. The iPad has been a trending topic for months and months before it was announced last January. All sorts of feature rumors were talked about and when it was revealed and those features were not part of it, the world felt let down. People, in a way, did it to themselves. They should have known Apple wouldn’t have put all those features in its first attempt – that would have been so un-Apple of them. Apple didn’t have to do a teaser campaign. Instead, the Apple folks sat back and let social media do the work, and allowed people to discuss their product, and allowed them to build product recognition before it was even revealed.

From blogs to texting; podcasts to viral videos; Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn and still MySpace. We’re just scratching the surface of social media network. If a survey were given today, it would be no surprise that it likely would show an overwhelming majority of people use some form of social media. After all, we all have email, right? Don’t you think this is a form of social media?

Look at it this way. Social media is basically the world’s largest focus group.. It has become less about a company’s website, and more about its overall web strategy. It’s about how companies can use this new communication technology to push brands further into our lives. It’s about how they interact where their customers are spending their time. It’s cheaper and faster. Pepsi is practically putting its entire advertising budget into social media these days.

Companies all over are begging for fans. If it’s free, I’m a fan. I recently became an Einstein Bagel fan on Facebook because they were giving out a free bagel for each fan they received. Dunkin Donuts was giving out free donuts. Chad Ochocinco invites his friends and followers to a restaurant where he is at and the bill is on him. As sad as it sounds, parents are using it to be more involved in their children’s lives. Executives are doing online videoconferences to communicate with employees and politicians are even blogging about current bills, etc. It’s much easier to use social media than traditional methods to stay in touch with family and friends.

It’s a wor(l)d of mouth. If you haven’t already, you should learn to use social media. Love it, take it on a date, and buy it some flowers. You need to experiment with tweeting about your business’s latest project and try posting pictures of it on Flickr. Discover your old and new friends on Facebook. Whatever it is you do, subscribe to blogs of interest and leave some comments. Learn it. Take off the blinders and jump in the Social media ocean, and see the change it can make in personal and professional communications and relationships.

(P.S. In real life, I don’t talk this much. Just ask anyone who knows me. Like I said, I’m more social in media.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Unblock The Block

by Janae Cummings, PR Associate

I’m a junkie for the written word. I live and breathe it, so when writer’s block sets in and I am suddenly unable to produce it, I panic. Not on the outside, mind you. To the untrained eye, I am cold steel. But on the inside, I’m like the frantic lunatic who’s drowning in the shallow end of the pool. The nice thing is that these days, I’m better at recognizing when I’m in the shallow end, and within a few minutes, I can put my feet down, follow a few proven steps and get started.

1. Shelve the creativity
All copy requires mundane, technical information, so take care of that first. You don’t need to be creative or think up clever turns of phrase. Just introduce the product and write the specs. 85% of the project will be done before you know it.

2. Surf the Internet
I was once told that reading additional product or competitor information would cure a block. I would have been better off going home for the day. If you need to read to make progress, I suggest the Internet. Really. Whether you’re into sports, celebrity gossip or political news, opening yourself up to different writing styles and topics can help jumpstart napping creative brain cells.

3. Listen to Music
Open iTunes, kick back in your chair and absorb. But rather than falling in with the beat, listen to the lyrics and write down your favorite lines. You’d be surprised how creative musicians can be even in the age of the Black Eyed Peas. Play with the words, rearrange them, edit them, improve upon them. Soon enough, you’ll have your own creative groove back.

4. Walk away
The more you press, the harder this will be, so if you’re still striking out, get up and leave. Not for good, of course. This is a temporary step. Take a walk, go to Starbucks, get some ice cream. Whatever you do, stop thinking about writing because at this point, it’s a part of the problem, not the solution.

5. Freewrite
Pull out a notepad and start writing. It doesn’t matter what you write, just that you’re doing it. My most recent attempts have included songs from Schoolhouse Rock, descriptions of co-workers and a list of words that I think should exist but don’t.

If these five steps don’t cure your writer’s block, you may want to contact your supervisor and ask for a mental health day. You probably need it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The year of the online publication?

Happy New Year to all!

Another year is upon us and with that we can be sure of one thing. Change. That goes without saying, right?

Well, it does if you're in the trade publication industry.

In the last year (let alone the last 5) we've seen some pretty significant changes in the trade publication landscape. As you know, we deal primarily with technical audiences including industrial and manufacturing folks - industries, by the way, which were particularly hard hit by the current recession. The trade publications serving these industries have suffered some pretty staggering casualties, casualties that beg the question - what will become of the industrial/manufacturing trade press?

In one year's time, we've seen the demise of ShopTalk and EDM Today, as well as the demise of printed editions of Tooling & Production, Modern Application News and, most recently, the iconic masthead American Machinist. Needless to say, these are some pretty big changes,not the least of which is the lost voice of these editors, people who have spoken on behalf of US Manufacturing for decades in some cases.

These changes have also affected the return on investment potential of our clients. Put simply, there are now far fewer pages that more people are fighting for. This alone makes things a bit more difficult. Now, in our case, we still have a fighting chance - our clients are leaders in their respective industries and have continued to develop new technology even during these trying times. Meaning, well, they are still newsworthy. But what happens to everyone else?

Is the answer simple? Is it the web?

Tooling & Production, MAN and American Machinist have all relegated their editorial to a virtual environment. No more page turning. No more pass around benefit. No more paper. Is this good or bad? Will today's engineer respond positively? Perhaps. Perhaps the younger generation of engineers will embrace this new wave of online reading. Perhaps this is a new standard set out of need, but bolstered by practicality.

Truth be told, no one knows. What we do know is that the role of print continues to change. I think the real question is whether this change be an evolution or a redefinition entirely?

We're not sure. What we do believe is that the strong books will persevere. What we're anxious to learn is how.

What do you think?