Category Archives: Ourselves

The Case for Print: Why Print is Very Much Alive

open book

Adaptation is critical for survival, and we’re always paying attention to the pulse of the industry. Our digital advertising agency’s rapid growth is proof that online and mobile are an essential piece of any modern marketing strategy. At the same time, we firmly believe that print is just as important as ever.

Strategic targeting

Advertising in any one space is likely to overlook a segment of the intended audience. Many of our senior living clients are testing the waters through online advertising and retargeting, but print and direct mail remain an important part of the mix. Our efforts are aimed at adult children and their parents, and while even the older generation is becoming more tech savvy, there is still a real value in print pieces. Print has permanence, and if posted on a refrigerator or bulletin board remains closer to top of mind. Even as we move more deeply into a digital world, we must not assume that everyone has an email address or surfs the web. Or, more dangerous still, conclude that if one isn’t active on the internet, one isn’t part of the intended target audience. It’s worth remembering that not everyone is playing in the same space we are, and print allows us to extend our reach far beyond the keyboard. 

Triggers for behavior

The connection between print and online behavior has even spurred former catalog giant J.C. Penney to rejoin the game. After nearly five years, the retailer is bringing back a print catalog specifically to generate online sales. While the 120 page version is a far cry from the 1000+ page Big Book sent to homes for more than 40 years, it underscores the reality of shopping behavior. Decades ago, shoppers browsed at home and ordered by phone. The revived catalog delivers the same basic experience. Only the checkout method has changed.

As the parent of a high school junior, my home mailbox (the physical one, next to the house) has been filling up with college catalogs and mailings. We’ve also brought home pieces from college visits (pieces I wish we’d created). Our recycling bin has certainly received its fair share, but many of these printed items have real staying power. Whether it’s the message, the copy or the strong imagery, they connect us to the institution in a different way. My high school student’s email account is probably filling up with digital mail, but it’s the physical pieces that stand as a reminder of the decisions to be made in the year ahead.

Permanent residency

Not so long ago, the digital photo frame was the next best thing – easily updated, always changing, filled with hundreds of images. What’s on my desk today? A few carefully selected snapshots of memorable times. Static. In picture frames.

Print pieces can be physically shared, pinned to a cork board, taken with you. They provide a physical reminder of an errand, sale, appointment, event. The fact that they’re not constantly changing and moving is why they’re so effective.

Watch what’s happening

There’s been a lot of noise lately about Apple running 12 pages of print ads for their newest tech item. Why would high-tech go so incredibly old school? Obviously we’d argue that’s exactly the reason – the enduring nature of print. The tactile experience of turning pages to see what’s next. The permanence of the image on the physical page. In an era where everything is temporary and disposable, print still has a place, an important role in the advertising mix.

And, again, Apple is controlling the message. Their announcement of the Apple Watch came months ago, and videos are easily found on the internet. But this massive print spread grabbed headlines and focused attention right before announcement of the actual availability. Twelve pages in Vogue position their tech gear as high fashion, as wearable art, as something exclusive and aspirational. And has given media outlets something to talk about to keep the story top of mind and their product a must-have.

Sticking with tradition

Today, as we embrace online advertising and social marketing, we cling just as tightly to the traditions of print. The written word is as powerful as ever. Even as I type this on a computer and review it on a tablet and submit it to the web, nothing can replace the bulletin board of treasured memories or the smell of an old book or the satisfying feel of a crisply turned page. Print is still kicking and will outlive us all.

7 Tips for Successful Rebranding

notebook with brand concept“We need a fresh look” is often the rallying cry that leads the charge.

When it comes to rebranding, though, a shiny new look is but one part of the process. Over the years, we’ve helped many clients define their brand, review branding efforts for consistency, and completely rebrand, start to finish. Through it all, we’ve learned a few key lessons that can help when you start thinking about rebranding.

  1. Think Beyond the Logo – A rebrand can elevate a brand, introduce it to a new audience, and most importantly, define what sets the brand apart and why customers should choose you. It’s critical to think beyond the logo to every touch point—every single customer interaction, marketing piece, and employee action. From signage to apparel, to elevator speeches, business cards, websites, and even email signatures, your brand needs to reflect who your company is and how you want the world to see you.
  1. Know Who You Are – You may think you know who you are, but really, it’s your customers who know best. (New Coke®, anyone?) From surveys, to focus groups, it’s important to start with research to gather current brand perceptions. Add that knowledge to your goals of where you want your company to go, and you’ve got the start of your rebrand. Doing your homework, asking the tough questions, and focusing on clearly defined goals will guide your path to success.

branding notes on whiteboard

  1. All Brains on Deck – Everyone who works on your brand day in and day out – all of your marketing, advertising, branding, and public relations partners – should be involved from the start. Even if only one partner is working on the rebrand, everyone needs to know about it, to avoid that fateful day when someone gets the “We have a new logo!” phone call. Once complete, everything from company letterhead to your website will be updated, and employees will need education around brand standards and messaging too. All too often, a new brand is developed without the reasoning and messaging to back it up.
  1. Don’t Rush to Publish – Your Brand Book, including your brand story, brand values, brand standards, colors, fonts, and examples of your brand voice, looks, and positioning statements, needs to be complete before you print, tweet, embroider, or announce anything to anyone, even your employees. (Except those gathered around the table, hopefully filled with pizza, candy, and other “brain food,” working on your new brand.) It’s natural to be excited, but sharing a piece of the new brand before the rebrand is finished will dilute your brand integrity.

swatches of color

  1. Get Graphic – Use an experienced, professional graphic design team to ensure a logo that will translate across media and appeal visually to your target audience. Color choices should accurately represent your brand, and a graphic designer expert in color theory can help. A beautiful logo that is expensive to print or embroider or that looks busy online will be too costly to maintain and detract from your message. Choose a partner willing to play nicely in the sandbox with your own creative team, too, if you have designers on staff. Which brings us to Point 6.
  1. Expect Strong Opinions – Your brand is the most personal aspect of your company. It’s the heart of who you are and you need to be prepared for strong opinions from both inside and outside of your company. This is good news. It demonstrates the passion of your team and your brand partners. Your employees should absolutely feel a deep connection with your brand, and all should take ownership of it. If your branding efforts are successful, this constructive conversation will contribute to positive brand awareness.

heart-shaped collage of logos

  1. Be Different to Be Better – It’s of course important to conduct a SWOT analysis of your company and to also know your competition inside and out. However, it’s common to fall into the trap of “wanting to be like them.” Following the pack won’t distinguish you from brands in the same industry, and you’ll be back to square one. All of your rebranding choices should reflect why your business should be chosen over everyone else. You need to shout what makes you different from the rooftops.

Remember, brand is everything, and everything is brand. Every conversation with a customer. Your company attire. The way you work. The values that guide you. And of course, your marketing and the image you share with the world.

Questions for us? We’re always here to help—we’ll even bring the pizza.

pizza sign

The Case for Insourcing in an Outsourcing World

team working for success
At Triad Advertising (now a division of the Triad Companies) we’ve always bucked the system, seeing ourselves as partners rather than contractors and billing only for creative and deliverables rather than nickeling and diming over phone calls and meetings. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that as agencies are becoming more specialized and relying increasingly on freelancers and subcontractors, we’re bringing (and keeping) it all in-house.

With insourcing we have closer control over the process and it’s easier to manage personalities and work habits for a more productive environment. All divisions follow our philosophy, with a shared work ethic and approach to customer service. The end product is more cohesive because we truly are a team. Bottom line, however, is that it’s easier for clients to work with one group and customer satisfaction drives everything we do.

Meeting Client Needs

This insourcing approach goes back more than two decades to our roots as a recruitment agency when Triad was born in response to clients’ needs for quality ads. In the beginning we worked with freelancers, but the goal has always been to have talent in-house. Frankly, it’s easier to control turnaround, budget and quality when you’re working directly with your own staff. And we adopted this approach with all aspects of our company, from account services to accounting to HR, to give us more control and oversight.

Investing for Customer Service

Our decisions are all fueled by client benefit and our goal of long-term customer satisfaction. For example, we saw early on the advantages of investing in a large scale color printer to reduce costs and turnaround for some of our print jobs. While we still use outside printers for specific projects, by having our own high quality machine in our office we can cut out the markup, increase responsiveness and, again, have better control over quality. Plus, we can produce high quality color mockups, proofs and presentations, which in turn improves our customer service.

This same awareness of quality control and an unsatisfied need led to the creation of Red Ball Promotions. Imprinted items created by other vendors weren’t meeting the standards our clients deserved and demanded. By creating our own promotional products division backed by a full creative department, we were able to establish relationships with preferred vendors, craft campaigns from concept to fulfillment, and deliver high quality branded items. With Red Ball Promotions, our clients get more than just an order taker, they get the support of an entire creative team for full-service campaigns.

Growing Through Change

Launching a new division isn’t easy. Establishing Red Ball involved stepping out of our comfort zone, learning the industry, and building business. At one point we were even told that advertising agencies had no business being in the promotional products arena. We begged to differ, putting our creative minds and resources behind everything we do. And today, our long list of satisfied clients agree that dealing with one point of contact for consistent high quality work is a major benefit of working with us.

We started our in-house digital agency, 5HD for the same reason – to better serve our clients. We were partnering with outside developers and service providers but felt we could provide better results and service in-house. This time, our employees took the initiative over several years to master the industry and suggested we create a new company with additional talent to satisfy the growing demand for quality digital marketing strategies. Again our creative and strategic expertise supports the expansion into an adjacent marketing space.

Looking to the Future

With a name like Triad, it’s easy to think that three divisions is the magic number. But we’re always looking for new white space to fill, and we’re already looking ahead to a branding division. It’s something we already do, we do it well, and we see a real need in the marketplace. At this point, it’s a matter of timing, personnel and resource allocation.

So in a time when others are cutting back and limiting themselves to a specialty niche, we’re moving forward and promoting our team’s talents and expertise. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about giving our clients a solution for success.Triad Advertising Companies

5 Strategies for Avoiding the Groundhog Day Effect

Groundhog Day
In the world of advertising, change is a constant. Budgets fluctuate, strategies adjust and target audiences constantly evolve. But through it all, some things do remain the same.

Like most businesses, we always have a deadline; always have lots of projects to balance and prioritize; always have clients to please. How each of my employees interacts with their clients, vendors and co-workers on a daily basis can change a mundane workweek into a fulfilling workweek. By taking the time to look at the work day and chiseling out some time or even adding in some activities can help stop the Groundhog Day effect or, as it’s commonly known, Same Shit Different Day (SSDD) syndrome.

Whether you’re in the corner office or a corner cubicle, here are a few suggestions for making each day, week and even month at the office feel like your first:

  1. Convey expertise – Carrying yourself in a manner where the people around you trust your judgment and respect your opinion provides you with new opportunities. Clients begin looking to you more for advice, rather than just taking an order. You will find fellow employees want to learn from you, rather than just listen to you. Gaining expert knowledge of just one piece of your job not only solidifies your position within the company, it also opens up new possibilities.
  2. Set personal goals – Triad’s employees have a passion and skill set for meeting deadlines and achieving the impossible for their clients day in and day out. By taking these abilities and applying them to your own goals, there’s a huge opportunity for personal growth. Whether it’s losing a few pounds, trying a new local restaurant each week or learning a new skill, you want a goal that’s all about YOU.
  3. Interact – You are with these people for at least 8 hours a day. Most Americans can’t say that about their own family. Find time or, better yet, take time to talk to your coworkers. Take time to meet your clients for lunch. Take time to ask your printer/media rep/courier how their day is or if they have plans for the big game. You don’t need to live in their shoes for a day, just learn a thing or two about the people you interact with. You never know what you might learn.
  4. Take a break – It’s so easy to work through lunch. Or skip it altogether. In our office, many of our employees go to the gym during lunch. More than once, meetings have been scheduled to accommodate a friendly pickup game of basketball. While it’s tempting to power through, taking a break, getting out of the office, clearing your head, paves the way for more positive, productive afternoons.
  5. Pay it forward – Most companies engage in some charitable giving. In our office that means creating an ad for a non-profit gratis, supporting a client’s charitable walk or providing matching donations to an employee’s favorite charity. Investing time, money or expertise not only gives a sense of what type of company you work for, but more importantly what type of a person you are.

At the end of the day, it’s all about how you approach things. It may be the SSDD, but it certainly doesn’t have to feel like it.

The 2014 Trimazing Race

Trimazing Hunt 2014 Clues

Our holiday party has a bit of a reputation.

Each year the Joe and Michele assemble something special to celebrate the holidays and year gone by. The last few years have featured a scavenger hunt of sorts throughout Greater Boston spurring (mostly) good-natured competition and plenty of surprises.

This year three randomly chosen teams represented each of the three Triad Advertising Companies (Triad, 5HD, and Red Ball Promotions). By outsourcing the scavenger hunt to Boston Cashunt, Joe and Michele got to join in the fun.

Triad Advertising Sweatshirts

Before we left the office, everyone got a warm fuzzy sweatshirt made by our own Red Ball Promotions.

Trimazing Hunt Clue #1

After a quick lunch, we all hopped in a trolley and headed to Target for a Supermarket Sweep-inspired race through the store.

Full shopping carts

Next stop was My Brother’s Keeper in Easton where we delivered the haul and got a quick tour of the distribution center. Several of our employees are making plans to volunteer in the year ahead.

My Brother's Keeper warehouse

Trolley ride to Boston

Back in the trolley, we headed in to Boston for our annual scavenger hunt….

Third Trimazing Clue

…and “the mysterious man in a black coat outside the Hard Rock Café.”

Ready for the scavenger hunt

Our three teams spent the next three hours roaming around Boston, searching for clues, taking crazy pictures, recording videos and having a great time.

The winning team – Team 5HD – poses with a golden Bruins fire hydrant:

Posing with golden fire hydrant

Team Triad shows some real teamwork…

Team Triad makes a pyramid

…and a willingness to do just about anything.

Team Red Ball stopping traffic…

Team Red Ball stopped in a crosswalk

…and “Living on a Prayer.” (As opposed to laughing on a prayer, as the bystanders were doing.)

At the end of the day, we were all a little colder, a whole lot sillier, and ready to kick back over dinner. We were all happy to celebrate the close of another great year with much more in store for 2015.