Category Archives: Inspiration
Last Thursday I attended a presentation at SCAD’s Entrepreneurial Forum by David Sherwin, a Senior Interaction Designer at frog design.
I didn’t really know what to expect since I was mostly drawn in by the title “Being an Agency of One”, but I found myself connecting with a lot of the experiences he shared during his presentation.
It was a mixture of experiences and advice that he came up with along with team of professionals in the design and marketing industry. It also had a strong focus on project management and profitability.
David offered in his lecture a lot of information that one would be able to obtain only after having coffee or a few beers with the owners of an agency or creative studio.
At the beginning of the lecture, he explained how agencies make money.
Well… by creating cool stuff, one may think. But in reality, lots of companies make their money from a variety of sources such as re-selling services (media buying, hosting), giving away content (blogs, tutorials) or selling proprietary assets (software, processes, etc.). Depending on what areas are more profitable and also depending on the level of involvement, staff hours need to be allocated accordingly.
After each agency has the materials they use as their currency, they need to figure out how they will engage in business with others. This part involves setting the rules of engagement and having a talk with clients to let them know what they can expect from the agency and what the agency is expecting from them. It is incredibly important to have this conversation because a lot of professionals in the creative industry wrongly assume a client is a client, and when they contact the agency, the agency is obligated to bend over backwards to accommodate their needs and expectations.
David also touched on the importance of saying no, whether it’s because the client needs something outside of our field of expertise, or because they have a very limited budget that won’t allow for our best effort. This will help the client understand we are a creative partner, and not just a vendor.
The main point I walked away with was that it is very important to know that whatever your structure (large agency, medium agency, small agency or freelancer) you need to position yourself as what you are and play on your strengths.
Each structure is specifically designed for different types of clients.
Large agencies usually are best for large companies, because sometimes the volume of their needs is only manageable by a really large team with very specific functions within the organization.
If you are a freelancer or a small agency, your full attention will be focused on the projects at hand, and the client will get personalized interactions every step of the way. There are varying levels of quality at this “size”, but generally if you find a good freelancer or small agency (i.e. Paragon) you’ve hit the jackpot.
Here’s why: generally with large agencies, you will get the best and most seasoned creatives at some point in the process, but the bulk of the work will be done by young and sometimes inexperienced employees, and there will be a huge cost associated with the agency’s service, not only because of their reputation, but also to cover their humongous overhead. With small agencies, you get all hands on deck, all levels of experience collaborating, because usually each person has a specific strength and for most projects, a variety of strengths will be needed.
I think I’ve covered only 20% of what his presentation contained, and maybe 0.02% of his extensive online materials, so if you want to know more, and get it straight from the source, I highly recommend following him on Twitter @changeorder and visiting his website.
Nicholas Felton is one of our favorite graphic designers. He is an absolute master of infographics and we’ve become a tad obsessed with his personal annual reports. To call them brilliant and inspiring is a total understatement.
Click on each of the reports below to see what I mean.
Felton’s work is absolutely beautiful. To think of the meticulous data collection it takes to do these is impressive, but it’s the story he tells in numbers, charts and graphs that is so interesting.
His most recent report is a masterpiece and is the most special so far because it’s actually about the life of his father, who passed away last September.
The report covers a massive amount of date including birth, parents (including the sobering detail that his father was killed in a concentration camp), education, places he lived, postcards he received, places he visited & stamps in his passport, his favorite coffee companion, his music collection and his collection of books.
Click on the red cover above to see the pages in detail.
This is a truly touching tribute to his father.
And it makes me think about all the things I don’t know, but should, about my own parents.
Felton’s reports are available for purchase on his site.
If you’re a fan of the PBS show NOVA you may have caught a fascinating episode last night, all about clean energy alternatives and new materials that are planet friendly.
From bio-fuels to fuel cells this show does a great job of breaking down the potential and challenges associated with alternative energy options. And since one of the biggest problems with energy is storage, host David Pogue delved into some very innovative energy storage solutions being developed by entrepreneurs all over the country.
I heart science!
Below is the preview….CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE ENTIRE EPISODE.
(I highly recommend it).
I came across an article on Chief Marketer about a business owner who started eavesdropping on her target market’s conversations on Twitter, until she had something relevant to share with them. But this is not your usual “OMG!!! you guys like pizza?!!! I make the best pizza in town”. She actually shared other aspects of her life with potential customers, and participated in their conversations with helpful tips and links, and when they dug deeper for more information on her, they found out that she was an entrepreneur who baked gourmet cupcakes. Genius!
I thought this was an example worth sharing, because it answers at least one of the questions regarding how to reach your customers on the huge ocean of social media. It’s not about pushing your products or services 24/7, it’s about communicating with your customers and being the voice for your business. Showing that you do have a business, but at the same time enjoy shopping for shoes, is a way for you to assure your customers that there is a real person behind your company. It’s okay to prove that you an expert in your particular field, but also try to let others know that you have other interesting things to say.
These efforts will vary depending on the nature of your business, but to me, it helps to think about social media as a big party in which you are expected to share compelling stories in order to engage others. If all you talk about is your business or your professional accomplishments, people will politely (or impolitely!) turn around and look for someone else to chat with.
We recently came across an innovative idea that has become very popular in the motion graphic’s scene. It was created by Nick Campbell (of Greyscale Gorilla), a motion designer and iPhone app designer who lives in Chicago.
Nick is very interested in helping others fight the dreaded mind-blocks and constraints that sometimes make the creative mind go crazy, and he has devised a system that helps people let go of those influences and let their creativity flow.
He gives his readers a theme, which can be a word, a phrase or a category and they create a 5 second video of whatever their mind takes them to. Nick then picks a winner and features this video along with some of the entries on his blog. Sometimes they may have prizes, but overall it’s just a great way to fill your mind with visual inspiration from people around the world.
I recently came across an article about this book and I thought it spoke to what we strive for here at Paragon. I have to say, I have not read the book, but from the buzz it has generated online, it sounds like something worth sharing.
The main focus of the book is to emphasize the importance of being indispensable. There will always be an abundance of capable people or companies that can do exactly what they are asked to do, but indispensable people/companies will deliver things that were never expected of them and sometimes were not even discussed in a design brief. Being indispensable for Godin means adding emotional value to the experience, delivering things that can’t be put in an invoice because they cannot be quantified or valued through money. We cannot offer counseling, oil changes or free hugs (OK, actually we do offer free hugs), but what we CAN offer is design services, the right way.
For us it’s a joy to be able to meet and exceed our clients expectations and we see our everyday routine as anything but a routine. We enjoy having a direct relationship with our clients, being able to get a first hand reaction to our work, because we are proud of what we do, and we are always happy to show what we are working on.
It is a reality that a lot of people have access to the equipment and a lot of them use it to do business. What will ultimately set us apart from people that posses the right equipment, is the extra “something” we can bring to the table: an unwavering positive attitude, a desire to share our knowledge and experience instead of coating everything in mystery, and our desire to always help our clients achieve what they came to us for in the first place.
Since here at Paragon we have a passion for innovative projects that bring people together, we found this project on motionographer.com and decided to share it.
It’s called One Day on Earth (10.10.10) and it’s about filming or taking photographs during a period of 24 hours in every single country in the planet. Now that 10.10.10 has passed, they will be putting together a film that will be available to the whole world (no pun intended) and they have also opened this project to contributions from people like you and me who would like to share something about their own lives with the rest of the world.
I was inspired this morning by a post entitled “Messy is Good” on The Creative Coast blog by a great friend, Rad Harrell. In the post Rad talks about embracing a bit of chaos in the quest for solving a problem. Wise words. And I’ll add to that – the thing that keeps us moving through the mess is the passion.
Passion is the reason we excel. It’s that thing that causes us to make the right decisions even when we’re worried they might seem foolish. It forces us to put one foot in front the other when the results aren’t as sexy as we’d hoped. It reminds us where we’re headed even when it feels like we’re taking the long route. Passion is absolutely infectious. And fun.
Wouldn’t the world be a far better/more enjoyable place if we all sought out that thing we were truly passionate about and then DID IT?!
Here to inspire you this weekend is a man who just rocked my world with his passion for fizzy stuff….
(Thanks to James for sharing this video)
Click here to purchase some these awesome beverages online.
And, don’t forget to take a moment tomorrow to be grateful for the amazing life you have. Enjoy it.
I was truly honored to meet President Obama back in March, and took the opportunity to give him one of our portfolio books along with a note from the entire team.
Needless to say….this will be framed and hung in my office.