Thursday, November 21, 2013

Floor Your Customers with the Right Graphics in the Right Place

The key to more sales may be right under your feet. And everybody else’s.

I’m talking about floor decals, and here’s why.

I recently read about a new phenomenon that doctors are calling “iSlouch.” No kidding; people are hunched over so much, looking at their smart phones and other electronic devices, that it’s leading to back and neck problems.

Doctors are also warning their patients that so much time spent looking down at their techno-gadgets can shorten the neck muscles, increase the gravitational pull on the jowl area, and result in a drooping jawline—what’s being called a “smartphone face.”

Now, I’m not here to prescribe medical solutions for millions of Americans who are exhibiting these habits. What I am here to suggest is that this phenomenon represents an opportunity. If people are looking down so much, why not put your message where they’ll see it?

Floor decals are an often-overlooked method of displaying a name, logo, brand or message. They’re made of durable, slip- and scuff-resistant vinyl that holds up well under foot traffic and prominently displays your message right where people are looking: Down. They’re colorful and creative and can be made in a variety of sizes and shapes.

No, I’m not trying to add another new condition (decal droop, perhaps?) to the list. But the fact is, people are looking down more. Why not put your message there?

Next time you’re out, look at the people all around you, and see for yourself why floor decals could be just the thing to help you stand out in the marketplace.

Friday, August 30, 2013

‘Everywhere a Sign’ – So Make Yours Stand Out

Banners, signs and displays are everywhere—but are people getting the message?

Have you ever been driving down the road and spotted a sign with so many words on it that you don’t know where to begin reading?

You glance over, decide “I can’t read all that!” and turn your attention back to the road in front of you.

The sign might have been colorful, or contained a strong visual—maybe a photo, or a logo. But, because it tried to do too much, the message got lost.

We see it all the time in our business.

It’s been estimated that we’re bombarded with 2,000 images a day. In larger cities like New York, that number jumps to as many as 5,000. Sides of buses. Floors. Windows. Pens. Receipts. Websites. Shopping bags. You name it—if there’s space available, it probably has a sign or an image or an advertisement on it.

We’re battling sensory overload. That’s why, when it comes to your banners, signs and displays, it’s important to communicate quickly and clearly.

On one hand, the “tricks of the trade” aren’t tricks at all. They’re common sense. Shape, size, color and location all affect visibility. Ignore any one of them, and you’ve got problems.

Likewise, the font you choose, and the size you make it, affect readability.

On the other hand, you’d be surprised at the number of companies that take a do-it-yourself approach when it comes to graphically displaying their message. Knowing what message you want to convey is one thing; knowing how to do it effectively is another.

At Creative Source, we pride ourselves in being experts in the creation and printing of banners, signs and displays that cut through the clutter and reach your intended audience. We’ve been in the business for 30 years and know what works and why.

Standing out and getting your message noticed doesn’t have to be a mystery. It just has to be done right.

With so many messages competing for our attention every day, that can make all the difference.

MIKE BOYD is president of Creative Source. Clients looking for sign companies in Canton, Ohio
and the surrounding region look to Mike and his staff for creative marketing solutions.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

To Thine Own Self Be True

I turn down work all the time.

Sound crazy? It’s not, and it shouldn’t be for you, either.

At Creative Source, we do certain things very well: Banners. Displays. Graphics.

We do them professionally, accurately and quickly. Clients looking for sign companies in Canton, Ohio and the surrounding region come to us for visual marketing solutions. These include shopping malls, banks, hospitals, schools, doctors, dentists, lawyers, manufacturers and more.

Dave Hess and I broke into the business two decades ago at Camelot Music, in the marketing and advertising department.  A big part of our job was to design and produce signs, displays and banners for more than 400 retail stores nationwide.

Along the way we learned that more than 90 percent of communication is non-verbal. What’s more, we humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. How many times have you heard people say, “I’ll believe it when I see it?” That’s not just a saying; it’s the truth.

We capitalize on that fact by producing great graphics for our clients.

So why do I turn down work? Because sometimes people ask me if we produce advertising campaigns. Or radio commercials. Or websites. And I tell them no.

Could we? Maybe. Probably. But that’s not who we are.

At Creative Source, we’ve found that the key to standout performance is to know what we do, and do it better than anyone else.

Banners. Displays. Graphics. We’re a one-stop shop for creative visual solutions.

Is your brand clearly defined? If not, identify the key products or services that propel your business forward, and focus on those.

We can’t be all things to all people. But if we’re the right things to the right people, we have a better chance of standing out and being a success.

MIKE BOYD is president of Creative Source. Clients looking for sign companies in Canton, Ohio
and the surrounding region come to Mike and his staff for creative marketing solutions.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

At Golf Outings, Low Scores Aren't the Only Way to Stand Out

I played in a golf outing recently, and was reminded that sometimes, in order to stand out, you have to fit in.

It was a beautiful day on a beautiful course that is the centerpiece of a prestigious country club. Teams representing businesses and organizations from Ohio and beyond assembled early in the morning to shake off the cobwebs, warm up, and embark on a day of fun, food, and fellowship.

My company sponsored a foursome, and it included colleagues from the sales training, web design, and public relations fields. Other foursomes included the usual list of suspects: bankers, attorneys, accountants, contractors, craftsmen, corporate executives, salespeople, union representatives and more.

Golf outings are held to raise money and awareness. You end up spending most of the day with your group, which makes it easy to miss the big picture. Because outings provide remarkable opportunities for networking, learning and listening.

How many times a year do you have the opportunity to cross paths with so many fellow professionals in such a relaxed, intimate setting? To be honest, golf was the last thing on my mind. I enjoy the game, but I’m no PGA pro. What interested me most was the opportunity to meet and converse with a diverse group of business professionals.

Those opportunities were seemingly few and far between: early in the morning as players arrived; during a lunch break on the turn; in the clubhouse for drinks after our round; and at the dinner that concluded the event. In truth, however, those moments provided me with the chance to interact with others and find out more about their businesses.

It’s not the time for blatant sales pitches. Networking never is. But it’s a great place to meet people, learn about them, and let them know you’re interested.

And that’s the key—showing interest in others. You can’t do that if you’re always off on your own, or hiding in the shadows somewhere, keeping to yourself.  Standout performance is about more than just showing up. It’s important to put yourself right in the middle of the crowd, where you can meet people and truly interact in a social setting.

I’ve written before about how I had to learn to get out into the community and spread the message about Creative Source and our brand. I had to get out of my comfort zone and literally learn to fit in with others.

Golf outings aren’t the only way to do that, but they’re definitely one of the best. If you’re trying to build your brand, look for ways to do it with more than just your work. Participate in community activities, events, and organizations. Look for opportunities to interact with people in the business community on a personal level. In addition to helping others through your participation, you’ll stand out in the minds of your business partners and prospects.

MIKE BOYD is president of Creative Source,
a marketing solutions company in Canton, Ohio. Click here to visit them online.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Don’t Be Just Another Orange Barrel

It’s that time of year again, when the orange barrels are back out in full force on Ohio’s roads. Once winter subsides, road construction is the norm across the state.

In fact, we become so accustomed to it that we hardly notice they’re there. Depending on where we live and work, we pass by hundreds, sometimes thousands, on a daily basis. They’re little more than an orange blur.

So we take them for granted. They’re unremarkable. No single barrel stands out.

But what if one did? What if one barrel along the side of the road was different? What if it was a different color, with a different colored flashing light? I bet you’d notice.

And that got me to thinking: It’s no different with your business. If you don’t do something to stand out, you’ll be lost in the marketplace—just like those orange barrels get lost along the highway.

So what are you doing to make your customers notice you? What are you doing to make sure your message gets through? It’s all about branding—about making your name and your business memorable.

It’s a noisy world out there, and a competitive one. What are you doing to stand out?

MIKE BOYD is president of Creative Source,
a marketing solutions company in Canton, Ohio. Click here to visit them online.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Stand Up, Speak Up, and Stand Out

Toastmasters? What’s a "toastmaster"?

If you’ve ever wondered that, you’re not alone. So did I, at one time. But before your mind wanders off to an image of a cook buttering toast at the local diner, let me explain.

Toastmasters International has been around since 1924. It’s a non-profit organization that operates clubs worldwide that are designed to help members improve their public speaking and leadership skills.

It’s that last part – “improve their public speaking and leadership skills” – that drew me to a local Toastmasters chapter a few years ago.

Mike Boyd (L) and Dave Hess of Creative Source.*
Our business was growing at Creative Source, and, as president, I had to grow, too. We wanted to be known for more than just signs, displays and banners. We wanted to be known as a business resource for creative branding solutions of all kinds.

That required changing our message, and communicating it to our target market. In addition to joining Toastmasters, I participated in sales training sessions and began networking anywhere and with everyone I could.

Here’s the kicker: At the time, I thought I was doing all of that for me. And, to some extent, I was. Over time, however, I realized that the training I was going through was also putting me in a position help others.

Ultimately, that’s the most important part. Because it’s when we help others, and mentor others, that we truly stand out.

That really hit home for me when my daughter went off to college at Ohio State. She’s graduated now, but back then—due in large part to the new perspective I was gaining—I was able to describe college to her from a different viewpoint.

“This is the biggest networking event of your life,” I told her. “Every day you’ll be in the middle of 50,000 students, plus countless professionals who can help you get the most out of your college experience. Make the most of it.”

Instead of just thinking of college as a place where she could take some classes and party with friends, she followed my advice and built relationships throughout her four years there. Now, she works in communications for the university and is applying to graduate school.

We can have the same effect on everyone we come in contact with. Call it giving back. Or paying it forward. Whatever terminology we want to use, the key is sharing our knowledge and experience to benefit others.

That’s the kind of thing I’ve learned through organizations like Toastmasters. Stand up. Speak up. Turn your focus outward instead of inward. Not only will you be better for it, but the benefit you provide to others will make you truly stand out in the marketplace.

*Photo courtesy The Repository, Canton Ohio

MIKE BOYD is president of Creative Source,
a marketing solutions company in Canton, Ohio. Click here to visit them online. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Moving Up By Moving Out

In my last post I wrote about the impact that Michael Gerber’s book, The E Myth, had on me personally, and on our business. The lessons I learned from it encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and represent our business to the community and our industry. It paid off, and Creative Source has experienced more than two years of sustained growth.

One of the ways we accomplished that was to expect the unexpected. Just as the U.S. economy began to slide into a recession, our company was running out of space. The building where we had been located for more than a decade was too small. We needed something bigger.

Conventional wisdom said to stay put. The economy was bleak. It was no time to move. But we knew we had to, if we were going to grow.

We came across a former retail space in a small shopping plaza in the Belden Village district. At first, we thought what anyone would—who in their right mind would put an office and production facility right in the middle of a retail center?

The more we thought about it, however, the more we realized what a great idea it was. The location offered ample space for offices and a production facility. In the area most people would think of as a storefront, we envisioned a meeting place—a think tank and brainstorming area that could accommodate small, one-on-one meetings or large group conferences.

We leased the space, and today that vision is a reality. The first thing you see when you enter Creative Source isn’t a lobby; it’s a room we call the Idea Center. It has dividers, and tables, and chairs. There’s a video monitor and a white board, along with a place to make coffee or put out food.

It’s free to community organizations that need a place to meet. Professional groups have used it for seminars. We also take our clients there for conversations or to brainstorm.

The Idea Center has been a tremendous success for us. Yes, we’ve gained business because of it. More important, however, is that we’ve helped people, and made friends.

It’s also enabled us to give something back to the community. In recent years we’ve assisted several causes and organizations with service projects, and we’ve become active with local organizations like the chamber of commerce, Rotary club, and Toastmasters.

The point is, sometimes you can’t really stand out unless you know what’s out there to begin with. We had a need for more space. So did plenty of organizations in the community. By looking at things a little differently, we helped others even while we helped ourselves. By focusing our attention outside of the business, we improved things on the inside.

Remember the Billy Joel song, “Movin’ Out?” A few years ago we were doing just what the lyrics said—eking out a living and paying Uncle Sam with the overtime. We decided that if that was “moving up,” then we were moving out. So we did. And it’s made all the difference.

Stop by sometime for a cup of coffee, and maybe a dose of inspiration. See for yourself how the Idea Center has changed our business.

More important, ask yourself the question: What big idea could transform yours?

MIKE BOYD is president of Creative Source,
a marketing solutions company in Canton, Ohio. Click here to visit them online. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Reading Michael Gerber’s book was a turning point.

Creative Source had been in business for more than a decade. We had established ourselves and our reputation for quality work—or so we thought.

Along came 2008. An economic downturn swept the country, and we weren’t immune. During that time, and well into 2009, we lost 70 percent of our largest client’s business. They weren’t unhappy with us; they simply decided to save money, too, and do the work in-house.

It was the worst thing that could have happened to us—and also the best thing.

We learned that we had to develop a new operating model. We had to diversify. And we could no longer depend only on referrals and word of mouth to generate new business. We had to go out and sell ourselves.

None of us had ever really done that. We weren’t comfortable with it. But it had to be done, and, as president of the company, the responsibility fell on my shoulders.

That’s when I read Gerber’s classic, “The E Myth,” in which he stresses the need to work on your business instead of in it. In other words, as an entrepreneur, you have to develop systems that will run your business so that you don’t have to.

Essentially, Gerber says that if you’re in the middle of everything, doing the work—if you’re actually in it up to your elbows, shirt sleeves rolled up, consumed with day-to-day tasks—then you’re not truly an entrepreneur. You have to develop systems designed to get you out of that mindset, and into one of being an owner.

I also met Dean Langfitt, who became a close friend and business associate. Dean is with The Ruby Group in Akron, which is affiliated with Sandler Training. They’re a global management and sales training organization, and learning their innovative approach completely changed the way I fulfill my role as president of Creative Source.

Not surprisingly, things changed for the better. Fifty percent of our current client base came on board in 2011 and 2012, and we’re poised for more growth in 2013.

The evolution of Creative Source over the past few years directly corresponds to what I’ve learned about owning and managing a business. I’ve learned to think like an entrepreneur, and not like an employee. Every business needs leadership to survive. I had to get out of my comfort zone if we were to make it. As a result, today we’re poised for growth and are busier than we’ve ever been.

There are keys to standout performance. But they don’t just happen. You have to keep learning, keep moving forward, and keep adjusting to the demands of the marketplace.

What’s holding you back? I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and do the things that are truly necessary to reach your goals, both personally and professionally.

MIKE BOYD is president of Creative Source,
a marketing solutions company in Canton, Ohio. Click here to visit them online. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Tale of Two Mikes

I started my career in the graphics industry working at a small print shop in Canton, Ohio called Edwards Printing. I was a jack of all trades, doing everything from working in the bindery to making deliveries to customers. But I worked hard and constantly looked for opportunities to learn and make myself more valuable. Eventually one of our largest customers noticed, and offered me a job. That customer was Camelot Music.

Camelot was one of the biggest names in the music retailing business. I went to work in their creative department and thought I had it made. We had stores across the country, and business was booming. The biggest names in the music business came to our offices. I met Phil Collins, George Michael, Cyndi Lauper, The Judds, Clint Black, Celine Dion and countless other artists.

It was pretty cool. I was content in my little niche, and thought I’d be there forever, or at least for a long, long time. Of course, this was before the Internet. People still went to stores to buy music instead of sharing it online. We saw the cassette replace the 8-track, the CD replace vinyl albums, and DVDs replace VHS tapes. Gradually, chains like Camelot began losing business to the Walmarts, Borders and Best Buys of the world, who began to aggressively sell music and videos at a discount.

The ride came to an abrupt end for us in the mid-1990s. Camelot filed for bankruptcy, and was eventually sold. Many of us found ourselves on the outside looking in.

The story turns out okay—Dave Hess and I took our experience at Camelot and started Creative Source, which we operate to this day.

But as I look back, I realize there were two different Mikes in that story. One took a little job at a small mom-and-pop business and turned it into something much bigger and better. The other took something big, and was happy to just keep things the way they were.

One stood out. The other one blended in.

That’s why I talk so much about standing out, in business and in life. When I think about the big-name artists, agents, marketing executives and music promoters I rubbed shoulders with at Camelot, I just shake my head. Who knows what opportunities might have been out there for me, if I had done just a few things here and there that would have made me stand out?

Instead, I was comfortable with the status quo.

It’s a lesson I try not to forget. At Creative Source, we strive to stand out from the competition in everything we do. And we counsel our clients to do the same.

How about you? Are you letting opportunities pass you by? Or are you paying attention to detail and doing the little things that will get you noticed?

It’s all about standout performance. And it can mean the difference between success or failure, in business and in life.

MIKE BOYD is president of Creative Source,
a marketing solutions company in Canton, Ohio. Click here to visit them online. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Do You Stand Out?

That’s what I like to ask our clients from the very beginning.

It’s the basis for everything we do at Creative Source. Do you stand out? Does your message? Your reputation? Your product?

People can come up with a thousand different theories about marketing—and they have. But the bottom line is, you want to grow your business. You want to generate leads. You want to expand your customer base. And you can’t do it by blending in with everybody else.

You need to stand out.

The same holds true in your career, and in life. We all want to be successful. We want to be in control of our careers. We want to live fulfilling lives, in good health, with enough money to be comfortable and do the things we enjoy.

To get ahead in the workplace, you need to be better than average. You need to be better than good. You need to be great. You need to stand out.

Ever notice what they say in Hollywood when they announce the Academy awards? “The Oscar for outstanding performance by…”

We appreciate things that are better than average, and like things that are good. But we reward things that are outstanding.

That’s the purpose of this blog. I’ll share examples of what I call standout performance, learned and observed over my years in marketing. I’ll share client stories, personal anecdotes, or just things I’ve heard along the way.

The goal is to remain focused on that one concept: To be at the front of the pack, you have to stand out from the rest of the herd.

See you up front.

MIKE BOYD is president of Creative Source,
a marketing solutions company in Canton, Ohio. Click here to visit them online.