Keys to Success: CMW’s Quick Guide to Meeting Theme Design

Hi! CMW here again. We have another bit of wisdom we want to share with you. As you probably know, we have been working in the design/production space for life sciences for a long time, and it goes without saying that throughout that time we have seen our fair share of logos. In fact, everyone has – we take for granted just how many we see every single day, on our products, on storefronts, in emails, on social media. That’s why today’s sheet is a questionnaire to consider when building a meeting theme logo.

Every logo is different for a hundred different reasons: coloring, symbolism, text, dimensions. Logos appeal to different demographics; they’re displayed in different places; they exist along a spectrum of aesthetics and moods. And a meeting theme logo is for an even more specific audience, for a particular purpose. While a graphic designer and their expertise will handle the technicalities, you need to be able to communicate just what you’re looking for to them, and all of the considerations can be difficult to keep track of. You can run into missed details, miscommunication, and costly do-overs. Asking all the right questions solves these problems, saving you time and money.

Create something striking, memorable, and, most importantly –representative of you as a company and a brand. If you’re developing a meeting theme logo, download this Meeting Theme Logo Questionnaire that you should review with your graphic designer.

The Power of Powerful Partnerships

I was having trouble the other day with a product I was using, so I called customer service. And as the phone conversation continued, I realized I was talking to somebody who didn’t actually work for the company that I was calling. After I’d gotten my issue resolved and hung up, I really got to thinking about it – it seems like everything these days is outsourced.

And that makes sense, right? Why not let a specialist handle the things they specialize in, while you focus on your own strengths? Hey, it’s why I called customer service in the first place. Nobody’s writing their own accounting software or developing their own CRM platform from scratch anymore. And whether it’s printing pamphlets or mass production, businesses find that it’s fitting to just let somebody else focus on a task they really want to do.

And yet – in many cases – outsourcing leaves you and your company exposed to greater risk. Who are these guys?  Do they care? Are they actually with the company they say they are – or is this 3 generations removed from someone responsible?

One of the things that we’ve done here at CMW that has helped us excel over the last 20+ years is a relentless commitment to being a True Partner. That is – when someone outsources a project to us – we treat it as OUR project. And when we have occasion to bring in an expert – we look for the same attitude and PARTNERING PROCESSES.

Let me share some thoughts about why this works for us, in the hopes that if you read something that resonates with you, it might just be worth trying for your own business.

  1. Communication. Communication is a lot smoother when everyone is in the same physical space. But Zoom meetings, conference calls can work too. Yes, the ability to walk to the next cubicle, ask a question, and get a swift response in real time, is a welcome breeze. But better, more efficient, and more frequent communication is a question of commitment. In a nutshell, sometimes it’s just good to walk down the hall and get something fixed. But, the really great thing is to know WHO to call and to know that they WILL fix the problem. That’s true whether they’re sharing a fridge with you are in an office 100 miles away.
  2. Quality. Quality is a central theme of our company, and it’s something that we can focus on a lot easier with in-house hiring. If you have strict standards and attention to detail that you adhere to for quality control, being able to oversee projects firsthand lets you make sure that nothing falls by the wayside.
  3. Intellectual Property and Company Data. Intellectual property and company data are precious. Keeping confidential material confidential is much easier to do when you can keep a closer eye on it. But more importantly, it’s really about working with people who know and respect the importance of your IP.
  4. Rates. Shopping for the most economical specialist is time-consuming and risky. The lowest cost provider isn’t necessarily the most economical – OVERALL-way to go. Pick a partner you trust and work well with together, and your work will get done on time, to-spec and to the delight of YOUR clients.
  5. Star power. Star power? Yes. Say you find the perfect specialist, a true professional, who excels at what they do…but they’re outside your company. But those stars, and your close, lasting relationship with them, can still help make your company distinct.

The decision to outsource or pull from in-house is an incredibly important one, and, because of that, a very difficult one. There are pros and cons of each that you should examine given how your own company runs – your strengths and limitations, your values. But in an increasingly outsourced world, we at CMW have found that a Partnering Mindset is key when our clients trust us to get the job done. And we’re proud of that!

This is a Great Subject Line: Latest Email Marketing Trends

It’s nothing new that the world is pretty much fully digital.

That’s obvious everywhere you look. But that doesn’t mean it’s something to take for granted. One thing that we (and pretty much every business in the world these days) have found increasingly effective for us is leveraging email to communicate with our clients, prospects, and other interested parties. So I just wanted to reflect on five of the trends that we see going on in email marketing today. If you need to communicate with your clients, prospects, etc. – these can help you reach and engage with your audience in a way that gets results.

  1. Quality > Frequency. Hopefully (just like I’m hoping for this one!) your emails are worth reading. If they’re not, it doesn’t matter how often you’re churning them out. A really solid, informative read once a week sticks out more than a half-baked blurb every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, even if that feels like you’re reaching your audience more. Now, don’t be afraid of frequency if you really have something to say — but having something to say comes first. How do you monitor this? That scary little “opt-out” link. You shouldn’t take all opt-outs personally. A reader may no longer be interested not because you’re not interesting, but because things have changed for them. Or, maybe their inbox is just too cluttered — we’ve all been there. But opt-outs are still essential to monitor. Get too many and there may be something to improve on your end.
  2. Consistency: Frequency’s second cousin. So if you’ve got quality emails worth opening, hopefully people start opening them. That’s when consistency comes into play — if you gather a following, they should come to expect your posts on a reliable, consistent basis. If you have a Wednesday blog, post on Wednesday. Even if you’re unsure of the kind of following you have — post like you have a devoted one! Chances are it’ll help you get there.
  3. How much content? You’ve got some strong posts that you’re sending out every Wednesday at 9 AM that your followers know to expect. But one day, you’re drafting up a new email, and you find yourself having a lot more to talk about then you previously thought. You’re paragraphs and paragraphs deep. It’s all kind of related though, right? That’s up to you. It’s important, though, to examine every post and see if it’s worthy of 1 piece of content, or 2 or 3 pieces of content…what’s going to keep your audience engaged? In a fast-paced, mobile world, you don’t want to lose people with posts too dense and verbose, but you also want to say what you have to say. Be sure you’re breaking up your content in a way that remains dynamic and economical for a reader.
  4. Mobile-friendly design. Alright, perfect: you’ve got a high-quality post. You’re sending it out every Wednesday. It’s Part 1 of a 3-part arc that your readers can avidly follow. It’s in a clean, engaging, eye-catching email, with a photo or graphic, important links. Somebody on your email list is checking their email on their phone, they see it, open it up…and it’s white squares, chopped up text that’s too small to read, and files that didn’t load. Of course the one thing that does load, front and center among the mess, is your logo. People don’t check their emails when they get into work anymore, they check their emails on their phone on the bus to work. So you want to be prepared by having a design compatible with both a clicking mouse and a scrolling thumb.
  5. The final test. No matter how much time you spend mapping out your posts, tracking your followers, developing friendly design — the truth is, nobody can tell you what works better than who you’re actually selling to. That’s why an increasing number of companies are sending out A/B emails. Email A is flashy, colorful, funny. Maybe the subject line is “Help! We Couldn’t Think of a Subject Line!” Okay…I’ll leave the jokes to you. Email B is a couple paragraphs of texts, minimalist design, strictly professional. Email A goes to half of your email list, Email B goes to the other. You keep track of what gets the best response, and you design future marketing accordingly.

We see engaging with clients and customers effectively and consistently as key in growing your business, and paying attention to your email marketing is a huge part of that. In today’s world, email lists can reach an unparalleled number of eyes, and you need to make sure those eyes are hooked. Now can somebody help me come up with a subject line for when I send out this blog?

Find Your Tide Pool: Benefits of Specializing in an Industry

Have you ever stopped to kneel down and look at a tide pool at the beach? Crabs, starfish, snails. They’re very, very small, easy to step over – but each one is its own fascinating, beautiful world, full of creatures singularly adapted to live in that very niche ecosystem. Okay, I’m sorry – I’m not bringing up the beach to make you wish you were on vacation. I bring it up because of a bit of CMW history. Years ago, CMW focused on the work we did (slide presentations, event signage, graphic design, etc.) far more than who we were doing it for. But the truth is, each industry is its own ecosystem – its own beautiful tide pool; each one is nuanced with little details that you only discover if you really get to know it. Why take the time? Well, here are some of the rewards CMW has found in specializing.

  1. Those little details. Barnacles. As far as sea creatures go, they’re…not the most fun. Compared to a tide pool’s brightly-colored sea sponge, they’re dull wallpaper. As it turns out, there are over 1200 different species of barnacles. And did you know they have tiny hairs on their limbs? Did you even know they had limbs? One of CMW’s current services is scientific posters, and with scientific posters, knowing those hairy little details of the industry is essential. We were once laying out a poster and the client supplied to us the board dimensions. We made the poster smaller than the board. Our client questioned this and we assure them that this is our normal process. When the congress supplies the board size that isn’t necessarily the available space on the board. If the poster is larger than the available area the hanging of the poster becomes difficult and there will be tacks covering the content of the poster. We would have never known this had we not been well-versed in the industry, from making scientific posters like this one.
  2. You can’t be “general service.” The ocean is huge – I’m not making a breakthrough here. And while that does mean it’s full of possibilities, it also means – as anybody in Finding Nemo can tell you – that it’s very easy to get lost in. The idea of being a general service model can be appealing; there’s the potential of reaching more clients in more industries, and seeming more adaptable. But it also hinders you in creating a stronger, more unique, more personal brand. With that level of specificity, you don’t get lost in a sea of businesses with similar faces and you shed that vague label of “general service.”
  3. The industry can view you as the best. When a species spends its whole life in an ecosystem, it’s only natural that it grows to be the best at surviving in it. Turban snails draw into the shells and shut their doors to avoid drying out come low tide. Starfish have hundreds of suction cups to cling to the rocks when strong waves crash in. CMW? We invested in color-matching technology to ensure we can exact the splash of our client’s brand down to a science. It’s industry-specific quality control, and clients will take notice – hopefully spreading the word.
  4. Pricing. So, I’ll be honest – there’s not a great tide pool analogy for this one. Sea creatures don’t deal with money or even know what it is. That’d be the easy life, huh? But for us business humans, it’s important. When all these things are combined – your attention to detail, your unique services, and your excellent reputation within a specific industry, firmer pricing for expertise is almost guaranteed. You want a return on investment for the effort you’ve put into getting to know this industry inside and out – and you will get it.

As a business, you want a clear brand, you want a great reputation, and you want your client to see your work as the best that they can get. Specializing in an industry is a perfect way to achieve all of these. Get to know those crucial, product-saving details. Show clients you’re unique, and not only unique – but above the rest. And expect an excellent return on investment. Next time you’re at the beach (I know – I hope it’s soon, too!) take some time to really admire one of those beautiful little, living tide pools. Then, come back to the office and find your own.

The 1-10-100 Rule 101: How to Manage Quality

Picture this: it’s the night before a big conference one of your clients is hosting. They’ve requested eight different handouts. You’ve got them all printed out, shimmering with the perfect glossy finish your client requested, and have sent them off…and then your client tells you the printed domain address is wrong. Your stomach somersaults, and it should; not only will the reprints cost you, but the extra delivery will cost you. You’ll have to drive to deliver the reprints yourself by the morning. Not only will the reprints and the extra delivery cost you, but the overtime labor will cost you, and the supplies lost along the way will cost you. Now your employees have to pull an all-nighter correcting this mistake, and all the expensive material you used for the last erroneous batch? Wasted.

And not only will the reprints, extra delivery, overtime labor, and lost supplies cost and cost and cost and cost you…but this could have all been avoided in the first place. Because “quality is free”, as Phillip B. Crosby said in his seminal guide that (you can be honest) is gathering dust on a lot of business people’s bookshelves…and if “quality is free”, why isn’t there more of it? Here at CMW, where quality is consistently a top priority, we feel that nothing prevents costly quality correction better than understanding the 1-10-100 Rule.

$1 – The cost of catching and fixing problems in the work area.

$10 – The cost of catching and fixing problems after they’ve left the work area.

$100 – The cost of failing to catch, and fixing problems after they’ve already reached the client.

The further down the line a mistake like that incorrect domain address gets, the harder and more expensive it is to make right — it’s exponential. And that $100 isn’t just costly. It’s embarrassing, too. You can almost see Ben Franklin’s hand going to his forehead. It very well could be the difference between you maintaining a long, fruitful relationship with a great client, and losing them over one giant flub. So how do we at CMW avoid quality disasters and the loss of clients?

We train each of our employees in a very simple process. Here are the steps.

  1. Check. When a project is started in the work area, look over the specifications closely. Precisely. Don’t take anything for granted. If you need to ask a clarifying question to a client, do so — sooner rather than later. You both benefit from making sure you’re on the same page. Then, follow those specifications throughout the working process; continually revisit them and check yourself along the way.
  1. Double check. When whoever started the project hands it off to its next phase, make it what we call a firm hand-off. Have both parties’ eyes on both the product as it stands and the original specifications. The more eyes, the better (just think of it as having the same rules as a Halloween costume). Between stages is a great place to catch and fix mistakes before more work is done. Remember — each time it’s passed on, the damage of error increases exponentially. Don’t let it reach 100.
  1. Triple check. Once a project is done, check it against the original specifications…again. And again. It’s complete, for all intents and purposes, but it’s still in the working area — this is the least costly place to catch and fix errors. Only after a thorough examination is it ready to leave.

You can see how just these simple checks and balances is much easier — and much cheaper — than a full-on disaster. Make sure each of your employees is aware of the risks of error, and the prevention process. If there’s a larger group of people working on a single project, hold a group meeting; get them in a room together and make sure everyone is on the same page. Give them the old 1-10-100 101.

Quality is free! So let’s make more of it.

Keys to Success: Adobe Acrobat Tip Sheet

Hello again! CMW here again. As you probably know, we work a lot with design; we have, for 30 years. From web, to graphic design, from scientific posters, to PowerPoint presentations. And between templates and drafts and instructions, and – hey!– the very tip sheets you can expect from us to share our tricks, we sift through lots of PDFs. That means we use Adobe Acrobat.

Any new or updated program can take a while to get the hang of, especially the vast array of features in Adobe’s extensive catalog. There’s a reason Photoshop is like an art form of its own – it’s complicated! You can leave that to the experts, but Acrobat is for viewing, creating, manipulating, printing, and managing PDF files, so it’s an important platform to familiarize yourself with it. If messy, poorly formatted files or frustration with the technical side of things are a problem for you, we’re here to help.

It can seem intimidating at first, but hopefully this info will save you much-needed time and patience. So…download this Acrobat-approved PDF! We get asked a lot of questions about Adobe Acrobat, and we’ve taken the most common questions we hear and provided the answers in one easy-to-access Adobe Acrobat Tip Sheet.

TRENDS in Disseminating Info at Scientific Congresses

One of the key objectives when it comes to the world of research is the effective sharing and of scientific information at a congress or conference. This is especially true when the focus is the academic or professional presentation of research information. The quality of the presentation will differentiate you from others – even the smallest differences could get you more of the attention you desire for your research.

As the spring scientific poster congress season is here we wanted to share our found trends as we helped our clients disseminate information at the live congresses throughout the years.

Here they are – and please reply with any you’ve seen that have impressed you:

Emerging trends:

  1. Pocket-sized booklets: if you have multiple posters at one meeting, layout the posters into a pocket-sized piece where the attendees can have the posters all in one book.
  2. QR code handouts: if you have multiple posters at one meeting, place the titles and QR codes on a 8.5” x 11” paper for access to all of your posters.
  3. Pocket-sized schedule of events: If you have a lot going on at the event, create a guide to help guide people where you want them to go.
  4. QR codes with advanced landing pages: Add video to your poster when accessed on a personal device.
  5. Augmented Reality: bring your posters to life. AR is not just for fun and games. AR will let someone viewing your content engage with it in real time – getting more and deeper information. Of course, this requires more work in development, but it can be impressive when done right.

Traditional methods that are still effective:

  1. Flat or double-sided handouts: allows the viewer to take home and study the poster.
  2. 8.5” x 11” abstract only handouts: a short effective read for the viewer
  3. Fabric media: easiest way to transport a poster – less hassle and still an aesthetically pleasing showcase.
  4. ePoster repositories: keep all the posters and oral presentations ever given in one place. This allows you to make your content experience deeper and can also more easily give you a headstart on next year’s work.

The truth is that so long as there are live conferences and congresses, you have to give special attention to how you present your research to peer and potential partners. At Creative MediaWorks, we have been staying on the cutting edge for our clients for over 2 decades. Learn more about our Scientific Poster programs.

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Keys to Success: CMW’s New Website Design Process Infographic

Hello once more! CMW here again. When we shared with you our Website Beta Testing Checklist, we discussed the impact that the explosion of the Internet had on our company after its founding in 1989, when the first commercial dialup Internet service provider was just being opened. Since then, of course, web design has become one of our featured services. From KOL/speaker portals to slide libraries to video production, we’ve seen it all, which is why we’re giving you a look at our website design process.

It goes without saying that a lot of layers are involved when creating the perfect website. But even if you have an idea of everything that needs to be done, keeping track of it in an orderly way can be difficult. We’ve broken down the process into 6 simple stages: Develop Project Plan, Planning and Research, Design, Development, Deployment, and Maintenance. Following this formula can solve common problems of disorganization, rushed or missed work, and unneeded stress. Our infographic also includes tips on user preferences to optimize the effectiveness of your site — as well as a handful of other helpful references and statistics. Know the territory! Use it all to your advantage.

Your website is one of the most important reflections of your company. Streamline its design with our Website Design Process Infographic. These critical phases of website development will help you manage your next website project with authority.

Keys to Success: Beta Testing that New Website of Yours!

Hey there! It’s CMW again. A lot’s changed since CMW started back in 1989 – we found our industry niche in life sciences, for instance. But the most significant development wasn’t in our own company – but in the world: the Internet, of course. Adapting to the new frontier, we learned how to optimize our clients’ online experience, as well as offer them our own web design service to optimize their clients’! Because this area is so important to us, and is essential to everybody today, we offer you our best tips to keep in mind when website beta testing.

One of the best tests of your customer service quality is the “blind shopping” simulation; a third party stands in for a potential client and you watch how efficiently they’re able find what they need to find on your site, to make sure they’re not jumping through hoops to get answers, or giving up before they do. This is basically the same logic as a website beta test, only this beta test goes deeper. Every functionality of your website needs to be checked and double-checked; its web browser compatibility needs to be seamless. At a base level of design and coding, your site needs to be airtight. Beta testing can avert a lot of risks: audience confusion, company misrepresentation, and even security failure. You can solve these problems before they become problems.

In a brave new world, make sure your online presence is up to the task, any task. Use this Website Beta Testing Checklist to cover all your bases – from assembling the right review team to avoiding dangerous security breaches.

Keys to Success: FedEx (Deadline) Shipping Tips

Hello! CMW again, checking in with another tip sheet. As you know, during our 30 years of experience, we have endured trial and error, figuring out what and what not to do – so it’s only fair that we share with you some of what we’ve learned. Today, we pull from that pool with information on FedEx shipping.

Have you ever gotten a birthday card two months after your actual birthday? It’s…appreciated –but it doesn’t quite cut it. Now up the stakes. Deadline maintenance is one of the most important aspects of our service. And when it comes to shipping, that can get very stressful. Timelines, human error and delays, unexpected costs. Best case scenario, you’re worried over nothing but you’ve still got a headache. Worst case scenario, a deadline’s actually missed. Not only is it aggravating – it’s a poor reflection on your company too. Unprofessionalism and missed deadlines won’t be a hassle if you know your stuff. That’s where we can help!

You can avoid a mentally and financially taxing shipping situation by having all the information. Meet your deadlines with minimal stress or concern with these best practices for timeline and package preparation on our FedEx Shipping Tip Sheet.

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