Well, we’re legal. Or, of legal age. Or will be really soon…my business will be drinking age in the state of California this year!Hearken Creative Services turns 21 this year. I don’t know what significance that holds, except that we’ve been working with some truly wonderful vendors and clients for a very long time.Let me tell you a few things that I have observed over the years.First, whether it be print or web or video or skywriting, story is essential. And not just any story, but a story that invites you in to partake in the story. Here’s an example:
Cecilia has been working to learn English and support her family at the same time. She now has a good enough grasp of the English language -- through the help of “Charity X” -- that she has enrolled in college to get her law degree. But she needs your help to finish this wonderful task: Cecilia will spend an hour volunteering in your community for every dollar raised towards her college education -- giving back through her education in response to your giving.
Or here’s another one, for a pharmaceutical company:
Phil has spent his entire adult life researching Type Two Diabetes, because it has claimed so many lives in his extended family. Finally, after years of dead ends, Phil’s partnership with “ABC Pharmaceutical” has paid off, and they have received approval for a revolutionary treatment that will change the lives of millions of people living with Type Two Diabetes. There is nothing so rewarding as finding a solution to a problem that plagues so many people -- and Phil wants to share it with you.
Story changes everything. It makes you -- the reader -- interact with the product/service/philanthropic cause in a way you never would if it weren't for story. Remember the Axe deodorant commercials from a few years ago? Whether or not you liked them, you can't argue with the power or the “stickiness” of the story: put Axe on, and the girls go wild over you. You remember that meme, and therefore remember the brand.Second: you get what you pay for. Nothing worthwhile is ever free.I remember a tradeshow that one of my clients went to -- this was some time ago -- and they wanted to cut corners significantly. So, instead of printing up brochures, catalogs, posters, and ads, they asked me to create “masters” of a few flyers that they could print up themselves on colored copy paper, using the company copy machine. I understand that there is a time and place for cheap flyers, but this was not the time or place. The event tanked for them, and they lost money and credibility within that community.You want video? It will cost. But why would you not pay for good quality video? At this point, YouTube ensures that any well-produced video you create could potentially still be working for you in 3, 4, 5 or more years. What brochure could do that for you?You want to send an e-mail blast? Like those tradeshow flyers, you could throw together a cheap, poorly-designed e-mail, but why? This could potentially be the sales tool that convinces someone to buy, so why try to cut corners? And here's something more: YouTube was going to give you returns beyond the initial cost over time; a well-designed e-mail could be sent to double or triple the number of people on your list -- you just have to find those people!Finally (at least for today): Experience counts. Twenty years ago, I was a good designer. Today I am a fantastic art director, brand consultant, and project manager. Fifteen years ago I was a good audio mixer. Today, I have the experience to produce, direct, and monetize corporate audio and video for my clients. That doesn’t mean I don’t like working with younger talent, but it does mean that I understand the value of experience. It also means I love partnering with people who are even more experienced than I am. Right now I’m working on a video project and, because of my schedule and experience, I felt that it would be a good idea to bring another director/editor to work with me. He brings a set of skills that are a little different from mine, and I value the opportunity to learn from him. And, the client gets an even better product!I truly don’t know everything; (hopefully) I'm learning new things every day. But it is gratifying to see this little freelance company that I started -- after getting laid off from the entertainment industry in 1993 -- chugging along 21 years later, helping people through design, marketing, brand management, and video marketing.Happy New Year. May your story be told, spend your money wisely, and may you have ever-greater experiences to bank on in the new year.