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Posted in Ideas, Partnerships

‘Baseball Cards’ for client meeting [TBT]

A few years ago, I was working at Thomson Reuters in West Academic.  “WA” published law school textbooks (casebooks) and study aids under imprints (brands) that any law school student would recognize:  West, Foundation Press, Nutshells, Hornbooks, Acing Series, Law Stories, Short & Happy Guides and much, much more.  I worked on wide variety of marketing projects, including lots of email campaigns, running the social channels, designing flyers, brochures, etc, etc.

One of favorite projects – if not THE favorite – was one that I got assigned just days before I was laid off.  WA had an upcoming annual meeting were they brought in many of their authors for meet-n-greets, facility tours, and the like.  Management decided on a baseball theme for the meeting, which included a night out at a Twins game.  Instead of a boring flyer listing all the staff these authors work with (account reps, editors, senior editors, publishers, marketing people…..), they wanted to give out pack of “baseball cards” featuring the staff.  They came to me, told me their vision, said “go,” and that was pretty much it!

I think this was my favorite project because it was almost 100% mine, and I managed it cradle-to-grave.  I had almost full creative control, other than the main colors used (West Academic brand colors) and their clever baseball “team” name, The West Academics.

I single-handedly did all of the photography, layout, and type treatments.  I developed and managed the info-gathering process, which meant getting everyone’s names, titles, contact info, photos, and in lieu of batting averages, we went with a short “fun fact” about each staff member included in the deck.  Then there was at least one round of proofs that had to be coordinated with the nearly 30 employees.

Since this was a low-budget internal affair, I was relegated to using our internal TR printshop.  Fortunately, I had worked with those folks on several occasions in the past and made sure to build a relationship.  They’d printed part of my wedding invitations and I’d helped on the shop floor on a few minor occasions.  I’d also brought them chocolate, which is an old and blatant tactic, but it still works.

Needless to say, this was an unusual job for the print shop.  We had to figure out how to lay out all these “cards” on a sheet, how they’d be cut, collated, and so on.  Nobody had attempted a job like this in the past, so it was a very collaborative and trial-and-error process.  In the end, I had several dozen card decks, which I then packaged manually in a wrapper that I custom-designed for the meeting.  The “baseball cards” even had a stick of chewing gum in each one!

The cards were a hit with the staff and the authors that came in for the convention.  I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to finish this project, despite my impending departure from that organization.


Posted in Graphic Design, Throwback Thursday

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. — Or what I learn about social media success from Better Call Saul.


I sent out my most successful Tweet ever last night.  After over 5 years on The Twitters and nearly 11K Tweets sent, here it is — the peak of my social media career:

A bit of background.

Better Call Saul is a spin-off tv show from the phenomenally successful series Breaking Bad.  (Apparently, BB currently holds the Guinness World Record as the highest-rated TV show of all time.)  Breaking Bad is about a terminally-ill and disgruntled high school chemistry teacher who teams up with his strung-out ex-student to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine.  Saul Goodman is his lawyer, advisor, and money launderer.  In addition to his legitimate law practice, Saul could be better termed as an underworld concierge, helping to connect people in a bad spot to people that do bad things for money.  This is his story.

Better Call Saul premiered last night to much hype.  When Breaking Bad was winding down in 2013, it was announced that this spin-off was coming.  Speaking as a fan of BB, it’s been a long wait to return to this world and these characters. Judging from Twitter last night, I’m not the only one who feels this way.

The hashtag #bettercallsaul was trending on Twitter last night for several hours.  Fans were discussing the show’s events as they happened in real time,  posting quotes from the characters, and generally sharing their enthusiasm.  I had to join in!  I quickly composed a message at a point in the show that I found truly confounding, hit “send,” and off to the interwebs it went.

That’s when it happened.  The show’s Twitter handle Retweeted my Tweet!!  They shared my message with their 75K+ fans who were very tuned in at that point, both to the show and to Twitter.  It got Retweeted again, and again, and again.  It got even more people marking it as a “favorite.” (as of this writing, retweets and favs keep coming in)  I’ve also gained about a dozen or two new Twitter followers.

It is by far my single most successful Tweet.  The most interaction I have ever received on Twitter to a single message.  The only times I’ve gotten more action on any social media platform perhaps was when my son was born or when my wife and I changed our Facebook “relationship status” while still at the alter, mid-marriage ceremony.

So, is there anything that we can learn from this stumbled-upon success that could be applied to our social marketing efforts?

The takeaways.

Timing matters.  More specifically, timing and relevance.

“Social Media” no longer happens in a vacuum.  Sure, in its early days, it was a bit of its own world.  Today, social media is as much a part of our ‘real lives’ as is your daily commute and the chicken salad sandwich you packed for lunch.  What happens IRL (old-skul internet speak for “in real life”), is clearly and instantly reflected on social channels.  Nevermind the massive political change that occurred during the “Arab Spring,” which would have been — and was — impossible without Twitter and Facebook.

My Tweet was relevant to the thousands of people watching the show and following the conversation on Twitter at that time.  It was relevant to the plot turns and twists at that very point during the show.  It was relevant to what they were feeling at that time.  Which brings us to…

Authenticity matters.

That was a very authentic Tweet.  I didn’t filter anything.  I didn’t think about it much.  It was my honest feeling at that point during that show — that is to say utter confusion.  Again, I clearly was not the only one.  That message struck a chord with numerous other fans.  Yes, the fact that it was Re-Tweeted by the show helped it get in front of more people.  However, if it wasn’t real, authentic, and relevant, the show wouldn’t have paid attention to it anyway.

Being witty matters. (or at least being witty enough)

If you’re not familiar with the term Whiskey Foxtrot Tango, then look at the first letters of each word and see what acronym it spells out.  If you’re still confused, ask your 12-year old nephew.  It’s a term used to convey confusion and/or disbelief.  I meant to convey both sentiments last night.

Simply Tweeting WTF or the actual expression last night would have been too parochial.  Nobody would have cared about a WTF Tweet — those are a dime a dozen.  Further, had I Tweeted the full f-bomb that the actual experssion includes, the show’s Twitter account would never have Re-Tweeted it.  Although the show is geared toward an adult audience, it’s still a show on basic cable that has to adhere to certain vocabulary standards.   To a large degree, this standard carries through to their social channels.

If you can’t be witty, be just witty enough.  This is a case of “witty enough.”

I was not the first person to use the phonetic alphabet to make a slightly racy comment slightly more acceptable, nor shall I be the last.  I was able to recycle something that’s somewhat funny in a new circumstance to a [new to me] audience.  Sometimes that’s all we need!  Not necessarily 100% new original content, but simply using an old standby in a new way can work just as well.  Rummage around in your brain or toolbox, see what you’ve already got and see if you can repackage it for your current needs.  (I’m working really hard to avoid using the phrase, “No need to re-invent the wheel.”)

Hashtags matter.

This Tweet would have gone nowhere had it not been for the hashtag.  Straight and simple.  If you want to reach your audience talking about a certain topic, do the research. Find the right hashtags to join that conversation.

Clearly, this was an easy one.  Most likely, you need to talk about something specific to your business or however you pay your rent.  Odds are, there’s a Twitter conversation happening around that topic, or close to it.  There are plenty of tools to help you discover and research hashtags.  I enjoy using hashtagify.me, if only because I like the visuals they use to illustrate hashtag relationships.  I’d also recommend you take a look at this great post from Social Media Examiner with several other tools worth checking out.


The second part of the Better Call Saul premier airs tonight.  Let’s see if I can top my Tweet from last night!!

Posted in Uncategorized

Voicemail Makeover

Earlier this week I got an email from Elizabeth Hagen, asking when was the last time that I changed my outgoing voicemail message.

The truth is that I hadn’t touched my voicemail greeting in a very long time.  Heck, I hadn’t even given it a second thought since I-don’t-know-when.  That email did make me curious, so I pulled out my phone and listened to what my clients and prospects were hearing.  …And, UGH!

Good news:  I like the what the message said, overall.

Bad news:  When I made that recording it’s clear that I was either:

A) not really trying
B) not caffeinated enough, or
C) trying to be quiet while recording in public.

Whatever was going on when I recorded that greeting 6 or 12 months ago, that message was pretty bad.

So, step one is already taken done — I now care what the message sounds like.  Step two was to be more energetic, and so I downed another cup of coffee.  Step three — there was no one to interrput or to hear me talk to myself, so I went into my bedroom (no echo due to the bed, linens, etc) and recorded made a few attempts at a new recording.

I gotta say, the results are pretty dramatic.  Good thing I had the presence of mind to make a “quick-n-dirty” recording of what I sounded like before the “voicemail makeover.”

Take a listen, below.  (warning:  POOR audio quality)




Posted in Uncategorized

Free Halloween Vectors!

It’s Halloween!


I started doodling earlier today.  I doodle a lot, actually.  Naturally today, I’m doodling Halloween images, words, letters, and whatnot.  Today’s doodles turned out half-way not bad, so I thought I’d share them.

Feel free to use them if you like!  If you do, I’d love to see how — just post a comment with a photo or link!

Attached to this blog post you’ll find a PDF with vectors, and a JPG for those that prefer your graphics bitmap flavored.  Nothing fancy, just a couple bones, a skull, and a gravestone.  Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!!

Download vector PDF here
Download JPG file here



Posted in Uncategorized

Testimonial – Graphic Design

Why good design matters:

Tom’s marketing services have helped my business tremendously.

Like most people in my industry, our “marketing program” consists of going door-to-door with flyers in neighborhoods where we work. Also, like many other landscaping firms, we were using a xeroxed half sheet of paper using clipart from Word.

Tom immediately saw the opportunity to make RLX stand out by using photographs and full-color printing.  He started by taking a series photos of us at work, including before-and-after shots.  Using those photos, he designed a beautiful, two-sided, 4×6-inch postcard, and had it printed on very substantial, thick card stock.

Since we started using this new piece, we’ve noticed a significant increase in response rates. If we canvassed 100 homes using our old flyer, we would expect two, maybe three phone calls. Using the collateral from Tom, that response rate has jumped to an average of 10 phone calls for every hundred flyers. That’s increase of 500%!!

We are booked a month out, and couldn’t be happier with the results!

RLX Land Care flyer

Recently I had the good fortune to work with another small business entrepreneur, Ralph Clayton.  Ralph owns and operates RLX Land Care, a landscaping and tree-trimming business.

Ralph loves working outdoors and says that he’s been climbing trees (“professionally,” he notes) since he was a teenager.  And it shows in his work.  Once he’s suited up in all his gear, he effortlessly shimmies up the tallest of trees.  I have a harder time getting up from my office chair, than Ralph does getting into a tree.  Once in the canopy, Ralph looks as comfortable as you or I would be in a cozy restaurant booth.  It’s quite the ballet of swinging from limb to limb, with pruning sheers in one hand, and a miniature chainsaw in the other.  It’s a true pleasure to watch a professional at work!

The next time your landscaping needs help, or need your trees trimmed back to keep them beautiful and healthy for decades to come, call RLX Land Care!


Posted in Graphic Design, Testimonial

Let’s Buy an Email List!

Or don’t.  Probably don’t.

If you’re just starting up your email marketing program or are expanding into a new market, then perhaps you’re considering purchasing an email list.  And why not?  Purchasing mailing lists has a long tradition in marketing.  Even today, I’m sure you get direct mail from companies that you’ve never heard of, but somehow found out that you’re in the market for a new driveway or dryer.

So what’s wrong with buying an email list?

Well, to start off, the use of purchased email lists is greatly discouraged in the marketing world.  I know some marketing guys who would use the phrase “frowned upon.”  I’ve even heard the word, “shady.”

Email is a much more personal medium than direct mail.  Nevermind that everyone is already inundated by daily offers from Groupon, updates from Twitter, and pictures of the kids/grandkids/nephews, etc.

Email lists purchased from a “list broker” or similar source lack pretty much everything you want in an email list.  First, there’s a total lack of  “opted in” status.  Would you opt-in to a list that you know would be sold to the highest bidder?  I wouldn’t either.  Second, there’s little or no accountability. Sure, you’ll get some good contact names and will certainly get some responses — that’s why SPAM still exists. Must most often, lists from a broker contain addresses that are old, “harvested” from public online sources, or may not exist at all.

What if I’m ok with all that?

Industry leading, reputable Email Service Providers (ESP = Constant Contact, MailChimp, iContact, HubSpot, etc) do not allow the use of “purchased, rented, or third-party” email lists. True, many times ESPs may not be able to tell through their automatic testing whether a list is purchased or “legit.” However, if the campaign has an extraordinarily high bounce rate (bad addresses) or high SPAM report rate, your account could get flagged for Terms of Service (TOS) violations. This means that the account could get disabled for a time; get deleted altogether; or you would have to go through a phone interview with your ESP to verify what’s going on.

Why would they care? Reputable ESPs are very sensitive about maintaining high deliverability and low SPAM rates.

SPAM reports are just that, it’s when an email user clicks “SPAM” or “JUNK” on a message. This doesn’t just delete the message from their inbox, but also sends a report to their email address provider. SPAM reports impact deliverability.

Deliverability means the rate at which your email marketing campaign will get to your contacts’ inboxes, versus their SPAM folder.

ESPs use a certain number of servers to send out all the email campaigns for their clients. If an ESP’s clients’ email campaigns start to get a lot of SPAM reports, it not only reflects negatively on themselves, but on the ESP as well. If – for instance – Hotmail notices that a lot of SPAM reports are being reported on email campaigns coming from “server X,” then all future campaigns coming from those servers will be subject to closer scrutiny. Closer scrutiny could mean lower deliverability rates. The lower deliverability, the less attractive using that ESP becomes.

To conclude, ESPs that do allow purchased lists likely have low deliverability rates. Purchased lists usually contain a lot of bad email addresses. So the question is, why would you send an email campaign to a list of bad email addresses, using a provider whose service is unlikely to get your message in front of the remaining handful of good contacts?

The one exception to this whole ideal against purchased email lists, are lists that come from a Chamber of Commerce or industry/trade group.  In these groups, members understand that their contact information may be shared with other members of that group. The thought being that people who join those type of member-based organizations want to network with each other as they share many similar business goals. Also, those lists are coming from the organization’s leaders, which most likely use the list themselves to communicate with the group. Thus the list is assumed to be “clean” (real, opted-in, current email addresses), and if they are not, the leadership is held accountable.

Please note: This “Chamber exemption” is my opinion, and is still technically against the rules of most reputable Email Service Providers. (ESPs)  But, as I state above, it’s my sincere belief that it is in the best interest of the sender and receiver to get these types of messages.

For many smaller and start-up businesses, using another organization’s email list may be the only option to start an email marketing program. Again – in my professional opinion – this is a bit of a gray area.  However, one that I never feel bad about taking advantage of.

To improve deliverability and reduce SPAM reports when using this type of list, I recommend a few simple tactics.  First, use your name in the “from” line to make it more personal.  Second, use a subject line similar to, “News from a Chamber member…” (or some permutation thereof), as it helps to improve “open” rates and tells people why they’re getting that message right off the bat.

I’d love to learn your thoughts on this.  Please leave your comments below.  Tell me about your successes or troubles using a third party list.



Posted in Uncategorized

Head Shots!

Last week I set up a “head shot station” at Social Media Breakfast.

For those that aren’t yet initiated, SMB is a loose association of national “clubs,” that gets together to discuss different aspects of social media.  The Minneapolis/St. Paul chapter has the largest membership of any club in the country and has also been meeting the longest, with last week being meeting number 68!!.  Past topics at SMBMSP have included social media marketing, analytics, legal pitfalls, etc, etc.

headshots-screencapAt the SMBMSP event last month, Paul DeBettignies spoke about personal branding.  One of the points he stressed was how many people have poor or no photos on professional social networks such as Linkedin.  I thought to myself “Gee – that’s too bad…especially when it’s so easy to have a decent head shot!”  Of course, what I was forgetting was my background.  I started my career as a photographer.  Unfortunately, not everyone has that skill set in their tool box.

My next thought was, “I wish there was some way for everyone at SMB to get a quick easy head shot at the next event.”  If we only had access to a photographer… <insert forehead slap here>

I had a great morning at that breakfast event!  Definitely flashing back about 15 years to my time as a photog.  It was great meeting so many people personally!  It’s just too bad that the photo station proved to be so popular!  I could barely exchange two words with anyone before yelling, “NEXT!”

Did you have your headshot taken at SMBMSP68?  If so, grab your headshot here.  Missed the opportunity?  It was so popular, we’re going to do the head shots again!  Make sure to join email list to stay updated on the next free head shots event.


Posted in Uncategorized

July 2014 Newsletter

If you didn’t get a copy of the July 2014 email newsletter, you can view a copy here.

In case you’re curious, it reached about 1500 inboxes and had a 35% open rate with 105 click-thrus.  Not bad!

If you haven’t tried Constant Contact yet, take a free test drive here.  Email marketing management is one of the many services offered by Majewski Marketing & Media.  Don’t know where to begin – contact Tom today to get started!

Posted in Uncategorized

Lessons in Problem Solving from a 1-year old

Recently, we purchased one of those toys that are ubiquitous in every doctor’s and dentist’s waiting room.  It’s one of “bead mazes” with wooden blocks strung on wires.  Kids push the “chains” of wooden blocks in circles and loop-the-loops from one end to the other.

Bead Maze

Shortly after purchasing said toy at our local Swedish furniture emporium, it was assembled, placed on the carpet, and presented to my 1-year old son.  What happened next was something that I could not have (though perhaps should have) predicted.

Now, what an adult would do when presented with such a situation would go something like this.  First, the toy would be examined.  Shortly thereafter, one would determine that — aha! — I see the wires, and I see the blocks, and therefore I can deduce that I am supposed to take these blocks “X” and push them along wires “Y” to get them from point “A” to point “B.”

Simple.  Straight-forward.  Logical.  Challenge met and problem solved!

As adults, we have the “advantage” of experience.  Without any instruction, we’re able to understand the premise of the situation, and assume how we are supposed to approach it.

Of course, this is also the same way adults approach challenges in their personal and professional lives every day.  We see a problem and oftentimes assume the way that we are supposed to solve that problem.

But what if we approached a problem more like a 1-year old?

With keen interest, I’ve watched my son grow and explore the world over the last 14 months.  Even so,  I assumed — adult that I am — that he would examine the toy, and shortly thereafter start pushing around wooden blocks from point “A” to point “B” on their wire rails.

But he didn’t.  Of course he didn’t!

My 1-year old son crawled up to the toy, sat down next to it, then picked it up and shook the living daylights out of it.

That’s something an adult would never do.  But his perception of what the “problem” and it’s “solution” isn’t encumbered by “experience.”  He simply saw a bright, primary-colored toy.  And his solution was to pick it up and shake it.  BONUS — it made an awesome noise too.

Afterward, he turned it upside-down.  Placed it on its side.  Then tried to eat some of the wooden blocks.  He smiled and laughed the whole time he was doing it.  When he was done solving the problem as he saw fit, he continued on along the carpet smiling the whole way.

There’s a lesson here for us adults that have all these assumptions built into our thinking.

Next time you encounter something new, a challenge or a problem, don’t assume there’s a right way and a wrong way to approach it.  Maybe the best way to deal with the situation is to ignore those wires altogether.  Maybe you don’t have to move “X” and “Y” from point “A” to point “B.”  Maybe there’s a way that will work better for you…

Heck, maybe the best way to solve your problem is just to grab it, shake it, and see if it just may sort itself out on its own!!


Posted in Ideas
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