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2018 Year at a Glance: Were You a Wrecker or a Builder?

Ah yes, the new year. A clean slate. The season where we gorge on tasty treats, resulting in some extra insulation to keep us warm during the cold winter months (the irony is not lost on me...I live in Phoenix). Or maybe you were one of the rare creatures able to resist the candied pecans and pumpkin pie (are you out there, mystery person? Do you even exist?). The end of a year always begs for a moment of reflection. You may be asking yourself questions like 'did I accomplish my goals?' or 'What are my ambitions for next year?' Maybe you're already making a list and checking it twice, saying quietly to yourself, 'this year will be different'.

I'm going to propose a new perspective of reflection. A new question to ask yourself: Was I a builder or a wrecker? The question stems from a very old poem 'Builder or a Wrecker' (posted in full below). In it, the writer dubs a builder as a person who: 'works with care, measuring life by the rule and square...shaping my deeds by a well-made plan, patiently doing the best I can.' Versus a wrecker who: 'walks the town content with the labor of tearing down'.

Now, I'm no fool. You said you were a builder, didn't you? Of course you did. Nobody wants to be a wrecker. Nobody likes that guy. But you know what? Wreckers don't call themselves that either - they think they are builders. Take a real moment to ask yourself:

  • Did your interactions with other people build them up or did you cause them to second guess themselves?
  • Do people come to you for advice, or do they flinch when they hand you something to review?
  • When you accomplish a goal do you take the time to recognize the team of people who helped you achieve it?
  • Do you encourage or discourage others?


A wrecker undermines growth. They discourage and dispirit whether subtle or overt, whether through words or actions. We've all had moments where we've been a wrecker. As we reflect on our year, we should revisit these instances and ask ourselves how we could have been builders; the ultimate goal is to take those lessons with us into the new year.

A builder empowers themselves and those around them. They encourage and educate, whether subtle or overt, through actions or through words. In reflecting on instances when we have been builders, we should take note on the outcomes of those occasions and measure stock in those successes.

As we head into the new year, brimming with opportunities and challenges, we can go into it with the single question navigating our way: Do you want to be a wrecker, or do you want to be a builder?

Taryn Harbert
Brand Specialist, Rider Levett Bucknall
Taryn has been a member of SMPS for three years and currently serves on the Publicity Committee.  She is also a published author.  When not writing fiction, essays or poetry, Taryn enjoys reading fiction, thrillers, suspense and horror novels.  She is in training for her first ultra marathon race. 

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Pop Up Best Practices Inspired by Beyonce

Employing pop ups on your company’s website is a great way to grow your email list, engage website visitors, and drive people to connect with your brand. While these list-growing gems have the potential to add value to your website and to your business, when done wrong, pop ups have the potential to annoy your website visitors and drive them away from your site.  In order to create pop ups that add value to your website visitors, you’ll have to be strategic and think of the opt-ins as a relationship building tool. Beyonce Knowles, affectionately known by her fans as Queen B, is a singer, dancer, actress and businesswoman whose success is largely driven by her ability to make a connection with her fans through her art.  Beyonce’s lyrics illuminate different aspects of relationship building that can be applied to companies looking to create a connection with their customers through opt-ins.

Here’s a look at pop up best practices inspired by Queen B herself.

  1. “I Don’t Know Much About Fighting, But I Will Fight For You”  - 1 + 1 Application: You’re Fighting For Your Users Time and Attention. Fight Wisely.

In a society inundated with social media and a constant flow of information, companies must compete for consumers attention. Getting someone to your website is a victory. But, you have to fight to keep them on your website. It’s important to create engaging, irresistible pop up offers that demonstrate why the consumer should take action. Fight wisely for your consumers attention by utilizing exit intent popups to grab their attention as they move to leave your website. It’s also a great idea to use visuals and keep your opt-in messaging short and sweet to immediately communicate the value to your customer.

  1. “I’ll be There For You If Somebody Hurts You” - ’03 Bonnie & Clyde Application: Communicate Why Consumers Should “Trust” You

Since pop ups are relationship building tools to connect with your customer, it’s important to communicate the value your company brings to “the relationship.” Just like Beyonce’s iconic Bonnie & Clyde lyrics, you can use your pop up’s message to communicate your company’s willingness to “pick up the pieces” of any negative past experiences your potential customer may have had. You can do this by communicating that people can opt-out of any unwanted email communication from your company and, by highlighting what makes you stand out from your competitors.

  1. Don’t Bore Me, Just Show Me - “Check On It” Application: No Boring Pop ups Allowed

The visual appearance of your pop up matters. You can create a wonderful offer, but if your pop up looks plain, boring or otherwise unexciting, people are less likely to pay attention to what you’re offering. Instead, leverage color, images, fonts, and other aspects of visual design to create a pop up that’s visually appealing.

  1. Some Call It Arrogant, I Call It Confident - “Ego” Application: You Have Something Great to Offer. So, Offer It!

Have you ever questioned whether to use pop ups on your site for fear of being spammy or annoying? The truth is, pop ups that offer no value to customers and that appeal consistently throughout someone’s website experience can be annoying. But, that doesn’t have to be the case. Pop ups that offer visitors something valuable, from a discount, to regular updates on your company’s newest products, can enhance website visitor’s experience and get them excited about continuing to connect with your brand. So go for it! Be confident in what you have to offer, and let people know how they can get involved. Pop ups with valuable offers will help you grow your email list and can be the starting point for a “long term relationship” with your customers.

Saundra Wilson 
Digital Marketing Director, Markitors
Saundra is a digital marketing director at Markitors, a Scottsdale-based digital marketing agency that specializes in small and medium businesses. She recently spent several days at MailChimp HQ in Atlanta as part of an exclusive Partner Program. She’s passionate about living her best life, self-care, writing, and empowering others. When she’s not busy helping clients connect with customers, you can find her watching Say Yes to the Dress and practicing her best hip hop moves. 

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Closing a Great Chapter

“Experiences become a part of our identity. We are not our possessions, but we are the accumulation of everything we’ve seen, the things we’ve done, and the places we’ve been.” This quote, from one of my favorite Forbes articles, “Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things” along with the people I have met throughout the year rings true of my experience as Chapter President. Being Chapter President has been a highlight of my career and one that has played an important role in who I am at this moment.

In this closing message as President, I want to share my top three chapter and personal highlights. As I do, I want to remind those who read this that, none of these have been possible without a dedicated, committed team of volunteers – nine Board of Directors, 28 committee chairs, and numerous committee members – all who have contributed to make SMPS Arizona be successful. Thank you to all who have served this year!

Aside from our great programming, networking, and award events that we all had the chance to experience, what else happened to support our organization today and for tomorrow? Here are three areas that took the pulse on our Chapter this year.

Strategic planning: This year was our third year in our three-year strategic plan. We asked ourselves, “what’s next?” and dedicated three sessions to discover the answer. The current and incoming Board of Directors has spent significant time (12+ hours in visioning and planning sessions) defining strategic goals for the next three years in order to take the Chapter to new heights that will enhance your experience and elevate our programming.

Financial strength: As a non-profit, we are not in the business to make money; however, we are in the business to be responsible stewards of our resources. We’re fortunate to have been able to give back more to our membership this year through three conference scholarships, contribution to the SMPS Foundation and a sponsors-only event.

Strong Membership: Our chapter membership is currently at 158 members, welcoming 34 new members over the past year. We’ve been hovering around this membership number for the past couple of years, which means we’re challenged with retention. While we may have lost some to other industries, we are aware of our continued need to bring value to all levels of membership.

From a personal perspective, the greatest benefit I appreciated as President was the perspective and ability to experience every function of our chapter at once. To see all our activities and tasks work together and come together gave me a deeper and more complete understanding and appreciation for what we do. Additionally, my top three highlights as President are:

Increased network and opportunities to learn from others. A SMPS President’s experience truly begins at the Presidential Leadership Symposium, which not only prepared me with leadership skills and Society policies, but also introduced me to 60 other Chapter Presidents. The strength and support in these resources were invaluable throughout the year and will remain as such in my career for years to come.

Deepened appreciation of SMPS and what it offers our industry professionals. Being able to see and experience SMPS from this position gave me a deeper respect and appreciation for what it offers us as professionals and firms. To have an association dedicated to success of marketing and business development leadership and the amount of resources dedicated to this is impressive.

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Expanded network and relationships among my local industry peers. Working with the committees this year, and observing the results of collaborative teamwork, have left me in awe. I’ve been impressed with the degree of respect that is shared with one another, the creativity and talent that surrounds me, and the energy and enthusiasm that exudes from our membership. I’ve learned so much from each member whom I’ve met and become more acquainted with. For that, my life is richer and fuller. This, perhaps, was the most impactful – to know, be aware and to participate with so many unique and talented professionals.

In closing, I’m beyond grateful and humbled to have had this experience and am excited for what’s next in our Chapter. Each SMPS year builds on the last and we took that concept very seriously. Everything that we’ve done this year has been with not just the present, but with the future in mind. I’ve worked closely with the Directors and incoming President, Brandi Barr, to make certain our decisions and actions lead to a self-sustaining business. Our year’s decisions and actions were meant for a lasting impact. I’m excited to see this year’s activities continue and evolve to be better each year.

What’s coming up next year? Well, you’ll have to wait and see. I can assure you there are good things and better things, in store! Now is as good as a time as any to be part of it so I invite you to join a committee this year. You won’t regret it!

My deepest gratitude, again, to all who have been part of this experience with me. I hope to see all of you at a future event! Until then, as my late Grandfather would say when departing with friends, “I’ll see you along the trail.” 

 

Emy Burback, MBA, CPSM
Lead Strategist, Marketing Engine, LLC.

Emy has been working in the A/E/C industry for the past 18 years and has been an active SMPS member for the past 10 years. She has enjoyed working for a variety of firms in the AEC industry. Most recently, Emy has started her own Marketing and CRM consulting firm, Marketing Engine. Her favorite thing to do in her free time is hang out with her husband and dogs on the beach in Rocky Point. Emy is passionate about traveling and loves an adventure! She enjoys hiking, going to new restaurants or buying a plane ticket to somewhere she's never been! 

 

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Recognizing Important Moments Throughout Your Personal Development Journey

There are so many tips and tricks and books to help you become a better you. Where do you start? I don't know about you, but when I start to think of how I can better myself in all areas of my life, I just become overwhelmed. It's confusing. It's hard. Plus, how can anyone else know how I can better myself? The author of that famous book doesn’t know me and they certainly do not understand my problems. So at this point you might be thinking, "Why on earth should I listen to you?" How is what she has to say different than all the information already out there? I will let you in on my secret now rather than save it for the end; the only person who knows how to be a better you, is YOU.

For years I tried to figure out which golden nugget of information was given to me that would enhance areas in my life. I finally came to the realization that it was not a piece of advice that was given but rather it has been moments in time that changed my outlook and pushed me up. After coming to this understanding, I have taken on a new passion and interest in bettering myself in all aspects of my life by recognizing these important moments and capitalizing on them. 

Some moments take a very windy road but they can lead up if you let them. These moments do not have to be large life changing experiences. Small moments in time can change your journey in positive direction as well. For example, six months ago, I received an email from our Human Resources Director saying I was selected to be a part of a mentorship program at Ryan. Looking back on the day I received that email, I had no idea that the contents of that email would change my life in such a positive way. I’m grateful for this small moment that was interjected into my life and thankful for my mentor.

This experience has reminded me how important it is to actively seek out feedback from others. If you do not have a mentor, find one. Pick someone who you can talk to about the big picture. They do not have to completely understand your role and your day-to-day business, but they should be able to help you figure out how to handle certain situations, navigate difficult conversations and ultimately help you become a better you. This will only work if you let yourself be vulnerable though. Do not be afraid to let your guard down and really open-up about the areas you want to improve upon in addition to being honest about yourself and with yourself. 

I can’t just tell you to be vulnerable and then not be vulnerable myself. So, here’s another example of another life-changing moment that has led to personal development for me.

I have a child with a rare disease. For more than two years, we dealt with symptoms and illness with countless doctors, each diagnosing him with something different. Nothing made sense and nothing was working. One of our doctors had told me once, "Momma, you know your kid best so let's start with that." With her sweet voice in my head, I did just that. I dove into every medical resource I could come across. “Dr.” Google became my best friend. I was determined to find the answers I needed and I did. I found the diagnosis that fit every single symptom and moment in time for our journey. Our doctors were the experts but I was the missing piece to the puzzle. This changed our lives for the obvious reason of curing my son but also changed my life by giving me a very big reminder that it is imperative to take your destiny into your own hands. Yes, it was the doctors who should be diagnosing and finding the answers but that did not mean I wasn't a part of the process. People are there to help and guide you along the way but no one is going to make you more of a priority than you will yourself.

The moral of the story is, own all aspects of your life – big or small. Don't sit around waiting for that project manager to come by your desk and give you the information you need for a proposal; go get it from him. Don't expect your boss to include you in that important strategic planning meeting that should already involve marketing. Tell your boss how you can add value. You know you are sitting there annoyed that your colleague has ignored your emails for too long or annoyed you were not included in the meeting. That thought turns into thinking these people do not respect your time, they do not understand the value you bring, the importance of your role is misunderstood and it snowballs from there. Not only will you see better results from owning your own destiny; you will find that you are a happier person because of it. 

Here is the catch with these life-changing moments in my journey. I didn't realize that they were “moments” when they were happening. I didn't know how many ways my life would be changed because of them. There are plenty of areas I want to continue to change and improve. One day there will be a moment that will get me to the next phase in my life, but until then I will take the long and twisty path up until I recognize the straight road ahead. I wake up each day with only one goal in mind: Be the best you that you can be! How hard can that be when you are the only you? 

Colleen Kucera, CPSM
Director of Marketing, Ryan Companies US, Inc. 

Colleen grew up with her Dad being in the industry so she began learning from him at a young age; however, she made the conscious decision to join him in the construction world in 2007. Colleen has worked at Ryan Companies for the past seven years and she's been an active SMPS member for more than ten years. Colleen has held several leadership roles within SMPS such as President from 2011-2012. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and watching her kids experience the world from their young eyes. Colleen also sells makeup and jewelry but admittedly she's her number one customer! 

 

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Recapping Malcom Gladwell: Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce

Ted Talks are great but sometimes you don’t have 15-30 minutes to listen to them. Here’s a recap of a popular ted talk that anyone interested or involved in marketing should hear about.

Malcom Gladwell presented told story of a man named Howard Moskowitz. Moskowitz was a consultant in the 1970’s and 80’s who made a revolutionary discovery in the subject of marketing and product development.

This Ted Talk discusses his story and what he discovered throughout his career.

I became so engrossed in the story of Howard Moskowitz that I almost forgot that I was listening to a Ted Talk based on marketing. Gladwell is a journalist, author and speaker; his professional occupation makes this speech become an engaging story while still packed with important marketing strategies and lessons.

The story of Howard Moskowitz began when he was approached by Pepsi with the request to create the perfect beverage, a beverage that wasn’t too sweet but also not too bland. The goal? They wanted him to find out what everyone preferred so that they could offer a beverage that everyone wanted. Imagine yourself in his shoes, how would you figure out what every person preferred in their Pepsi? If it were me, I would make a wide variety of Pepsi options all with different levels of sweetness, I would gather a large group of people to have them taste the different varieties and give me their thoughts on each one. Howard did exactly that— he gathered thousands of people, conducted the tests, gathered the data, and plotted the results on a curve to further analyze. In a perfect world, the data would come back, it would be a flawless bell curve and he would be able to effortlessly see what most individuals preferred.

The problem here is that Marketing is not a black and white subject, so when the data came back the results were all over the place and it didn’t make a lot of sense.

Turns out, the mistake that Howard made happened before the survey even began. The mistake was thinking that everyone, or at least a strong majority, would agree on one particular Pepsi flavor.So what went wrong? The test follows the typical research process so the data should have easily given Howard the answer that he was looking for on a golden platter. Right?

It may seem like a simple solution but it took Howard years to figure out that they were looking for one perfect Pepsi when they should have been looking for the multiple, perfect Pepsis. When Howard made this discovery, he felt that he had hit the jackpot. He went from conference to conference and gave speech after speech letting everyone know that they were thinking about this all wrong; the perfect product does not exist. Well his audience wasn’t exactly sold on this idea; everyone wanted to believe that with enough time and research that they could create one perfect product.

Finally, Howard caught the break that he had been waiting for. He was approached by Vlasic Pickles with a request all too familiar; help us create the perfect product. Despite the negative feedback that Howard received from his numerous attempts to share his discovery Howard said, “There is no perfect pickle; there are only perfect pickles.”

He explained that it is not enough to improve your regular flavor of pickles; you need to create zesty pickles and other varieties to cater to a broader market.

Campbell’s Soup was the next company to contact Howard. Campbell’s Soup had the brand of pasta sauces called Prego. Well Prego was in direct competition with Ragu and they were desperate to create the “perfect” pasta sauce so that they would become the preferred pasta sauce brand over Ragu and other competitors.

Can you guess what Howard did to help?

Howard worked with Prego and created a grand total of 45 pasta sauce varieties. These pasta sauces varied in flavor, texture, ingredients, even the way they were produced. They took these 45 varieties and traveled all over the country and gathered thousands and thousands of people in different places and gave them ten bowls of pasta with different varieties of pasta sauces. After each bowl they simply asked them to rate the pasta sauce on a scale from zero to 100. They did this for months and months and at the end, Howard was left with a massive amount of data that he then had to analyze. But how did this data differ from the data received from the Pepsi trails?

Well, the answer is that it really didn’t, what changed is the way that Howard analyzed the data. He was no longer looking for the perfect product; he was looking for the most popular elements of the pasta sauces. So, he looked at the data with the goal of grouping the sauces to figure out the common denominators of the most popular sauces. By doing this, he was able to come to the conclusion that everyone seemed to fall into three major categories. Some people prefer a plain pasta sauce, some wanted a pasta sauce that was spicy, and there were some that enjoyed their sauce to be extra-chunky.

Imagine their surprise when Howard showed them the data which revealed that one-third of Americans craved extra-chunky tomato sauce. As of that time, no other company had extra-chunky tomato sauce so this was a heavily desired product that no one was offering. With this data, Prego came out with an entire line of extra-chunky pasta sauces and within the next ten years they made $600 million just off of that line.

Here is what everyone should take-away after listening to this Ted Talk:

  1. This world is full of different tastes, preferences and opinions; there is never going to be one perfect product. This variety in strategy means you must understand the service(s) you are selling, who you are selling to and what the client/customer needs/wants.
  2. It is not enough to ask people what it is they want to see in a product or service. It takes a lot of time and research to truly understand what consumers are looking for. Develop relationships with your clients and start asking the important questions! Get to the bottom of their needs in order to determine how your company can serve them better.
  3. As a Marketing professional it is essential that we trust the data that we are given; the data isn’t wrong, we may just be looking at it the wrong way.

Carly Bonar 
Marketing Coordinator, Logan Simpson

Carly entered the A/E/C industry right out of college and has been working as a Marketing Coordinator for Logan Simpson for the past year and a half. She’s an active SMPS member, blog contributor and vegetarian since she was eight years old. In her free time she loves to spend time with her family and three dogs; Cookie, Cotton and Bella.

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The Best Recruiter You Aren’t Using Yet

What role does your website play in the business? Certainly it’s likely to be part of the sales team, PR team, marketing or even customer service team. But, what about having it help with finding great people to fill your open positions (a.k.a recruiting and hiring)?

And from the looks of it, hiring is a real challenge for the industry. A recent construction organization survey found found that 82 percent of its members believe the cost and availability of labor are their biggest issues. This has been a growing concern, in 2011 only 13 percent named labor costs as their biggest concern. Last month, they posted an article discussing construction job openings being near a post-recession high. Even the Wall Street Journal has mentioned that “construction is ground zero in the worker shortage.”

Where do you think one of the first searches job candidates do to find a new position? Yep, Google. Are your open positions showing up there? If not, your website needs some help. Here are three steps to filling positions faster using your website:

1) Evaluate the website from a potential employees’ view point

Chances are, up until now, the website has been focused on prospective clients. Now that you want to use your website as an effective recruiting tool, you’ll need to make a great first impression with candidates. Here’s a few items that typically need to be updated:

Home page - Include photos of people that actually work at the company on the home page. Potential candidates begin to evaluate the possible fit of the company even before they get to the “Careers” section.

About page - Besides the standard bio info and company awards, be sure to have information here that talks about your company culture and values. Not only is this great for potential employees, it can also help with attracting the right clients.

Careers page - This is a page you might need to add to the website. If it does already exist, ensure it has updated information on benefits and other perks of being an employee. Having real employee testimonials on this page can also aid in attracting the best-fit candidates.

An internal review is good, but don’t underestimate the value of direct feedback from candidates. If you’ve recently hired someone new, reach out and ask a few questions about how they found your website and their impression of it.

2) Give the website a technical checkup

Making a great first impression with your content is fantastic, as long as you get the chance to make the right first impression. Your next best employee might be trying to check out an open position with your company from their phone while they are waiting their turn at the dentist. Make sure he/she can get to the information they need by checking the technical performance of your website.

Does your site load on mobile in under three seconds? 
If your web page doesn’t load quickly, mobile users will find somewhere else to go – plus, mobile users are likely to be on slower connections, so every byte counts. To know exactly how quickly your page is loading on a 3G connection, use Google’s Test My Site tool. Another option to check site speed and insights on how to improve site speed is GTMetrix.

Is your site optimized for use on mobile devices?
Let’s say your page is loading quickly but the potential candidates can’t see or access the information. They probably aren’t sticking around to learn more. One way to understand the mobile experience of the website is to use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

3) Optimize your job postings for Google

Wouldn’t it be great if people searching for the kind of jobs you’ve got open could find them easily? It’s now possible for you to structure the information about open positions on your website for ideal placement on Google search results. If you are using a third-party recruiting website like Indeed or LinkedIn, they are already using this approach. But, what if candidates could find the job posting directly on your website just as easily?

To have your jobs appear in Google like the screenshot above, add job posting structured data to your webpage. If you are already working with a search engine marketing professional, they are typically already familiar with this type of structured data (also called schema), and may be able to help you out. If you have a WordPress website, you can use a plugin like Jobs for WordPress to easily add open positions to your website and ensure they contain the structured data for appearing in Google’s Job Search Results.

Websites aren't just for marketing and sales. I think often as marketers, we tend to get caught up in how to best serve prospective clients online (a.k.a. lead generation). As it turns out, considering other audiences of the website presents an opportunity to increase the overall contribution of the website to the business and its potential return on investment.

Websites are unique in that they can improve many aspects of the business, not just those that are customer-related. Once you’ve added recruiting to the ways that the website is serving the business, you can identify other possible roles for your website by looking at your analytics and talking to other departments about the use of the website in common company workflows.

 

Brandy Lawson
CEO,Chief Online Officer & Speaker - FieryFX

Brandy Lawson founded FieryFX six years ago and is a Digital Marketer Certified Partner with more than two decades of experience in business and technology. She helps clients with simple, innovative automations, create an irresistible online presence and secure their digital assets to get them the RIGHT clients, more money and more freedom. In her free time she captains her boat on Lake Pleasant and co-hosts the Northwest Valley WordPress Meetup. She also loves ridiculous shoes and Jeopardy.

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Part 2 - Creating Context: Combining messaging and visuals to drive marketing success

As we discussed in Part 1: Hierarchy and Contrast: Understanding the foundation of graphic design achieve visual goals, effective imagery is not just pretty: It ties into messaging and drives business goals and results.

As a marketer in a world where visual communication is becoming increasingly important, you must be able to identify which images are pretty but pointless and which images are engaging, useful and will drive business goals.

We established in Part 1 that the quickest way to do this is to understand the foundation upon which design is built: hierarchy and contrast. In Part 2, we will go a step further and demonstrate how effective imagery and messaging unite to create context.

Why is context necessary?

We’ve all heard that content is king. It’s not. Content is just information. It’s conveying the who, what, when and where. Context is the real king. It answers the question, “Why do I care?” and invites people to experience the product or service in their own lives.

As an example, content is the information a company includes in a press release. Context is the article that comes out in the newspaper after a journalist has spent hours putting the information into perspective. As such, content is the image and the wording of the post. Context is what makes someone click the link.

Here’s an example:

We’ve all had that post with a “great graphic” that got a TON of likes and comments. We felt really good about it and that maybe, just maybe, we’ve found the secret sauce to cracking social media engagement.We were excited to see what would happen… except nothing did. We didn’t get any clicks or any calls. Just a bunch of thumbs up which made us feel like a big thumbs down.

Why did this happen? Content instead of context. You had an awesome image, but people didn’t bother to discover who created it or take the next step to learn about the product or service.  Here’s a fantastic post that illustrates what I’m talking about:

It’s funny and gets the point across very clearly.

However, of the 14 people that liked it, only 2 were not in the same industry as the poster (proofreaders, educators, etc.) and the three comments were all lamenting how frustrating affect/effect is to master. The post got people engaged and talking, which is great, but I bet it didn’t drive any revenue to the poster because it didn’t have any context. That is, it lacked two things:

  1. Branding
  2. Direction for what the viewer is supposed to do with the information presented.

Therefore, it got engagement from the wrong audience (i.e., nonrevenue generating) and probably didn’t drive any business goals. So, how do you overcome this? How do you create messaging and imagery that play nicely together and drive business goals? You got it: Context!

How do you create context?

There are four main principles you must keep in mind when creating context between messaging and imagery:

1. Proximity – How close or far away something is from something else tells you whether that something stands alone or is part of a group. This post does a good job with proximity by using the downward pointing emoji. Look at the difference between these two:

      

It’s a small thing, yet the difference in shape and color brings your eye up to the word  “Helpful,” which you may not have read in the first picture.

2. Similarity in our Part 1 discussion about shape, we said combining hard edges with round creates contrast between the shapes, while repetition of the same type of shape creates cohesion, or similarity. Just like contrast is the principle that determines what stands out, similarity is the principle that helps determine and establish patterns, groups, and brands.

        

3. Rule of Thirds The rule of thirds divides a photo into 9 equal rectangles with focal points at each of the four intersections. When we see a photo that is visually interesting, it almost always employs some variation of the rule of thirds. Our eyes are drawn to one of the four focal points because that is where the most visual interest lies. For more information click here.


Image by Prem Anandh

This principle is used in all layouts, not just photography, and is called composition.

  

A special emphasis is placed on the bottom right focal point – known as the power corner. Because we read left to right and end at the bottom of a page, it is the very last place we look. This is why many of the most effective CTA buttons are on the right of (or span) a page rather than in the center, and also why logos or web addresses are often placed at the bottom right of a page.

    
If you’d like to learn more about the Rule of Thirds, check out this fantastic article from PhotpgraphyMad.com

4. Continuation and Leading Lines – In the same way our eyes are naturally drawn to focal points, the power of leading lines cannot be overstated. Leading lines are exactly what they sound like: lines that lead the eye toward or away from a particular thing. They can be actual lines placed on the thirds of a photo or diagonal lines cutting across the page and they can change the focal point of a composition significantly. For instance, review the two images below:

    

Do you notice how you’re your natural inclination is to “look back at,” i.e., into the eyes of the model on the right, while you notice the AIRFRANCE branding more on the left? This is because the effective use of leading lines employs the principle of continuation to take the viewer’s eye through the photo or composition to land on (or point to) the predetermined spot the composer has chosen. In the above example, the use of the pink diagonal line and the little plane icon serve to make sure your eye continues on and up to AIRFRANCE, while the strong horizontal and vertical lines and the use of the upper left focal point makes you stop at the model’s eyes in the photo on the right.

Let’s revisit our original post example and compare it to one who effectively uses the above principles:

     

As you can see, combining all the information into a single image (proximity), adding repetitive color (similarity), and creating hierarchy through the rule of thirds and leading lines makes for a very clearly branded and engaging post that provides the necessary context for the viewer to understand what to do with the information presented and drives business goals.

This goes to show that by employing these rules, you can create beautiful imagery that is also purposeful. Understanding composition and creating context can help you move beyond content and take your business to the next level by increasing the quality of communication you have with your designer, increasing the effectiveness of your use of creator apps like Canva and Adobe Spark, and skyrocketing your marketing effectiveness to drive business goals.


Jennie Jerome
CEO, The Strategic Artisan

Jennie Jerome is widely recognized as an emerging business development leader dedicated to crafting memorable brand identity systems throughout the world. She has been the CEO of The Strategic Artisan for the past eight years and has been in her industry for 11 years. She currently serves as Adjunct Faculty for both the Business and Graphic Design departments at Scottsdale Community College and is an Associate Professor at the prestigious ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation. Jennie is a national level equestrian and has been to over 50 countries for work and play. As an Arizona native, she tries her best to be overseas during summer. 

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Simple and Creative Ways to Refresh Your Work space

Life have you feeling “cluttered”? When was the last time you looked through that bottom desk drawer and got rid of the stuff you didn’t need? If you’re too embarrassed to admit how long that has been then you are overdue for a spring-cleaning session! Don’t have the motivation or time to clean? If you are already creating excuses in your head, stop now. Sure, it sounds like a daunting task but just think about it, you’ll feel much better after you tidy up and organize – plus you might find documents that can be beneficial to future work! Check out these simple and creative ways to freshen up your office!

I don’t have time – This is the major hold-back for a lot of situations in life but let’s talk about the stuff you can take care of right away.  Look around your desk. Do you see supplies on your desk or folders in your drawers that you haven’t used in a while? Ask your co-workers to see if anyone needs them, if not, take them back to the supply room. Your company will save money by not having to order extra supplies and you’re contributing to environmental awareness by recycling.

I need change but I can’t afford it right now – Feel like some change could do you some good? On a budget? No sweat.As working professionals, we spend a good chunk of time at work and something as simple as bringing that neglected plant from home to work will make a great addition to your office or desk. It will instantly change your space and release oxygen into the air to keep your mind focused.  Don’t have a green thumb? Bring that old mason jar or cute mug in. It will make a great holder for those loose pens and pencils you have on your desk and it will give your workspace that simple yet modern look. Make your work station a place you ENJOY to be sitting at for 40+ hours a week!

Check out this article for 20 cubical décor ideas to make your office style work as hard as you do! You’d be surprised how many small DIY projects are shown online or inexpensive gadgets there are available to liven up your workstation. If you walk into work and instantly feel comfortable and excited, you are bound to have a more productive day. Take a few ideas from SMPS Member, Ashley Black! She livened up her workstation about a year ago and loves it.

“I knew when we completed our office refresh I would want to spruce up my workstation a bit. I decided to buy a bunch of inexpensive DIY stuff from Hobby Lobby and I focused on a white/silver theme to match our new desks. I bought a ton of white paint, silver glitter, some cheap wooden shapes and magnets – and went crazy! I also repurposed my name plate from a bridal shower as decoration. This was inexpensive and made for a very fun/fulfilling Saturday afternoon!”

 

I’m too stressed to clean - Simplicity is key and believe it or not, cleaning can be therapeutic. Change the desktop background on your computer to something visually appealing like the beach, your favorite vacation spot or a far-away galaxy. It will put a smile on your face and make you feel slightly more relaxed. Open the blinds to your windows and let natural light in – it’s like an instant facelift for your office! If you have a private office, invest in a small oil diffuser or some battery-operated candles, they will change the ambience of your workspace and instantly give that spa-like atmosphere. If you are in an open-office format then bring in a customized calendar or something that reminds you of your favorite things in life!

Is having a clean work area really that important? YES! Your workstation is exactly what it sounds like, a station to do work, not a storage facility! You will become more productive and chances are if you brighten your office a bit, your mood will be uplifted as well! Everyone owes it to themselves to have a fresh new look. Why not start at your desk?

Happy Spring Cleaning!


Maria Mejia
Marketing Coordinator, Dibble Engineering

Maria joined the A/E/C industry five years ago and has worked at Dibble for her entire A/E/C career. She joined SMPS three years ago and is one of our talented social media chairs! In her free time she enjoys making homemade soaps using all natural ingredients. It's a lengthy process but she said the results are worth waiting for! 

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Let the fun times roll!

All work and no play makes for a very dull life.  In the age of “maintaining” a healthy work life balance, the line separating our professional and personal lives are a bit more blurred these days, especially in an industry like AEC where everyone knows everyone and early happy hours often turn into dinners.

But what about those days when you’re stuck in the office? You know, cranking out proposals, meeting deadlines, and replying to emails in between meetings – bring the fun to you!

As the marketing and business development leaders in our firms, we’re more than likely the most energetic and talkative ones in our offices (especially if you’re working with engineers). It’s natural for us to become “culture leaders” and “office champions” without even trying. 

So, in honor of the Unofficial National Fun at Work Day on January 28, here are a few (almost too) easy ways you can incorporate fun at work:

Turn Up the Music – Take your music service subscription to another level and share the wealth with your office. If you’re lucky enough to have a speaker system throughout the office make use of it. Allow everyone in your office to suggest radio stations on Pandora or Apple Music, put the stations on shuffle and voila! There’s nothing like Britney Spears circa 2003 and Tracy Chapman to get the office rocking. Side note – if you have a few sticks in the mud, suggest this for a Friday afternoon!

Let the Games Begin – Instead of formal lunch and learns, host a B.Y.O. Lunch and play. Set up a Cornhole station, Hole-in-One obstacle course (a golf club, ball and a few red solo cups), or various board games; if you want to make it even more interesting, turn the lunch into a tournament that lasts a few weeks. 

Internal Happy Hour – I don’t think this one really needs an explanation, but if enjoying a few adult beverages in the office is a no-go, make root beer floats or ice cream sundaes. When I host an internal happy hour I make it a rule that everyone has to hang out and mingle, no getting the goods and sneaking back to their desks.

Conversation – I may be the queen on distracting my coworkers because I’m always talking to them about anything and everything. Filling up your coffee next to someone you hardly know? Ask them about their weekend, their kids, last book they read… anything, just as long as it’s lighthearted and fun.

Splurge a little – Liven up your workspace! You spend a minimum of 40 hours a week there, make it exciting! Throw some color, photos and maybe some new trinkets on your desk to brighten up your spirit.

Feeling like you don’t have time to coordinate this on your own? Get a committee going or ask your office manager for help! They will probably love the idea and jump right on board!

Lastly, I think it goes without saying that you make sure to get the okay from your boss before you start the Conga Line or blast Chance the Rapper through the speakers. And that’s all I got for ya; now go have some fun!

*Bonus tip – share the fun on your firm’s social media accounts.

 
Tiffany Johnson 
Marketing Coordinator, Bridgers & Paxton

Tiffany has been marketing, developing business and creating content at Bridgers & Paxton for two and a half years. She has been in the A/E/C industry for three and a half and has been an active SMPS member for two years. In her free time she enjoys brunching with her friends, plotting on how to become the next Martha Stewart (cooking, home design, lifestyle hacks), writing and beating everyone she knows at TopGolf!

 

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No More Excuses!

I don’t have time. I have too much else to do. I’m tired. Change is scary. It could be better, but it’s really not that bad. I can always do it later. And on and on and on. We all make excuses for why we can’t get to those extra tasks or goals. And I really don’t think it is an indication of laziness (although it can be). Change is hard. In fact, according to Newton’s first law change is downright unnatural. “An object in motion continues to move at a constant speed unless it is compelled to change its state by an external force.” In order to change our predictable and routine behaviors, we have to be our own external force, which takes boatloads of motivation and commitment and since we’re already motivated and committed for our companies, our families, our friends, our dogs, it’s no surprise that most of us are running low on energy for ourselves.

With a goal or task in mind, follow along with the chart, here, to break
down the top three excuses I catch myself making.


Chelsea Hickok 
Marketing and Business Development, Kimley Horn

Chelsea has been in the A/E/C industry and at Kimley Horn for just over a year. She's been an active member of SMPS for eight months and participated in the 2016-2017 Mentorship program. In her free time, Chelsea loves backpacking, wine-tasting and reading lots and lots of fiction! 

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