“Smiling’s My Favorite” ~ Buddy the Elf

My favorite movie this time of year is Elf. My family watches it right after Thanksgiving, as it heralds in the Christmas season at my house. One of my favorite scenes is when the Gimbel’s manager asks Buddy the Elf “Why are you smiling like that?” Buddy replies “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite!”

It seems like such a small and insignificant thing and we know that smiling can’t solve every problem, but in business, a smile can often defuse a difficult situation. If you are negotiating with a tough client or discussing issues with a customer, a smile will show that you are willing to listen and eager to help. Smiling lights up your face, and is likely to brighten up the day for the people on the receiving end of your smile.

Some business leaders seem to think they have to be stern-faced in order to motivate their employees to get things done. This creates a culture of control and fear that trickles all the way down through the company and is evident to clients. Who wants to work there, let alone do business with them? Not me.

When you enter a store or business, if a saleswoman or receptionist smiles and asks how you are doing, and furthermore asks you if you need any help, you are more likely to be open to looking around, asking questions and making a purchase. Smiles make a difference.

Imagine standing at a map in an unfamiliar and busy airport, wondering where your flight boards, and being approached by an airport employee, smiling at you and asking if you need help finding anything. I would probably gather my purse closer to me and look back at them warily. But if this were the norm in that airport, I’d be a happier passenger, more at ease and more likely to want to fly there.

It costs nothing, takes very little effort and is happily infectious. And that one simple act can give you great return on your investment. Try it. Smiling’s my favorite.

Posted in Customer Service Tagged , , , |

How to Earn a Bad Cyber-Rep…in One Easy Step

Although Saba Agency boasts a state-of-the-art graphic design, website development and social media dept., it is only a portion of the mega-machine that is runs this outfit. Saba Agency, along with our sister company, Creative Concepts, boasts 9 exceptional account reps. These wonderful individuals are a whiz when it comes to promotional items; hats, shirts, mugs, pens, heart-shaped letter openers and stress relievers shaped like a pig, etc. Some are experts at media placement and anything ad and print-related …and oh much more. They love what they do, care about their clients and work hard….but some of them haven’t a clue when it comes to computers and the internet.

So the default IT person is usually our web developer and graphic designer, who both work in my dept., Creative Services. The staff figures since they are both young and do actual work on a computer, they should know everything there is to know about the Entire Internet in General. Luckily for the staff, these two are both pretty smart and do know a lot….but don’t let that get out. Any and all computer problems fall on their shoulders. If someone can’t figure out how to use Mapquest, one of them gets a call on the intercom. “Would you come show me how to find that Mappy-thing?” If another one can’t email a 200 meg file and doesn’t understand why, it falls on someone in my dept to take care of it. It’s like guiding a small child across the street and explaining to them about looking both ways. The only difference is, small children listen.

So it came as no surprise when, about three weeks ago, one of our CC account reps came bursting into the Creative Services dept red-faced and flustered, a vein in his temple noticeably protruding and sweat on his upper lip— “I can’t send emails to my clients! They are coming back to me undeliverable. You have to DO something about it and do it NOW!” We’ve all experienced the dreaded “Mail Undeliverable” in our email inbox. It’s a pain. It’s a bother. And around these parts it’s evidently cause to dial 911. I began to try and talk him down off the ledge. “OK send us one of the “Undeliverable” notices emails so we can look at it and figure it out.” I calmly said. “YOU HAVE TO FIX THIS NOW!” he not-so-calmly replied. “Get out” I said as I pushed him out the door. “And do what I told you”.

The Undeliverable message said “A message that you sent could not be delivered to one or more of its recipients. This is a permanent error. Client host blocked.”

OK this is not good news. Putting two and two together, I called the account rep back into my office. “Were you sending out a pdf or some attachment to multiple recipients?” I asked with fear in my voice. He didn’t hesitate “Yes! I sent a pdf to everyone on my mailing list at the same time. About 300 people. Why?” BAM!—my heart sunk. “You are the reason we are blocked. And not only you but everyone in this company is blocked on multiple mail servers. We are BLACKLISTED” I said as I looked him directly in the eye with the most stern “mom” look I could give. At that he began using colorful language and blamed anyone and everyone else for the problem—denying all guilt. I waited till he calmed down then tried to explain to him the dangers of what he did. Remembering to take the small child by the hand while crossing the street, I calmly, and in civilian terms, explained that many of our client’s mail servers now think we are sending SPAM and are refusing to take ANY emails from ANY of us—and if he’d been at our staff meetings, he would know that. And just like a rebellious small child crossing the street, he yanked his imaginary hand out of mine, stalked out of my office and took off across the street alone….NOT looking both ways and not feeling remorse for the collision he’d just caused.

Thus began our web developers on-going task to get us un-blacklisted. A thankless and slow task. After a week we began getting this message in our “undeliverable mail” notices; “Your access to this mail system has been rejected due to the sending MTA’s poor reputation. If you believe that this failure is in error, please contact the intended recipient via alternate means.”

Great. Now we have a poor reputation. I began using my personal email address and all my clients began calling me Mary— my real name instead of the nickname I’ve used all these many years. Some of the staff tried using their iphones once we explained to them that yes, you can get and receive mail from your iphone. Imagine that! Eventually,after three weeks and multiple threats to our ISP, our web developer successfully had the problem fixed and the blocked mail messages stopped. Kudos to her and I still owe her a chili dog.

As for the guilty account rep who started the whole problem? He buzzed me yesterday and asked what the zip code is for Delano. I said one word to him, “Google”. He replied “Google? What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Good Ideas for Websites (…I stole them from 27b/6 website)

This would be a website where instead of having to look all over the internet for what you want, it would all be in the one place. This would effectively end the need for search engines so I would have to be careful that google representatives do not kill me in my sleep.

This would be a website where users can write the name of the city and street they are on and I would tell them where they are.

Instead of buying their own pet frog, users would pay a fee and I would buy them a frog and look after it. Users could log on anytime to a live webcam and see how their frog is going and send live requests for me to wave the frog’s hand at the camera or bang on the glass if it is sleeping.

A website that contains sound files of different coughs. Each cough would have a description to allow the user to sound match and determine the kind of cough they have before going to the chemist and buying either dry or wet cough medicine.

Users of this website would be able take a photo of their loungeroom and upload it to the site. Then I would tell them what furniture does not look good.

This would be a website where you pay a fee to join and are given your own web page with an empty blog. In the event of your death, you can use the page to write a message to your loved ones. Similar setup to prepaid funerals. Your loved ones can either log on and check whether you have left a message for them or can opt to recieve an email notifying them when you leave a message.

This site would contain a link to the page the user is currently on.

Users of this website would take photos of themselves wearing every combination of every article of clothing they own then upload the images to a user database. Every day, instead of trying on clothing, the user can choose an outfit by simply viewing their choices online.

Similar to facebook but people upload photos of their arms.

A website where you can upload a picture of your chair and then if anyone trys to use your chair and you say “thats my chair” and they say “has it got your name on it” you can send them a link to your photo of the chair which will have the caption ‘this is (your name)’s chair’.

A website that is a black page so that people can go there instead of buying a screensaver.

A website where the user takes a screenshot of their computer screen and uploads it so that when they are looking at porn and the boss walks past they can type in the link and go to it instead.

This website would contain pictures of pegs, allowing the user to have access to pictures of pegs whenever they need them.

A website for people having a heart attack.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged , , |

You’ve Got Mail!

I remember working at Saba Agency back in the day….Before, and during the birth of email—when “emails” were spelled “e-mails”, online was “on-line” and every website domain name was preceded by “http://” Ahh….those were the days. Now we could email print files to the printer and website proofs to our web clients. We thought emailing would lighten our load, speed up our productivity and give us a chance to sit back at our desk, sipping our Folgers and contemplating the cracks in the ceiling. Au contraire my friend.

Email messaging now exceeds telephone traffic and is the dominant form of business communication. For some workers, it consumes half of their day. A recent Wall Street Journal report indicates that soon employees will spend three to four hours a day on e-mail.While emailing does speed things up, it can also get us into trouble if we’re not careful. There are professional standards, believe it or not, and it would behoove all of us to sit up and take notice. Here are a few:

Be informal but make it “business informal”. Use traditional spelling, not abbreviations you might use when texting your teenage son. Traditional grammar and punctuation as well. You may have a bff amongst your colleagues, idk, but for the most part, refrain from signing off with gtg, ttfn.

Keep messages brief and to the point. (That’s all I need to say about that).

Be Case-Sensitive. USING ALL CAPS LOOKS AS IF YOU ARE SHOUTING. Unless you are shouting. In which case, I hope you are talking to aforesaid teenage son.

Don’t forget the value of face-to-face or even voice-to-voice communication. E-mail communication isn’t appropriate when sending confusing or emotional messages. If you have a problem with someone, a painful as it may be for you, speak to them directly.

Be extra gracious. While you might be tempted to simply state what you want and press send, be aware that voice inflections and tones are not picked up in emails. If you sound cold and short then the recipient will perceive you as such. Be gracious and quick to say “please” and “thank you”.

For the love of Lucy don’t forward chain letters, junk mails and precious little photos of kittens and hearts with cutesy poems. Not to clients, not to co-workers. Do we really need to go over this?

Use a signature that includes your contact information. Make it easy for people to know who you are, where you work and how to get hold of you.

Yes, emailing has revolutionized our workplace and our lives, whether we like it or not. Let’s use it responsibly.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , |

CMYK…Like the Colors of My Mind

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved playing with and admiring colors. At the tender age of 5, in Kindergarten, I was informed that I was coloring “wrong”. Although I meticulously stayed inside the lines, Sister Mary Margaret instructed me that I was using the wrong colors and my strokes weren’t K-compliant. Even then I remember thinking “Psh…how do you know everyone else isn’t doing it wrong and I’m the only one doing it right?”

Color is subjective. Except when it comes to the grown up world of printing.

One of the most difficult tasks I’m encountered with in the Design business is explaining to my clients, when I’ve designed a new brochure, annual report, event program, logo design—what have you—is why the colors they see of the proof on their monitor are different than what they see when they print it out of their deskjet printer AND why it looks even MORE different on Susie’s monitor in the next cubicle. Not only that (I try to explain) the final, printed piece will look different still.

It’s frustrating and I completely understand and sympathize. If we are using spot colors I can show you my Pantone chart and assure you the colors will be exactly what you see on that chart. That’s the easy route. But spot colors are only useful when we are printing one, two, maybe three colors only.

Full color is a whole ‘nuther ballgame and harder to deal with. The exact mixture of the four colors Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black determines every color we print in full color printing. You’re thinking “Shouldn’t it be CMYB?” And you’re right but that’s another long explanation and not that interesting so let’s move on… I can be pretty sure how the colors will print, myself. Our devices and monitors here at the ad agency are calibrated to be pretty dead on. However once it goes to print it’s out of my hands. The offset press at the printer is calibrated (hopefully) daily and there is no guarantee it will be the same every day. Those pesky CMYK mixes might shift a tiny bit.

Truth be told, 99% of the time it’s not an issue and we are careful to make sure it isn’t, but the only way to get a color guarantee is to do a press proof and, in desperate times…a press-check. This can be costly but worth it if exact colors are a must.

Ah….misty watercolor memories. It was easier coloring in the lines in Kindergarten.

Posted in Saba Marketing Tips Tagged , , , , , |

Old School Marketing 101

Marketing our business in this golden age of technology is a whole new ballgame these days….we are painfully aware of that. Using Trade Shows as a marketing tool has always been a good marketing strategy for many businesses. But now we are questioning ourselves—does trade show marketing work? Are trade shows still relevant in the new age of online marketing, websites, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Bing, iPhones, iPads, and social media? Or are trade shows and trade show marketing just last century’s marketing dinosaurs? Is it still worthwhile to exhibit at a trade show or convention, especially in today’s economy?

You might be surprised to know that the answer is YES—trade show marketing still works…which is why every year there are thousands of trade shows held through the US and the world, with millions of attendees. Attending these trades shows as well are tens of thousands of successful trade show exhibitors (like you) who are introducing new products and selling existing products, meeting new customers, and establishing new business relationships.

Trade shows are still a viable, cost-effective “face-to-face” marketing method. Trade show marketing allows an exhibitor to meet with hundreds of motivated potential customers.  But trade show success is not a foregone conclusion nor is it guaranteed. Here are a few quick tips to ensure your next Trade Show is a hit:

PLAN ahead of time. Determine your purpose, set goals, make a checklist, set deadlines and a timeline.

QUALIFY your prospects. You definitely want to greet everyone passing by but ask if they are in the market for your product or service.  Ask if they are using any of your competitors.  Ask if the prospect is a decision-maker or influencer.  Ask these questions, but then listen.  Give them a chance to talk.  Determine what the likelihood of they or their company ever buying from you is.

FOLLOW UP. You can double or triple your new customers from a trade show by doing one thing… follow-up.  Call all of your prospects within 3 days of getting back to work. It’s a safe bet that the brochure and business card you passed out is sitting in a plastic bag along with a hundred other business cards and brochures. Your prospects will get to it when they have the time….just like you. So give them a call while the trade show is still fresh in their minds

Posted in Saba Marketing Tips Tagged , , , |

Welcome to the New Age…Buckle Up!

Marketing, along with everything else, has entered a new age. Welcome to the 21st century.

Since its inception, advertising has been dedicated to the creation of programmed messaging. For nearly 300 years, those who could create the best message and deliver it in a memorable way across as wide an audience as possible, won. Cha-ching! In even the last decade, this tried and true method of advertising—the types of content and ways we consume it—have completely changed. Marketers are struggling to keep up.

Advertising dates back to 1704. The first recorded advertisement was a newspaper ad selling Real Estate in Boston. For the next 300 years, we have carefully developed marketing messages programmed to mass audiences, and that has dominated the way consumers learn about products and services. There has been little change outside of the introduction of new innovations like radio, TV, and the Internet. Basically our marketing goals have remained the same: find a unique insight about your demographic, develop catchy creative, and then buy as much media as you can afford to program that message into consumers’ heads. Lily Tomlin once said “If it wasn’t for commercials, we’d all be wandering around in the stores, wondering what to buy”. This was the way people learned about new products—there simply wasn’t much access to any other information.

Then fast forward to the turn of the century…the 21st century—the one that we’re in right now. Welcome to the wonderful world of web search, and most importantly Google. How did we know anything before Google? For the first time, consumers are able to easily seek out and research product information themselves before making a purchase. Consumers have started taking control over the information they consume. Power to the people! Even though traditional advertising is still the primary vehicle for marketers to attempt to impact consumer behavior, a cosmic shift has begun. With web searching becoming more predominant, there is now more accountability demand from marketers and their claims.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yelp….even new platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and other social and mobile sites have ushered in a new age. Consumers no longer need to be programmed, or even search for new products. The products are all around them. People see what their friends are listening to, what fashion items they just bought, what products are “hot”, and what they are cooking for dinner. Information is everywhere and from sources far more trusted than advertising—their peers. The advertising game is changed forever.

Some advice for this new age in marketing? There is much to say about that, grasshopper. We at Saba Agency strive to stay abreast of the latest and greatest trends in advertising and technology. Our advice to our clients is that a marketer’s job revolves much more about utilizing and understanding technology nowadays than at any other time. And it will be increasingly true as we head deeper into the 21st century. Those with a deep understanding of the interplay between technology and using it to reach consumers will be well positioned for success.

And you can take that to the bank.


Posted in Branding Tagged , , , , , , |

Give ‘Em What They Want

Email marketing is a great internet innovation and can be one of the most effective ways to reach customers and to offer them special deals and information. And with the current Google algorithm update, it’s even more important to focus on things other than just the search engines. Do you already have an email marketing campaign in place? If not, our email marketing strategies at Saba Agency will help your business to get the word out there to your customers and potential customers and get you noticed.

It’s an effective means to send out regular updates to your customer base, even if not much is happening in your business. These regular updates can be short and sweet. They remind your customers that you are staying busy and want to keep in touch with them.

Here are a few tips when it comes to email marketing:
If you choose to use email messages as the primary form of communication with your customers (in contrast to opposed to social media, the phone, fax or snail mail) you must respond to all email inquiries well within 24 hours. One of the most appealing things about email marketing is its quick turnaround time. Don’t blow it by letting customers questions go unanswered.

When you are following up to potential prospects, you should try following up with a quote that is very persuasive. Include a pitch onto your email that says to act right now. An example could be at the ending of the email, you could advertise that they can be pre-approved by clicking on a link given below.
Don’t be afraid to specialize and customize. Build up information on your subscribers and narrow down what you offer them. Your goal is to present them with an offer they will find irresistible.

Make subscribing to your email list as easy as it can possibly be. And un-subscribing as well. You should use well placed noticeable forms that ask them to enter their email addresses if they would like to receive information about upcoming specials or coupons. Make it clear that you will never sell their personal information.

Email marketing has become one of the easiest and most effective ways to reach customers and offer them news, deals and updates. We at Saba Agency offer complete email marketing campaign packages at reasonable rates. Talk to us…we’re here to help.


Posted in Branding

Logo Schmlogo

Your logo does not sell your company or describe your company…It is a symbol, an avatar that quickly identifies your company. If you think of logos like people, we prefer to be called by our name rather than “that nice office lady who wears purple a lot”. Our name quickly identifies who we are, just as your logo quickly identifies your business in its simplest form.

There is strategy behind logo design. How’s your logo doing in identifying you? Is it effective, memorable and immediately recognizable? Was it quickly put together by cousin Frank who didn’t really know what he was doing but likes to draw? We tell our clients that a logo is the first step in establishing your business. And an important step. It lays the groundwork for what comes next and used often enough, quickly identifies who you are without any other description needed.

How long did it take you to put the Nike “swish” pictured here together with the company that owns it? Yeah, that’s what I thought….

Posted in Branding

Resistance is Futile

We like happy clients. Happy clients get noticed and make lots of money. So we always recommend to all our clients, when diving into their website design/redesign projects, that we be sure to incorporate SEO and social media in the process. This isn’t just an upsell; we genuinely feel we’d be doing our clients a disservice if we didn’t encourage them to think about their entire digital presence. Especially now that Facebook Pages have Timeline, it’s important for that space to be a reflection of their brand. It’s a new dawn in advertising your business—join the technology side…Resistance is futile.

And, clients who launch websites without SEO are wasting a lot of the money they’ve just spent on developing and launching that brand new site, no matter how cool it is. If Google can’t find you, you might as well be hiding under a rock. Search Engine Optimization clears the o-so-busy path, puts you on Google’s “Nice” list, and shows you off to the world at large. But SEO is an ongoing project. Simply placing meta words and tags in your coding is not the end of the story….oh if only it were that easy.

We celebrate every time our SEO plan and efforts for our clients “googles” their name up to the top of the first page. I could say we giggle at google. We love to see our client’s websites rise to the surface of search engine results.

Posted in Search Engine Optimization