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Do you have a hard time explaining your marketing plans to freelance designers?

Would you like some advice on how to make your next campaign a success? Check out this week’s Grow Live with Safety Marketing Services as Matt Johnson and Renia Carsillo sit down with Senior Marketing Designer, Luke Kenney.  They dive into graphic design and explore the best ways you can effectively communicate your design needs.

Watch, listen or read now and learn more about:

  • Why content, trust and time are the keys to building better relationships
  • The importance of a style guide and ‘look and feel’ sheets
  • How a “bird’s eye view” can give a designer a holistic view of the campaign
  • Communicating effectively with freelancers
  • Understanding the unique goals of marketers and designers

  “Trust goes both ways,”—Matt Johnson, CMO & Managing Partner.

You won’t want to miss this candid discussion between a marketing manager, creative marketing officer and graphic designer. Today, they uncover the reasons why these relationships are often strained and how to repair them.

Check out this week’s Grow Live Show for tips you can use to make your next campaign a success!

 

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Read the Grow Live transcript...

Renia:

Hey everybody, welcome back. It's Wednesday again which means we are here for episode eight of Grow Live and we let Will go back to helping out his clients and Matt is back with us. Welcome back Matt.

Matt:

Glad to be here.

Renia:

If you're new to us, Matt Johnson our CMO and Managing Partner and I am Renia, Director of Digital Strategy here at SMS and today we have invited Luke who is our Senior Graphic Designer to join us. We were going to talk to you today about how to work with a designer. So last week we got super nerdy and like into all of the analytics and stuff like that. This week I feel like we're bringing in the rock star.

Matt:

That’s right, you’re hanging with the cool kids now.

Renia:

We’re hanging with the cool kids. Actually Matt was talking to us before we started. He actually started his career as a designer. So I'm really excited to hear what they have to say today. Just to remind everybody, if you have not seen the show before or if you have to jump out and go into a meeting or something, you can find the show at Letsgrowpodcast.com and listen to it on your smartphone or even at your desktop. You can also find the transcripts of the show and the YouTube show and all that fun stuff at Growwithsms.com under the resources page and we're also going to tell you about something super fun that Luke has put there for you at the end of the show. So stay tuned.

 

So Luke you want to start us off by telling us a little something about yourself?

Luke:

Sure. Hi everyone, it's great to be here in good company. Can't wait to just start talking about some design stuff. I've been designing for about 15 years now professionally. And just recently came over to SMS doing marketing which was a real eye opener and very … it was different and I enjoyed it. Get to learn some of the analytical side of things, dive into the numbers and dive into the brains of consumers and things of that nature.

Matt:

So Luke you started as a Marketing Manager here at SMS, not a designer?

Luke:

Correct.

Matt:

So before you came here, were you primarily doing design or what exactly were you doing?

Luke:

I was primarily doing design yes. A media specialist was my technical title. So I did a lot of different things. There's some video in there, some web design, some forward facing connection with the consumer. Yeah, so a lot of different things. I did a lot of different things in that role.

Matt:

The reason why you know obviously we brought you in here, and then we made you a Marketing Manager, but it was because you had this unique … I felt like it was a unique skill set for a designer to have such a good grip on project management and organization. So as a designer, typically they're very right brained. They're right brained people, they're super creative, they're flexible, they're hard to sometimes wrangle and sometimes you have to kind of really stay on top of them and then make sure they're doing the projects but you do a really good job of organizing yourself and holding yourself accountable and making sure that you have all the information you need. And that's why I felt like at the time in the life of our organization, we actually needed somebody who could do a little bit of design while managing client marketing. So what did you think of that experience?

Luke:

I liked it. Just to be able to get that different perspective and then still do something that I was passionate about to marry those two together was … it was unique for me and something different that I hadn't done. And it was also helpful just to be able to do that design work for those clients that I was kind of assigning to myself. Kind of took me out of a bit of the loop with some of the other marketing managers because I didn't have to have that connection with a designer. But yeah, it was enjoyable.

Matt:

So today we're really talking about this idea of how to communicate with a graphic designer. If you're a Marketing Manager out there, if you’re working with designers on a regular basis you know that sometimes it can be a difficult thing. It can be hard to manage that relationship. Sometimes there is communication breakdowns and it seems like the marketing manager role and the designer role are two different kind of brains and this is a good conversation today because who better to help us try to figure this out than somebody who has lived in both of those worlds. I have a similar background as you guys know. I started off as a designer myself and went into project management and then I kind of went back to design. I kind of jump back and forth for many years so-

Luke:

Who better?

Matt:

Yeah, so we have a good … and then Renia obviously has worked with designers as well, so I think we have a-

Renia:

I’ve worked with designers, not a designer.

Matt:

Yeah, definitely not a designer.

Renia:

Definitely not, they yell at me when I move things around in their PowerPoint presentations.

Matt:

Your PowerPoint presentations have great content let's just say.

Renia:

Fair enough.

Matt:

Cool. But we’re so happy that you're here and I love that you've kind of come full circle now and you're in this role as the Senior Designer which means that you pretty much are responsible for the creative direction of pretty much all of our client work. So if you are one of our clients out there or if you’ve seen some of our work, there's a very good chance that this man right here had his hands on it at some point. So it's very nice to have somebody who can provide that consistent quality and design and we're just so happy that you're kicking butt at what you're doing. So what questions shall we ask this guy?

Renia:

Well one of the first questions I wanted to ask you and you guys can broadly both talk about it a little bit. But I come at it from a pure Marketing Manager perspective and I think most marketing managers do. They may dabble a little bit in Photoshop or use tools like Canva which probably make Luke’s heart bleed. But we probably don't completely understand where a designer is coming from. So I would love for you to like tell all our marketing managers out there, like what makes your role different than what we do and why do you think that that miscommunication happens sometimes.

Luke:

I think marketing managers sometimes have their head like strictly in the numbers of things. Which is great because you need someone that is more analytical and then someone that is more visual to kind of get a well-rounded piece of content really. But yeah I think marketing managers really, they're just in the numbers of things and they're in the process of creating a content strategy or things of that nature so that the producers can go ahead and create the pieces that they need. Like they're building an Ikea shelf and a graphic designer is like creating those different pieces to put onto that shelf. That's kind of the way that I think about it.

Matt:

Interesting.

Luke:

They're making the structure for us to make it look pretty unique.

Matt:

Do you think that marketing managers for the most part don't appreciate the visual nature of what you're doing, like maybe they're just thinking, it's just that checkbox that I have to complete. At least that's my take sometimes, is that it's like I need this graphic, I need this cover, I need this banner or whatever it is and I just needed to do what I needed to do and I'm just going to check the box and move to the next thing. Check the box, my whole job is checking the box. Whereas a designer like Luke, he's concerned about is it communicating the right way. I feel like maybe there's some of the frustrations as would you say that's fair.

Renia:

I don’t know, I maybe without not too experienced Marketing Manager like you haven’t been around for a while but I think in some ways I would almost … and maybe this is where some of the miscommunication comes, because sometimes I almost feel the opposite. I feel like I as a marketing person I’m really concerned about whether the message is coming across and whether it works and the designer is more concerned about whether it's pretty. So that's.

Luke:

I can see it-

Renia:

Not Luke by the way.

Luke:

I think it's different for the Marketing Manager. Definitely getting feedback from you is extremely helpful because you have the insight to the persona on different things that we try to as designers to kind of get in on the ground floor. Like for us, I'm creating persona sheets and things. So I get to read through that stuff even before I get to any piece of like major design. So it's helpful to get the information but when a marketing manager that has like such great insight and is like developing those persona stories and different things, comes back to give some insight into a design, really the designer should take that as you being the specialist on their topics and not really … don't be too hurt when you have to go back and change something because it may not look pretty but it's about the performance too. So it's give and take, it's a relationship that …

Renia:

I like that, it's a give and take I think both ways. I would say that's a good point that you just said about y here at SMS, Luke makes all of our persona sheets that go to our clients so he's really intimately acquainted with the ideal buyers for our clients, but if you're working with a designer, go back to episode two where we talk about personas. If you don't have personas developed for your ideal customers because those can be really powerful to give to your designers, so they understand what your customer is after.

Matt:

I was just going to say something similar and this actually reminds me of the episode we did with sales and marketing debate a little bit, because I think that there's this disconnect a lot of times and our assumptions about … our designers’ assumptions about marketing managers are entirely true and market managers’ assumptions about designers are not entirely true either. One of the assumptions is you said, sometimes they only care about whether it looks pretty and I would say like that's true for like an experienced designer. Any experienced designer is just trying to make something that is an art, piece of art.

 

Whereas a marketing designer who's a senior person like Luke, he's looking at the persona. He's thinking to himself about the person who's going to be interacting with this particular design. He’s thinking about how do I communicate the message the best way for this persona. And he looks at like what kind of brands that they resonate with and that all plays a part in the design process.

Luke:

Just to steal something from Renia that she likes to say to the content writers, is that you need to kill your darlings and I'm not sure-

Renia:

It’s from Stephen King.

Luke:

Yeah, so just to have that as a mindset that sometimes less is more and that you need to just think about what actually is the purpose of the design and sometimes you got to take someone's flyers out, so they're not always needed, that's a joke.

Renia:

Pieces of flare.

Matt:

No, can we add a lens flare to this video right now?

Luke:

Thank you Brandon.

Renia:

We've been experiencing that a lot in the office because we have a very talented team who's very lucky to be able to do all kinds of cool things with animation. And so we're always constantly having to gut check ourselves, like do we really need an animation on this page or is it just there because we want to show we can do it.

Matt:

Getting back to the persona, I feel like as an inbound marketer, it sometimes becomes annoying because we’re always talking about persona, persona. But it just goes to show you just how important those personas are to your entire marketing strategy because it's as important for your writer as it is for your designer. I feel like one of the best tips if you're a designer out there, is to remember that you're not designing for you. You're designing for your persona and if this design becomes about you, inevitably you miss the communication and as a designer, I've always told other designers that worked with me, you're not just a designer, you're communicator. You're an expert visual communicator.

 

Your whole job is to get across a message using visual language and there's really the top pro level of design, starts with the persona. So that makes a lot of sense why it looks so good because he does start with the persona before he ever starts designing a thing. So really cool pro-tip there if you're out there, if you’re a designer.

Renia:

I really do think that writers and designers actually have a lot in common. I think both sides, it's a little bit of an artistic background that we come from. A writer might have been scribbling as a kid, a designer might have been drawing stuff or whatever. I think a lot of the process is similar and there's a lot of things that are side by side there and I think one of the frustrations that maybe marketing managers get when we're working with our design bodies is like it feels like they're just sitting there staring at their computer all the time, right?

Luke:

It’s true.

Renia:

They're just like blank staring up in the face and I know from being a writer that that's 80% of what you do. Tell us a little bit about like what does it look like for you to bring something to life from nothing. Because I know it can feel like magic to me.

Luke:

Well, that's a good question.

Matt:

Does it really actually come from nothing though? I think there's a little hint in that question itself.

Luke:

There's definitely inspirational pieces that you draw from using these personas and seeing what works for them, doing some exploratory work in different things. Yeah.

Matt:

One of the things that I used to do when I was designing and I wish that I would have known to ask for a persona back then. When I was designing a lot I just instinctively knew kind of through experience who my persona was and I learned over time, that's the slow way. So if you want go fast, start with the persona. But I eventually figured it out and one of the things I'd always do when I was preparing to design was I spent some time researching. Not unlike a writer would go out there and research the topic but I would go out there and I would research my competitors, and I would research what industry standards are out there. Like what are the best names or the best brands in the industry doing and I would see how those designers are doing because I would always compare myself.

 

I may not have been the top designer in the industry but I would compare myself to the top designers and to the companies that were best performing and I would look, well let's see what they do and let's see what we can take from that and apply it to the work that I'm doing right now.

Luke:

Yeah definitely that's a good point. I like to go through and look at the competitor sites and see what they're doing and what's working for them but then push it to the next level to see what can we do that's better than what they’re doing. Because obviously we're trying to outperform those businesses out there. But yeah, going through, looking at different like inspirational pieces. Maybe it's from those websites but then sitting down and just trying stuff out. Seeing what elements work well together, what color combinations, there's definitely staring at the screen blankly for periods of time and I've done that, do that pretty much every day just to figure out-

Matt:

Hopefully not too long.

Luke:

Not too long.

Matt:

We bill by the hour.

Luke:

But I'm doing stuff as I'm staring at it. It just takes experience to know what works and what doesn't. You can get quicker as time goes go on.

Matt:

I see you doodling and sketching things out sometimes. So does that play a part in bringing something to life?

Luke:

Yeah, sometimes I'll do it on paper, sometimes I'm looking at the screen and doing it. But yeah I'll sit and sketch some stuff out. If it's more of a technical piece, it's always easier for me to have a sketch made up and then even sometimes I'll go to some colored pencils just to see what works well, what contrasting elements are going to sit right on the page or whatever it is that I'm signing, but yeah you can do a lot of that stuff on the computer which is the majority of the stuff I do.

Matt:

So when I in my creative director role, one of the things I would tell my designers was if you want to go fast, if you want to be really efficient in your workload, slow down. And what I meant by that was … and I gave them each a notepad and pencils and I said before you begin designing that cover or designing that ad, start on paper. Because what you need to do is you can go very quickly on paper with sketching out base objects, putting the headline here. Here's the focus imagery. Here's the call to action, here's the contact information. You can go very quickly there whereas if you just get into the computer program and guys know out there the Adobe Creative Cloud programs, they're robust programs. They’re robust software and it takes some time to get in there and play around with those things.

 

So those are not the best mediums to wire frame or sketch. There are some wire framing and sketching software out there, but I've always found it's just best to just put pencil to paper and get those objects where you want them and when you're satisfied with something that is communicating the message well, then it's time to jump into the software. I think designers could honestly save so much time if more designers went to the paper first.

Luke:

That's what we do. We’ll sketch some wire frames up and then go into mockups after we’ve developed those.

Renia:

I actually think wire frames are one of those things that like nobody wants to do anymore because it seems so easy to just jump into the tool, but I see them as just invaluable especially for big projects like websites. They save so much time in the long run.

Matt:

And wouldn’t they also help bridge this gap? So that's like our next question. Is like how do we bridge the gap between the design or the Marketing Manager and I feel like wire are framing and sketching can help bridge that gap. We're very fortunate working with Luke, we were just talking about this before we got on the air here, but we typically don't have friction between Luke and our managers because they have such a high level of trust with him and he’d been doing this for a while so they know what to expect and he already kind of knows what they want. However, if you are a designer or if your marketer is working the freelance designer or a designer who's on your staff, getting to where you want to get to quicker sometimes means, here's my vision, I pass it to the designer, the designer passes back the wire frame which is the rough outline of my vision and then if we're on the same page he can go to work. He or she can go to work designing the piece. Wouldn't that save time? I think it would.

Luke:

Yeah wire framing, going back and forth. Having that communication with the Marketing Manager is crucial. If I were to just go in and start mocking stuff up without having that wire frame and that conversation about what is working. Those elements that are sitting on the page, how those are working, then I would waste a ton of time if there was something that needed to be changed for whatever reason. So, having that communication and sketching those things out prior to jumping into the computer, because that can be pretty costly just on a number of levels.

Renia:

Yeah, I think I've told Luke a number of times before, like I am very bad as a marketing manager at conceptualizing something visual. I can write and I can process design, but I can't conceptualize visual very well. And so a lot of times, I don't know what I want until I see something. And a lot of times what that manifests as is I don't know it's wrong until I see what's wrong. And the wireframe, that prevents that, because usually that's where I'll see, okay, now I understand this is in the wrong place, or this is in the, I heard about this or you know, and I think that does a lot of that.

 

One of the advantages that we have working with Luke is that he's in the office with us and we're back and forth with him all the time. But you may not have that as a marketing manager. You may be working with freelancers or directly with a designer at an agency or something like that. So, what are the things Luke that you really need to know about a project in order to start to conceptualize it?

Luke:

What we're trying to get out of the entire thing, like where we're trying to get the persona or that person, like what we're trying to get them to do.

Matt:

The purpose.

Luke:

Yeah, the purpose of the design.

Renia:

So I can’t just tell you like I want 30 social media graphics, here is their color scheme?

Luke:

You could tell me that. What we’re trying to do-

Renia:

I want a website.

Luke:

Yeah. We want to know what the purpose of the site is, what functionality it's supposed to, you know, what it's supposed to do. If you have any input as to like visuals like what you want. Then to look like we put that into consideration.

Matt:

What about like some of the more technical things? I mean, if you're working with a freelancer who doesn't work with you every day in the office, what are some of those basic requirements that they need?

Luke:

Dimensions, you know, I like to give my freelancer robust brief, design brief, that includes all of the branding assets, color codes, some images that might be used within the scope of the campaign. And then the direction, the spec work that I've put together that kind of gives him a general idea of where that set of artwork needs to go, the direction.

Matt:

Fonts?

Luke:

Yeah, there's fonts in there, all the weights, the families, there's patterns, there's all these little things that we put together for each of our clients that's a package that helps me as I'm going back and forth from different clients so that I'm staying within the guidelines that we've created for them. But also helps me send out work to freelancers so that they have a better understanding of what we're trying to get at the visuals that we're trying to create for those clients.

Renia:

I think that's a really good first step to ask, because I'm always surprised even really big companies that don't have branding guidelines or a style guide. So if you're a marketing manager looking at working with designers and you don't have personas, branding standards and a style guide, those things need to happen first before you're ever going to be happy working with a designer.

Matt:

Glory, amen. I was just about to say the same exact thing. It's just, I cannot believe how many companies that they just, they go out and they hire somebody, the designer logo and they get a bunch of Logo files back and then that's it. Guys, that's just the baby step. There's a whole brand guidelines, color palette, fonts and all of those things you really should invest the dollars of having a professional designer create that for you. And then you'll have that as a tool so that you can work with your designers, because without it, don't be surprised when you have things that are just way consistent across the board and then that's how you get a brand that doesn't look like they know what they're doing from a designer spec.

Luke:

A look and feel sheet is really helpful to just give them along with that.

Renia:

I don't know about you guys, you can tell me, but like if I was working with, me as a marketing manager, if I have X amount of budget, I would spend, if I didn't have those things, if I didn't have a style guide and a look and feel sheet and a set of brand guidelines, I might spend a big chunk of money on a very experienced designer to create those things for me because those things would allow me to go out and hire less expensive designers to do things like social media graphics.

Matt:

Really smart, really, really good tip for some of you guys who maybe you don't have the budget to have a full time designer, I think that's a really great point Mindy just made. Go take that to your boss.

Renia:

Or if you do have the full time designer, use them for bigger things. Don't like, don't use them, that's one of the things that we've learned and at SMS is you know Luke has a team of freelancers that he sends work out to do graphics that are not as intensive. Things like for a Facebook post or something like that versus the whole web design.

Matt:

Also, one of the cool things not to like just self-promote so much, but that's an amazing value add I think that we do for clients. I don't know if they, maybe some of them don't even realize, but we've basically built that for them. We've built brand guidelines, we’ve built style guides, color palettes, all of that and it's theirs and we use it to do their work, but that's a pretty valuable deliverable.

Renia:

I actually think they're beautiful all on their own, like I love looking at them. I don't even know half the stuff on the means and I love looking at them.

Matt:

One thing I like to do guys is let's put a link to our own brand guidelines in the show notes. We’ll share what we have and what we use for ourselves.

Renia:

Yeah, we can throw that up as a PDF. Luke, can you tell me a little bit about, so I have a lot of trust in you because we work closely together and you produced It's amazing stuff, and you take feedback really well, but if you're building a new relationship with a designer, how do you start to build that trust? Because I really think that's key, and what I see a lot is marketing managers don't trust their designers, but the designers don't trust the marketing managers either. Because designers feel like they're just constantly being beat up and constantly like, “Could you get this out a little faster and whatever.” Marketing managers feel like you get all the glory and they're the ones pounding away.

Luke:

So how to build trust?

Renia:

Yeah.

Luke:

I think a lot of that comes with the communication that we're talking about, transparency, just figuring things out together. Because we're really doing it for the client; we're both working for the client so there's a transparency there that we need to keep so that we can do that effectively. Not one position is greater than the other, we have to work together to make that happen.

Matt:

That’s right.

Luke:

So, there's communication I would say, something that may frustrate that confusing relationship would be what my blog is about.

Matt:

Now is a good time to talk about it.

Renia:

Now is a good time, yeah, if you go to GrowWithSMS.com, we have a freshly minted blog that Luke wrote for us about working with designers. Three tips right?

Luke:

Three tips, yeah.

Renia:

Three tips for working with the designer, it's also got some super funny graphics that he may or may not made-

Luke:

Those were fun.

Renia:

Those were fun.

Luke:

So the three things, and you'll have to go read it to get the details, but content, time and trust. So a designer, they don't want to just be asked to be a magician, because they're not. They can’t just make things-

Matt:

You're actually not magical?

Luke:

No, I’m not magical, I wish I was. We have unicorns in the office, but I'm not magical. Yeah content we can't create something from nothing, we need the marketing managers to come up with finished pieces of content so we can go in and have some contacts to design those things. Time, we don't want to be asked to do something yesterday. You know today.

Matt:

Do you think marketing manager's on a whole dramatically underestimate the amount of time that’s required to design something?

Luke:

Our marketing managers are pretty good about it.

Matt:

You don't have to call anybody up.

Luke:

It's the amount of time dictates the amount of awesome that you get out of a designer. The more time and heads up that you give a designer, even if it is like a rush job, just giving the heads up to them, but just know that you're not going to get their best work, but at least you're giving them a heads up so they can’t lash out at you. You know, so they have an idea of what their workload is going to be. So that was content, time and trust, yeah. Just letting the designer design, that's what they do, that's what they're hired to do.

Matt:

How do you feel, I'm sure this doesn't happen with us, but I'm sure it has happened in your career, where a manager basically designs it for you. And like maybe they put together a wire frame or a sketch or something like that and basically says, “This is what I want, make it happen.” Is that kind of undermining that trust?

Luke:

If it comes from a good place, if it comes from a place where the client is-

Matt:

It’s okay, you can tell them that I've done that to you before.

Luke:

No, well, I appreciate the criticism, because it only just makes you better, but it always comes from research that you're doing to figure out what that client needs, what that persona needs.

Matt:

So you like getting like a detailed wire frame or does that make you feel like, “Geez, just let me figure it out buddy?”

Luke:

I don't mind it if the marketing manager, the person that is giving me that wire frame. If they're doing the research asking those questions prior to giving it to you. So I mean that's always something-

Matt:

This is where Luke is just not your typical designer. I think most designers would be like-

Luke:

Let me just do the-

Matt:

… let me design. But he's such a, he's so humble, he can't even …

Renia:

The thing that I think comes up here a lot, Luke and I have been back and forth with this in a positive way, is sometimes especially with an experienced marketing person is something that might visually look good or maybe is even perfect for that design. Just someone who's done a lot of testing and just knows that that doesn't work. Like it doesn't matter how beautiful it is or how much it fits in this design based on years of testing, this thing doesn't work. It's kind of like every time I did a website for years, I was trying to call the contact us tab like, “Give us a shout out and say hello,” because it's so boring just to say contact us but nothing else works. Like that's the only thing that works really well. Do you ever like feel that where marketing managers are just like, “Well you just can't do that,” and then you're like, “Urgh?”

Luke:

I'm sure I have yeah, but I think you've got to trust the person that's in a position to make those different calls and always just communicate you know. I'm nothing if not honest with the design work and so.

Matt:

Trust goes both ways.

Luke:

Yeah, goes both ways for sure.0702914097

Matt:

It’s not just we have to trust the designer because he's a pro, but you have to trust the manager that they know may be the industry better or they know what the boss wants or …

Luke:

Yeah, just don't take anything personally, you'll be okay. You're not going to … No one is going to die over you know what color a CTA is, so just keep it give and kill.

Matt:

I will say this too that when it comes to trust, one of the things that we do that I really like and at first when we started doing this I was kind of like, “Does Luke really need to be here, shouldn’t he be designing something?” But we would invite Luke to our strategy meetings, and in most the time, honestly, he's just sitting there listening to the conversation. Yeah he's in there doodling and but it's a content strategy brainstorming session, where we work to create the next content calendar for our clients and what the premium content is going to be.

 

What that does is it shows that we trust Luke, and we bring him into the very beginning so that he's aware of everything that's happening for a campaign from the very first day. And I think that that helps you a lot doesn't it?

Luke:

I love to have that bird's eye view of everything that's going on for that client. So I do have a good idea of … It may not even be a visual thing, but to know how things are supposed to function to then go in and create visuals with that in mind, that user experience. Definitely helpful and I really appreciate this time sitting in. Even if you know I'm not sharing anything, I'm thinking about how that thing is going to be created, what's going to work with it and then if it goes to wire framing, then it goes to wire framing conversation can grow from there, but it's always with that information that I'm getting in those meetings that those things are stemming from.

Renia:

I want to ask you how you feel about this, because this is one of those things that feels like magic to me that you do. And maybe like when I say it to you it may, as a marketing manager, I think I'm like saying something useful and you're thinking I have no idea what she's talking about. But I remember when we were doing the SMS project, so we were getting ready to do Grow Live and we were redoing our home page.

 

One of the things that we did was we developed this new persona based on where our business was going, you guys have had us talk about marketing Mindy, hello marketing Mindy many times, and you can go back to Episode two and see her persona if you want to in the show notes. We talked about how our designers, our creative director, our developer they're all dude's and marketing Mindy is not right?

Luke:

Yeah, it’s right.

Renia:

And so I could talk to Luke about like I feel like the site is really masculine. And I want to just soften it just a little bit and he's just kind of looking at me with this blank stare on his face, but we talked back and forth about that about a number of times, but it just feels really like, really ugh. Then when he came back with his initial style guides and stuff like that, he’d added all of these gradients and things like that and that feeling of just making everything more approachable was there. And so I think sometimes we're like, “I need this dimensions with these colors and this logo, but we skip that part where we say this is what I want it to feel like.” And I don't know, I would love to know from your perspective, but I felt like if I hadn't have said like I need it to feel more approachable, I need it to feel softer,” I don't know if I would have gotten that.

Luke:

No, that was great input and that word “soften” just was like the key thing for me and as well as reading up on the persona and figuring out what makes Mindy tick. Yeah just to  round some corners and take some of those dark colors out and make it feel more of like an airy feeling to it to where it's less aggressive that it's not like all up in your face but you're taking an easy stroll through the website and it’s not as ugh as it is. “This is nice.”

Matt:

This is where like the marketing directors and the sales BP's and all of that will be just like, “Oh God, whatever, this is all marketing fluff,” but there really is a true emotion connected to design and I think as much as is important to have the dimensions of what you're trying to create and the purpose of what you're trying to communicate there, you need to talk about what kind of emotion you're trying to create in your audience because … And there can be all kinds of emotions in industrial safety and supply. You know, confidence is an emotion that you can communicate through visual design, safety and security are things that you can … Those are feelings, those are emotions and those can be communicated visually.

Renia:

We've actually been talking about this a lot around the office and I’ve seen a lot of our clients talking about the same things a lot in our industry and safety and, a lot of marketing is very like, “Someone's going to die if you do this.” And that's true but it also creates this like really intense scare, which is actually not …

Matt:

Which is not good for buying stuff.

Renia:

Yeah, it’s not good for buying, instead the word is safety; you want people to feel safe and that actually makes people more open to opening their wallets and buying your stuff, which at the end of the day like we need people to do that. So one of the things that contributes to that, that we've seen a lot of that I think gets left out for designers a lot is how a product is supposed to be used and what its purpose is. So a lot of times you're like, “Here's my product, do this or here's the product shot right that's on the page, do something with it. But that may or may not do anything. So how important is it to you to understand like why the product’s used and how it keeps people safe or how it does whatever it is it's supposed to do when you're doing your work.

Luke:

Absolutely.

Matt:

Nice one Luke.

Luke:

It’s real, I mean, you need to explain what the product does for someone to have a … Like why would they buy it if they didn't know like what it was used for and how it's effective in whatever job that they were doing. It's like the most important thing I would think to know what a product does and how to best present that. Do you have any?

Matt:

Just thinking about these guys behind the camera as well, because when it comes to doing a video or photography on a product, when I was doing that kind of worked, it was essential that I would have the product manager in many cases if you're a manufacturer or if you are a distributor you would want to work with your manufacturer rep to I mean … One of the last things that you might think of is when your manufacturer rep comes in to visits, bring the designer in to those meetings and show them and let them see how the products work.

 

Let them see how the product is used in the applications and the environments in which is used in. That is really important. I had the luxury of being able to be at a place at AcuForm where we worked closely like that and I could walk down the hallway to the product manager’s office and I could have him take me out back and show me how the product was used. That gave me the contacts I needed, so when I go out there and I look for stock imagery or if I'm planning a photo shoot, I know exactly what I need to do to communicate that product.

Luke:

Because the last thing you want to do is present a safety instrument or product in a way that is not making anybody safe. That's presenting it in a way where they're actually putting themselves in more danger than they would be if-

Renia:

In a past life I worked for an e-commerce platform that sold baby products and you can actually be sued and lose a lot of money if you use an image that shows a child incorrectly in a car seat or a stroller.

Luke:

Yeah, I mean it’s serious stuff.

Renia:

So quick e-commerce tip that that just reminded me of, if you’re e-commerce listings, if your product pages do not have used shots, you are losing substantial opportunity. Put a used shots on your product pages. Okay, sorry, I know.

Matt:

That’s a brilliant important tip. In many cases we have those shots by the way. So-

Renia:

If you’re working with us, we’ve got them.

Matt:

If you’re working with us, let us know, we can help support you in that way. We have all of those images from the manufacturers at least. If we don’t have them, we have a great team here who can go take those shots as well. So, really important.

Renia:

So Luke, tell me a little bit about your ideal scenario. Like if I’m coming to you for a new campaign and maybe we’re selling I don’t know, what are we selling in our new campaign? Hard hats.

Matt:

No, not hard hats.

Renia:

Not hard hats. Okay

Matt:

Fall protection

Renia:

Fall protection all right. So I’m coming to you and we’re selling fall protection and I need you to help me conceptualize this campaign that we’re going to pitch to the client. So you’re going to be designing all kinds of different pieces here. What should I have figured out before I come to you for help? First, is what can I bring you into the process work. Because Matt talked about you being in the strategy meetings for us but a lot of our viewers are not going to have the advantage of having a designer in their strategy meetings. So what do I need to have to bring to you to help you bring that campaign visually to life?

Luke:

What you want the persona to do, like what they’re going to get out of it, what’s the key take away from those different campaign strategies and then whatever piece of content that you’re going to be using inside of that. Then the sub text, I guess for those different things. So where I would be in a meeting, some of that information may not be … you might not do that intuitively to where you’re just giving that information but it takes a second to step back. One of the little details, the little things that we talked about that might be helpful to the designer to give them a better understanding of what we’re trying to do for this particular piece. So I kind of-

Matt:

I feel like you kind of answered this a little bit earlier. So I’ll kind of restate a little bit what he said but If I was a designer, if I was not working with you on your team in the office, we’ll say I’m a freelancer or whatever, what I would like is I would like a Dropbox folder or a Google Drive folder that has my persona in it, that has your campaign strategy. Like maybe a slide deck that lays out the campaign strategy. A list of all of the deliverables including the purpose of the deliverable, the dimensions, the brand guidelines would be in that folder as well. Also, I would like to know if it’s an E-book, I want to know how many pages do you want it to be. I need to have the text provided to me in a word document or Google doc. I need to have some of those other intangible things that we talked about like the emotion and the purpose and the action that you are trying to work with.

Luke:

Yeah, so other briefs that I create for our freelancers, it has all the information in there and sometimes because we do have an internal designer and I’m that person. It sometime feels like you can be designing that thing for them. They just have to put the elements together because you’re giving them all the pieces which is great because it cuts down on time and different things which would be perfect for many to do that type of thing if they could.

Matt:

If you don’t provide your designer with that stuff, they’re just inevitably going to come back to you over and over again.

Luke:

You’re setting them up to fail and-

Matt:

And it’s going to draw out the design, the creative process.

Renia:

And that’s why I think building the long term relationships with designers is usually better play than just grabbing freelancers all over right? Because it does take time to do that, but if you’re building a long term relationship, you only have to do that big production once or maybe every time you do another big production. The hardest part really is the first time because then when you’re giving them one thing later, they already have all that context. Where it gets hard is when you’re jumping between all kinds of different freelancers because you’re never getting what you want. You’re probably not getting what you want because you’re not giving them all these stuff.

Luke:

Yeah, you do the hard work upfront and then if you make that relationship with a good freelancer, that can produce what you’re looking for, then it’s just a matter of going back to that person and updating them not so much giving them a full set of new direction. They understand the persona and the direction of the campaign and they can go ahead and you can trust them in giving you work that you’ve already seen.

Matt:

Is this where I can give you a shameless plug that that is why you should work with an agency like Safety Marketing Services, for example, as one agency that you could work with. That would begin to understand your persona and your design guidelines and brand guidelines and then it does the processes so much quicker. It’s painless and then building that relationship over time allows us to quickly understand what you’re looking to accomplish if you are a Marketing Manager out there.

Renia:

I was actually going to give a shameless plug too, but I was going to approach it in a slightly different way.

Matt:

Let’s just keep plugging, it’s the end of the show.

Renia:

It’s the end of the show, one more plug-in.

Matt:

We’ve already given you a lot of good content. So I feel like we’re entitled to it.

Renia:

So I experience a lot of, I’d say like mid-size companies where you have a Marketing Manager or two or maybe even three and then you have some content writers and designers but they’re usually less experienced. Maybe they’re new out of college or something like that but you don’t quite have a Creative Director. So this is great place to use an agency for help that has some more tenured experience where you could have an agency come in and help you design these brand guidelines and these style sheets and stuff like that to really help you create that experiential document that would help all of your junior designers that are making your social media graphics, and you flyers and your this … this is a higher level thing that is a great place to bring in an agency for help. Even if you are a little bit bigger and have designers on your team, because it will make their lives easier, it will make them better. And I think that kind of-

Luke:

It will be fun for me.

Renia:

And Luke loves that kind of thing.

Matt:

One of the hats I wear just happens to be Creative Director. So Luke and I would be happy to put that together for you. Let us know if we can help.

Renia:

Wow that is the hardest sale on a show so far. So Luke any like last words of advice you want to give to our marketing managers?

Luke:

Just not really. Just keep doing what you’re doing, communicate well with your designers. Bring them in as early as you feel is necessary so they have a well-rounded Birdseye view of what they’re getting themselves into. Just have fun with it really.

Matt:

And read your blog.

Luke:

And read my blog because it’s fun and you should read it.

Matt:

Growwithussms.com and then go to the resources tab at the top and you’ll be able to see Luke’s blog there, you can search. What’s the title of it Luke?

Luke:

Three Tips for Marketing Managers or something like that. You’ll have to go find it.

Matt:

Just type Three Tips Design and I’m sure you’ll find it.

Renia:

It’s at the top of the blog.

Luke:

Leave some comments. Let me know.

Renia:

So I am very excited for next week if any of you watching are going to be at NSC, you can wave at Matt. He will be up there next week and I will be at Boston at the Inbound Conference. Which means next week we’re going to bring you a special show. We will not be in studio. We will not have Lief and Brandon’s mad skills, so keep your fingers crossed for us, but Matt-

Matt:

It’s going to be amateur hour.

Renia:

Yeah, Matt and I are going to come on through the virtual world of our Surface Pros and join you live from NSC and Inbound and we’re really excited to see you. Hopefully our technology works and when we get back I’m sure we’ll have lots of exciting things to tell you about in safety, and all that and inbound marketing.

Matt:

That’s right, it’s the perfect week for us because half the team is going to NSC and this is the world that we live in. We live and breathe the safety world just like you all do and we’re also going to, half the team is going to Inbound which everybody knows is Inbound Marketing’s greatest events up in Boston, Massachusetts, hosted by HubSpot, our good software partner. So really excited about next week. It’s going to be great and I hope you guys can tune in and join us.

Renia:

I’m going to just go 'fan girl' Rand Fishkin and we’ll enjoy the show. See everybody next week.

Matt:

Nobody knows who that is.

 

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Topics: Grow Live, marketing managers, graphic designers, how to work with graphic designers, improving relationships, working together

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