Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Customer Can Become a Lost Client

I have always tried to build relationships with existing customers with the goal of making them clients. A salesperson who becomes tagged as the promo person, the forms person, the printer, or––the hardest mold to break––the commodity person will never convert the customer to a client. What’s missing? The go-to person who has the solutions.

A lesson learned: I recently was fortunate enough to have a customer that ordered 10,000 T-shirts and hats a year. For five years, I was Joe the Promo Guy. One day, I received a call informing me that Larry the Promo Guy from Brand X beat my prices and Vanguard Direct was history. I guess that company was never a client to lose because I never had it (in spite of doing almost one million dollars’ worth of business with it in five-plus years). My contacts at the company had left, and the department had gone to another outsourcing group.

This is a hard lesson to learn, and it happens time and time again to salespeople in our industry. We now, however, have several clients that consider Vanguard Direct a solutions provider that offers a wide range of services. This is all due to the fact that we don’t go to our clients with products to sell––we go to our clients to listen to their problems, and we find solutions that meet their needs.

When is the last time you converted a customer to a client?

Author: Joe Corbo


Miami Girl with Down syndrome Helps Change the Perception of Her Condition

I’m sure you have seen people who have Down syndrome, or at least know what Down syndrome is. More than 400.000 people in the U.S. have this condition. People with Down syndrome may appear physically slightly different, and tend to encounter medical problems that, with treatment, are usually solved. Kids with Down syndrome need additional help learning, and require more time/patience with some developmental skills. However, these children can improve massively if stimulation is provided in their early days, when they are babies and toddlers. The earlier they start with therapies (occupational, physical, and speech), the healthier and happier the kids will be. This will allow them to attend regular schools, socialize, and live an independent life as adults. The fact is that people with Down syndrome are just as lovable and viable as others, and deserve the same chance. They bring unique lessons to all those around them, and with perseverance they achieve their goals; they are actors (Lauren Potter on Glee), own their businesses (Tim Harris), and even teach school (Pablo Pineda)!

When Valentina Guerrero (a 10-month-old Miami girl with Down syndrome) was born, her mom— Cecilia Elizalde, a good friend of mine— said: “I made it my life’s mission to change the perception of Down syndrome, and show others the real gift that Down syndrome people bring to the world: wisdom.” Cecilia worked hard, and her dreams started coming true. An executive from the Spanish swimwear designer Dolores Cortés fell in love with beautiful Valentina the very first time she saw her. It was decided pretty much on the spot that Valentina had to be the main model of their DC Kids USA 2013 campaign! The rest is history. Take a look at an Ad Week article for more info:

Cecilia elaborates: “I myself couldn’t have thought of a better way to start our life campaign than through the fashion world. We live in a society largely guided by appearances, and Dolores Cortés opened the perfect door for us to start delivering our message: through the fashion industry! The Internet and social media have played an essential role in our campaign. International media (in Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, etc.) have published our story because they read it online or heard it through a friend on Facebook or Twitter.

What a great step in learning and accepting the ones with disabilities as part of everyday society! As Cecilia says: “All children deserve the same opportunities, regardless of their physical, economic, social, racial or medical condition.”

I’m certainly a proud friend of Valentina’s parents, Cecilia and Juan. What are your thoughts on this topic?

Author: Marina Kaljaj

What the Fork? New HTML5 Specs Split.

Until recently two standards bodies were responsible for the development of HTML5: the WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) and the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). The groups shared duties writing and editing what we have come to know as HTML5. On July 19, HTML5 editor Ian Hickson sent an email to WHATWG group announcing the split of the two groups. The differences in the two groups are:

WHATWG is going to be working on a “Living Standard,” meaning that the “5” will be removed, and the specs will be updated on an ongoing basis, in response to feedback or issues that arise.

W3C will continue the numbered system, using the development tradition in which each version is released and frozen, except for minor issue resolution. Significant updates are reserved for the next numbered version.

Mr. Hickson believes the split will make the development of HTML(5) progress quicker, since there will be two teams working on new features and implementation. We can hope that, day to day, nothing will change for the developers … and that they will regularly compare and combine their work.

Author: Susan Hallinan

Angels, Safe Hands, and the Potential of Interactive Advertising

These days it’s hard to get your message across. With the amount of advertisements and information a person is exposed to on any given day, it all starts to become white noise. Sure, you can bombard me with half-naked girls and shiny cars, but there are so many half-naked women on television these days that I tend to tune it out (unless it’s Heidi Klum, of course). What really grabs my attention is not only a really impressive ad, but one I can interact with. These ads are not only creative and unique, but also encourage interaction and engage the consumer. What a compelling idea! If you can get consumers to not only notice your advertisement but interact with it as well, the chances of them remembering it are huge. To show you what I’m talking about, here are two examples that were very impressive––I must say, they blew my mind.

Axe Body Spray

The above video was an ad for Lynx/Axe body spray inside London’s Victoria Station. Remember what I said about being bombarded with girls? This ad literally bombards people with “angels” on an overhead screen, making the virtual women appear to be standing right next to the passerby. What a bright idea––as you can see from the video, everyone loved it. People of all ages wanted to get on the screen with the angel.

Sweden’s Safest Hands

Swedish Post – Sweden’s Safest Hands from Ourwork on Vimeo.

This campaign takes a more subtle approach than just throwing girls at people, but it is just as effective. Here the Swedish Post created an app to promote how efficient and safe it is. It turned its advertisement into a competition via a smartphone app, getting people involved and offering real prizes to the winners. Just a brilliant idea––who doesn’t like winning prizes?

It’s clear that companies are increasingly using and incorporating technology into their ads and products. There is such constant change in technology and advertising right now that to try to keep up is a lot of work. Looking at these two examples, it is clear that there are tons of innovative, great ideas out there that are just waiting to be explored.

Will you be next to really embrace this technology and create something innovative?

Author: Rory Jacob


There was a radio commercial for cell phones about twenty years ago that used connections and relationships in New York as the attention grabber. The commercial began with a man’s gravelly voice. He was a ticket broker in the city and talked about how he pulled off miracles for his customers. Of course, he was able to do this with the help of all the people he knew and had worked with over the years. When we talk about relationships, it is very important to know that these relationships have been built through honest dealings. You can get printing plants and customers to work with you if they know you are trustworthy.

I handle a client’s very large distribution project each year. The gathering of information from multiple locations is monumental. All the locations have to submit specific information for all the individuals on their lists, and this variable data must then be converted into easily understandable graphs that are then imprinted on preprinted 8×11 sheets. The whole project takes about five months from planning to distribution, and the reports must be ready to hand out on a specific date.

Unfortunately, one year there was a breakdown with this delivery. The long and short of it was that one group of locations closed earlier than the others and did not get all its reports delivered on time. Recovering from this was, to say the least, critical.

We were let down by our plant, which had run the job late, and had to come up with a plan to get this material mailed to the individuals’ homes. Our other priority was to pick up the material that had arrived too late to be distributed at the various locations. These reports had to be destroyed because they contained personal information and the client did not want them sitting, undelivered, on the premises.

The recovery took the client’s full cooperation because getting individuals’ personal addresses is tricky and confidential. (The client has to give permission every time anything is mailed to these individuals’ homes for security reasons.) We were very fortunate in that, although upset, the client realized that we, its trusted partner, were doing everything in our power to repair a potentially disastrous situation.

This required our plant to jump through hoops to reproduce 40,000 individual reports, preprinted forms, and envelopes in about five days. The plant responsible for the error then had to re-imprint the information and insert an extra letter explaining why this report was being mailed to each person’s home. The largest task fell to the delivery firm, which had to pick up the reports from some 1,400 locations as they were closing and then take them to a warehouse to be destroyed.

Fortunately, this all turned out OK, and although it could have been a deal breaker, the client was satisfied with the recovery effort. If anything, the client appreciated the effort that was made.

The point of this story is relationships. We––as a company––and I––as a representative of my company––had relationships with our client and with our plant that allowed us to take this negative situation and quickly recover from it. The plant trusted that we would appreciate its efforts and be reasonable about how quickly it could reprint the material. The client saw a quick resolution and was happily unaware of all the behind-the-scenes craziness that had to go into it.

As that cell phone commercial stated, it is all about relationships.

Author: Chuck MacGill

Social Media Mistakes

Have you ever sent an email to your coworker Tom, realizing after you hit SEND that it’s the wrong Tom you sent it to? Disaster. Now imagine doing something like that on your social media site. Whether you post the wrong thing or post it to the wrong audience, its impact will be much bigger. Have you heard of the Starbucks fiasco? A tweet was sent out by Starbucks Ireland asking its followers why are they proud to be British. It’s a simple mistake that traveled a long way. Kenneth Cole used the uprising in Cairo to promote his new clothing line by tweeting: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at…” People were shocked. Motrin posted a video of mothers “wearing babies” as a painful experience, promoting Motrin as a solution to this. Moms were not too thrilled after viewing the video, firing back that carrying babies is actually joyful.

As you most likely know, technology and social media can be our best friends, but they can also be quite the opposite if used improperly.

Follow the link below to read ad agency executive and AdAge contributor Seth Simonds’s take on five ways marketers ruin social campaigns.

What’s the latest social media mistake you’ve encountered?

Author: Marina Kaljaj

Top 5 Tech Stories

In the upcoming week, here are some subjects you may find yourself talking about:

Two Apple rumors: The New York Times published an article that said a 7-inch version of the iPad was in the works, and another source leaked an image of the front plate of the upcoming iPhone. If true, the new iPhone would have a 4-inch screen.

Yahoo has a new CEO, again: Marissa Mayer is replacing Scott Thompson. She was one of Google’s most well-known executives, in charge of Google location products, and has a big challenge ahead of her: making Yahoo relevant again.

Microsoft has updated Office: Earlier this week, Microsoft released Office 2013 (or Office 15). It is Windows 8–compatible and allows users to switch between two interfaces––desktop and touch––allowing it to be used on tablets, including Microsoft’s upcoming tablet: Surface.

Google’s self-driving car: This car recently passed its Nevada driving test, having been road-tested in Carson City and Las Vegas, and Google predicts it will be available in our lifetime.

Also in our lifetime, the Internet Cat Video Film Festival: The public is encouraged to nominate their favorite videos by July 30. The festival will take place on August 30 at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Author: Susan Hallinan