Wit, Wisdom & Whizbang

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Dow Gardens

Secrets of the Gardens

We’re all soaking up the sunshine here at the AMPM offices. Glancing out the conference room window, we never get tired of seeing this season’s lush leaves and blue skies.

Michigan gets to show off during these warmer months. While winter can often keep most of us cooped up indoors, Mother Nature beckons us to come out and play during summer.

It’s time to go outside.

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Cyber Security

Five tips to keep your website secure

From time to time I like to revisit websites that we’ve developed. For many of our clients, we design and develop the site and “hand the keys” over to them once it’s up and running. Not too long ago, I visited a site that I noticed had garbled text in place of the text that was supposed to be there. My mind immediately jumped to the fact that the site must have been compromised by hackers. I fired off an email to my contact letting them know of the situation. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending that came without too much hair pulling. They were able to restore the site fairly quickly with no adverse effects.

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Planning a successful trade show – an exhibitor’s perspective

AMPM has been designing client trade show displays and coordinating show details for nearly 20 years. In fact, we sort of fell into the trade show business by accident but the knowledge and experience we’ve gained over the years has been invaluable to our clients. As anyone who’s ever been involved in exhibiting and attending a trade show knows, they’re a tremendous amount of work. Our trade show history includes designing panels for a simple pop-up tabletop display to designing, coordinating, producing and transporting a 20 ft x 40 ft display to China. After the first of the year, trade show season is in full swing for our clients. We hope these tips are helpful whether you’re planning your first or fiftieth show.

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Get over yourself.

Get over yourself

“…big values, a little humility, straight talk and a genuine point of view.” (The Cluetrain Manifesto)

Be brave in your communications. Talk like you mean it. And never lose your sense of humor. It is what binds us together – the frail human condition that we all share.

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Are you fully baked?

I follow Seth Godin. He writes simple, quick blog articles. I don’t always subscribe to his thinking, but more often than not, he gives me something to chew on. Recently, he wrote a blog called, “Fully baked.” It was about people he called knowledge workers – those who go to meetings, are in marketing, or are perhaps lawyers or accountants. He indicated that most knowledge workers act as if they are “fully baked.” Meaning they no longer seek out training or higher learning. They know what they know. Or in the words of an emphatic toddler, “All done!”

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Ideas Save Money

The 5 things clients can do to create agency cost efficiencies

The marketing services and client arena has changed dramatically over the last decade. Both clients and agency partners are focused intently on implementing cost efficiencies. Agencies are often afraid of advising the client on ways to save money for fear of insulting the client and negatively impacting the relationship. The agency business is fiercely competitive, especially in smaller markets. Most agencies are under pressure to please the client – no matter what. As a result, there is very little conversation regarding what clients might do to help partnering agencies make the client’s dollar stretch.

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Processes, methods and procedures

I say prŏcess, you say prōcess

At AMPM, we know how to get from here to there without going everywhere. Processes, methods, procedures are the GPS of project management. While flow charts and spreadsheets may be the bane of a creative’s existence, most understand they are a necessity. They not only track progress and costs, they also tell us who did what when. (Hint: the copywriter in the conference room with an Acer Aspire.)

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Content is not king

Content is not king

It’s not even a princess. In the castle of all things content-related – web pages, blogs, videos, print materials – content is a peasant.

I read lots of content every day. Most of it I throw into the moat to feed the gators. It’s chum. Odds and ends and bits and pieces used to bait or hook the unsuspecting, yet hopeful, purveyor of useful information.

So if content is not king, what is? What will you use to reel in the customer?

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Batter up Buttercup

A slew of awards perch proudly on the reception desk in the AMPM foyer. Each day they greet me. A dozen times a day, they shine and glisten as I hustle past them from one end of the building to the other. Over the years, I have volleyed back and forth on the importance of awards. Beauty contests? Just for the client?

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‘But I learned in second-grade English …’

‘But I learned in second-grade English …’

As people who write advertising, we hear that a lot.

“You can’t start a sentence with ‘and’.” Or, “It’s not a complete sentence unless it has a subject and a verb.” Or, “You should never use contractions in your writing.”

Well, all of those things are probably true. We do learn, early in our education, a series of “rules” of writing. When these conversations come up, we like to think about a kid named Dale.

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9 Tips

Presentation recap: 9 tips for social media writing

Last week, Julie Battle and I had the opportunity to present at the Seminars from the Pros event hosted by Social Media Club Great Lakes Bay. What a wonderful opportunity for attendees to learn tried and true tips from local professionals – everything from photography and video to social SEO, Facebook ads and graphic design – in just 90 minutes. While Julie Battle presented her top tips on good writing, I showed examples of how these tips have been used successfully (or not so successfully) in social media. Here are the nine tips:

1. Know your audience.

When your audience is unclear, it makes writing painful because it lacks focus. The tighter the target, the easier it is to create and sustain awareness and appeal. As you research your primary audience, you should be able to identify their age, gender, geographic location and socioeconomic status.

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Digital Ads

Demystifying digital advertising

While digital advertising certainly isn't new to the industry, it's become a popular tactic for many businesses looking to expand their advertising strategy. It's such a good choice because of the ability to target a specific audience – by behavior, geography or by certain keywords.

Digital advertising is the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media. This includes websites, social media, mobile, electronic billboards, digital television or radio. You may have even heard it described as interactive, new media or even internet and online marketing.

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Meep Meep!

Content marketing simplified

There’s a lot of chatter about content marketing out there. It’s hard to decide if and how it fits into your overall marketing plan. Here is a simple breakdown of what you need to know to get started.

What is it? Content marketing is simply the process for creating and distributing free content to attract, acquire and engage your audience — with the purpose of gaining and retaining customer action. In other words, delivering RELEVANT information to specific people that would attract them and ultimately win and retain them as a customer. This translates to artfully communicating your message without actually “selling.”

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Press Releases

Long live the news release

As a public relations practitioner, I believe it’s important to stay on top of the latest industry trends and practices. I am particularly struggling with one industry debate, however, that involves the news release. Some people believe it’s no longer an acceptable way to share news. For example, I recently overheard one of my peers tell another practitioner that the news release is dead. “Just send a Tweet,” she said.

I began to wonder if this is true. After all, the news release is the go-to communication tool for many public relations practitioners. It’s a way to share news about a new business or service, an upcoming event, a recent hire or a product launch.

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45 years later, people still make the difference

When AMPM, Inc. formed in 1969, Richard Nixon was president, Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon and the Woodstock Music & Art Fair took place on a dairy farm in Bethel, New York.

It was a pivotal time for AMPM, which was then known as Church and Guisewite. That year, agency owners John Church and Bill Guisewite decided to pursue other opportunities and left the door open for new leadership and a new name.

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Julie FosterJulie Foster

Account Executive

While the majority of Julie’s experience is in the marketing and advertising field, she’s blundered her way through roles for which she felt extremely out of her element: makeup artist, costume designer and props master.

Lindsay HenryLindsay Henry

Lindsay Henry has over 12 years of communications and professional writing experience across several industries. Her keen understanding of the written word and establishing voice through copy is a major asset in achieving key communication objectives with clarity and creativity.

Greg BranchGreg Branch

When Greg started writing advertising, state-of-the-art meant sticks and clay tablets. For over 40 years, he never seemed to run out of new ways to say things. Greg unexpectedly passed away in 2019 after serving as AMPM’s brand strategist for eight years. His quick wit, gentle demeanor and talent with words is sorely missed, but we are all grateful to have worked with and called him our friend.

Julie BattleJulie K. Battle

There are few roles Julie hasn’t held in the advertising agency business. Everything from copywriter, account executive, creative director, film director, agency owner and several she won’t admit to.

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