Watch The Signs

By no means am I an expert on signage.  However, a number of people have said they respect my opinions on marketing communications and advertising so I guess I can make a couple of comments on good signage.

A well-designed and well-placed sign can do wonders for a business.

If that last statement is true, then the opposite would likely be true as well.  If the sign isn’t well-designed or well-placed it won’t help the business, and could in fact hurt.

Who Are You?

Marketing communications is about communicating. Be sure you're communicating.What started me thinking about this is the construction of a new restaurant a few miles from our home.

This restaurant is being built at the corner of a very busy intersection with thousands of cars passing through each and every day.  The restaurant is located in what I would consider the premiere spot of a shopping center that includes Best Buy, Target, a grocery store, a bank, a couple of fast food restaurants, and some other businesses.

I say it’s in the premiere spot because it’s the most visible spot in the shopping center and right at the corner of this busy intersection.

What’s the restaurant?

I have no idea.

My wife and I have driven past countless times and throughout the construction, we kept waiting for a sign with the name of the restaurant. Finally, when the building was nearly complete, a banner was hung on the side.  It said, “Now hiring.” Still no clue as to which restaurant this might be.

Is it a chain?  Or a brand new entry in the dining world?  What kind of food do they serve?

No clue.

I Still Can’t See Your Sign

The other day, I finally spotted a sign on the front of the restaurant.  However, I still have no clue what it says, because it faces into the shopping center. The only people who will see this sign are people who are in the shopping center.

That means tens of thousands of people passing by each day will have no idea about this restaurant.  If they are curious enough, they’ll have to drive into the shopping center to check.  But, really, how many of those tens of thousands passing by will even bother?

I’m very curious about it, but not enough to drive in and see.

Check Your Sign

If yours is the kind of business that uses a sign or signs as a way to generate customer traffic, take a look at your signs.

  • Is your sign placed so that the most people will be able to see it?
  • How close does someone need to be to see the sign?
  • Is the sign easily readable?
  • Can it be seen at night?
  • Can it be seen when the sun is out?  How about on a cloudy, rainy day?
  • Does the sign let people know what you do or do they have to guess?

Remember, marketing communications is about communicating.  Don’t make people guess.  Make it easy for them to know who you are and what you do.


The Power of Sound

Sound has been a part of my career on one level or another since my first day of work. From radio to audio production to voiceovers, I’ve had a pretty close relationship with sound. And through all that I’ve learned that sound has an incredible power over us.

Sound can influence us in many ways

Whether it’s a piece of music, an advertising jingle, the theme song of a TV show, the soundtrack of a movie, or a quick audio signature like Intel’s, sound can have incredible influence on us.

Sound can affect our emotions, stir long-forgotten memories, or even make us want to buy something.

A few years ago, I came across this Ted Talk from Julian Treasure. I watched it again recently and remembered how good it was at explaining how sound can affect us – both positively and negatively.

Sound has tremendous power to influence us. Sound can change your mood for the better or for the worse. It can kindle old memories or help create new ones.

There is so much sound around us, that we often tune it out. Even in the quietest of locations, you’re likely to still hear something, even if it’s only the rustling of the leaves or the chirping of the birds.

Don’t take those sounds around you for granted.


I Love This Job!

No matter how many times I record voiceover projects, I always get a charge out of doing the work.

Every once in a while, though, a project comes along that gives me an extra boost!

Getting to do the voiceover for a high definition video tour for the sale of the Joe Cocker Estate in Crawford, Colorado was both an honor and a thrill.

I’ve been a long-time fan of Joe Cocker’s music so having the opportunity to be the voice talent for this real estate video tour made me smile.

Proud to be the voice talent for the Joe Cocker Estate virtual tour


When Good Policies Go Bad

Rules and regulations.

We all hate them but yet we can’t live without them, especially in business.

Be sure your company policies don't hurt your marketingUsually, the rules and regulations when it comes to business, are called policies.  It’s important to have policies in place so everyone in the organization knows how to handle situations when they arise. With policies in place, people don’t have to think about how to handle a situation.

There’s the problem.

People don’t have to think and so they don’t think about how to best serve the customer. If a company relies totally on its policies to deal with situations your business may come across as inept — not the communications message you want to be sending.

Let me give you a couple of examples to show you what I mean.

A few years ago, I was talking to someone who worked as a clerk for a large national department store.  He had a customer who wanted to purchase an item that was on sale.  However the item was unavailable in this particular store, although it was available at one of the store’s other locations in town.  The customer asked to have the item shipped from the other store to her home and the clerk, being a customer service pro, said, “No problem.”

The customer left the store, happy that she would be receiving her purchase in a few days.

So, what’s the problem?

You’re thinking, where’s the problem? The problem is with store policy.

As the clerk began writing up the order to have the item shipped, his boss informed him that store policy is that items that are on sale for more than 50 percent cannot be shipped. You may be thinking, well that’s a good policy because the store would lose money on sale items being shipped.

Here’s where a good policy went bad.

The item the customer wanted was priced at $350, and that was the sale price!  According to store policy because this item was on sale for more than 50 percent it couldn’t be shipped.  Now if the customer had bought a $30 item that was full-price the store would have shipped it, no questions asked.

That’s where a good policy turns bad.

Be sure your employees can override a company policy using common sense.

Policies need exceptions

Let your people make exceptions for bad policiesHere’s another example that came from a nationally broadcast radio program that tried to help people solve consumer related issues. A woman called the show to seek help on resolving a problem she was having with a health club in the Midwest.  She had paid a large membership fee to join the health club and was then diagnosed with an illness that would prevent her from doing any vigorous exercise.  She wanted to get her membership fee refunded because she was not going to be able to use the service but the health club was refusing to refund the money.  They told her that the policy was that fees could not be refunded and the policy couldn’t be violated even with her health problems.

The radio program got the health club person on the phone and on the air and she informed the host that even though this client was ill and unable to use the health club they couldn’t alter the policy.  She said if she did it for this person she would have to do it for everyone (highly unlikely). The host suggested that maybe with a doctor’s note — confirming the woman’s illness — the health club could issue a refund.  She replied that the client could get the doctor to write anything so that wouldn’t work either.

It went back and forth like this for a while making the health club look worse and worse.  I doubt that a refund was ever issued but this problem likely did some damage to the reputation of the health club.

Allow some flexibility

Remember, policies are good, but complete inflexibility when it comes to administering policies is bad.  Be sure to tell your employees to follow the policies, especially when dealing with customers. At the same time, let your employees know that they should also use some common sense with the policies.

Don’t let good policies create bad communications.


Voiceover Coach Warnings

Like with many things, the voiceover industry has brought out the scammers. There are people who  will take your money while saying they’ll help launch your voiceover career.

Caution-bad voiceover coaches are trying to steal your moneyOften these so-called voice coaches will hold a weekend seminar telling you that by the end of the weekend, you’ll be ready to start making money as a voiceover artist. They’ll even send you out in the world with a “fully produced demo” to show off your skills.

Oh, if only it were that easy to get in the voiceover business and find work.

For most of us, becoming a voice talent is something that takes time, training, practice, hard work, disappointment, perseverance, more time, more training, more practice, more disappointment, more hard work, more practice . . .

You get the picture. Voice-over is not a get-rich quick business. It’s not something you learn in a weekend seminar.

More than a great voice

Like most voice talent, I get calls and emails on a regular basis asking me how to get in the business. Most of the time it’s someone saying, “People tell me I have a great voice and I should do voice-overs.”

There’s a lot more to voiceovers than having a “great” voice. In fact, there are very successful voice artists who don’t have what people consider a “great” voice. Instead, they know how to “use” their voice. They know how to interpret copy. They know that you don’t deliver a commercial the same way you do a corporate narration or an eLearning course.

Then I hear from the people who say things like, “I do a great Porky Pig voice.”

You know there’s a guy named Bob Bergen who is already the actual voice of Porky Pig, so chances are you won’t be getting a call from Warner Brothers anytime soon.

But these are the kinds of dreams that these predatory voiceover coaches prey upon. They’ll tell someone that by taking their weekend seminar it’s the easy path to voiceover riches.

Don’t waste your money

Get good voiceover coaching and don't waste your money on scammersWhatever you do, keep your credit card in your wallet and don’t sign up for these get-rich quick voiceover classes. You’ll not only waste your money but in the long run you can hurt your chances of having a successful voiceover career.

It’s been said over and over again, don’t record your voiceover demos until you’re ready. Trust me, you won’t be ready to record your demo after a weekend.

Dave Courvoisier has written 5 Ways To Spot Predatory Demo Coaches on his blog that has some good tips on how to avoid these scammers.

Before you take any voiceover training, do your research and be sure the coach you’re going to study with has your best interests in mind and isn’t just trying to line his or her pockets.