3May

Vlog Episode 3: on MODx CMS

Here’s Episode 3 of our vlog, a discussion about MODx with Ryan Thrash and Jeff Whitfield in Dallas, Texas. MODx is a Content Management Platform, and we use it as the CMS (Content Management System) for most of our client’s websites. Sure, this episode’s a bit more geeky than usual, but we love how MODx makes our website design work sing, and our clients love how easy it is for them to update and maintain their own websites. Yay MODx!

As usual, this episode was shot, edited, and posted on an iPhone 3Gs. ‘Cause we can.

3May

Survive and Thrive Series: On Budget Vampires

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I’ve spent a lot of time talking with digital and interactive agencies about how it’s important to provide superhero quality service to your clients. After all, clients are the lifeblood of any agency. Now it’s time to talk about protecting that precious lifeblood of your agency from the time sucking vampires out there. That’s right, it’s time for a new series of articles. This one’s called Survive and Thrive, and it’s dedicated to all our brother and sister digital and interactive agencies out there. Onward!

One thing every biz dev, sales, or agency exec needs to learn early on is that you only have a certain amount of time available every day. Your time is precious, so you have to prequalify and screen every lead you get. Your time is best spent working with clients who can afford, and intend, to pay you a fair price. You need to know what your prospective client has budgeted for the project.

That’s right: you need to figure out what the budget is, upfront, before you do anything for them. If someone balks at giving you at least a budget range, it means they don’t have a budget, they’re not serious, and they’ll suck all the blood they can get out of you. Don’t play the nice guy, don’t figure that once they know you they’ll be more likely to pay you a fair price for your services. Don’t pass go, don’t collect $200, and don’t spend a second thinking about their project unless you know, upfront, that they have a reasonable budget for their project. I know, it sounds extreme and a little pushy, but in 17 years in business I’ve never seen a situation work out if you’re not clear on the budget from the beginning. So get some steel in your spine, and demand Read More »

26Apr

Superhero Series: Be Precise!

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The best source of new clients for your digital/interactive agency, or any business, is positive word of mouth from your current clients. One sure way to make sure you don’t get good word of mouth from those clients is to approach your project budgeting and estimates without care.

Too many web design and digital marketing firms don’t take the time to really estimate their costs and the scope of the project, so they consistently underbid on jobs. Sure, this might get you the initial nod from a client, if they’re only purchasing services based on price, but it always- every time!- leads to serious problems down the line.

It’s a very dangerous game, you’re playing, when you underestimate things.You see, clients don’t like Read More »

26Apr

New Website Design: Go Body

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We’re happy to announce we’ve launched the newly redesigned Go Body website. This is the phase one launch of our new nutritional beverage client’s website, and it includes the bones to let us grow the site for them over time, as Go Body comes to a store near you.

The website follows web standards, of course, and it’s meant as a slightly tongue-in-cheek introduction to the drink, as well as a nutritional information source. The website features a JQuery driven Who Drinks Go Body section that will grow to include slideshows and video of Go Body users, and right now we’re featuring Boston Marathoner Mark Kramer and a North Carolina college student named Kelsey. We’ll be adding a kickboxer from Austin and more Go Body users soon!

23Apr

Social Media Marketing Friday: Welcome To Our Vlog

Yo, MK here! In the “practice what you preach” tradition, we’re proud to announce our new company vlog. What’s a vlog? Well, it’s a blog except it’s done in video. Vlogs are about capturing a moment, and are informal, casual, and personal. The idea behind a vlog is to forge a personal connection between you and your audience.

We decided the best vlogs capture a sense of immediacy, without fancy graphics or soundtracks. So, that’s what we’re going for with our vlog. In fact,we made a decision that absolutely everything in our vlog was to be conceived, shot, and edited within an iPhone 3Gs. Seriously- no desktop computer or laptop touched these episodes. We’re keeping it real, people.

Here’s episodes one and two. Stay tuned here or join our Facebook page for more!

Episode 2, Go Body Launch and Web Standards

Episode 1, On Being Prepared

13Apr

Superhero Client Relations: On Being Reliable

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Last week we got a call from a small local company. They’d hired a web designer who took their money, started the job, and then blew them off. This put the company in a real bind- they needed to have their website live and running before a major show. It’s kind of funny/strange to me that one of the biggest no-brainers around needs to be stated sometimes, but here it is: if you take on a job, be reliable.

It’s probably fair to say that about a third of the web design projects we get come from clients who are frustrated at a previous website design agency’s unreliability. Now, sure, a few of those situations are probably really the client’s fault. But a lot of the time, especially with freelancers, things get busy and clients fall between the cracks, causing a bad taste Read More »

9Apr

Social Media Marketing Friday: Twitter Tips

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Hey! Welcome to Social Media Friday! MK, here, it’s good to see you again. Let’s talk about Twitter today. Why? Because so many companies are doing it wrong. I help manage a number of Twitter accounts for clients here at PatrickOrtman, Inc., including my own. Our Twitter campaigns have been pretty successful, so I feel qualified to tell you where you’re falling down. Hey, I want to help!

The number one most important thing is to listen and respond with personality. I, of course, like to hear myself talk and by doing so I tweet! But I also know the importance of listening to others and reading what they have to say, even if I don’t know them. If you don’t listen, people on Twitter will start to tune you out. Don’t just broadcast your specials. Get interactive.

For example, I work the HandClens Twitter account.  I tweet about HandClens but I also retweet and reply to what others have to say about things that have little to do with sanitizer. The brand is a seriously awesome product, but without personality nobody cares. When I respond or retweet I always make it light and try to show the brand’s personality, and by golly, it works! I listen, I care, I pay attention…then the magic starts.

Another example is the SoCal 7-11 Twitter Team. I’ve been impressed that every time to I go to 7-11 and tweet that I bought an apple, etc, from them that I’ll almost immediately find a response from their Twitter Team. Sure, it’s a lot more touchy-feely than most companies are used to, but the truth is this style of personal marketing works. I can’t help but feel a warm feeling in my heart when I buy something at 7-11. And now I’ve told the world about how cool that is. Mission accomplished, guys!

Of course there’s a ton of other Twitter rules your company should follow, such as not posting too much and when to post. We’ll get to all that in a later edition of Social Media Marketing Friday. Just remember that by being personable and reaching out, you gain a lot more respect and trust and therefore, followers on Twitter.

Follow us: @patrickortman

5Apr

Happy Endings

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OK, get your mind out of the gutter. Today we’re talking about why your job, as a creative agency, isn’t done until every last detail is completed, signed off on, and paid for by your happy, smiling client. It doesn’t matter how brilliant your design or creative work is, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been an awesome project manager, it doesn’t matter if you took them out for lunch or martinis. If you just take the money and run, doing the least you can get away with to get paid, then you’ve failed.

First of all, you’re supposed to be in this industry because you love what you do. Show the love. Get excited! After all, you’re changing the world, here, right? You do know that your enthusiasm is contagious. Love what you do, and go the extra mile.

Oh, the client got you down with their petty crap. Well, that happens. Sometimes you can’t change a client, but oftentimes you can. I choose to first go for the possibility of changing the relationship, making it more positive, than the gutless choice to hunker down and do the bare minimum to get paid.

Why’s this stuff matter? Because if you’ve been at this game for any length of time you’ve noticed that repeat business and word of mouth is your best friend. And I’m sure you’ve noticed that people tend to remember the most recent interaction with you more than, say, the stellar meeting you had three months back.

Happy endings really do matter. Sure, if a client’s a nutcase then cut the ties. But remember, first finish up the project, and do it in a classy way. Your bank account and client roster will definitely thank you!

Cool The End Photo

2Apr

Maybes, Mights, and Possibly

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Most website design and video projects have to go through a lot of hoops, committees, and decision makers before they see the light of day. This isn’t an intrinsically bad thing, until and unless a project gets bogged down in the land of maybes, mights, and possibly. That’s right, this article is about decisiveness.

Whether it’s architecture, advertising, or network television the ability to make decisions is a huge part of a project’s success or failure. Failures to confidently make solid decisions include the swaths of beige tract houses in the suburbs, most advertising, and a whole lot of network television. Every time a decision is deferred or an answer is waffled, your project marches towards mediocrity. Mediocrity means failure, in today’s business climate. Nobody wants that. So how do you fight the good fight and make your project the best it can be?

You won’t like the answer. The answer’s not easy. Read More »

22Mar

Yeah, We’re Getting An iPad

After about five minutes of deliberation, we decided to get an iPad here at PatrickOrtman, Inc. Why?

  1. We need to make sure all our websites work on it. While all of them should work on the iPad, as it uses WebKit as its engine, you never know. There may be small bits of weirdness we need to account for.
  2. Anytime something potentially game-changing comes out in our industry, we have to stay up on it. After all, we’re a creative agency. If we’re not cutting edge, how can we properly advise our clients?
  3. Let’s face it, it’s cool!

Reason number three is, of course, the main reason we’re getting one.

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