October 15th, 2011 by admin
Recently I attended a convention and like every convention, there was a keynote speaker. Now, I’ve attended a lot of conventions with what most would say are top keynote speakers ranging from former Presidents of the United States to Bill Gates. So, for this convention, V.J. Smith was the keynote speaker. Hmmm, never heard of him, nice bio in the convention packet, but otherwise sounded like a rather nondescript character. He was going to have to impress me, along with other attendees that voiced the same thoughts to me.
What we got was an incredible story about how one man in a small South Dakota man became the richest man in town while working a job at Walmart. No, it’s not a story of a Walmart employee winning the lottery nor is it a story about anything to do with financial success. This story was about a man named Marty that ran a cash register at Walmart that showed true caring, compassion and customer service for his customers. Marty was the local small town celebrity and without knowing it he did it from behind his cash register. It truly was a remarkable story and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. V.J. Smith had captivated his audience and reminded us of two very important words in any language. Thank you.
Unfortunately, the “genuine thank you” is too often forgotten. Whether you are thanking your customer or a friend, the power of a thank you is limitless. A simple caring and genuine thank you can create a customer for life. That’s powerful!
As Old Man Winter finally releashes us from his grip and it starts to look like Spring, now is a perfect time to take a fresh look at your business and your life. Are you achieving what you want to in your business? Your life? The two often go hand in hand.
Take Inventory in your business and we don’t mean a physical inventory. Truly, what is your strategy for this year, next year, 5 years from now? Do you have the right people to get you there? Do you have the right plans to get you there? We are often brought into businesses because they “need to advertise or market because they need sales”. Before we even start the discussion on an advertising or marketing plan, we start the discussion about the business strategic plan. Spending dollars on advertising or marketing before a business has clearly defined a strategic plan is wasting dollars. Sure, a business might see a bump in sales with some unstructured advertising. However, will that bump in sales be sustained if there is no clear business strategy?
So, what to do if you’re not feeling so optimistic in your business? Spring Clean! Don’t proscrastinate…now is the time to make that business strategic plan! When businesses really have no definitive answer on what their strategy is, we will often start with a very simple SWOT analysis. It helps us to better define where the business is in the marketplace and how to plan any advertising and marketing efforts. It’s really a win win scenario for both us and the client when we work with them to better understand their business strategy and then turn focus to an advertising and marketing plan.
Finally, Grow Something! Celebrate the small victories of your business every day. Nuture and analyze everything that you do in your business. What works? What doesn’t? What did you learn from the experience? And remember to take some time for yourself. Spring is the time to get outside, plant something and watch it grow. You’ll be amazed and inspired.
A couple of excellent gardening resource sites to inspire you:
February 11th, 2011 by admin
The 2010 Montana ADDY Awards Show was held February 5th in Great Falls. The good news is we won and were recognized with 6 ADDY awards! The ADDY Awards and competition is the advertising industry’s way of recognizing and rewarding creative excellence in the advertising field and is considered the advertising industry’s largest competition.
Attending the ADDY Awards, we learned the road to Great Falls was a tough one for many advertising agencies across Montana, both literally and figuratively. Literally, the road to Great Falls was full of risk being ice and snow covered. Figuratively speaking, so was 2010 for most advertising agencies. The Great Recession took its toll on many agencies. There were solemn acceptance speeches thanking employees no longer employed as layoffs were a common theme for the larger agencies in 2010. Companies were also cutting budgets in 2010 and no longer were the large agencies able to make the dollars they once did or charge what they once did. From our small agency’s viewpoint, we felt thankful that our resolve, business model and ability to adapt quickly has allowed us to continue down the road and advance our business. Metaphorically speaking, Darwin’s theory of evolution keeps coming to our mind as we compare the large agency to the small agency in today’s world.
Nonetheless, we left the ADDY Awards encouraged, empowered and thankful we were there and walked away with some recognition. We have deep gratitude for our clients in 2010 as they are the reason we were able to achieve what we did. Here are some of the pieces that were recognized.
Grizzly Scholarship Association – Griz Auction
First Interstate Bank
Paul’s Pancake Parlor
Grizzly Scholarship Association – :30 PSA
Culligan Water of Missoula: 3 spot Campaign
February 4th, 2011 by admin
You would have to be living in a cave with no outside contact to the world to not know that the Super Bowl is this weekend. The most watched and biggest sporting event of the year. Being in advertising, we tune into the Super Bowl every year almost as a religion to watch the ads (and oh yeah, there’s a game too!). These are some serious advertisers that are willing to pay $2-3 million per :30 of airtime. Watching the Super Bowl advertising unfold each year, you could speculate that Super Bowl advertising can be a good economic indicator. This year, it appears CBS is nearly sold out of ad time and it happened very quickly. While last year, companies weren’t nearly so quick to part with millions of dollars for a :30 spot. So, fingers crossed we are heading towards better economic times.
It’s also easy to see that advertising agencies love to show their creative muscle and what better audience than 105 million viewers? If you look back over the years of Super Bowl advertising, there have definitely been some stand out ads that make us agency-types bow in respect. And like any industry there’s the “worst list” also. As an advertising agency creating a Super Bowl ad, there’s a lot of performance pressure with an audience of over 100 million viewers. One ad that always garners “best Super Bowl ad” is the Apple ad in 1984. And that ad almost never made it on TV because the Apple executives hated it.
So, to get your “ad mind” ready for the Super Bowl, here’s a short list of some of the favored Super Bowl ads from over the years and sneak peeks at this year’s ads:
Top Past Super Bowl ads & Sneak Peak at this Year’s
10 Super Bowl ads to watch for this Sunday
Funniest Super Bowl ads
10 Best Super Bowl ads of all time
Enjoy the BIG Game and of course the ads!
1984 Mac commercial image
December 7th, 2010 by admin
Right about now if you reside in the northern latitudes and are experiencing winter, you’re probably starting to dream about those warm summer breezes and perhaps a nice sandy beach. Well, you can save some dollars on travel and get those warm temps in the north country while doing something good for your body and mind. It’s true…we found a place where it feels like a wonderful hot summer day. And it’s here in the Rocky Mountains in December in Missoula, Montana. We did what might be considered the hottest shoot of our careers this past week and by hottest we mean temperature-wise. As the Spark team are also yoga practitioners, we were thrilled at the opportunity to work with Bikram Yoga Missoula for a commercial shoot.
The shoot went great and our actors were quite the troopers as they did pose after pose so we could capture the perfect shot. And when we say actors, we mean actual yoga students. No these were not professional actors, but everyday people practicing yoga at all levels. It was almost like watching testimonials being performed as each “actor” has their own story why they started doing yoga. Some to get in better shape, some as a stress reliever, some for physical therapy, some for flexibility, some for body detoxing….the list goes on and on. But one thing for sure was that all were there to do something positive for themselves. There’s something to be said about that. Maybe yoga isn’t for everyone, but doing something positive for your mind and body should be for everyone. What positive thing will you do for yourself?
November 24th, 2010 by admin
The onslaught of holiday advertising has begun and once again even earlier than last year. The Halloween decorations weren’t even put away and the Best Buy holiday campaign was underway. You can’t blame the large retailers for getting out there trying to capitalize and earn the dollars. It is said that large retailers depend upon the holiday season for 50% of their yearly revenues. But what about the small retailer? How does the small retailer get heard in the massive amounts of advertising? We often work with small businesses with advertising budgets that can’t compete with the Walmart or Target kind of budget. So, we believe smaller retailers should focus their efforts and dollars where they can. We try to work with unique advertising campaign strategies that will get noticed. Also, we love to consult with our clients about good ol’ fashioned customer service and a good product. Because a small retailer is trying to compete with the big box store, why not connect with your customer on a level that perhaps the big box store can’t? Most consumers are willing to spend a little more if it means their needs are addressed with a good product and there’s a high level of customer service. You can spend all the money in the world on an advertising blitz, but if you don’t have a good product or the customer is treated poorly when they walk in your door, you can almost bet they won’t be back nor will they speak highly of your business to others. With that said, here’s to the holiday advertising season! And when you’re out there spending (oops, we mean shopping), don’t forget to support the small retailer too.
October 27th, 2010 by admin
Recession. Market downturn. Frankly, we’re all probably a little tired of hearing these words as we’ve all been affected. However, in market downturns and recessions, nonprofits tend to really feel it as corporate giving and individual donations often decrease as “belt-tightening” occurs. And unfortunately in market downturns and recessions, nonprofits often see an increased demand for their services.
At Spark Creative, we think it’s important to support our local nonprofits and give back to the community. Although, we understand that not everyone can write a big check, sometimes nonprofits would simply be happy with volunteers or in-kind donations of services. For instance, do you have a unique skillset such as website design or event planning? Most nonprofits would be ever so grateful for the extra help on their website or assisting with their next event.
We’re often asked if we do pro bono work and we do. For instance, we have thoroughly enjoyed working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Missoula this past year in doing a video for their annual fundraiser. We also volunteer on their annual fundraising committee and assist with the event planning for their annual fundraiser. No, we don’t make cold hard cash, but we are giving back to the community while helping a nonproft that can’t necessarily afford to pay in dollars. And we believe that’s for the public good.
If you are a nonprofit or know of a nonprofit that would like to make a pro bono request of Spark Creative, we actually have a nifty request form that you can fill out. Or if you are looking for a nonprofit to volunteer with, check out the Western Montana Volunteer Center website.
SC Pro Bono Request Form
October 22nd, 2010 by admin
We think most Missoulians would agree we live in a pretty incredible place and we’re pretty proud to call Missoula home. Although the summers here are extraordinary, fall in Missoula is always a special time. The cool crisp mornings give way to warm brilliantly colored afternoons. Fall is an incredible time to get out there and shoot some Missoula scenery. We’re working on a couple of projects that need some Missoula scenery and footage. So, armed with that excuse we’ve been capitalizing on the beautiful fall weather to capture some Missoula footage. As we’ve been shooting around Missoula, it’s easy to understand how people come here and fall in love. The surrounding natural environment with the mountains and rivers is typically the first to captivate one to Missoula. A close second is we have alot to offer as far as cultural events, fine cuisine and educational opportunities. A friend once said to me “if you’re bored in Missoula, you’re not paying attention as there’s always something to do.” So as we look at our full Fall calendars of events, remember and reflect as to why we love this unique community. Alas, there’s something special about Missoula and fall in Missoula. And we feel fortunate to have been reminded of that as we were out shooting these past few days.
September 29th, 2010 by admin
We couldn’t help but notice the recent news story about a woman defending herself against a black bear with a zucchini. It makes one think about dire circumstances and how one reacts. Quick thinking and working with what you’ve got are basic survival instincts. Fight or flight, right? I definitely applaud this woman’s ingenuity and quick thinking in fending off a bear attack. And now I know yet another use for those prolific zucchini in my garden.
We found ourselves in a similar situation on a recent shoot. While not life threatening, we definitely had to work with what we had. It wasn’t an “organized” shoot with professional actors, scripts, defined set and lighting. We were tasked with capturing UM’s Homecoming events for future use in a nicely edited piece. So, that’s what we did in a whirlwind couple of days. We shot everything from the 1970 Reunion Luncheon to the Alumni Social to what most would consider the main event of Homecoming, the football game. And obviously as much planning as you can put into a shoot, there are always the unexpecteds. So, much like life, you go into the whole experience “expecting the unexpected” and relishing the experience of just what you might capture from behind the lens. With alittle ingenuity, quick thinking and nothing short of good luck, we had a great shoot and captured the essence of a UM Homecoming.