Sparks January 2012 -

Sparks January 2012

In the News

Happy New Year!
Sparks is back for another year of smart marketing tips and inspiring and entertaining VisoVerbo designs!

Why customers unsubscribe
You’ve invested countless hours building your email list, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. You’ve gained a respectable following. But now people are leaving—why?

A study by ExactTarget and CoTweet shows that the main reasons people opt out are that companies are posting too frequently and presenting content that is boring and repetitive.

Other reasons:

  • Information overload. Recipients of emails need to focus on content directly relevant to them.
  • Irrelevant content. The content wasn’t relevant from the start (one can only assume that the recipient initially signed on for a promotion.)
  • Pushy sales messages. A surprising number of users prefer to seek out information about a company on their own.

Twitter followers are less likely to unsubscribe than Facebook and email recipients, but they also look for relevant content delivered in a manageable fashion.

Seeing a drop-off in your subscriber rates? Try re-vamping content and changing your delivery schedule. You may find more loyalty from an appreciative fan base.

Three tips to a better brand
The strength of your brand is something you should be addressing regularly. Here are some ideas for elements you should be addressing:

  • Your brand is your reputation. Your brand is whatever is said about you when you leave the room (and that includes chat rooms!). Provide a consistent, positive brand experience and that conversation will take on a brighter hue.
  • Be mindful of brand partnerships. When contemplating co-branding opportunities, look carefully at the other brand’s reputation. If it’s less strong than yours, give the opportunity a pass.
  • The best branding is honest and clear. Make a solid promise and then delivery on it, clearly and consistently.

A strong brand relationship with your customers can lead to the holy grail of branding: Brand evangelists. Use these tips to make sure you’re on track!

What you’ve missed on Facebook
Here are some of our recent Facebook posts. “Like” us to get in on the goodness.

  • Photoshop Disaster Images & Mistakes
  • eBay Give-A-Toy Store
  • 8 unintentionally filthy font fails
  • Minimalist Posters for Your Favorite Children’s Stories
  • Top 15 Manipulated Photographs
  • Kern Type, the kerning game




This month’s winner: Carmen Wootan!
Our VisoVerbo champ wins a digital print featuring this one-of-a-kind design. Have a favorite quote or saying? Send it in! If your quote is chosen, you’ll receive a digital print of your custom design suitable for framing! Check out your competition here.

More News

Solution Tree
Based in Bloomington, Solution Tree is recognized throughout North America as a leading provider of professional development for K-12 educators. Solution Tree publishes books and videos, hosts conferences, and offers on-site and virtual consulting and training. They approached us in October of 2010 to explore the possibility of designing an intranet.

We embarked in March 2011 on a journey of discovery about the company and what would make it work more efficiently. We interviewed key departments to learn how to change the cumbersome manual entry of data into elaborate Excel spreadsheets into a streamlined, coordinated, interwoven web of information.

Because the intranet contains proprietary information, we can’t offer a link here, but we do have a thumbnail sketch of the home page for you. Beneath it is a letter from our outstanding client contact, Gretchen Knapp, which she sent at project wrap. It’s long but it gives a great overview of what clients love about working with

Thumbnail sketch of home page:


Letter from Gretchen at project wrap:

Dear Cairril:

Words can’t express how incredibly grateful I am to you and the Design & Marketing team for the outstanding work you did to create Solution Tree’s intranet. The final product surpasses our initial vision and shows us where we can go in the future—and to a large extent, you helped us understand what the vision even was in the first place!

There were many stakeholders internally for this project, some with very high expectations, some with very low expectations, and I am proud to say that the final product has created believers at every level. It’s a tool we will be able to build from for years, and every day I see our staff engaging with it more. Many people have confided, in fact, that they feared the intranet was going to be a horrible new complicated thing that would make their work more difficult, and they’re amazed that the exact opposite is true.

Here are some of the specific things you and your team did that made this project so much easier and more successful for us than anyone expected:

• You sought to understand Solution Tree as an organization first. You asked probing questions about the way we really work as a business, not just what we wanted in this product, and then showed us how to make the intranet better fit our business goals and workflow—many times beyond what we knew was possible. Your business understanding was as critical as your design sense and the team’s technical skills.

• You listened to what we wanted and built that instead of selling us on a prepackaged program or talking us into what you knew how to do.

• You put everything in human terms and plain language instead of using obscure tech talk. Your tech people were wonderful communicators! I could always trust that they could talk directly to key staff about their needs without my having to be there as translator.

• You understood that as non-techies new to the intranet concept, we might not be able to define every single thing we needed or wanted on day one—we needed to see it to get it—you were very patient with us as we revised our needs over time.

• You never, ever forgot our guiding principles: that the design should be so intuitive and easy to use, and its functionality so helpful, that staff would naturally want to use it.

• You created a precise schedule and fees. You stuck to the schedule for your tasks but were generous for our tasks when we needed more time.

• You listened to all our ideas with an open mind during the review period after soft launch and were crystal clear about what was possible at all, what was possible within budget, and what workarounds were possible.

• You never left us in the dark about communication, ever.

• You made working together fun! The jokes, the funny sample book and event listings—these little human things made a time-consuming, über-detailed, critical project feel like a pleasure instead of a burden.

I feel personally indebted to you for being Solution Tree’s partner on this project, and I’m copying our ceo and President here so that they know that we absolutely could not have achieved this result with another vendor.

Thank you!!!!
All best,

Gretchen Knapp
Vice President of Production
Solution Tree Press