No Win/Win Without A Budget

Author and marketing expert Donald Miller ends every podcast with a pithy line: "If you confuse, you'll lose." Despite knowing this to be true, clients still often unintentionally confuse their marketing agency. When asked what the budget is for a specific project, they respond with, “We don't have a budget for this project - but we know we need to do it, so you can just tell us what the budget should be”.

Creating clarity around the budget is not difficult to do when there’s a trusting partnership between both parties. Every client has a spend tolerance; they almost always have some sense of what they can or want to spend. Depriving the marketing agency of that information creates confusion, and a loss of valuable time working through multiple scenarios to get to a number. But communicating it clearly creates a win-win situation in which both parties have the greatest possible chances of meeting their respective goals.

The marketing agency wins

Marketing agencies have three goals: to help clients achieve their business objectives, to do great work and to have fair compensation for the services they provide. Without knowing the budget, the agency is put in the awkward bind of trying to guess what the clients' objectives are and estimate how much human resources should be allocated to the project, all while being unsure as to whether they will be paid fairly for the work created.

With the client's budget in hand, however, the agency can meet all three goals. The budget sheds light on the actual objectives of the client and gives the agency clarity into what is actually feasible to accomplish with the project. Most importantly, an agency team that knows they will be fairly compensated will always put forth more effort - and produce better work - because it feels good about the relationship and wants to go above and beyond for a good client.

The client wins big

Revealing the budget helps the client, too! It enables and encourages transparency on the part of the marketing agency: they will be able to share the approach they plan on taking on the project, the talent they will have working on it and precisely how your budget will be used. It also permits vital alignment in expectations for both price and product, reducing the likelihood of coming in far over your unrevealed budget or of the project ending with an underwhelming result that falls short of your business objectives.

It doesn't always work

Like all good things in life, though, there is a catch: The marketing agency you are working with must be a good one. As former chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, Norman Augustine, said, "All too many [marketing agencies], when asked, ‘What is 2 and 2?' respond, ‘What do you have in mind?'"

A good agency does not take advantage of a client when they share budgets for projects or yearly spend; instead, they use that information to plan the best possible outcome, then maximize the use of that money for the good of both parties. To set yourself up for a win, be clear about your budget with your marketing agency. But first - make sure you have a good one.

Launching A New Website Is Not Enough

"If you build it, he will come." While that was true for an Iowan farmer building a baseball diamond in Field of Dreams, it is often not at all true for a business owner launching a new website. Companies that have never had a web presence rarely experience an influx of visitors. After investing copious time and energy into a website launch, it can be disheartening to not immediately have the phone ringing off the hook and an inbox full of new sales leads.

It takes a marketing strategy

We talk a lot about strategy and a new website is no exception. The internet is extremely crowded, and new websites are hard to find. Most people visit the same group of large sites, and a select handful of smaller sites that are specific to them. Rarely do they deviate from this habit.

Decades ago, all a business needed to do was put up a billboard or air a TV commercial to begin getting leads. Now, an audience must be carefully lured through the stages of awareness, interest, desire and action. A new website must be complemented by a complete digital marketing strategy in order to reach an audience.

The effort to find website visitors and turn them into leads is a marathon, not a sprint. In fact, in many ways creating and launching the site is the easy part! A strategy must be created in order to bring in web traffic through coordinated, useful, compelling content and multi-platform digital advertising.

It takes digging in and consistently implementing your strategy

Here are four tips for beginning to create a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.

  1. Know your audience. Who would be most interested in visiting your website? Where can they typically be found online? Once these questions have been answered, begin creating content targeted towards them and publishing it on the sites and social platforms where they are most likely to be found.
  2. Develop content. Create content for your company blog and social media channels, as well as evergreen content for the website. The content should include a clear call to action to visit the website or sign up for a newsletter. It should also be optimized for search engines, which can drive a significant amount of traffic to your site.
  3. Refine your website. Provide thoughtful explanations of how your product or service solves potential customers' pain points. As your customer base grows, ideally you will be serving them well enough to turn them into company evangelists. Ask for their feedback and use it on your website. As your content brings in new visitors, the positive opinions of current customers will entice them to learn more.
  4. Advertise online. While your organic efforts begin to take root, grow, and bear fruit over time, use digital advertising as a growth booster. Social media advertising can help expose your content to new audiences. Digital banner ads on other websites where potential customers like to visit can also help. Consider using paid content distribution services to help your content get more exposure.

It takes a specialist

That may sound like a lot of work - it is! But it is worth the effort, and you do not have to go it alone. With the help of an experienced marketing agency to help you plan, execute and analyze results, you can create a digital marketing strategy that will make people aware of who you are, pique their interest, cause them to desire your product or service, and eventually take action.

HGX Creative Places in Leading International Awards Program – 2017 Communicator Awards

Out of more than 6,000 submissions from all over the world, HGX Creative is named an Award of Distinction winner in the 2017 Communicator Awards® competition for its creative work for New England Dairy Promotion Board.

“We are always proud to be recognized for our creativity, and winning a Communicator Award of Distinction is an honor,” says Debbie Nierman, Founder and Chief Creative Officer at HGX Creative. We really enjoy the work we do with the New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC).  We’re fortunate to be part of such an important effort and to work so closely with a team of experts responsible for working with dairy brands, retailers, state government and farmers to create promotions, programs and events that promote their region’s high quality dairy products and help people better understand where their milk comes from. This award is a testament to what we do. The results NEDFC gets from the work we do is why we do it.”

The Communicator Awards is the leading international awards program recognizing big ideas in marketing and communications. Founded over two decades ago, The Communicator Awards receives over 6,000 entries from companies and agencies of all sizes, making it one of the largest awards of its kind in the world. The Communicator Awards honors work that transcends innovation and craft – work that made a lasting impact, providing an equal chance of winning to all entrants regardless of company or agency size and project budget.

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How one company put its logo to work and boosted revenue by 10% a year

HotelTonight has one of the best logos we’ve seen in a long time – simple yet extremely smart. And it doesn’t just look good, it works! The simple lowercase “h” design was purposefully created to look like a bed and what’s even more clever is how they’re using it to impact the metrics of the business in terms of the results.

HotelTonight is an app that helps users find last-minute details on hotel rooms in three taps. These bookings are generally non-refundable. Prior to the development of the new bookings interface, HotelTonight was experiencing unintentional bookings of about two in every 1,000. Complaints and time spent processing refunds were at an all time high. HT began to look for a design solution, hoping that a clearer user interface would stop the confusion for customers and bolster the company's bottom line. And it found one.

HotelTonight engineer Ray Lillywhite came up with the solution to make the elongated “h” logo a slide bar that users have to trace their finger along to book a hotel. Because of this, accidental bookings dropped, and non-completion of the booking process dropped by 75 percent, according to Fast Company Design. The non-measurable results can’t be ignored either. It’s memorable and different from what’s out there, making it certain to capture mindshare.

This kind of integration of logo and UI is part of a larger trend—logos aren't just logos anymore. For HotelTonight, the logo doubles as an unlocking mechanism for booking a hotel room. Both are more than just a visual system. They extend the brand beyond the surface-level identity and turn it into a functional tool for the user—a key to the future of branding.

Image: via HotelTonight  |  Article adapted from Multiple sources including; Katherine Schwab

Athleisure Apparel: No Longer Just for the Gym

Fashion-forward workout gear has moved beyond the barbell, eluded the elliptical and transcended the treadmill – becoming a wardrobe staple for those who prefer casual comfort all day long.

The health and fitness craze that is sweeping the nation is apparent in the retail industry’s love of athleisure apparel. Athleisure is trending and will continue to grow and expand in 2017! It's crossing over from the gym to everyday life. Athleisure clothing is predicted to become a fashion staple and go-to for not just the gym, but for the office as well, due to the many comfortable, sophisticated, fashion forward, and high quality level designs being offered. Trend experts are saying they expect athleisure to take over in 2017, and that it will be worn by everyone, especially women. Orange is expected to be the big color of 2017, as well as washed out and faded colors, as well as a return to neon. It’s the perfect mix of comfort, fashion and practicality, thus making it a hit for every setting and environment in one’s life. Athleisure is all the rage and in demand, so for your next incentive program, company store, sweeps & contest prizes or promotional giveaway, take a closer look at this hot and growing apparel category.

A modern spin on an oldie but goodie!

The Polaroid Snap Touch camera makes it fun and easy to snap, print, and share. Its built-in printer lets you share on the spot with high-quality, full color photos on adhesive-backed paper. Best of all, there's no ink or toner cartridges to contend with. You can choose to print right away or later. You can also capture the moment in high-definition video. Customize your photos with borders, filters, and digital stickers. Bluetooth connectivity lets you connect to the Polaroid print app for more editing features.



TBT Healthy Competition

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Plush Pope Dolls and Branded Papal Merchandise

[vc_row full_width="false" content_full_width="false" background_transparent="false" background_color="" background_image="" background_repeat="repeat" background_position="top left" background_attachment="scroll" background_cover="true" video_background="false" video_preview_image="" video_overlay="false" video_webm="" video_mp4="" video_ogv=""][vc_column width="1/1" full_width="false" align="align-none"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/1" full_width="false" align="align-none"][vc_column_text]More than 200 items, including keychains, T-shirts and other apparel, tote bags, and glassware, will be available to commemorate the Philadelphia stop of Pope Francis’ first trip to the U.S for the World Meeting of Families Sept. 22 to 27, 2015. The Pope Francis plush doll has proven an early favorite, and the selection of rosaries is expected to be a big seller, according to

The papal-themed and faith-based merchandise will have items on sale from $5 to $500. Many of the items will display the World Meeting of Families logo, which features a family of figures inside the Liberty Bell that has a cross on the top.

[/vc_column_text][spacer height="23" display_desktop="true" display_tablet="true" display_mobile="true"][vc_gallery type="flexslider_fade" interval="5" images="3016,3012,3011,3023" onclick="link_image" custom_links_target="_self" show_title="true" show_caption="true" img_size="748x420"][spacer height="23" display_desktop="true" display_tablet="true" display_mobile="true"][vc_column_text]Souvenirs will be sold online ahead of the pope’s arrival on the World of Families Meeting Web store. The memorabilia will also be sold at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and pop-up locations along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway during the pope’s visit, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Pope Francis will be in Philadelphia in late September. On Sept. 26, he will attend the closing of the World Meeting of Families, an international gathering for Catholics focused on strengthening family bonds; and on Sept. 27, he will host an outdoor Mass along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway that is expected to draw 2 million people. Up to 3 million people are expected throughout the week.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Instant Gratification - Just One Press Away

Could the Dash Button change the way we receive reorders from our clients for printed and promotional marketing material? We think so. Imagine a world where your favorite products are delivered to your front door with the press of a button. Smart, connected products have made what was once science fiction into a reality. It first began in our living rooms, smart televisions transformed the way we watch TV. Today, there is a printer on the market that automatically orders ink when running low. Brita has even developed a water pitcher that orders a new filter at the right time.

Last month, Amazon introduced what could arguably be one of the first high-profile "smart" promotional products -- Amazon Dash Button. Dash Button is an internet-connected branded physical button that allows customers to order household items with a simple press of a button. Amazon has partnered with top household brands to deliver these free buttons to select Amazon Prime members.

As technology continues to advance and become more affordable, expect an array of connected smart products to enter the marketplace. We suspect that very soon, Dash Button type technology will make it's way in to the promotional marketing world and soon, we'll be talking with you about how we can help improve your marketing efforts with just the press of a button. Stay tuned for what's next!


Adapted from PPAI Distributor Update April 2015