Jun 2, 2010

Five Steps To More Effective Client Critiques

In the business world in which we operate, it is important to understand the relationship between service professionals and clients. Too often there appears to be an unnecessary disconnect between the two. Lauren Rauseo of LBK Designs, LLC offers valuable tips on creating a strong working relationship between designer and client:

As a designer, about half of my job is creating original and imaginative compositions.

The other 50 percent of my time is spent scrapping the first draft and starting anew based on client comments.

Are you clueless when it comes to communicating your review notes with your designer? At a loss for words when trying to verbalize the layout in your head?

Here are some tips for you, the client, when providing feedback (from the point of view of me, the designer).

1. COLLABORATE WITH ALL STAKEHOLDERS.

Of course I like to get positive feedback for my work. But the worst kind of positive feedback is from one client contact ("I absolutely love this full-color brochure!"), which is then quickly followed by opposing feedback from another point person ("Uhhh, we were actually thinking about a black and white flyer..."). Get it together in-house, and then send your company's collective opinion to the consultant. Better yet, schedule a conference call so all involved parties can discuss the piece together and bounce ideas around.

2. GIVE BOTH POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE COMMENTS.

As a client, it's very easy to focus on what you want to be different in the next draft. But it's equally valuable for your evaluation to include assessments that touch on the parts of the assignment that impressed you. "Don't change a thing about the cover; it's perfect!" This tactic will likely lead to a favorable relationship between you and designer (which means she'll be happy to go the extra mile for you down the road when you need expedited service or a donated project for your son's school play). More importantly, it will also ensure that she doesn't alter the parts of the piece that please you while she's reworking the rest of the composition.

And while I'm not saying to compliment your designer for the sake of an ego boost (honesty is paramount!), if you truly don't like anything in a particular draft, try to incorporate at least one favorable remark into the feedback about what needs to be modified. "I can see you spent a great deal of time on the illustration; it's quite elaborate. However, we were looking for a more simplistic drawing."

3. BE SPECIFIC.

"Hmmm, I'm just not sure it's right." By far, the most dreadful words to come out of a client's mouth. Please, oh please, just give us SOMEthing to go on. We might be able to work up a first draft without a previously planned concept, but if you have absolutely no idea what you like or don't like about what we came up with, then there is no way to move forward.

A better response: "I enjoy the way the words flow off the page, and I like the font. But the stock photos don't represent the company's message." Or: "The soft edges of the graphic elements really capture the feel of the piece, but colors are too bright for the intended audience." The more specific your feedback, the sooner you will say, "Yep, that's just what I was looking for!"

4. BE TIMELY.

If your designer sends you a draft on Monday, you don't have to have your crafted reaction by Tuesday (after all, it takes time to consult with stakeholders and put thought into a detailed critique!). But stick to the project's timeline (a smart designer or project manager will create a timeline at the beginning to ensure all parties make time for their responsibilities so the final project is finished on time). If there is no set deadline for your feedback, you might ask the designer when she expects a response, or assume that one week is a reasonable time frame. Remember to allow time for multiple rounds of revisions, and keep your project's target date in mind.

If you know you aren't going to review the document right away, do your designer a favor and at least acknowledge that you received the link or file, and that you'll get back to her in a few days. We're dying in anticipation over here, wondering if you like it — throw us a bone!

5. PROVIDE ADEQUATE DIRECTION BEFORE THE INITIAL DRAFT.

One way to avoid a whole lot of feedback drama is to let your designer know what it is you are looking for right off the bat. If there is a certain style you want, you'll save money (if you're paying hourly) and aggravation (if you get frustrated when people can't read your mind) by not playing the "just-use-your-creativity" game. This scheme — where you give your designer complete freedom — only works when you have an open mind and a good relationship with the designer.

And just because you provide a general angle for the piece doesn't mean the artist won't squeeze her own creative juices into the composition, so don't worry about lost opportunity for a unique idea.

Lauren Rauseo
LBK Designs, LLC
lauren@lbkdesigns.com
410-807-1937
lbkdesigns.com
facebook.com/LBKdesigns
twitter.com/LBKdesigns

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May 18, 2010

Logo a Go-Go?

A company's creation of a logo or branding is a very important step in the overall promotion of an idea.  Maryn Jacobs, the owner of Maryn Jacobs Designs offers some important advice on the subject:

There is an argument about whether or not branding oneself is a good idea or a waste of time. Some people out there consider it worthless because it may pigeonhole you into a niche—a niche you may not want to be apart of in the future. If your logo has a flaming skull or a fluttering fairy, then yes, you are more likely to appeal towards those individual realms. However, with a well thought out logo you are opening yourself to a wider client base.

Taking the time to brand yourself shows a level of seriousness; that you are on your way to developing a successful business. No one said that future tweaks or reincarnations are off limits. You want to make a statement and give prospective clients something to identify you and your company by.

Sure, you can get by without branding yourself, but the goal should be to obtain as many clients as possible and prove your worth. By not taking the time to brand yourself, it has the potential to reflect attitude that says you aren’t the full package and won’t be as in depth during the experience these clients want/expect to have. You should take pride in your skills and knowledge—so why not do it with a signature design?

Things to keep in mind when branding:

1. Keep It Simple
You want to keep your logo an austere and impacting visual. Try not to overwhelm the viewer by having an unbalanced use of color and form. Simple can be stylish too.

2. Functionality
A logo needs to cross over different mediums, like print, web, and possibly apparel. It also needs to able to translate clearly from full-color to black and white, as well as from large to small.

3. Color
Color is very powerful. People equate colors with emotions so it is important to keep that in mind. Blue can be soothing. Red can be scary. Black can be bad. White can be good. Keep your palette to as few colors as possible so designs don’t look overly flashy and chaotic. Remember you can use tints and shades which can save money in printing costs.

4. Typography
Fonts can say a lot, like color. Serif vs. Sans serif. Bold vs. Light vs. Italic. There are millions of typefaces, so make sure your chosen font matches your message. A lawyer would not use a bubbly, light font. You would be more successful in choosing a clean, serif font that conveys seriousness and power.

5. Visual Appeal
You want to connect with your audience and give a lasting visual impression. Does your logo convey the message you want to be sending? Do you stand out from the competition?

Maryn Jacobs is the owner of a freelance design firm that offers a wide-range of print and web services. She is Senior Designer for The Rosen Group, Inc.

Maryn Jacobs Designs
410.299.0971
marynjacobs@hotmail.com
http://www.maryn-jacobs.com/

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May 14, 2010

The Importance of Victims' Rights

Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for minor crime to occur in the workplace. Whether you are the victim of someone tendering a bad check, or a theft of something in the office, when this occurs, you should be aware of your (or your employees') rights.....Andrew E. Teitelman, Esquire has provided the My Service Network Buzz with valuable information on the topic:

About thirty years ago a movement was born - the victims’ rights movement. It has put the effects of crime on victims during the legal process in the forefront. As a result, over thirty states have constitutional amendments and/or legislation affording crime victims rights.

Knowing Victims' Rights

Many jurisdictions provide crime victims rights similar to the following: 1) the right to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect; 2) the right to be reasonably protected from the accused; 3) the right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any criminal proceeding involving the crime; 4) with limitations, the right not to be excluded from any court proceeding; 5) the right to be heard at any public proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, or parole; 6) the right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case; 7) the right to full and timely restitution as provided by law; 8) the right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay; Many victims do not know that they have these rights.

Consult an Attorney
If you have been the victim of a crime you should consult an attorney to learn more about your rights to ensure that you are treated with the dignity and respect that you deserve.

The Law Office of Andrew E. Teitelman, P.C. has been assisting victims of crime since 2008. http://www.teitelmanlaw.com/
503-659-1978
andrew@teitelmanlaw.com 

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May 12, 2010

Selecting a Wedding Videographer: Ten Tips from Focal Point Productions

Marty S. Jenoff, President of Focal Point Productions shares important information on selecting a Wedding Videographer:

Weddings are a very happy, exciting, and special moment for not only the couple in love, but also for their family and friends. These "once in a lifetime occasions" only last a few hours and then they are over. Still pictures only show a millisecond. Stories vary by the teller. Home videos are shaky and usually unwatchable. A professional video will capture the best of everything. It catches everything the family missed: family from out of town, the colors of the flower centerpieces, interviews with close friends, and all of the dancing and mingling. Selecting a wedding videographer can be overwhelming. The 10 questions below will help you select the right videographer for your event.

Questions to ask when selecting a wedding videographer:
1. How long have you been shooting weddings and approximately how many have you shot?

2. Will you or someone else be shooting my wedding?

3. What if the videographer is sick and unable to shoot my wedding? Is there a back up plan?

4. How long do you keep the raw footage?

5. How many wireless microphones do you use for the ceremony and reception?

6. Have you been to my venue (ceremony and reception) before?

7. What if there is a problem or concern with the finished video?

8. Do you have a back up video camera in case there are any technical problems?

9. How many hours are included? How much is overtime?

10. How many copies are included? How much are extras?

Focal Point’s videographers are always discrete but always manage to get the important shots. We listen to the families' input so that we can produce what they are looking for.  We are video professionals, devoted to capturing the special moments of your day, and editing them to produce the perfect story.

Focal Point Productions
410-517-0760
Email: info@focalpp.com
http://www.focal-point-productions.com/fpphome.html

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May 10, 2010

Keeping It Foot Friendly

Many professions, ranging everywhere from dentists to painters to salesmen, require you to be on your feet all day. Treating those underrated assets right can ensure you can keep doing what you're doing! Since we know nothing about feet other than that they benefit from the regular shower, we found someone who does,

Dr. Jordan Stewart, has offered us some valuable pointers:

It is very important to treat your feet with optimal care. I frequently hear from patients who injure their foot and/or ankle for the first time, "You don't realize how important your feet are until you hurt them." For those of you who have ever had a foot and or/ankle problem ranging from plantar fasciitis to an ingrown toenail to a broken bone you know that this statement certainly rings true. Here are a few pointers that can help maintain your feet and reduce the likelihood of problems:

1. If you are exercising or doing lots of walking, wear supportive shoe gear such as sneakers. Barefoot walking, flats, and flip-flops are frequently associated with painful foot conditions.

2. Keep your weight under control. Extra weight places excessive force across joints and tendons and is frequently associated with painful foot conditions. Additionally, being overweight increases the risk of diabetes. Diabetics are at higher risk for foot wounds that can lead to such complications as infections and amputations.

3. Maintain foot hygiene. This includes cleaning between your toes and cutting your nails properly. When cutting nails, I recommending cutting straight across. Digging in the corners frequently causes pain and can lead to infections. If you suffer from dry skin, make sure to hydrate your feet. Dry and cracking skin can be painful and can lead to infections in certain situations.

4. When exercising, be sure to stretch both before and after. Stretching reduces the incidence of injuries.

5. Listen to your body. If you are having pain in your feet, rest. Overuse injuries are very common and can resolve with rest. I define resting the foot by limiting physical activity to as needed only. If foot pain does not improve or resolve with rest then you should seek further evaluation.

Jordan R. Stewart, DPM specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of foot and ankle disorders by medical and surgical methods.

Timonium Foot and Ankle Center
timoniumfootandankle.com
410-560-2777

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