Blogs from Brook Design

by Brook Kirklin

"Customer Relations Philosophy" - 6/16/16

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. Below is a concept I adopted back in the 90s, and it still holds true today. In short, it’s always good to follow this golden rule: “Take care of your clients and they will take care of you”.

Rules for success in business...

1. Our most important goal is customer satisfaction. Acquiring and retaining clients is job one. Without them, we would not be here.

2. Customers are not dependent on us, we are dependent on them.

3. Customers are not an interruption of work, they are the purpose for it.

4. Customers favor us with their patronage. We are not doing them a favor by serving them.

5. Customers are not cold statistics. They are human beings with feelings and emotions like our own.

6. Customers are people who bring us their wants and needs. It is our job to fulfill those wishes.

7. Customers are deserving of the most courteous and attentive treatments we can give them.

I find that truly successful organizations follow the rules above, plus one important addition: Treat your co-workers, vendors and suppliers the same way you treat your customers.

"Direct mail continues to outperform other channels for sales and response rates" - 6/1/16

Direct mail targets specific audiences. You may tailor your message in unique ways and sell directly to your most receptive target group. We are experts at crafting successful mail campaigns.With direct-mail, there is no “spam filter.” The message gets delivered no matter what. Put these numbers to work for you:

“Every (direct mail) dollar spent generates $12.57 in sales”1

“Donors are over three times more likely to give an online gift in response to a direct mail appeal than an e-appeal.“2

“For customer acquisition, direct mail topped email and search engine marketing.”3

DIrect mail is especially good for selling larger-ticket items, partially due to it’s ability to target specific buyer groups. But, it’s a larger investment than many advertising options – so, it’s not as good for selling one-off, small priced items.

Non-profit organizations can greatly benefit from direct mail. Many successful NPOs continue to rely on direct mail fro the bulk of their fundraising efforts. Take a look at this data:

“Donors ages 40-59, a key donor group, who reported giving a gift online in response to a direct mail appeal was 47% in 2012.”2

Color is powerful: “69% more likely to open a mail piece with color text and graphics on the front.”3

Direct mail is only one of the multi-channel marketing solutions available from Brook Design Services. Want to be successful? Contact us today.

(1) The Direct Marketing Association (DMA), The Power of Direct Marketing, 2009-2010 (2) Dunham+Company, Direct Mail Growing as a Source for Online Donations, released May 27, 2012. (3) Study for Pitney Bowes, Color Makes a Noticeable Difference, released July 27, 2010. – Used with permission.

"Should I include my photo in advertising? Probably." - 5/15/16

Does your business involves meeting and interacting with clients? If you’re in sales, or a profession that deals involves personal interaction (therapist, doctor, counselor) then advertising your image is a must.

When people shop for these specialists, they want to know ahead of time who they are dealing with. A professional photo can go a long way in helping people decide to use your services. Don’t think of it in terms of looking like a movie actor or model. The goal is not to show how handsome or glamorous you are, but to show them a face they feel they can trust.

Potential clients are looking for a “good fit” when they shop your services. In other words, someone they feel they can relate to. Your face can go a long way toward reassuring them. Perhaps you will remind them or someone from their past, or just have kind eyes – The important thing is, putting a face to the name. You become a person, not a number on a list. This goes a long way toward building trust.

You should update your portrait every 3-4 years to keep it current. Be sure your portrait looks professional and relates well to your business. A lawyer should be in business attire, with a simple background, or perhaps use an office or lobby as long as it looks professional and uncluttered. Someone who brokers livestock might want to be in a farm setting with a cowboy hat and jeans. You should look how your clients expect you to look, and also approachable, friendly and presentable. Unless, of course, you are a pro-wrestler. Then, go with dirty, mean and nasty!

Give your clients a chance to get to know you before you meet. A photo and short bio on your website or marketing materials is a great start.

"Get Noticed Online with D-Y-I Search Engine Optimization" - 4/22/16

What’s this “SEO thing” everyone is talking about?

When people do an online search for products and services you sell, you’d love to have your company show up on the first page. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a series of techniques designed to get your website to show up higher on online searches.

This can be a challenge, especially if there are many competitors in your field. Large corporations routinely spend tens of thousands of dollars annually on SEO. Perhaps you don’t have a budget to hire a professional, or you created your own website and want to get it noticed. Here are some things you can do yourself that won’t cost a fortune.

First off, be sure your website is doing it’s part. The main page of your site (aka: splash or index page) should contain: Your company name, contact email, full address and phone number (typically these appear on all pages in the footer as well). The main page should include some text content that changes at least monthly. Many companies use blogs for this, perhaps a teaser/headline about the blog with a link to the full article on another page.

The main page should also include links to other online sites, such as a Facebook page, Twitter account, Pintrest, or other websites that might relate to your company in some way. Conversely, there should be links TO your website from your Facebook page and anywhere else you can place one. Lastly, learn about “keywords” and use as many of them as possible on every page of your site, and repeat them in your advertising.

Which brings up to step two. Create as many online listings for your company as possible and include website links. There are many directories online that offer free listings, such as,, etc. Every link you can create is just one more large red arrow pointing at your website, helping improve your SEO presence. Create a Facebook page, and Twitter account and post updates at least weekly.

If the above isn’t enough to get your name to move upwards, it’s likely that you are competing with lots of other similar organizations. You may need to spend a little money to get results. The best place to start is with Google Adwords. These ads will appear at the top or to the side when people perform searches. A search for “graphic designer” might not show Brook Design Services on the first page. With Adwords, Brook Design WILL show up on the first page of searches (in the ad sections) SOME of the time. How often it shows up is in direct relation to how much you spend in proportion to your competitors.

A good rule of thumb is to start with $50 to $150 per month and see how it goes. Keep in mind, it takes weeks for these techniques to “sink in” and begin to effect your SEO. Also, know that unless our company is strictly online-based, your website can NOT be your only form of advertising. It likely will not be enough.

Contact Brook Design Services for a free consultation about SEO, websites, and online marketing.

"I need a website, but where do I start?" – 12/10/16

Even if you do business primarily “offline”, most organizations will benefit from a web presence. But, if you’re new to online marketing, where do you begin? Here are some ideas to help you decide what you need and how to get started.

How much time and money to spend on this relates almost directly to how “retail-oriented” your organization is. If you sell products and services in large volumes, dealing with dozens of clients daily, you may want to spend a larger amount on your online presence than, say a doctor or therapist who has a limited number of long-term clients who they see only occasionally.

More “retail-oriented” companies need to compete and keep attracting new buyers. They will benefit from a detailed website which may describe many products and services. Many buyers will want to explore their offerings online before contacting or visiting a brick-and-mortar location. At some point, these companies may want to set up an online store with a shopping cart.

For most organizations, websites function as a brochure. When people hear about you, it’s where they go to learn more and decide whether or not they want to contact you. Websites should not be considered your only form of advertising. It is simply not enough to get noticed. Other advertising (print ads, direct mail, signs, etc.) should drive prospects to your website to learn more about you. Obviously, the main goal is to get prospects to contact you or visit your location.

Considering a “ready made”, self-built website? These can work, especially if you have a bit of graphic design or marketing background. This option can save on cost but also can be very limiting. You won’t necessarily get exactly what you want with a cookie-cutter site.

Want to learn more? Brook Design Services offers free consultations, estimates, and can build everything from simple sites, to full-on retail solutions including a shopping cart. We also specialize in e-newsletters. Let’s explore the options!

"Email marketing can be successful, just don’t be a spammer!" – 11/5/15

E-newsletters are the latest hot trend in marketing. Perhaps you’ve collected a list of e-mail addresses, including current clients and some prospects. Then you decide to write an email blast and send it using your basic email program, with everyone on your list “cc’d” or “bcc’d”. All good, right?

Wrong. Doing the above will make you a spammer. Should you care? Only if you want to continue to do email marketing. The reason for this is simple. Google is watching you.

If you continue to “spam”, it will be noticed. If you do it enough, your email and IP address could be blocked. Game over.

So, what ARE the rules of good e-marketing? Ideally, all names on your list should have “opted-in” to receive your newsletter. You have probably noticed many shopping carts and websites have check boxes with “send me updates” or “sign up for our mailing list”. This is how many lists are built. Companies also actively collect contact information using contests, for example: “sign up for our newsletter and be entered to win a prize.”

Other rules include having an “opt out system”, whereby people may choose to take their name off of the list. The system should be set up to NOT allow that person to be accidentally added back onto the list at a later date. These automated systems can be custom-built, or part of a ready-made system such as Constant Contact.

Under no circumstances should you collect unsolicited email addresses and just build a list of people you’ve never met, or had as clients. This is the definition of spamming. You will also find organizations online selling email lists. Do the smart thing and avoid this temptation.

Collecting emails and street addresses is the first important step to building your marketing database. It takes time, but is worth the effort. Contact Brook Design Services to learn more about online marketing, and e-newsletters.

“Multi-Channel Marketing” – 10/15/15

Why utilize multiple marketing channels? Because print and online marketing are more effective when combined.

How do you determine the right marketing mix to attract buyers? While online-based businesses rely on online marketing, other organizations may do better using “offline” resources. We custom design affordable, effective marketing plans around the unique needs of your business.

For most organizations, a web presence is a necessity. Print Marketing, like ads, door hangers and catalogs are often the most effective. Direct mail continues to perform well, with high ROI numbers – over $12 per every dollar spent by some studies.* Email marketing also works for specific goals.

Every business can profit by combining the right message with the right marketing channels. We can help.

*Source:, “2012 Direct Marketing ROI Forecast” Direct Marketing Association, 2011-2012.
Used with permission. Article HERE

“Direct Mail SELLS” – 10/1/15

Why is Direct mail still a profitable marketing avenue? Because it effectively targets buyers and can generate a high return on investment for advertisers.

Marketers agree: Recent studies show direct mail accounts for 43% of local advertising budgets (ie: advertising within your community). 1

Direct mail “sticks” – 48% of recipients keep direct mail for reference. Buyers keep postcards and door-hangers, and may contact you weeks or months later. 2

Studies confirm: Direct mail remains consumers’ preferred choice for marketing messages. Unless your business is online-based, direct mail is overwhelmingly preferred to email for obtaining product information, offers and deals. Most respondents agreed:

I enjoy checking the mailbox for postal mail (62%)
I get a lot of email that I just don’t open (73%)
I get too many emails in one day (67%)

Source: (articles used with permission): 1. “Direct Mail Accounts for 43% of Local Media Retail Ad Spend” July 30, 2013, article here. 2. “Direct Mail Remains Consumers’ Preferred Choice for Marketing Messages” December 3, 2012, article here.

“Top Ten Ways To Go Green” – 9/14/15

You’ve made sustainable and responsible commitments to the environment, our society, and our local economy part of your business plan – because it’s the smart thing to do.

What’s next? Here are ten ways we can make your organization more “green”:

1. Use recycled and environmentally sustainable certified papers.
2. Consider biodegradable window envelopes.
3. Insist on soy-based inks.
4. Go digital when possible – toner is “greener” than ink.
5. Avoid plastic bags.
6. Use signs and banners made from recycled plastic bottles.
7. Recycle your paper and other office materials.
8. Avoid disposable food packaging in your office and company events.
9. Avoid disposable plastic water bottles in your office and company events.
10. Advertise your commitments and support like-minded efforts.

We can help you set an example and get the word out by adding logos or notations on your printed materials, marketing projects and website.

“Affordable Image Branding Techniques” – 8/20/15

The Problem: Your organization needs to look professional on a limited budget.

Solution: Using basic design techniques can vastly improve your brand image.

What is image branding and why does it matter? Image Branding is the creation in the consumers’ mind of a brand’s total personality. Brand image is developed over time by using images and advertising campaigns with consistent themes.*

Creating a brand often starts with logo creation, a set of complimentary color-schemes, and some basic design rules such as type-font choices. The important thing to remember is to remain consistent with your image wherever consumers see your brand represented.

These rules can help solidify your brand image:

1. Create a logo or hire a designer who is within your budget.
2. Define a set of complimentary color schemes and use them consistently.
3. When doing layouts, choose photos and graphics which compliment your colors, and precisely fit the theme of the message.
4. Define a goal for each marketing effort BEFORE you create a design.
5. Make sure the message supports your goal, and the ideals of the organization advertised.
6. Simple is better. For most ads, communicate ONE idea and use as little text as possible.

Source: Read more here.