article of the week

biz ladies: 10 Steps to an Incredible Product Launch by Sarai Mitnick for designsponge.com

if you’re in the business of selling products and need a little DIY elbow grease, this piece from sarai mitnick outlines 10 steps you can take to insure the best launch you can do on your own. of course, sometime down the line, a pr specialist can help bring the muscle with farther and bigger reach, but if you’re not quite there yet and have some work to do before hiring someone, this is a great way to prepare.

robert boardman promotional dvd

robert boardman dvd packaging

how do you grab attention in a competitive job market? if you’re in one of the performing arts, compiling your best clips into a promotional reel as part of a mailing makes it easy for any prospects to see exactly what you do as soon as they receive it. as an addendum to his web site and youtube channel, conductor robert boardman contacted me to create a dvd in the same style as part of his intro kit mailing, for maximum exposure to music department decision makers. i was happy to help showcase his energy and personality to get him one step closer to connecting with his dream jobs.

creative inspiration

branding

burlingham woodland walks
[image: the click design consultants / identitydesigned.com]
as a person who frequents state and national parks, i really love it when branding for public spaces is done well, with reverence to the landscape. this makeover for burlingham woodland walks gives an elegant and instinctive feel to our connection to nature. see the whole package at identitydesigned.com.

infographic

beer infographic
[image: fastcodesign.com]
for a bit of fun, fastcodesign.com presents 14 surprising facts about beer in a super-cute poster-sized infographic. check their post for the full graphic.

design industry

if you’re looking for inspiration of the reading variety, fastcodesign.com profiled pentagram’s interactive site where you can click on your favorite designer and get their favorite reading suggestion.

mike montiero delivers his expert mix of humor with the straight truth in how to pick the right clients, my favorite quote from which is: Beware of clients that wait to call you until they have a perfect diagram of what they need. If they’re not coming to you for strategy and problem-solving, they’re not coming to you for design, they’re coming to you for production. And if you take on production work, you don’t get to call yourself a designer. (Yes, there’s a union. And we’re vicious.)

if you’re looking for ways to meet these clients and that same old elevator pitch doesn’t seem to be connecting with anyone, try rethinking what you’re saying with marcia hoeck’s ditch your elevator speech for parse blog.

finally, part 2 of my sustainability series for neenah paper is up on the against the grain blog: green with envy? put green ideas to action!

los angeles

some fun things floating around LA recently include this hike through the silver lake hills, a new electronics recycling center right here in echo park, and the oddly-comforting, instantly-beloved you are listening to los angeles.

food

nasturtium vinegar

some fun things going on food-wise include the fact that it’s springtime and flowers are everywhere. i’ve been foraging it up with dandelions, and finding all kinds of fun things to do with nasturtiums. before that, we celebrated the coming of spring with green garlic. get to picking and get down with your bad self!

marketing mentor podcast: how to transition to freelance

marketing mentor

i did an interview with ilise benun of marketing mentor and creative freelancer blog about how to transition to freelance, all the things you want to plan and the mindsets you want to change. working with ilise through marketing mentor has helped me refine so many of my marketing practices, given me great ideas about where to expand, and helped me stay on track and forge ahead. i was honored to be able to contribute to her podcast and encourage anyone else to make the jump.

listen here: how one creative made the transition to full-time freelancing from marketing mentor

how to profile your target markets

parlato design studio news how to profile your target markets

part of the process of an identity development involves profiling the target markets of the client, so we can get a good idea of exactly who we’re talking to. it’s one thing to know what you want your business to say to everyone, but the reality is, you’re in a dialog with your very best clients and potential initiates to your tribe. don’t address them to whom it may concern, create a sketch of who they are and talk to them like you know them—because you do!

i can usually help with a little knowledge, research and brainstorming, but nobody knows their client base better than you. whether or not you’re in a phase of identity development, taking time aside to visualize your clients and empathize with their concerns will always help you better align your communications with their needs.

start by looking at your very best clients.
these are often people you don’t have to sell to anymore, those who understand the value of your services and are happy to keep coming back. it’s never just one type of person though, so take a look at the various types of people that comprise this group. what do they have in common, what led them to you? what are their differences? do they come from different earning brackets, different areas, different cultures? how many different groups do you have?

select three main groups by common attributes.
take what you learned by listing out client traits and behavior, and create three general client profiles. then for each, outline their individual characteristics that make them unique. where do they work, do they have kids, what would a typical day for this customer be like? what do they care about, what are their values, do they tend toward one political party? how does your business fit in? chances are, each group interfaces with your business differently, how do you usually help each group?

start using the profiles as clues for your next step.
once you have your main customer profiles and a clear statement of how you help each one, consider each one individually and try to think of other ways you might serve them. you’re talking about groups that have already bought into what you do, so they’d be your most likely audience for anything new you offer that’s relevant and useful to their daily grind. additionally, focusing on the types of people you profiled is the best way to create products and services that similar types might use, so you’re not only serving your targets, you might also discover new branches you hadn’t thought about before.

save these customer profiles, and make sure to refer to them in any brainstorming meetings on upcoming product and service developments or preparations for ad campaigns. if you break into a new sector, profile the new market and add them to the bunch. having these target profiles on hand will help keep everyone on track with who your messaging is going to, so you can make sure it’s always relevant, and revise as necessary.

3 ways to kick-start 2011

3 ways to kick-start 2011 parlato design studio

so here we are, a new year is just beginning and everyone is energized to start fresh. it’s a great feeling, but before it fades and settles behind a daily grind, harness and focus your energy so you can let it help you make progress on your most important goals and stay motivated throughout they year.

take stock of where you’re at
if you did any year-end planning or creative retreating, you probably already have a road map for the year ahead. if not, it’s a great time to take a day and look back at the biggest progress you made last year, the most effective efforts, the best projects, and find ways to build on them or continue rolling them out. how did your marketing plans play out for you? were you surprised by the results of any actions you took? better yet, did you learn what worked well and what isn’t worth the effort? do you have lingering projects that stayed on the back burner, that now need attention? does your brand, messaging or site content need a little refresh to match some new directions you’re taking? it’s time to strip down to a mix of what works best for you, toss the rest in a box [you can revisit it later if you want] and refine what you’re keeping so it keeps working for you in the new year.

assess the landscape ahead
knowing yourself, your internal strengths and where to put your energy is one thing, but what’s the terrain you’re going to travel? are you continuing to work with familiar industries and clients, or are you going to develop a new niche? are you in a plateau phase of familiar territory, or in a growth phase where you’ll be learning and trying all kinds of new things? take stock of the things you can depend on, and the areas you’re less familiar with. make sure to keep investing good energy in the familiar places, grow with it and don’t take it for granted. but, what are the biggest things you want to learn about the new places you’re going? can you read up on them, can you research some good starter events to get your feet wet, can you get some initial meetings with friendly informers who are happy to help you get to where you want to be?

pick a strategic blend and plan your moves
once you have a more clear sense of what you do best, how you do it, and the lay of the land ahead, take what you know and apply it—to the calendar! start with what you know: your best and most long-standing clients. plan a mix that works for you, attend the events where you know you’ll see them, think about your own brand touchpoints and which communicate the best with your home-base. you know these people really well at this point, maybe even research how you might better serve them, or find some aspect of their businesses that is largely overlooked. if you’ve attended mixers to see them in the past, consider hosting your own and inviting them for a regular check-in outside the office. in short, make your best relationships even better.

if you’re breaking ground in a new industry or niche, start a regular schedule of research, read the industry blogs, look for events to attend, make contacts and ask questions so you can learn from the personal experience of others. research the archetypes in the industry and get to know how they communicate, what’s important to them, go where they go. eventually, with regular research and exposure, you’ll have a great idea of who might be a good fit for you as a client or what might be a best first project to get your foot in the door.

and, of course, the best way to communicate with them when you’re not actually in the same room is to make information readily available about your own services and show that you’re aligned with this new industry. if you’ve been meaning to refresh your print collateral or web site content in this way, chart it out and put it on the calendar. if you can’t afford the dream overhaul, do the realistic refresh now. as seth godin often says, plan what you can, don’t let fear of failure hold you back from shipping, and put yourself out there!

creative inspiration

Thanks Getting: how to ask for a testimonial from Dyana Valentine on Vimeo. one of the great things that can happen during co-working: one person asks a question, another person has a great idea for an answer, and a third person [me] is there to hold the camera! read dyana’s entire post, thanks-getting, for creativefreelancerblog.com!

typography

designworklife gift guide
[image: designworklife.com]
this is a little bit typography & a little bit holiday. designworklife.com is working out gift guides for 2010, and i really loved this typography-themed selection, including yarn-wrapped letters, the OMFG journal, a very affordable letterpress print, and even a letterpress t-shirt.

diy

book wreath
[image: living with lindsay]
a little bit holiday & a little bit diy. despite a lack of religion, i do like the hanging of decorative wreaths during the holidays. i’ve tried like the dickens [well, not the dickens] to get this succulent wreath to work, but it doesn’t look anything like the ones you can buy. i might try making something interesting out of the eucalyptus & peruvian pepper in the park, but if you’ve got crafting on the brain for unexpected holiday ornaments with a handmade touch, re-nest.com offers: craft with what you already have: 10 diy wreaths.

design industry

emigre no. 70
[image: designersreviewofbooks.com]
a little bit design industry & a little bit typography, and a LOT of good old émigré! i don’t know about you, but i’ve still got a collection of the free quarterlies they sent out in the 90s that i treasured from the moment of arrival, so cool & so fun. i’m interested to take an hour or a week looking through this one. take a nice preview here: emigre 70: the look back issue.

i really liked this one from logodesignlove.com: building your design business: promotion, and not because i’ve done almost everything on their suggested actions list, either. the giving aspect is what i see in my favorite companies, partners & colleagues, and it’s what i look for in collaborators. promotion isn’t about banging people over the head [i’ll try to remember this in my daily tweets & facebook bombardments], it’s about being cool.

another greatly supportive piece from designspongeonline.com: biz ladies: establishing relationships with advisors. it’s so important to have mentors and trusted confidants you can bounce ideas off and get advice. if you haven’t cultivated a circle for yourself, they’ll show you how to get started.

let’s get realistic here, it’s the holiday season, and i’ve already started hearing about the difficulties with work-life balance, and it only gets harder this time of year. freelancefolder.com wants to help: six dilemmas that freelancers face over the holidays.

beyond design

wine: is this design or wine or beyond design & wine? sf moma has this amazing show through april, and fastco design wrote up a preview: how wine became a billion dollar high-brow hobby. i’m definitely going to have to make a beeline for it on my next trip up north.

food: anchovy haters, step aside! when i saw this recipe i fell in love. i can picture what it tastes like, and i’m going to make it with my last slice of puff pastry in the freezer: pissaladières [onion & anchovy tarts].

los angeles: it’s a little bit food, a little bit los angeles, and mostly the first in a series about seasonal eating for laist.com: seasonal eats: persimmons.

fashion: do i write about fashion? no! but i aspire to some of it, and when i read some good, applicable stuff, i want to share it. nubby twiglet just fine-tuned her closet in this extremely virgo way i totally get on an astrological level. it’s sensible, utilitarian, and she has amazing shoes!

creative inspiration

illusration

work life by darren booth
[image: darren booth]
this piece was a monday inspiration pic on fudgegraphics.com and it’s easy to see why. what a great combination of words, hand lettering and illustrative awesomeness!

i’m an undying fan of maira kalman, and as any undying fan should, i promise to post any article on her that crosses my rss reader. this week, she’s the focus of what’s in your toolbox, from designsponge. take a peek inside her studio!

typography

finishing touches by hoefler & frere-jones
[image: typography.com]
the people at hoefler & frere-jones have done it again with an outstanding post outlining the finishing touches of typeface design in which they show you how they mind your p’s & q’s.

if you’re looking for a good review of the latest web font embedding services, smashing magazine offers: review of popular web font embedding services so you can choose your tools wisely.

print techniques: letterpress

letterpress cards by lulu dee
[image: lulu dee]
one of the great letterpress artists i saw at the 2nd annual LA print fair recently was lulu dee, who’s work has just been featured on for print only. her work is so cute, pairing song lyrics with delicate illustrations.

design industry

if you do packaging design, HOW and thedieline.com have partnered to bring a conference just for you: the dieline package design conference, presented by HOW.

this week in the biz ladies column: biz ladies: how to create digital products, from design sponge. if you’re thinking of writing a white paper, an ebook or selling other digital assets online, they’ll help you get started.

if you’re looking to make sustainable choices in your future print projects, check this out: choosing sustainable paper made easy, from the living principles. find the most sustainable paper that’s appropriate for your project!

beyond design

did you just ask what’s going on in echo park? well… if you’ve known we’re going to drain the lake and update the plumbing system, and you have questions, the city is offering 3 rehabilitation pre-construction tours to anyone interested. we’ve also got the rock n roll los angeles half-marathon running right through our neighborhood this sunday!

in food news, this weekend is artisanal LA, where you can do home gardening & food prep workshops, learn about all kinds of neato techniques, and taste a selection of wonderful artisanal foods! from the seasonal eats corner, if this completely insane rundown of apple recipes isn’t enough for you, consider enflorinating your tastebuds with this lavender recipe rundown from thekitchn.com. and for the non-recipe food piece, the utne reader pointed me to this very interesting our meals, ourselves: a short history of food writing, from themillions.com.

creative inspiration


check it out, fallen fruit has a video about mapping public fruit. they’re walking all over my neighborhood!

identity

de vine vineyards label
[image: de vine vineyards / thedielinewine.com]
this identity system for de vine vineyards by hired guns creative is absolutely beautiful. you can see a full photo shoot of all the pieces involved at thedielinewine.com.

another outstanding sample that caught my eye was arido by estudio amaya pulenta, also featured on the dieline wine.

typography & maps

axis type maps
[image: axis maps]
more map love, this time with typographic interpretation, from axis maps. check out the profile on fastcodesign.com. i love how the type is so well chosen for each area it represents.

speaking of maps, the cartography of bigotry, from utne reader has some interesting, humorous & un-pc maps according to different cultures & groups.

design industry

sayl chairs
[image: herman miller / fastcodesign.com]
WANT! want want want. this chair is so fantastic, and knowing it’s herman miller, i’m sure it’s supportive and comfortable too. love the white frame with red seat. it’s okay to surprise me with this as a gift, anytime you like.

in the spirit of insinuating myself everywhere, i am back on the creative freelancer blog again this week: one designer’s marketing mix, where i talk about what new things i’ve added to shake up my promotional funtimes.

beyond design

i’ll take a break from recipes this week to bring instead: the food lab’s top 6 food myths, from serious eats. bust those myths already!

seeing green: visions of LA’s new cleantech corridor, from fastcodesign.com. woah, wait–we have a cleantech corridor?! just outside downtown!?