Friday, April 24, 2009

Shad (Yes, the Fish) Fest 2009

Living in Pennsylvania is a distinct experience. We have major metropolitan cities (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), we have The Amish. We have the very, very best folk art in the country - please see, "Fraktur"; and we have shad.

I think the shad is a finish unique to the Delaware River that divides Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I don't know much about the shad, except that my Great Aunt Kit loved to eat shad roe. I guess that's what you call Pennsylvania Caviar?

Every year the town of Lambertville, New Jersey (where my sister lives), directly across the river from New Hope, Pennsylvania - hosts Shad Fest

I love Shad Fest. It isn't very shadtastic. My sister's room mate said it should be called, "necklace fest".... due to all the of the jewelry artists lining the streets - there must be a connection between necklaces and shad - I just don't know what it is. There is tons of food, as there is at any festival - and there is no Blue Law Mentality like there is in Pennsylvania (at least Lancaster) - so one can feel free to join the other revelers in the beer garden, before noon!

Allot of people attend Shad Fest. I wonder how they market that? I got it by word of mouth. My concern is the artists. I love independent artists. So many times I have seen something there that I like but would rather have in silver, or blue, or whatever. None of the artists ever has more to give me than a scribbled phone number or a business card. I think I lucked out one year when an artist had a web site.

I think this year I'll be on my bully pulpit with the artists. They need web sites. They need a good search campaign. Online advertising is The Hot Thing. Everyone wants to make more sales right now. Their customers, their long-term, loyal customers are right there waiting to become raving fans - if the artists have the tools right there beside them to capture the audience while the audience is interested.

A business card is OK. A colorful, professionally printed flyer/brochure with a logo, web address and phone number is better. Something a bit substantial, that I may even want to hang on my refrigerator.

I know hiring an agency can seem to be out of the reach to smaller, independent retailers. It isn't. It truly is an investment, especially in "this" (I refuse to refer to it as This Economy anymore). I wonder how an independent artist can afford NOT to have an agency handling the marketing.

At LMI we have REALLY talented graphic designers and REALLY talented business strategists. We marry the two concepts for every campaign, no matter the size. ALL of our clients are a priority. Their success is our success.

It's almost lunchtime. I have to monitor the pay-per-click campaigns... and get ready to shop some necklaces. I hope there are some textile artists there as well this year.

AND I wouldn't mind a Shad Shot - vodka from a gutted shad... another joke from my sister's room mate. I believed it and I would like to try it. Perhaps my sister would like to join me in a little fishing trip tonight - we could set up a stand, sort of like a lemonade stand, only fishier!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Twighlight Series Goes To The Mall

Ok so I have "opted in" to tons of email marketing campaigns - most of them about clothes and shoes; quite a few about saving the animals. I honestly open ALLOT of them.

Last week I got one from This one is great. It lists REALLY high-end stuff that's on sale. You pick from an extensive list of brands that appeal to you and when they go on sale, you get an email - every single day. *sigh* most of it is still way out of my league. Last week I fell head over heels for a pair of sandals (another unintended pun. That's my only talent!) from They were *gasp* in my price range! I went immediately to the Free People web site and loved, loved, loved every single pair of - ta da!!! boots! and allot of other things too.

I slept on the sandals. Wants v. needs you know. I needed the sandals. I wanted to try them on before I paid for shipping, hated them and had to schlep it to the post office to return them. I had a couple of days off last week - so I called the store. They didn't have the sandals but the nice YOUNG woman on the phone (I felt like some one's Grandma) told me to COME ON DOWN - the whole store is on sale.

Slight obstacle: I had JUST gotten my hands on the third book in the Twilight Series. If you've read these books, or plan to, plan on a whole day wasted because you can't put them down, sh*t-lit or not. Stephanie Meyer definitely hit on a no-brainer want v. need. In "this economy", 20 bucks for a book that appeals to women from 9-90... wish they were all in the market for unintended puns!

Sale v. Eclipse?? Ok, both. I read while my husband drove to the Gigantic High End Mall. It IS gigantic. I had an instant hissy when I couldn't figure out how to find the Free People store. That was precious time that could have been spent reading an insipid romance novel.

We found the store. It was tiny. I'm sure I have mentioned previously (if ANYONE is reading this blog) that I have read that brick and mortars are serving as ersatz showrooms with actual purchases made online. Ha! Not Free People. I was really surprised. Free People is an Urban Outfitters brand. I've loved Urban Outfitters since college. The store on Walnut Street in Philadelphia is enormous.

Um, contrary to the claim of aforementioned YOUNG woman - the entire tiny store was not on sale. I was a tad incensed. I didn't like one solitary thing (probably because there was nearly nothing to look at) in the place enough to even look at a price tag. At least there was an Urban Outfitters close by.

Where am I going with this? Are brick and mortars dinosaurs? Is shopping on your feet as a past time akin to the Sunday Drive? I'm a shopper. I was not at all into shopping at the Gigantic High End Mall. The whole mall experience was totally unappealing. I should note that I nearly never shop at malls anymore. I'll bet it's because malls suck. It was so sterile. There were so many people. Not one of them was remotely convivial - including the sales people. It was as if they were pre-programmed miserable mall robots. Par example, I ALMOST considered standing in line to try on pants. It was a LONG line for the fitting room. I joked to the person in front of me that I might just strip down and try on the pants right there. She may have grunted - maybe not. COME ON! Are you that intent on standing in this infernal line that you can't strike up a bit of light-hearted conversation?

Note to mall and store owners: lighten up! I have read that the state of retail is dismal. Do you not want feet in your stores? I have to wonder if the atmosphere in malls and stores is gloomy which makes the shoppers gloomy? I sure didn't spend much. I couldn't wait to leave and shop online. Believe me - I'll sleep on it of I'm shopping online. 9 time out of 10 the answer is, "no". In a store, I'm MUCH more likely to just buy it, whatever it is.

Make it an event! Have a fashion show! Serve some cookies and punch! Have a small Gift With Purchase!

As for me - I had a far nicer time reading a creepy vampire novel.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Branding and the Independent Artist

Returning, as always, to my obsession with clothes... in this case the eclectic t shirt collection.

Perhaps a year and a half ago I was doing the most(?) unglamorous part of my job, sorting the mail. Someone has to do it. There was Jupiter Images catalog with an offer for a FREE t shirt by artist Michael C. Hsiung. I had never heard of the artist, but I know a funked-out t shirt when I see one - and this was one of the best.

I begged the creatives to buy a Jupiter image. Rats that they are - they needed no image at that time. I called Jupiter Images to beg for one. NO DICE. What's an obsessed t shirt freak to do? Google the artist! I found his email address fairly easily. Fortunately the man has a heart of PURE GOLD. He found me a t shirt. I love it so much that I only wear it once a year to cut down on the ruinous effects of laundry.

In return for his infinite kindness (or marketing savvy???) I visited the site where he was selling his work at the time. I bought his Fish Story print for my house. My boss liked it so much we had it framed and hung in, um, our rest room (the print matches the paint). The story on the salvaged book page he used as a canvas is almost as great as the print!

Fast forward Fish Story approximately one year. We, like everyone else established a Twitter presence. Imagine my overwhelming elation the day I saw in my inbox that Michael C. Hsiung is following US!

I have read so much lately that branding is dead; that the traditional "matching" elements no longer apply - or are even effective. In the case of our Rock Star independent artist, that really is true. I GUESS he could have shot out an email campaign to a targeted list. Maybe he has brochures that he drops off at boutiques? I don't see how an ad in a publication or on television would benefit him. Me? I wish he had a catalog!

Instead he managed to impress Jupiter Images. Jupiter Images probably benefited from that association (not through us, I had to go begging for MY shirt). Unintended consequences? Or did the artist intend to gain himself some raving fans via this association with Jupiter?

No matter because it was pure genius. I can't be the only Financial Controller/Google AdWords Professional/Receptionist/Mail Sorter - or for that matter, how many creatives??? who became raving fans of Monsieur Hsiung due to one catalog that ALMOST got into the circular file with out a second look - until his gift, depicted on a t shirt caught my eye.

We don't market any independent artists here but if we did I think I would recommend some sort of "offer". That's the Big Buzzword for promoting online businesses. That's also how I found my man - online.

His site didn't have an offer per se; however his infinite (I'm not kidding) kindness was better than "buy one get one free". EVERYTHING in the world of advertising and marketing is getting so much more personal. It is as if M. Hsiung invented the concept.

Now he needs to design a line of clothing to sell to major department stores and niche boutiques. His designs need to be more accessible a moi. Heck, he could design a line of clothing and accessories to sell on his own site. It seems that he designs tattoos - lookee here! a reason to get another one!

Any angel investors out there? I know this artist who.....