Category: Blogging

Great Ad Campaigns Push Boundaries

04/07/2011

Most people have a hard time stepping outside of their comfort zones. When it comes to advertising, companies are the same way. At Echo-Factory, we do our best work when clients give us freedom to step outside of the comfort zone. We end up creating ads that are unique, ads that get people talking and lead to big results.

The most recent case for creative freedom is our work with the city of Upland. Over the past year, we’ve worked on two major projects for the city: the Upland Farmer’s Market and the Upland Lemon Festival.

Advertising for farmer’s markets typically consists of a close-up shot of a fruit and/or vegetable along with the date, time and location of the market. These ads are safe, they tell you what you need to know but they aren’t memorable. They don’t stir up excitement. To promote the new Upland Farmer’s Market, we wanted to do something different from those fruit and vegetable images so we came up with the High Five a Farmer campaign. Through radio, television, print, direct mail, outdoor, social media and promotional giveaways, we encouraged people to support local farmers by buying food at the farmer’s market. Because the campaign emphasized the market as a community where local farmers are your friends, it made people want to go to the farmer’s market instead of a grocery store. Though the campaign was way different than the city’s past ad campaigns, Upland loved it and so did the target audience. People came out in record numbers during the market’s opening weekend in October and they’ve kept coming back ever since. This positive response is further proof that High Five a Farmer is not only creative but memorable too.

After the success of the farmer’s market, Upland asked us to help them create another memorable campaign, this time for the annual Upland Lemon Festival. Instead of giving them stock illustrations or photography of people having fun, we came up with the No Limes Allowed campaign, a campaign that focused on the lemon-lime controversy. Each ad features a smiling lemon and an unhappy lime. The lime is sad because he’s not a lemon – he knows the Upland Lemon Festival is three days where lemon is king and he’s dying to get in on the fun. Though the festival hasn’t happened yet (it’s April 29 – May 1), the ads have already generated a lot of buzz and excitement about the festival. We’re proud we got to do something different with this campaign, and more importantly, so is the client.

The best way to jumpstart your company or brand is to leap out of your comfort zone. Mix it up. If you’re used to filling your ads with copy, do a campaign that’s visually-driven. If you’ve always advertised on the radio or on TV, why not try advertising on Facebook or a little SEO? Go with a concept that’s edgy, a concept that makes you a little uncomfortable – often, these concepts are the ones people remember. 

Echo-Factory Profiled in the Business Press

07/02/2010

We made it into the newspaper!  The Business Press — the business unit of the Press Enterprise — was kind enough to profile our agency.  They talked about our growth, the fact that we’re an agency run by creatives and discussed our focus on new media and the web. 

In fact, they were so nice that Mike’s completely forgiven them for misspelling his name twice, two different ways, in the article’s first two paragraphs.  Of course — to be fair — they published the article back in February and we’re just now giving it a mention on our blog.  We all make mistakes. 

Our personal shortcomings aside, you can check out the entire article on the newly rebranded BizPress (nice logo by the way) site. 

Five Qualities to Look For When You’re Choosing an Advertising Agency

06/11/2010

The truth is, there are good agencies and bad agencies. And beyond that, there are agencies that could be good for one business, but a horrible match for another business. So, as a business owner, how do you find the right agency?

Here’s a list of the top five things we think you should look for when you’re choosing which agency to hire. If we missed one, let us know in the comments.

5 - Good References

If past clients love working with an agency, there’s a good chance you might as well.  But all references are not equal.  You should expect more than just a written statement or forwarded email from a “happy client.”  Instead,  ask for the phone number of current clients you can call - and call them. 

Chances are, in a couple conversations with an agency’s current clients you can learn more about that agency than all the pitch books, RFPs and websites in the world could tell you. 

We’ve found that our happy clients are our single most valuable source of new business.  Our pitch books get us in the door, but if we can get a potential client on the phone with one of our current clients, nine times out of ten, we’ve got ourselves a new client.

4 - Costs That Fit Your Budget

The greatest agency in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t afford ‘em - and conversely - if your budget demands more resources than the agency can provide, you’re going to be disappointed. 

The solution is to ask.  Some more traditional agencies have client minimums, e.g. - they refuse to take on clients who spend less than $xx,xxx per year, or more often $x,xxx,xxx per year.  Ask for average pricing on a couple projects you’re considering.  That should give you a pretty good idea if the agency you’re considering is at, above or below your price range.

3 - The Capabilities You Need

Nearly every advertising agency in the world has a focus, something that’s at their core.  Some agencies excel at media buying but have poor creative.  Other agencies can put together a fantastic PR campaign, but couldn’t create a website to save their lives.  Make sure you pick an agency that has a proven track record of creating the type of work you need.

The other side of the capabilities coin is industry experience.  Some agencies only work in one industry.  At Echo-Factory, we’ve very consciously chosen not to.  We’re afraid that limiting ourselves to a single industry could force us into a creative rut.  The downside of this decision is that every time we get a new client in a new industry - we have to invest a significant amount of agency time becoming experts in their field. 

While this can often mean that we might not make a profit on the first few jobs we take on from a new client - we feel that the creative benefits outweigh the practical challenges. 

However - this is something you should discuss with any agency you’re considering.  If they haven’t demonstrated work in your industry, make sure they’re willing to invest the time they need to truly understand what you do. 

2 - Work You’re Jealous Of

If you look at an agency’s portfolio and aren’t filled with longing for some of their work - look for another agency.  Sure - you don’t need to love everything they’ve ever done - but you want to find an agency with a sense of creativity that matches yours. 

All the awards and critical acclaim in the world won’t guarantee that an agency can create work that you’ll be happy with, and your customers will be happy with.  So make sure you see examples of things that make you say “wow.” 

1 - People You Like

Pick an agency you’d like to go out for drinks with. 

Our best client relationships are with clients who are our friends.  We like working with them, and we know they like working with us.  Truth be told, we probably do our best work for them. 

So, if you find a great agency, but don’t get along with the people there - move along.  They’re not the right agency for you. 

Our Niche In Energy Efficient Advertising

04/23/2010

We’ve always thought of ourselves as a green agency.  We like the environment, and we try to do things in a sustainable way.  But, beyond making sure our RedBull cans end up in the recycling and trying to convince our clients to use sustainable printing practices - there’s not too much of an environmental impact we can have in our normal in-house operations. 

If we - as an agency - are going to have a significant environmental impact, it’s going to be through our clients.  Lucky for us, we’ve been able to carve a niche for ourselves in advertising for the energy efficiency industry. 

Precision-Paragon [P2]
Precision-Paragon [P2] was one of our first clients.  Headquartered in Yorba Linda, [P2] makes energy efficient lighting for commercial and industrial buildings.  They estimate that their products have saved more than 12-Billion Kilowatt Hours of electricity.  And, using the energy-savings calculator we built in to their website, you can see that savings translates in to the CO2 emissions reduction equivalent of preserving more than 64,000 acres of forest. 
P2 Energy Saving Equivalency

American Lighting
Through our early work with [P2] we were introduced to American Lighting, a San Diego company that performs energy-efficient lighting retrofits.  In 2009 they were awarded for creating more than 27.7 Million Kilowatt Hours of electricity savings in the San Diego area alone. 
American Lighting Stimulus Package

The PEERS Alliance
In mid-2009 we worked with NALMCO and [P2] to create the website and branding materials for the PEERS Alliance - a nonprofit industry association that is going after federal funding for energy-saving commercial and industrial retrofits.  The proposed program has the potential to hugely reduce our country’s energy consumption. 

In January we did a bit of lobbying work and set up meetings between PEERS Alliance board-members and some receptive congressmen in DC.
PEERS Committee Members Meeting With a Congressional Representative

Every Watt Matters
A few months ago we began to work with Every Watt Matters, a company that provides home energy audits and energy efficient retrofits.  Since their launch in March Every Watt Matters has already moved into three California markets (Yucaipa, Claremont and Sonoma) , and they’re poised to go national. 

According to a recent study, retrofitting a single 1960’s era California home with the type of energy saving upgrades that Every Watt Matters performs could save 8.5 Tons of CO2 emissions.  Applying that figure nationally gives some staggering results.
The Average American Home Wastes The Equivalent of Nearly 500 Gallons of Gas A Year.  That's Enough to Drive from LA to NYC and Back. In a Hummer.

A Sustainable Place
Greenwashing is an all too popular trend.  But our energy efficiency clients are doing real, significant things that directly reduce energy consumption.

No advertising agency wants to be typecast in one industry, and we do have a wide-range of clients in other industries.  But, if Echo-Factory is going to gain a reputation for working in a niche - one that has such a positive impact on the planet isn’t such a bad role to be cast in.

Echo::Factory Has Moved

11/17/2009

We’ve moved.  Packed up our desks and left Upland for the verdant office parks of Rancho Cucamonga.  The truth is, we ran out of space.  So to get some more, we moved in to a new office park that more than doubles our office space and lets us bump up the size of our photography studio.

Our New Address:
9360 Santa Anita Ave.
Suite 100
Rancho Cucamonga,
CA 91730-6151

Find Us On Google Maps

The Email Announcement We Sent Out:

Mike Gets His Flickr On

10/13/2009

You’d think with an in-house photography studio, we’d be masters of Flickr.  Sadly, this has been far from the case.  But today, Mike remedied our lack of Flickr participation with a batch of behind-the-scenes photos from some of our recent projects.  You can get a brief taste from our Mike’s Hard Lemonade session below, and plenty more in our flickr gallery.


A Small Detour

10/02/2009

Not that long ago, we took a little detour from our usual type of work to explore our spiritual sides—by which I mean we designed the new Calvary the Brook website. We here at Echo seem to have an affinity for helping young businesses grow (maybe because we can relate so well), and we made no exception for the young Grand Terrace based church when they asked us if we’d be up for designing their website almost a year ago. We were happy to donate our time for this worthy cause and we are glad to finally see it up and running.

Kali Rider Site

07/29/2009

Kali Protectives came to us looking to build a rider component to their website.  They wanted two things - a site that would let them showcase the latest exploits of their pro riders, and a site that would let aspiring amateurs create profiles and try to convince the company that they were worthy of sponsorship.  In short, they wanted us to build a small-scale social networking site for athletes.

Today, you can see the results at kaliriders.com.  Riders can log on to the company’s website, create a profile, upload photos, bring in videos from YouTube, Myspace or Vimeo, link to their profiles on other social networking sites and post their latest race results and contest wins.  It’s a pretty full-featured site.  What you won’t see when you’re cruising through is the administrative backend that lets Kali update, administer and modify the site without much help from us.

The neat thing about this project is that we were able to create something this robust for an up-and-coming company. Take a look at any of the big action-sports brands’ websites.  You likely won’t find anything like Kali’s rider site, and you certainly won’t find anything like this that was done on such a tight budget.  Kali spent a good chunk of change to have the site built, but we were able to work with them to keep it far outside the six-figure budgets many agencies would charge for this type of custom development.

Gensuncasual.com Launched

06/26/2009

Somehow, we managed to launch a new site without mentioning it here. Gensun Casual Living is a Southern California designer and manufacturer of high-end outdoor furniture. We’ve been doing their photography and print advertising for several years, but we finally got to redo their website. You can check it out live, or take a look through the screen shots below.

Getting Social

05/20/2009

Today, Mike’s giving a presentation on using social networking to market your business - and instead of giving him handouts to pass out, we thought we’d use one of our own social networking tools to share some info with a broader audience.

If you’re looking to get started in the world of social networking, but feeling a bit lost, here are a few tools that can get you going:

So you want to: Find A Blog

Resource: Technorati
What it is: Technorati allows you to search “the blogosphere” for blogs and articles that are related to your industry, product or service.

So you want to:  Find a Forum

Resource: Google
What it is: There’s no central search engine for forums, but if you use Google to search for “[YourProductOrService] and Forum”, you’re likely to find what you need.

So you want to: Start Twittering

Resource: “Use Twitter For Your Business The Right Way” from Twittip
What it is: There might not be a secret recipe for Twitter success, but this article will get you on the right path.

So you want to: Start Your Own Blog

Resource: “Should You Start A Business Blog” from Entrepreneur
What it is: Should you start a blog for your business?  What do you need to get started?  What should you write?

Resource: Blogger.com
What it is: Google’s free blog hosting service.

Resource: WordPress.com
What it is: A popular blog host with both free and paid options.

Resource: TypePad.com
What it is: An elegant blogging solution with both free and paid options.

So you want to: Learn More About Social Media

Resource: ChrisBrogan.com
What it is: Chris Brogan has a great social media blog that covers most of what you need to know to become a social media marketing guru.

Resource: Britopian.com
What it is: Another good social media marketing blog.

Resource: “Social Media Marketing Tactics” from Seomoz
What it is: An impressively thorough article about how you can use 30 different social media sites to market your business.