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Ken Dunn

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The Creative Mind behind Some of Our Most Iconic Projects

By Blog

Meet Suzanne “Q” Aloi, Westamerica’s Senior Art Director

When we create beautiful print collateral, packaging and websites it takes a group of highly trained and extremely talented individuals to get the job done. There are technicians that prep, print or write the code for these projects and there are creatives that imagine and design the project. To make these projects come together many times it takes a technician who is creative and a designer who has strong technical skills.

For the past 18 years, We have had the pleasure of working with a creative individual who has imagined and designed some of our most iconic work. We’d like to introduce you to Suzanne Aloi, the Senior Art Director here at Westamerica Communications. Everyone around our facility calls her “Q.”

We recently sat down and spoke with Q to learn a little more about her life and her work here at Westamerica.

When did you become interested in graphic design?

My mother was an artist so I grew up doing a lot of creative things especially drawing. In junior high, I was lucky enough to have access to art and design classes, one of them was Yearbook. That’s when I realized how much I enjoyed the design process and that it could be my career. I was provided opportunities to apply my skills in a commercial capacity early on and I designed my first professional logo when I was 13. I enjoyed the challenge of creating an illustration or trademark that is so simple, yet communicates quickly as an icon.

Which designers do you like and which have influenced your work?

Paul Rand tops my list. As Louis Danziger, one of my favorite instructors at Art Center, once said of him “He almost singlehandedly convinced business that design was an effective tool.” He was a visionary who transformed advertising and pioneered a fresh, modern approach to selling products. I really admire his corporate identity work, but he did everything. He demonstrated so well the simple idea that graphic design can, and should, be both beautiful and functional.

Did you go to school to train or was most of your training on the job?

Both. I was a self-motivated kid so in high school I had an independent study program. By then I was fairly busy freelancing with logos, portraits and various illustration projects. I was able to work on those at school and get class credits at the same time. Endless doodling in class lead one teacher to introduce me to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and that’s where I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Packaging & Communication Design. It’s been a lot of years since I graduated and I have been fortunate to work with some amazingly talented people on all kinds of creative challenges. I learn from every person and every project so I consider on the job training an ongoing endeavor. I love to learn so I continue to take courses to keep my skills current.

What are three of your favorite projects at Westamerica Communications and why?

I’m happy to say there is a long list to choose from after all these years.

#1 The Contra Costa Water District

We created a series of informational wall graphics for the newly built John Muir Interpretive Center at Los Vaqueros Reservoir. Each focused on various aspects of the wildlife, history, ecosystem, and conservation of the watershed. Nature and history are a passion of mine so I love working on projects that teach me something in the design process.

As part of the fifth-grade science curriculum, students learn about the water system and canal safety. I was challenged to illustrate a fun, cartoonish map showing cities, roads, canals, trails, pump stations, and reservoirs as well as a long list of notable places, activities, and animals. It took several months to complete. I like that these projects utilized my illustration and design skills and they’re visually fun to look at. But more importantly, they’re serving a purpose as valuable educational tools for generations to come.

#2 Mellanox Technologies Inc., International Sales Incentive Program

With prizes like a new Range Rover, an all-inclusive safari, and other attractive prizes, the marketing of this specific program played on the allure of travel and adventure.

We created an early 20th-century vintage suitcase, complete with a magnetic clasp and a plastic handle. The case contained expansive creative content, including a passport, brochure, and campaign letter sent to all participants. To keep the program exciting, each month participants received a collection of “travel style” stickers featuring prizes and features to place on their suitcase. These monthly letters with stickers served to update the sales team and keep everyone focused and motivated.

This project was a great example of our full-service expertise. Our team was able to single-handedly provide structural and digital design, email and web creative content, along with print, all supporting one central campaign.

#3 Almost everything I have done for Shimano Fishing

I love fishing and the outdoors, so working on their brochures, catalogs, packaging design, logo designs, trade show graphics… a wide variety of projects, all were just a bit more fun and interesting because I love the subject matter and enjoy the high-quality products myself!

Thank you Q, Westamerica wouldn’t be the same without you!


CUNA Dominate both mailboxes

Dominate Digital and the Offline Mailbox

By Blog

Dominate Both Mailboxes

When working with clients, the discussion inevitably turns to digital versus online marketing. Clients are looking for a strong ROI. They want to know if their money would be better spent on an online campaign using email and social media or a traditional campaign using direct mail and brochures.

We explain to our clients the advantages and disadvantages of direct mail advertising. We also lay out the advantages and disadvantages of online marketing. And most of the time, we show them that the biggest advantage is to dominate both mailboxes with a combination of online and traditional marketing techniques.

Digital marketing vs online marketing

When considering online and traditional marketing we must first understand the benefits of each medium. Daniel Dejan, Print Creative Manager for SAPPI North America, describes how individuals process online and traditional print advertising as “bilateral literacy.” Ink on paper is more penetrating; it has a much longer mnemonic retention. Online material, on the other hand, is information that we need to get through quickly. It’s features, advantages, pricing, and linking to other information, which is very valuable in our society.

In today’s environment consumers seeking quick and convenient information turn to online sources for immediate gratification. But, if we’re looking for information on a subject that will have a long-term impact on our lives, we want it in print.

The roles of print and online in a marketing campaign

When considering online and traditional marketing we must also consider the role that each plays in a marketing campaign. Research from Google shows that many times traditional media is the stimulus that begins a search on mobile. 48% of smartphone readers are performing mobile queries off of ads they see in magazines, 35% search off of posters and billboards, while 57% do so from in-store promotions and 58% from TV.

Another report from Google shows that nearly a third of searches are started by individuals who have received mail, like a catalog or brochure, at their home from a brand or manufacturer.

The importance of data and targeting in a marketing campaign

The importance of data and targeting cannot be overemphasized in a marketing campaign. Gone are the days of “spray and pray” campaigns. Whether you are a start-up or an established company, understanding data is paramount in creating a successful campaign. The proper use of data will allow for personalization and relevance and that’s what fuels a true omnichannel strategy in both print and digital.

Today’s technology allows both online and traditional marketing campaigns to better target potential clients. Companies who use direct mail need a partner to help with mailing lists and mailing services along with direct mail copywriting and direct mail design. Companies who use online marketing need many of the same services including email lists, copywriting, and design. And, if you are planning an integrated campaign using both online and traditional channels, a marketing partner that can do both is a big advantage.

The importance of tracking and ROI in a marketing campaign

If you plan to dominate both the inbox and the mailbox then tracking the effectiveness of both are important. Digital tracking is possible with click-through rates and analytics. To track direct mail you need to make sure that any point of contact listed on your direct mail piece – phone number, URL, coupon code, etc. – is unique and trackable.

When discussing ROI one must consider response rates and cost per acquisition. The Direct Mail Association (DMA) reports that email has an ROI of 124% and direct mail, including catalogs, drives in excess of a 5% response rate.

The DMA also reports that nearly two-thirds of people have bought something because of a direct mail piece. Additionally, 70% of customers have re-started a relationship because of direct mail.

Utilizing both traditional and digital marketing techniques allows your company’s message to be spread across many different channels and helps you dominate both mailboxes.


Newsletters and Your Marketing Strategy

By Blog

Why Newsletters Should be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Remember the story of the shoemaker’s children who had no shoes? Well, we here at Westamerica Communications have taken that story to heart and are about to do something we haven’t done for a while. We’re publishing a print newsletter.

We’ve created company newsletters for a wide variety of clients. We design and print newsletters all the time, just not for ourselves. So, why now?

Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing Statistics

We do quite a bit of marketing for our company. We write and publish blogs on social media and on our website. We send email blasts. We attend trade shows and sponsor community events.

Recently, we took some time to examine our marketing efforts and noticed that many of our efforts are ephemeral.

A post on Facebook virtually disappears as a follower scrolls through their feed. And emails seem to disappear in a flood of inbox communications. In 2015, the average office worker received 122 emails a day. I’m sure it’s even more today.

Then there’s the open and click-through rate of online communications. The average click-through rate for Facebook Industrial Services ads is 0.71%. The average email open rate for the Marketing and Advertising Industry is 17.81%. And the click-through rate is 1.92%.

And, once opened, how much do people remember what they read online? There’s a large body of evidence that shows that recall is higher among individuals who are exposed to a printed ad, such as a direct mail piece, versus a digital ad.

One report I saw says that physical “Touch has the power to shift the brain into a deeper level of engagement, one more conducive to building lasting knowledge.” And, when it comes to recall, research shows a 3:1 advantage for print over digital.

With this knowledge in hand, we decided to add something to our marketing mix that would allow our clients to engage with our brand on a more physical level.

Direct Mail Marketing

The first thing to remember about a newsletter is that the United States Postal Service will deliver it. This adds a whole new dimension to the phrase “open rates.”

Research shows that “In a world of email, texts, and social media, 41% of Americans nevertheless look forward to checking what is in their mailbox each day.” And that includes 36% of millennials who also feel this way.

When compared with online marketing, direct mail marketing is the “king” of open rates. Take a minute and think of how you “open” your mail.

Every day you go to your mailbox, like millions of other people. You open the box and remove the stack of mail. You may do as I do. There’s one stack for bills, one stack for “I’ll read it now,” one stack for “I’ll read it later,” and one stack for the recycle bin.

Notice, whichever stack the mail was placed on, I had to look, touch, and read every single piece of mail. I may not have read through every piece of mail but I did read enough to know which stack to place it on.

The quality of the newsletter’s design, images, and paper will determine on to which stack it will be placed.

Don’t just take my word for it. Kim Walsh Phillips, Founder and CEO of Elite Digital Group, says print newsletters are “the secret weapon in your social media marketing arsenal.”

My business empire has been built with print newsletters as its foundation and a centerpiece around which everything else orbits. Well over 50% of my high-value private clients rise up out of the newsletter subscriber base — it would cost me a fortune to find them otherwise.” – Kim Walsh Phillips

Now keep in mind, Phillips runs a company that helps other companies with their onlinemarketing and she uses print newsletters to grow her own company.

Her article in Entrepreneur makes some great points about the benefits of a print newsletter. She also talks about creating an effective newsletter. I encourage you to read her article.

At Westamerica we understand that, when it comes to marketing, it’s not “either or” it’s both. We will continue using online marketing as part of our awareness campaigns in addition to our company newsletter. In fact, we are repurposing some of our online material by using it in our newsletter. In addition, we’ll link to our online materials from our offline products. We’ll do this because the marketing universe is huge and we want to reach our current and prospective clients where they live, work and play.

If you’d like to check out our newsletter, send an email to and I’ll get one out to you.

Templeton Rye Packaging

Creative packaging helps distributor sell multiple brands

By Blog

High quality gift pack increases retail presence.

The competition for promotional space during the holidays is fierce. That’s why the Templeton Rye distributor turned to Westamerica for a creative solution leading up to the important holiday sell-in period.

The distributor was looking for a way to marry multiple products together for a holiday gift promotion. Westamerica’s engineers found that less can be more  then it comes to packaging, and designed a gift pack that incorporated recipes and other necessary information while keeping the focus on the product and quality. The gift pack featured their  Templeton Rye Small Batch Whiskey and a popular brand of vermouth.

To lower shipping costs and increase store presence, unique display cases were designed directly into the product shippers!

The result was a handsome gift package that displayed nicely in-store and generated increased revenue and profit.

Marketing In Outer Space

How Can You Launch Your Branding into Outer Space?

By Blog

Who Does This?

Who straps a $100,000 car onto a rocket and sends it into space? A genius, that’s who. Or, to be more precise, a marketing genius. In one shot Elon Musk took branding to a whole new level, literally.

Branding is “the perception a consumer has when they hear or think of your company name, service or product.” If you mention space or space travel to anyone under 30 they’ll talk about Elon Musk, SpaceX, and a car traveling to Mars. If you speak with anyone over 50 they’ll talk about NASA, Neil Armstrong, and the moon landing. The perception of space travel has changed.

It’s not just the perception that has changed. Space and space travel are now branded with the Tesla and SpaceX logos. And, with his latest feat, marketing genius Elon Musk has media outlets all over the world talking about his two biggest companies.

The launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket, with the Tesla Roadster in its nose cone, was live streamed over the Internet. Every major news outlet carried the event along with interviews of Musk after the successful launch.

On numerous YouTube channels, you can watch as the cherry red convertible Tesla Roadster, complete with its “Starman” passenger clad in a SpaceX designed pressure spacesuit, orbits the earth on its way to Mars.

Of course, the Internet has helped to spread the “news” with a series of memes that are hilarious. My favorite was from @AngelList on Twitter. It reads, “California Man Finally Finds Way to Beat Traffic.”

The best part of this marketing campaign is that it doesn’t feel like a marketing campaign. This is due, in large part, to Musk’s authenticity. He’s real. People can relate to him.

  • He’s a gamer. His favorite video game is Overwatch.
  • He’s a dad. He posts pictures and videos of his children’s birthday parties.
  • He interacts with his followers on social media. He tweets like he’s talking with his friends, not followers.
  • He is current with pop culture. He watches Rick & MortySouth Park, and The Simpsons.

Musk is reaching consumers on a very personal level. For example, Falcon, the family of multi-use rockets developed and operated by SpaceX, is named after the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars fame.

Musk also pays homage to Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,by placing a plaque on the dashboard of his cherry-red Tesla Roadster that reads, “Don’t Panic.” And in a Twitter discussion with fans, Musk revealed that there’s a towel and a copy of the book in the glove compartment.

These are just a few of the many ways Musk relates to the “common man.” He includes references to the rock music mockumentary Spinal Tap, the movie Space Balls, and the comedy group Monty Python in many of his products.

All of these actions make Musk a typical guy with whom you can relate. I can’t think of any other billionaire that seems so approachable.

All of us involved in marketing can learn from Elon Musk.

  • Be authentic.
  • Be original.
  • Be relatable.
  • Take risks.
  • Set your sites high.
  • Dream big.

Although you will probably never put your product into outer space the way Elon Musk has, if you follow the tenets above you will find success.

Enjoy the journey! And, every once and a while, climb into your car, put the windows and top down, casually rest your arm on the door, crank up David Bowie’s Space Oddity on the radio, and go for a drive.

Your Marketing Challenge 2018

What is the biggest marketing challenge facing businesses in 2018?

By Blog

What is the biggest marketing challenge facing businesses in 2018?

Most economic indicators show that the U.S. economy is continuing its recovery. A recent article in Investor’s Business Daily highlighted a number of economic reports that illustrate these signs of growth.

The number of people filing for unemployment benefits is down while payrolls are starting to rise. Retail sales rose in October and consumer confidence hit a 17-year high in November. Also in November, labor costs fell while productivity surged. And, the federal tax cuts in the new tax law could spur increased capital investment, triggering even more job growth.

All of these indicators point to an increase in consumer spending. How will your company large or small, B2B or B2C, take advantage of this renewed optimism?

If you want to be a part of this recovery, you need to get your products and services out in front of consumers. To accomplish this you need to strategically place your marketing dollars where they will best reach your target audience. With the numerous online and traditional marketing channels available, the biggest marketing challenge facing businesses today is how to increase visibility and generate more quality leads.

How to increase visibility and generate more quality leads

To meet this challenge there are a few questions you need to answer about your target audience.

1) What problems are they trying to solve or what need are they trying to fulfill?

Even with more disposable income people still need a reason to part with their money. Will your product or service make them happier, healthier, or complete a task with less effort? How will you help or improve their life?

2) What makes your product or service different and why would your target audience want to do business with you?

Many times manufacturers think that price is the biggest motivating factor for consumers. That’s not necessarily true. Many times a consumer will pay more for a product or service if it makes their life easier. For example, it may be worth paying a store to deliver your groceries if it gives you more time to be at home with your family.

3) What compelling message will move your target audience take action?

Based on the information above it’s easy to see that your message must touch on a consumer’s pain point. The consumer wants to know, “What’s in it for me?”

4) What strategies are available to reach your target audience with your message?

Perhaps online messages delivered through email or social media will work best for your target audience. Maybe traditional media channels like newspapers, magazines, television, radio, direct mail, or outdoor advertising will work best. The truth is, a combination of both online and traditional media is the ideal solution to reach today’s consumers.

5) Are there new ways to reach your target audience?

Today’s marketing channels are constantly changing and new ones are being created. And many traditional media channels have new features that may help you reach your target audience in ways never before imagined. For example, direct mail pieces with variable text and images will create a personalized customer experience. Or embellishments like dimensional print that can add depth and texture to a marketing piece and thus capture the attention of the consumer who then pays more attention to the offer being made.

6) What marketing channels appeal to your target audience?

Today’s consumer is connected 24/7. You should see this as a marketing opportunity. Your website can provide information to the consumer when they want it. A B2B StorFront can provide online sales just as easy as B2C sites. If your clients are online your marketing should be online, too.

At the same time, if you offer financial products, research shows that a tangible product, like a direct mail piece, creates a greater feeling of trust in a consumer than an online offer. If you are targeting younger people perhaps an online offer followed up with a printed piece will work best.

Today’s marketing options are endless. And at times they may be overwhelming. A partnership with a company who understands the ins and outs of the industry can be a big help. Working with a company that can help you define your target audience and reach that audience with both online and offline-marketing materials is this best way to get your products and services in front of consumers and increase visibility and in turn generate quality leads.

marketing to millennials

Are Millennials Really that Different from Previous Generations?

By Blog

Something interesting is starting to happen with millennials.

Conventional wisdom says millennials are the generation born in the early 1980s through the early 2000s. Based on these dates they’re now, in 2018, starting to grow up.

Millennials are in their early to mid-twenties to mid-thirties. That means they are beginning to need and want what most baby boomers wanted and needed at their age. These include a steady job, marriage, children, and a home. It turns out that they may not be so different from the generations that preceded them.

What defines a millennial?

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing from marketers and advertising executives trying to “figure out” the best way to reach these young people. Much of this has been based on the technology used by millennials.

We have a tendency to label this generation by the ubiquitous technology that they all seem to carry. But if you think about it, you probably carry that same device with you and consult it multiple times a day.

How often do you check your email on your phone? Look at me calling it a phone. It hasn’t been a phone for years. It’s a mobile device, a hand-held computer.

  • If I send a text message to my son, does that mean I’m a millennial?
  • If I use an app to find a restaurant close to my house, does that make me a millennial?
  • If I take a picture of the food I’m eating at the restaurant, does that make me a millennial?

Just because I have become comfortable with the use of technology does not mean that I’m a part of a different generation. It means that I, like many of you, have adapted to something new. Well, I have news for you, the same happens with millennials.

For example, you may think with the numerous music apps available that millennials have given up on traditional media like radio. Well, according to the Nielsen Q1 2017 Total Audience Report, “the reach of digital radio has increased…but the weekly reach of AM/FM among Millennials remains 93%.” And, according to Nielsen’s Q1 2017 Comparable Metrics Report, “radio reaches more people 18-34 than any other medium.”

Radio is a technology older than television yet millennials still consume its content. And, the older they get they’ll still watch television, read books and magazines, and open their mail like generations before them.

Hear from a millennial

Millennial engagement expert and bestselling author Gabrielle Bosché thinks that the coming year will hold a number of changes for millennials. She believes that, based on their age, more millennial couples will start families in 2018. And, when a generation of 80 million individuals starts having families that will impact nearly every industry in the country. Bosché believes this will lead to growth in the real estate market, a boom in luxury SUVs and organic food delivery services.

Bosché also sees a trend with millennials suffering from what she calls “digit-fatigue.” These individuals are engaging in everything from media fasts to cutting the cable box cord in order to escape the constant bombardment from their electronic devices. According to Variety, 22 million U.S. adults will have canceled cable and satellite TV by the end of 2017 and this trend is expected to grow.

With changes in media consumption and in family lifestyle, there’s a traditional media source that works well for millennials. It’s not intrusive. It’s renewable. It’s easy to use. It’s engaging. It’s direct mail.

Research shows that millennials engage with multiple marketing channels, including direct mail. According to a Gallup Poll, 95% of adults between 18 and 29 feel positive about receiving personal mail. In fact, 57% have made purchases based on direct mail offers. But, they don’t want plan ordinary direct mail.

Think of other media consumption habits of millennials. They want authenticity, a focus on the experience rather than merely on specs, and often some kind of socio-ethical tie-in, such as serving the disadvantaged or protecting the environment.

The USPS has some suggestions for how to create engaging mail pieces for millennials. These include:

  1. Incorporate digital elements. Embed QR Codes, NFC, or AR to link the mailer to video and interactive materials on your website or social media sites.
  2. Keep your messaging succinct. Provide bite-size pieces of information. Millennials may love mail, but they are still distracted and living in a highly fractured media environment.
  3. Be authentic. Millennials distrust traditional advertising, so avoid hard-sell language. Use a straightforward, transparent approach.
  4. Use enhancements. Think scent, sound, or texture.
  5. Help them feel that their purchase makes a difference in the world. Campaigns that donate a percentage of profits to a worthy cause or in some other way demonstrate corporate responsibility can resonate if they are seen as authentic.
  6. Minimize slang, which can be seen as inauthentic. Use slang with caution, even if you are millennial yourself, or you risk turning off your audience.

If you’re looking for a way to connect with 80 million individuals then direct mail is a great choice. Help them learn about the best deals on their luxury SUVs, organic food delivery services, or any other products and services that will help them start their new families. A creative direct mail piece, in the form of catalogs, postcards, and newsletters will get your message in the door and in their hands, where it can be seen, read, felt, and acted upon.

Things truly are starting to change for the generation we call millennials. As they grow up, mature and begin having families they will, like generations before them, embrace technologies both new and traditional. And we’ll be here to help.

m-powered coffee break

The rewards of emphasizing your institution’s qualitative benefits

By Blog

How can a credit union differentiate itself from other financial institutions? The truth is, there’s any number of ways for a person with good credit to secure a loan. Major banks and online lenders offer loans with excellent rates. Thus simply having a good rate will not separate one lender from the next.

One of Westamerica’s clients in Pennsylvania found itself in this exact situation. Merck, Sharp, & Dohme Federal Credit Union (MSDFCU) needed a way to connect with its members that went beyond traditional ways of marketing.

Traditionally, credit unions, like most financial institutions, promote the low rates they offer as a way to entice members to apply and secure a loan. MSDFCU, with the help of the team at Westamerica Communications, took a different path.

People Helping People

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives ran by members, not customers.

The goal of the marketing plan was to place a larger focus on the qualitative benefits that MSDFCU provides. The campaign promoted and developed a stronger emotional appeal built on members helping members. The idea was to create a feeling of “peer-to-peer” lending and a stronger display of ‘how can we help you.’ In this way, the campaign reframes how the membership thinks of the credit union and keeps them top of mind.

The team at Westamerica developed marketing materials demonstrating that the credit union could be a financial partner for every part of a member’s life. We did this by focusing on four main financial solutions, including home equity lines of credit, mortgages, auto loans, and credit card balances.

The M-Powered Solution

Our creative team concentrated their efforts on a mix of traditional and online marketing materials including pre-approved direct mail letters, follow-up postcards, in-branch point of purchase displays, email, web graphics, and print ads. In this way, the campaign would reach the MSDFCU membership at every touchpoint and reinforce the message no matter where or how the membership interacted with the credit union.

The original design was used for the first campaign in the second quarter of the year. Then the ads were repurposed for use in the following two quarters. All of these materials carried the same theme, Members Power us to M-power you.

This innovative branding strategy of a full year of quarterly promotions based on a single design served as a cost savings measure for the MSDFCU

The M-Powered Campaign Results

The results of the first campaign of the year were impressive. MSDFCU reports an ROI of over 600%. Due to the new marketing campaign, they closed over 70 loans in the second quarter of 2017 totaling more than $4 million. This represents a 49% increase over their 2016 campaign.

The results of this yearlong campaign show that credit unions can differentiate themselves from other financial institutions. By highlighting their unique characteristics. They should promote the fact that they are a community-driven organization. Made up of members helping one another. This builds a strong emotional connection between the members and the credit union.

blizzcon westamerica

Why it’s important to “Get a seat at the table”

By Blog

We’ve all heard that it’s important for a sales rep to develop a relationship with a client. We’ve been told that our goal should be to “get a seat at the table” while the client is in the process of developing their marketing plan. This advice was demonstrated to me during a recent conversation with Dan Plomin, General Manager, VCG Division here at Westamerica Communications.

One of Dan’s recent projects is a perfect example of how moving beyond sales and into project management is beneficial for both the client and your company.

As I walked with Dan through the Anaheim Convention Center the day before the opening of BlizzCon, I was blown away. There on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, standing in the walkways, behind the stages, and all around the arena was the culmination of weeks of production activities that had taken place at Westamerica.

What is BlizzCon?

For the uninitiated, here’s a brief intro to BlizzCon. Imagine a convention center and arena filled with video game fans. The convention is held by Blizzard Entertainment to promote its major franchises likeOverwatch, which, in a little over a year, surpassed $1 billion in revenue to make it the fastest growing franchise in Blizzard history.

In addition, among the 35,000+ fans, are cosplay actors dressed as their favorite video game characters. There’s also an e-sports event that rivals any major sporting event. The 2017 Overwatch World Cupcompetition was played in the arena at the Anaheim Convention center. Teams from around the world including Australia, Canada, China, France, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States were there to compete for over $280,000 in prize money.

Now add to this all the fans of video games like World of WarcraftStarCraftDiabloHearthstone, and dozens of other games and you can imagine what it was like when Dan and I walked through the convention center.


A Seat at the Table

While Dan was working with the event marketers at Blizzard Entertainment they mentioned they wanted to create an immersive environment for the attendees. One of their ideas centered on creating an environment from their StarCraft franchise.

Joeyray’s Bar is featured in the StarCraft game and the team wanted to find a way to recreate the bar at the convention center. In the image of the game (refer to photo) you can see that the bar and the walls are made of wood. Dan suggested using real wood to create the right feel for the environment.

Using one of the wide format printers that we have at Westamerica, Dan and our team of technicians printed four-foot by eight-foot sheets of balsa wood with the graphics provided by Blizzard. Once the wood panels were installed, some creative lighting was added, along with a few bottles of alcohol and the next thing you know StarCraft fans were able to enjoy a drink at Joeyray’s Bar.

Welcome to Overwatch

The corridor leading from the Anaheim Convention Center to the arena, where the Overwatch World Cup was to be played, provided another way to add to the immersive experience of the event. Westamerica created orange accent pieces on the walls of the corridor. We created canvas gallery wrapped prints and 3-D logos out of PVC that hung on the walls. These elements created such an ambiance and immersive feel that many of the attendees, instead of simply walking through the corridor, actually hung out in the area.

Develop a Relationship with the Client

Dan’s longstanding relationship with the team at Blizzard is based on partnership, service, and dependability. For example, just days, and sometimes hours, before the opening of the convention, the event director can count on Dan and the team at Westamerica to create a needed piece. It’s not unusual for Dan to receive last-minute phone calls asking for changes in a particular piece due to a stage configuration change or the need to decorate a VIP room. Whatever they need Dan, with the help of the talented team back at Westamerica, is able to provide the product.

Another extremely important part of the relationship developed between Dan and Blizzard is the understanding that many of these projects contain sensitive information. Whether signs, posters, set pieces, wall accents, or 3-D logos they must be secure. The announcement of new games and products must be kept under wraps until the day of the event.

To be a successful sales executive, it’s imperative that you develop a good relationship with the client. Dan didn’t simply quote the cost of printing 10,000 posters. His relationship with Blizzard Entertainment allowed him to offer suggestions and provide valuable input on their projects. This relationship has developed over time. And it has been nourished through his knowledge of the printing industry, the equipment available to him through Westamerica, and the new and innovative products available from our strategic partners.

I’m very proud of the work that Dan and the team at Westamerica provide to clients like Blizzard Entertainment.

group meeting discussion

Just because you can…should you?

By Blog

The CMO should put their energies against the key strategic efforts of the company and eliminate tactical distractions.

Earlier this year the Coca Cola’s CMO retired. What happened next was unexpected. The company decided NOT to hire a new one!

Imagine a company like Coca-Cola not having a CMO. Really? What is driving this thinking and the elimination of this (seemingly) important position?

The company has decided to move all of the marketing functions under a new position entitled “Chief Growth Officer”. This new CGO is responsible for global marketing, customer and commercial leadership and Strategy.

Is Marketing losing credibility in the C-suite?

The pace of change has increased pressures in the marketing space, and for all those managing marketing departments. And CEOs are noticing.

A recent article published by Harvard Business Review claimed that four out of five (80%) CEOs are “unimpressed” with their CMO.

The CMO role has always been a high turnover position. But 80%?!

The new focus? Customer Experience

The Financial Brand highlighted a Forrester Research report in their recent posting which concludes that CMOs must redirect their budgets and focus from traditional advertising spending into the following areas of focus:

  • Driving consumer affinity and eliminating attrition
  • Aligning the institution’s loyalty programs with consumer expectations
  • Decoding analytics and digital platforms to create scalable consumer experiences
  • Updating marketing technology to enable the company to deliver more personalized consumer experiences

Clearly, the role of marketing is being redefined. How can you get it all done? How can you scale along with the increased areas of focus and importance?

Forrester says, “Outsource execution, but keep strategy in-house”

It’s no secret there has been a growth of in-house marketing support over the past 10 years. Many departments look like an agency with full creative teams. In many cases, this has moved the marketing function in some organizations from a strategic role to an increasingly tactical role. According to the article, this is the opposite of where marketing’s focus should be directed.

Why? Because today a good deal of marketing’s time and attention is focused on managing activities that can be completed by others.

Forrester says that these activities should be outsourced so time and attention can be spent on the big picture and developing integrated cross-channel strategies.

Just because you can do the job yourself, does it mean you should?

With 2018 just weeks away it’s a good time to think about things you want to start doing as well as some of the things you want to stop doing. Which things can you rely on others to do for you? There are a lot of things in life that you should leave to others. Like changing your own oil.

Outsourcing some of your marketing execution just makes sense, leaving you to conduct the strategic activities that only you can complete.

Are you changing your own oil?

Years ago, many of us used to faithfully perform a ritual every time our car traveled another 3,000 miles. We’d change our car’s oil.

On a good day, changing your oil was a minimum of a couple of hours of your time. Who does this anymore?

Details are messy…and time-consuming

Even those of us who know how to change our car’s oil, don’t!

Why? Because we can take the car to any of a number of oil change centers located within a couple miles of our house and have the whole thing finished in 20 minutes. They have the equipment and know how. And, they do it for about the same price that it would cost you to do the job yourself…not including the value of your time.

In this new reality, it’s time to reconsider which items you should be spending your time on, and which ones no longer really matter.

Stop doing some things. Start doing others.

Now is the time to refocus the energies of your marketing team. Are you spending time and money on the things that leverage the company’s opportunities? When you look at your budget, how much of it is spent against the consumer versus on in-house production expenses?

Where are those dollars (both expenditures in programs and human capital) going to do the most good?

How you assess these activities and their respective budgetary implications will influence the role that marketing will play today and in the future of your organization.