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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art: Where Nature and Art Collide in Walmart Country

If you’re thinking of visiting the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas – do it. Chris and I recently went on a private tour arranged by the WSU Ulrich Museum and it is, without doubt, the Midwest’s most impressive major museum. Built by Walmart heiress Alice Walton, the building was designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie. The permanent collection spans five centuries of masterworks ranging from the Colonial era to the current day. And not all the beauty’s inside. The museum’s 120-acre grounds lets you immerse yourself in the Ozark landscape and outdoor sculptures nestled into the forest. The experience outweighs the almost 5-hour drive from Wichita. Go.

Sponsored Stories: New Year to Bring News Feed Advertising for Facebook

With the New Year comes resolutions, a refreshed outlook on life and – new this year – sponsored stories in your Facebook news feed.

Starting in early January, Facebook users will start to see these ads. These sponsored stories will look the same as other postings appearing in the news feed, but will be distinguished by a link that reads “Sponsored” below the post. (Mobile users won’t initially see the stories, but that’s planned for later in the spring.)

Up to this point, advertising was restricted to the right side of the page, but new doors for engagement and brand awareness will now be opened with this access to the highly coveted news feed.

Time Will Tell

Facebook began as an outlet for personal expression, sharing and networking, and many users’ connection to and interaction with their news feeds is no exception to those principles. We’ll see how these sponsored stories play out within the overall Facebook user experience and advertising model – and how Facebook will continue to honor the roots of social media as this and future advertising tactics are implemented.

Advertisers interacting through social media should strive for relevant and authentic messaging – no matter the tactic – and encourage users to share their own stories and brand experiences.

Make Sure Video’s Part of Your Marketing Mix

Full disclosure. Growing up with an aviation photographer for a dad influences my belief in the power of visual storytelling. That said, the facts are also on my side.

The Wharton School of Business reports that quality video can increase retention up to 50 percent over print and accelerates buying decisions by as much as 72 percent. Forrester Research predicts a 70+ percent growth in online video advertising next year.

So, my question to you, what are your plans for video in 2012? If you’re still in the planning phase, here are some examples to prime the creative pump.

  • Teambuilding. We interviewed key Bombardier Learjet team members and asked the right questions to encourage them to tell their own stories, honestly and with pride. We’re told when viewing the finished product, the rest of the Bombardier team members responded with great enthusiasm.

  • Recruitment. Spirit AeroSystems’ amazing team just needed a bit of coaxing, then they were off to the races sharing their exuberance over the brand, their hopes for its (and their) future, and their encouragement that other likeminded souls be part of their plans to Dream Big and Make It Fly.

  • New-product rollout. We used fun illustration, movement and typography to help launch Signature Flight Support’s rewards program for premium users. The theme: Touch down, Move Up.

  • Education. We created a short video from interviews we shot at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. We spoke to two of the men who rescued the famed WWII P-38F Lightning fighter-bomber, Glacier Girl, and brought her home.  The aircraft would eventually become  part of the Lewis Air Legends collection of vintage warbirds.

  • Sales. Watch this teaser for the book “The Barnstormer and The Lady” and just try to not immediately order yourself a copy. You have ordered your copy, right? Walter and Olive Ann Beech have quite the story. And former Wall Street Journal reporter Dennis Farney did a masterful job telling it.

  This isn’t an exhaustive list, but you get the idea. If a picture speaks a thousand words, think of what video conveys. How it captures and holds our attention. Entertains as well as informs. In this era of social media, it also provides an ideal sharing tool. With websites becoming many companies’ primary marketing medium, video increases site visits and keeps visitors there longer. Increased recall proves video messages sink in better. When you see it, you remember it. Video also helps in your site’s search-engine optimization (SEO). Just be sure to create relevant file names and a video sitemap with description, keyword tags, links and more for the search engines to latch onto.

Charge Your Batteries

If you have a product/service to sell, a mind to change, or pulse to race; video may be your best bet. It packs a powerful punch.

Wichita Aero Club On-Air Summit

Straight-shooting, plain-talking Spirit AeroSystems CEO Jeff Turner summed up his aviation forecast in one sentence: “People want to fly.” Those in the full-to-capacity Airport Hilton ballroom signaled their approval of this frank phrase.

The Wichita Aero Club’s third-annual on-air summit also included John O’Leary of Airbus, Ralph Acs of Bombardier Learjet, Mark Paolucci of Cessna and Bill Boisture of Hawker Beechcraft. Business and Commercial Aviation senior editor Fred George was back again as moderator.

“It’s not all gloom and doom in Wichita,” George said as he read highlights of Spirit’s recent financial report. Turner acknowledged the company’s “phenomenal” backlog, unprecedented levels of production and opportunities ahead, saying, “There wasn’t a recession in our part of the business.”

Airbus’s John O’Leary cited three “E’s” affecting commercial aviation: 1) the economy, 2) energy (fuel) costs and 3) environmental regulations. The other panelists spoke of huge drops in utilization in small and medium-sized business jets, buyer uncertainty created by a yo-yo stock market, government fiscal policy around the globe that “has everyone’s confidence low right now,” and the need for stable used-aircraft pricing. Still all agreed that flight hours are inching up and the climate for financing is improving.

Challenges Drive Change

The corporate aircraft manufacturers voiced cautious optimism and the need for ongoing innovation. Partnering with unions to create a positive working atmosphere. Adjusting facilities, supply chains and engineering processes as needed. Redeploying efforts in global markets (which now account for roughly 70 percent of sales). Several acknowledged that customers have money, but are just reluctant to spend it.

“We’ve got to come out of this eventually,” Ralph Acs said. All signaled agreement with Bill Boisture when he said, “I’m looking for ’12 to be a lot like ’11, which was a lot like ’10.”

Meeting World Demand

All the panelists agree that today’s global marketplace – and global competition – is here to stay. Ralph Acs spoke to ferocious and growing competition and the need to prepare ourselves now for the next sure-to-come downturn. “I’d like to do even more,” he said. “As a city, we can do so much here, but I can’t. We don’t have the right skills.” He implored Wichita to not lose our aviation-leader position, and to find a way to guard it. The panelists warned of the gray tsunami that’s swamping Wichita’s aviation community and the strong need for critical workforce skills and replacement workers.

To those of us at Greteman Group, that would seem to underscore the need to embrace, protect and build upon our Air Capital heritage.

Make the Most of Branded Apparel and Specialty Items

I received a T-shirt at a recent fundraiser. Smart, I thought. What a nice, useful thank you for my donation. More important, it gave me a way to further the cause. Wear the T-shirt the next time I went to the gym and chat up the event when I got the inevitable question. And, honestly, I would have. The color was good. The design was nice. But the size appeared to be XXXL and the neckline was humongous. Not crew. Not v-neck. But a deep, wide scoop. A man couldn’t wear it. And most woman wouldn’t want to.

So, what I’d like to say is if you’re developing a branded piece of clothing or a specialty item – sweat the details. Do all you can in the hopes the recipient will use it – and love it.

You Know You Want It

Every year when we arrive at Signature Flight Support’s NBAA booth, we say our hellos – then head to the counter for a new pen. Not just because we like writing with a nice black fountain pen with our client’s logo on it – but because this pen glides, baby. If they tried to stop giving it out, people would howl. Signature has us right where they want us. Hooked.

When you source that long-sleeve thermal shirt for your logo, get a sample. Put it on. Do you like the cut, the color, the cotton? Look for the smartest options in everything from men’s ball caps to infant hoodies. And, if you have the chance to do more than just apply your logo, all the better.

Design Driven

We recently designed a high-end cycling jersey and shorts to showcase Bombardier’s complete range of private jet solutions – from fractional ownership and pre-owned to whole aircraft. And the jets that make grounded mortals swoon: Learjet, Challenger, Global. Our artists and resourcing team went off the beaten path to meet this challenge. Ensuring materials and construction equaled the high-performance design. This number won’t just hit the road. It promises to set the wearer apart from the pack.

Ensure your wearables and specialty items are more than afterthoughts. Imbue them with the brand’s personality. Create that emotional link. Make them favored go-to items. So your brand is out there. Visible. Proudly identified with the image of the user.

10 Surefire Ways to Get the Most From Your Agency – and Also Be the Perfect Client

We do a lot of thinking about new business and what we look for in a new client. Which makes us think that current and prospective clients probably give equal thought to what they’d ideally like in an agency.

We’ll show you our list if you show us yours.

  1. Forego the RFP. Start the relationship right. Check out what we’ve done for others. Meet with us and see if the chemistry’s right. Listen to what we might do for you. If the stars seem to be aligning, give us a project and see if we can deliver on our promise.
  2. Be our partner. Share the good, bad and the ugly. The more we understand your objectives, sales goals, challenges and budgets, the more strategic we can be. Don’t’ try to shield us from information overload. Truly, we can take it.
  3. Give us feedback.We crave it. And we need it. It’s how we get better. And celebrating successes keeps us your highly motivated, able-to-leap-buildings-in-a-single-bound dream team.
  4. Build in planning time.We like to step back and lay out a rough plan for the upcoming 12 months. That way we can prioritize, integrate efforts and maximize budgets. It also helps us staff appropriately so we have the expertise and horsepower when needed. And planning doesn’t just happen once a year. We develop creative briefs, estimate jobs and secure approvals – all before a project ever begins. Planning upfront helps us reduce missteps and mistakes, inefficiencies and cost overruns. And the final project is so much better when it’s not developed in panic mode.
  5. Trust our expertise.Hopefully you’re relying on us as an agency because you believe we have unique marketing skills – and not because you think you’re too busy to do it yourself. We promise to listen to you and to depend on you as the ultimate, knowledgeable guardian of your brand. Have faith in our ability to communicate your message. Powerfully. Passionately. Persuasively.
  6. Tell it to us straight.On occasion, difficult conversations need to take place. If they don’t, misunderstandings build walls where there should be none. We’re on your side. If you’re miffed, tell us, not your colleague or wife. We’ll do our best to straighten it out.
  7. Respect our team.We understand an occasional late night or weekend gotta-have-it emergency. It’s inherent to the business. But chronic end-of-day calls with changes that have to be made by the next morning’s 9:00 meeting zap the team. Help us help you by developing strategies to avoid always running defense.
  8. Strive for greatness.We want to win. To help you win. Allow us to explore. Push boundaries. Take risks. Let us elevate you above the competition. We call our strategic planning process Ascend. It’s not just something on paper. That drive permeates our culture. Expect our best.
  9. Assign a primary contact.We’re happy to work with multiple members of your team, but have one person who can navigate your internal politics to advance projects and see them through to their successful end.
  10. Laugh with us. Let’s sell goods, change minds, capture hearts – whatever it takes to make your business optimally successful. If we can also keep things light, even when the situation gets tense, work feels, well, less like work.