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Targeted and Timely Might Be Even More Useful One of the most useful things I’ve done over the years is keep a database in FileMaker Pro: a database of clients and potential clients, vendors, and colleagues. In addition to being an invaluable way to access contact data, it helps generate specialized marketing letters by industry, by state, by zip code, and by last contact date (why not re-introduce yourself to that company you sent a proposal to two years ago?). It takes effort to keep it current, but that oftenbacked-up disk is the first thing I’d grab in case of fire (in addition, of course, to my personally autographed Stefan Sagmeister “Made You Look” launch party poster with a picture of a German shepherd dog). Anyway, instead of bottling edibles and doodads, I’d rather spend my time creating targeted mailings. Several weeks after September 11, 2001, when it still looked like the world might end, I was inspired by Paul McCartney’s performance at the Concert for New York City. It was amazing: one of the “all you need is love” Beatles was singing about fighting for the right to live in freedom. People change, circumstances change, I reasoned. I had offered twenty hours of my firm’s services, gratis, to those clients who had been displaced by the terrorist acts, but maybe certain other clients needed a gentle kick in the pants. So I created a four-page, 81 ⁄2 × 11, black-and-white mailer. The cover said simply: “If not now, when?” Inside, the copy read like this: At The Concert for New York City, Paul McCartney
changed the thinking of a few million people with a simple idea: “I will fight for the right to live in freedom.” He wore a T-shirt and played the guitar. He didn’t need glittery costumes, flashing lights, and elaborate choreography. In fact, those things would have hindered his message. All the best communication ideas are like that: simple and human, strong, and powerful. Since September 11, the media has saturated us with doom-andgloom messages about the economy. We’ve become understandably cautious. But think about this: every building outside the Ground Zero site is still standing tall. Don’t let your product, your brand or your organization fall, or falter, in a psychic domino effect. Now is the time to act.