Design, Passion, and the School of Hard Knocks
Sikich Marketing & Design traces its roots to an entrepreneurial pair of ambitious designers. As one of those designers, I wish I knew then what I know now—as it relates to sales and marketing. As a young graphic designer, I believed clients needed to understand the business of graphic design, and adapt to the integrity of my work and process. Yeah, right. That’s not the way it works! Maturity, work experience, and a few years through a continuing education program (informally known as the school of hard knocks), taught me the importance of understanding the client’s business, target market, and culture.
More than a Pretty Picture
Early on I was very focused on creating award winning design: logos, brochures, direct mail, packaging, you name it. I was always working to create the best-looking design possible! What I soon realized, was how design is just one of the essential elements required to develop effective marketing collateral: material foundational to a strategic marketing plan. I guess you could say I backed into the marketing process by way of design – my passion. I gained a wealth of experience working for others before deciding to join my childhood friend Michael Stout in his new business venture, and in 1997 joined Icon Digital Design and Illustration. Together, with a strong understanding of design principles, we built a business. Moving forward with one client at a time, we purposefully married strategy and design to create collateral that was as effective as it was attractive. We took time to get to know our clients, and understand their business objectives. We became their marketing department, always just a phone call away.
Evolve & Flourish
As a former small business owner, I know first-hand the importance of a strong sales strategy: keep filling the top of the funnel. In 2008, while calling on a local business and presenting my portfolio, a great connection was made. While I was trying to land Sikich as a client, serendipitously, Jim Sikich asked whether we (Icon Digital Design) would consider joining Sikich as part of its growing Advisory Practice. Instead of gaining a client (in Sikich) to help grow my own firm, we became part of a professional services firm that advises clients in a wide variety of business areas. Sikich’s multi-discipline business model was a perfect fit and we greatly benefited from the Sikich infrastructure and resources. As the newly positioned Sikich Marketing & Design team, we strengthened the breadth of our service offering.
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
The recession of 2008-09 (you may have heard about it) dramatically affected our economy, and had a profoundly negative effect on the agency world. Pre-recession, we benefited from a strong economy and most businesses had healthy marketing budgets. Our clients were doing well, and relatively few tracked their efforts. Business was booming, so it (their marketing) must be working! Needless-to-say, things changed. I believe this “industry reset” was a good thing because it forced our clients to evaluate their approach to marketing. Budgets now had to be justified as everyone wanted to realize a return on this investment. Understandable. One of Sikich Marketing & Design’s strengths that I am most proud of is our ability to leverage our experience, expertise, intuition, logic and creativity to develop customized strategic plans – helping our clients realize the high-level of return that is now expected. Listen, understand, create, deliver, repeat; this is the process that helped us flourish as Sikich Marketing & Design, and remains who we are today.
Individual Skills and Team Power
From a pair of designers, our team has evolved and grown, and is now comprised of 10 strong professionals with unique skill sets. Marketing strategy and consulting, design – digital and print, websites – design and development, photography and video, we do it all. Everyday, I collaborate with my team to help our clients succeed. I guess you could say that’s my job. Gone are the days of static, reactive, marketing. We take a strategic, and proactive approach to integrated marketing plans that generate awareness, opportunities, and drive sales growth.
How We Do It: The Art & Science Behind a Successful Marketing Strategy
I like to think of our process as equal parts art and science. When creating a marketing strategy, you really need both. The science of it starts at the core – the client’s target market. If you don’t have a defined target market, don’t go further. I am continually amazed at the number of business owners who struggle to define:
- Who they serve (target market),
- the unique benefit they provide, and
- the reason to believe their claim,
A well-written Positioning Statement accomplishes all the above, and helps build internal confidence and direction. It also provides me, as a marketing advisor, the background and foundation I need to begin writing the supporting messaging and content. Once we understand the target audience, we have the abilities, talent and skill sets to execute a marketing plan with a budget in mind that will be extremely effective.
Moving outward from the core, I evaluate all the available vehicles, or channels available to help tell your story. Selecting the appropriate marketing vehicles is crucial to generate awareness and sales opportunities. The process of combining clear messaging with dynamic visuals is more art than science, and it happens to be one of my favorite parts of the marketing process.
After marrying creative design with well-crafted messaging that supports a brand’s Positioning Statement, its time to prioritize the defined campaigns. After finalizing and implementing the selected campaigns, it’s time to evaluate the results:
- How did it work?
- How can we improve?
Nothing is more satisfying for me than helping a client see a great return on their marketing budget. Measuring the ROI of a marketing campaign is a must!
Sikich Marketing & Design has the capability and experience to help businesses engage with their target market, create brand awareness, and produce measurable results. From corporate branding, marketing strategy and consulting to website design and development, including Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-per-Click advertising (PPC) campaigns, as well as custom photography and videography, we do it all.
For more information or to to head into 2018 with an effective marketing strategy, contact Scott Kolbe.