June 2015


Instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.

A natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one's circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.

Emotion in Advertising
It's a given that thoughtful customers need information about your product. But if you want your product to break through, you need to aim for the gut.

Studies of the human brain confirm that, when it comes to decision-making -- feelings and emotions always dominate cognition.

Consider these three factors reported by Entrepreneur Magazine:
We have gut reactions in three seconds or less.

Emotions make a more lasting impact than rational thought.

Input is processed five times faster through our emotions than our conscious brain.

Whether it be the music you select:
Sara McLachlan's song "Angel" -- you can't stop thinking about the SPCA dogs and cats in shelters.

Or an image:

You know right away what company this strong, beautiful horse works for. The horse strikes you with its majesty and loveability (and makes you give a pass to a terribly unlovable beer).

Or copy:
Got milk? Two simple words that carry so much power. Its original incarnation of the milk moustache makes you nostalgic.

They all successfully use emotion to prime the pump for effectively executed campaigns. A couple of staff favorites also include:


Click to view.


Click to view.

We know emotion is just one part of the brand package but remember -- emotion sells!

Does your brand pack an emotional punch?


April 2015


Don't sell yourself. Sell Solutions.

SignWe've seen it time and time again - a client that believes highlighting features or services is the best way to promote business. This is a mistake. The truth is that customers are much more interested in how a product or service will solve a problem...their problem.

For example, a healthcare institution wants to share all of their doctors' educational background and credentials with a patient who needs orthopedic services. In reality, education and credentials are a given. That patient is already there because they know you provide excellent care. They want to know how you are going to get them back on the field or walking without pain. Solve their problem and you will gain a valuable referral source.

When we talk to education clients on how to build recruitment campaigns, they may or may not be interested in all of the details we are presenting. But we really don't get their attention until we tell them that our campaigns typically increase admissions by double digits. Then they see that we will be able to find a solution for their particular problem.

If you need help identifying solutions to your problems, contact me at Kristen@erbachcom.com.


March 2015

StartHave a Clear Vision

What is your goal? That is the first question we ask every new client.
We want to know, specifically, what you are trying to accomplish.

Raise more money? How much?

Recruit more students? How many? From what zip codes?

'Getting the word out' is not a goal.

As the saying goes, if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there.

But if you know what results you want to achieve, then we can map out a way to get you there.

Becoming clear about your goal leads to clarity about your target audience, the media and message you'll need to persuade them, and the budget you'll need to achieve the bottom-line revenues you seek.

Tips on goal-setting:

Spend time researching and evaluating your current position. Unattainable goals will only discourage you. If you have traditionally only recruited 10 students from a zip code don't increase it to 30. Review your research, talk to your team. Perhaps 12 is more realistic.

Create one goal at a time for a specific time period. Focus your time on one attainable goal before you move on to the next one. Create a timeline that allows you enough time to implement change.

Make sure your peers are involved in the goal making process. Collaboration is the key to success.

If you need help setting your goals or would like to discuss your options we are here to help. Call ECG Group at 201-935-3030.


February 2015


30% of your list may be lost.

Would you change your phone number every year to avoid telemarketers? Move to a new home each January because your mail slot is jammed with Val-Paks? Of course not. While it sounds tempting, that's a lot of work just to escape a sales pitch.


Yet 30% of Americans will change their e-mail address this year for that very reason. E-mail technology makes it easy to walk away from an old address and begin again with a friends-and-family-only inbox. A year from now, when that inbox begins to fill up with unwanted solicitations, these users will simply change the address again.


For marketers and fundraisers, this means it is more important than ever to practice good list hygiene. E-mail service providers are paying attention to the quality of your list, calculating how many of the e-mails you send are opened, clicked or ignored. Strong open rates help you avoid being labeled as spam. Worse yet, abandoned e-mail addresses sometimes become "spamtraps," which are e-mail addresses set out by Internet Service Providers specifically to lure spam. E-mail sent to a spamtrap address is automatically considered unsolicited.


As an agency that takes pride in developing effective creative, it's humbling to admit that the success of your e-mail campaign will rely almost entirely on one thing. And that thing is not the quality of the creative. It's the quality of your list. We advise our clients to be very diligent in cleaning their e-mail lists. That means following up on unsubscribe requests promptly and removing invalid, bounced and inactive addresses regularly.


For more insights on e-mail list hygiene, we recommend reading www.dmnews.com/email-marketing as well as the blog at blogs.constantcontact.com.


We are always happy to discuss your e-mail marketing needs. Call ECG Group at 201-935-3030.


December 2014


During the course of our 25th Anniversary year many people have asked how they can help with our acts of service. Here's your chance.

25. Global Community for Education

Our 25th and final act of service will profoundly change a young woman's life and, if history is any guide, her life could have a major impact on others.

A few years ago we met a world traveller named Don Wilks. While he was climbing Mt. Everest in Nepal, he befriended a porter named Tanka Kapri. Don was so taken with Tanka that he paid for him to go to university. Then, something spectacular happened.

Tanka wanted to build schools for children in remote parts of Nepal where there were no educational options for children - especially girls. Together, Don and Tanka created the Global Community for Education, which partners with communities to jointly invest in facilities and programs to educate children who would otherwise lack practical access to schooling. To date, they have built several schools and educated hundreds of children.

We were honored to contribute our services to create a branding program that supports GCE's fundraising. Now we want to do more. And we invite you to help. Guided by its belief that education makes the world a better, peaceful and more tolerant place, the Global Community for Education has inaugurated its first Higher Education Scholarship Program.

Putting a student into college is an unbelievable bargain in Nepal: less than $1,000 per year covers all tuition, fees, books, and other education-related expenses.

As our final act of service, we have committed ourselves to raising $2,000 for this scholarship program. We are hoping YOU will join us by making a donation today.


Click on image to view YouTube video.

Our scholarship recipient is Bhagawadi Kapri from the village of Kalamati. She was the #1 student in Grade 10 at The Baladevi School and excels in math.

Bhagawadi is 17 years old and has three sisters and an older brother. She will be attending Precious National College in Kathmandu to study Computer Science. She will live nearby with her brother.

1. To donate by credit card or PayPal, click "Support GCE Now" here.
2. By check: Please make checks payable to "The Global Community for Education." Include your email address and mail to: The Global Community for Education, 3930 Glade Road #108-250, Colleyville, Texas 76034.




November 2014


25th Anniversary Bash

You are invited to a once-in-a-lifetime event!

Help us celebrate our 25th Anniversary Party on
Thursday, Dec. 18 at 6 pm.

Siena Fine Italian Dining, 449 Kearny Avenue, Kearny, NJ.

Should be quite an experience.

RSVP by Reply email by Dec. 10

25 years


November 2014

25 years

Our penultimate act of service focuses attention on a woman who is not only grateful for the healing in her life - she wants to share it with others. Her story gives us pause as we approach Thanksgiving.

24. Heart and Heel the Soul

Joanne Ehrlich was 34 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. As she prepared to face what she hoped would be life-saving surgery, she bought her first pair of designer heels and put them away. "When I make it through the surgery," she promised herself, "then I will wear these shoes."

Joanne survived cancer and many further hospitalizations, including a preventive double mastectomy.

Today, Joanne stands tall in her heels. To her they are a symbol of grace and empowerment. That's why she founded a new organization called Heel the Soul.

Heel the Soul is dedicated to supporting women with serious illnesses in a variety of ways.

We are honored to be designing a Heel the Soul logo to help support Joanne's work. Joanne is a beautiful and inspiring woman. We will make sure her new logo is equal to the task.



November 2014

25 years

We're coming down the home stretch with our 25 Acts of Service. Here are two acts of service that focus on education.

22. Lions and T-Shirts and Bears, Oh my!

As we work with Spiros Hatiras, the CEO of Holyoke Medical Center, we see his commitment to building stronger bonds with the Holyoke, MA, community. So when we asked if there was an act of service we could perform for the hospital, we weren't surprised when he asked us to do something for Holyoke High School.

Enter Mark Todd, director of the high school's annual musical. Mark asked if we could design a T-shirt, which the school could sell to raise money for this year's production of The Wizard of Oz.

We understand that these sell-out performances are simply amazing. It's our pleasure to work behind the scenes to support all these talented students.


23. New Jersey and ICFNJ: Perfect Together

We are proud to say we have been working with the Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ) for all of our 25 years.

ICFNJ has secured more than $69 million in financial support for the State's independent colleges and universities. Their 14 member institutions have more than 462,000 living alumni. The economic impact of the independent higher-education sector in New Jersey in 2012 was more than $9.7 billion!

This year, ICFNJ is celebrating its 60th Anniversary. To help them celebrate this great milestone, we will donate our services to design their upcoming Annual Report.

And, to our friends at ICFNJ...don't worry, 60 is the new 50!




October 2014

25 years

We are nearing the conclusion of our 25 acts of service in celebration of our 25th anniversary with some creative teamwork (hey, that's what we do).

21. Creative Contributions to the RESCU

We are a creative business, so it's no surprise that our employees' talents extend beyond our branding and marketing work.

That's why we teamed up to support the RESCU Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization established to promote and maintain the health and medical well-being of the participants of Renaissance Faires, historical performances and other artistic events through financial assistance, advocacy, education and preventative programs.

Our creative director, Don Kilcoyne, has served for the past 18 years as a leading force of the annual New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, New York.

So we decided to fill a basket with our own creative contributions to be auctioned off at the recent RESCU fundraiser.

Bart donated copies of his book Gather Up Your Soul, as well as copies of his son Tim's first album Silver Plane Crucifix.

Our production manager, Liz, donated copies of three CDs (that also feature her husband, David Kleiner).

And our prolific creative director, Don Kilcoyne, donated copies of his three novels (all paranormal thrillers) and six albums of Celtic and Maritime-influenced folk music by his band The Crimson Pirates.

We understand that some heated bidding (and a few sword fights) broke out for this basket which raised much needed funding for RESCU




September 2014

25 years

As we continue our 25 acts of service in celebration of our 25th anniversary, we turn our attention to those nearby who desperately need the help of others to overcome serious challenges.

20. Books for Brennan

Brennan Macleod is a precious little boy with multiple disabilities, including cerebral palsy and seizure disorder. His family has been denied Medicaid. The Macleods are faced with the prospect of losing their home due to the cost of Brennan's medical needs.

Recently, the family discovered that they will need to pay out of pocket for a much needed wheelchair van, additional medical equipment, medicine and other medical expenses.

This summer, a large group of friends held an event called Concert for Brennan. Since he could not attend the concert, our own Don Kilcoyne supported the cause with a (much smaller) event called Books for Brennan -- he reduced the price of all three of his novels and gave 100% of the proceeds to the Concert for Brennan fund. In that spirit, we also made a donation to help Brennan's family.


21. Assisting Those with Special Needs

The Rose House provides life services to adults with developmental disabilities. Its mission is to encourage those with special needs to pursue active lifestyles through job training courses, opportunities for independence and individual-based support.

Located in Cedar Knolls, NJ, The Rose House also offers group home living arrangements, where tenants are involved in various social activities and are aided in ways that best suit their personal goals.

The vocational training program and job sampling program are two of the largest offered at The Rose House. Vocational training provides graduates with the skills needed to maintain work in competitive and professional environments within the food service industry. Safety in the workplace, health and cleanliness and skills such as interviewing and appropriate dress and behavior are taught throughout this six-week course. Job sampling is a program offered to high school seniors allowing them to get their "feet wet," so to speak, in a variety of sample work environments, through hands-on experience and one-on-one mentoring.

To promote this excellent work the staff at ECG is donating it creative services to promote fundraising for The Rose House designed to connect with potential new donors and volunteers. You can learn more at therosehouse.org.

Rose House


August 2014

25 years

18. Helping Women Survivors of War Rebuild their Lives

Women for Women International works with socially excluded women in eight countries where war and conflict have devastated lives and communities. Each woman they serve has her own story - some of loved ones murdered, and others of physical and emotional trauma. Most have endured a struggle for survival.


Women for Women International believes that lasting change can only be achieved when women have access to both knowledge and resources. This month we support them in creating this lasting change.

Learn more at www.womenforwomen.org


Women 4 Women

19. Finding Better Treatments and Cures for Crohn's Disease

More than 1.4 million Americans suffer from Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, including an estimated 150,000 children. Chances are you know at least one of them. We do.

More adults and children in the U.S. have IBD than multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease or blood cancers. To help find better treatments and cures for these devastating diseases, this month we are contributing to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.

Learn more at www.ccfa.org


June/July 2014

25 years

16. Helping Boys and Girls

The Boys & Girls Club of Clifton, NJ, provides programs and services to more than 5,000 young people, many of whom come from disadvantaged circumstances. Their mission is to help these young people realize their full potential as caring, productive and responsible citizens.

We especially appreciate their desire to reach out to all ethnic groups, fostering mutual understanding and respect for all cultures (there are more than 68 languages currently represented in the Clifton community.)

Encouraged by our new Account Executive, Lauren Ricca, who sits on their board, we will be helping The Boys & Girls Club of Clifton to promote a major fundraising event with print and video production. We hope to share this work in a future email.

Boys and Girls Club

17. Going Where the Patients Are

With the outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa and the misery in Gaza, we decided to send support to Doctors Without Borders. Founded in Paris in 1968, Doctors Without Borders began when a group of young doctors decided to go and help victims of wars and major disasters. This new brand of humanitarianism would reinvent the concept of emergency aid. They were to become Médecins Sans Frontières, known internationally in English as Doctors Without Borders.

"It's simple, really" says founder Bernard Kouchnermsf. "Go where the patients are. It seems obvious, but at the time it was a revolutionary concept because borders got in the way."


Medecins Logo



May 2014

25 years

As May blooms we have been busy helping the homeless feel a little more comfortable.

14. A Makeover for Enchanted Makeovers

The issue of homelessness is a very complex problem. Not long ago, it was rare to see women and children at rescue missions and shelters. The harsh reality is that today it is more common than ever. A recent report by the National Center on Family Homelessness found that 1.6 million children are facing a life without a stable environment.

The majority of long-term homeless shelters work against positive outcomes. When women and children enter a shelter that has a depressing prison-like environment, full of items other people discarded as trash, it reflects their feelings of brokenness.

Terry Grahl created Enchanted Makeovers to change that with a mission has been to transform homeless shelters for women and children into places that inspire behavioral and psychological change. Through their various projects, mentoring programs and makeovers of the physical space, women and children are introduced to a way of thinking that helps to shift their outlook about their lives and possibilities for the future.

This month we are teaming up with Terry and Enchanted Makeovers COO and friend Ellen Banks (a board member for one of our clients, Centenary College) to create a new capabilities brochure to help raise money and spread the word about this transformative work.

Learn more at www.enchantedmakeovers.org.

Enchanted Makeovers

15. Collecting Creature Comforts for Some Cute Critters

We've been collecting blankets and pillows after our Creative Director Don Kilcoyne and his wife, Kelly, brought to our attention the need for bedding at a local "no kill" animal shelter run by their local Humane Society.

An animal's life can be challenging when they find themselves in a shelter. It's extremely stressful as they are subjected to new sights and sounds on a daily basis.

Having something to call their own which provides a familiar smell and a soft touch can make all the difference.

Once the animal is adopted, their blanket can make the journey with the pet to provide something comforting and familiar in their new home.



April 2014

25 years

As Spring arrives (ever so slowly) our thoughts turned to the great outdoors as we pursue new projects close to home and far away.

11. Planting Trees
This week features Earth Day and Arbor Day. So we were inspired to team up with the New Jersey Tree Foundation to plant a tree in the Garden State. The New Jersey Tree Foundation is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to planting trees in NJ's most under-served neighborhoods.

Although a single tree is but a small contribution to the health of our planet, it is still significant. Over a 50-year lifetime, a tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen, provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycles $37,500 worth of water and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion. It also provides shade that keeps homes and cities cooler! Lemonade anyone?

12. Pumping Water
Heifer International is one cool organization. Its mission is to work with communities to end world hunger, poverty and care for the Earth. We decided to support a critical Heifer project: installing treadle pumps so farmers can provide enough water to sustain their crops. Our gift also gives them training in water conservation and irrigation techniques.

Access to safe water is a necessity we often take for granted, but poor families around the world struggle to obtain this vital resource. Heifer's solution is to help rural families install treadle pumps that maximize the number of growing seasons and allow them to expand the types of crops on their land. This cost-effective process is much cheaper than using motorized pumps, and more efficient than using buckets to fetch water. Makes for a more bountiful harvest.

13. Preserving Land

We are also proud this month to contribute to one of our newest clients, The New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF).

NJCF protects threatened natural areas and farmland through land acquisition and stewardship, promotes strong New Jersey land use policies and forges partnerships to help safeguard water and other natural resources. Our work together today will allow future generations to look forward to a New Jersey filled with abundant open space, crystal clean water, native wildlife and scenic farmsteads. Garden State, indeed!



March 2014

25 years

9. Shaping Academic Futures

Our employees and their families contribute in many ways to help others in need. Trust and Finley Martin, twin children of our talented senior art director Lynn Martin, give their time to the GO Project which shapes the futures of low-income New York City public school children by providing critical academic, social and emotional support starting in the early elementary years.


We are pleased to support Trust and Finley this month with a donation to the Go Project and its work to equip children with the confidence and skills they need to succeed at school, at home and in life.





10. Looking Good on Prom Night

When our good friend and client Gerry Bellotti (VP of The Independent College Fund of New Jersey) called this month to ask for sartorial assistance we went searching our closets for perfectly good but underused clothing.


Gerry's wife, Joan Marie Bellotti, is moderator for High Tech High School's National Honor Society, which each year sponsors a Prom Boutique for students who may not be able to afford a prom outfit.


The High Tech community and friends of the staff donate such items as dresses, suits, shirts, ties, shoes and jewelry, from which students have the opportunity to try on and, if the item fits, bring home with them for keeps. We were happy to pass along our best threads from times gone by and we thank Gerry for stopping by to pick them up.




February 2014

25 years

8. A Gift of Life and Love

Our clients sometimes say that we really put our heart into our work. It's true. And it's nice when someone notices.

Maybe that's why we decided that Valentine's Day would be a good time to talk about an act of service everyone of us can give.

Our Production Manager, Liz Pagan, recently donated one of her kidneys to help save someone's life. This inspired all of us at Erbach Communications Group to make sure we are registered organ donors.

Each day, about 79 people receive organ transplants. However, 18 people die each day waiting for transplants that can't take place because of the shortage of donated organs.

Organ and tissue donation and transplantation provide a second chance at life for thousands of people each year. You have the opportunity to be one of the individuals who make these miracles happen.

By deciding to be a donor, you give the gift of hope ... hope for the thousands of individuals awaiting organ transplants and hope for the millions of individuals whose lives could be enhanced through tissue transplants.

If you would like to donate the gift of life, click here and select the state you live in.

And, oh, Happy Valentine's Day.


January, 2013

25 years

We are located across the road from MetLife Stadium where there seem to be preparations underway for some big football game. Meanwhile, we continue to celebrate our 25 years of service here in small, and we hope, meaningful ways.

5. Delivering Warmth to Those in Need

When we read that tens of thousands of people are freezing because, right now, they don't have coats, we took up a collection and delivered four large bags of coats to New York Cares, a volunteer group started by a few friends who wanted to take action against serious social issues. With all the cold weather this winter, New York Cares has received more than 100,000 requests for coats. You can donate through February 7. To learn more check out www.newyorkcares.org

6. A Copier for a Unique School
Christ the King Preparatory School in Newark, NJ, is a Cristo Rey model high school serving urban young people with limited economic resources and educational options. When we heard they needed a new copy machine we made arrangements to deliver a Xerox Workcentre 5030. "This copier is a great blessing for us," said Fr. Bob Sandoz, OFM. A blessing for us, too.

7. Gratitude for Our Local Heroes
As we counted our blessings at the beginning of the new year someone suggested we express our gratitude to the folks who are called on for help every day but rarely thanked. So we wrote letters signed by each ECG team member to our local Lyndhurst police, fire and emergency departments to thank them for always being there for us (especially during the Sandy flood).


December, 2013

Our Favorite Things

Well, 25, to be exact.

We're sharing them during this time of family and fun to express how grateful we are to you.

As we continue to celebrate our 25th year in business, all of us at Erbach Communications Group wish you a blessed, joyous and healthy holiday season.

To learn more about our favorite things, just click.

Brené Brown's TED Talk
Craft Beer
Venice, Italy
Cats in Boxes
The Bedlam Farm Blog
Border Collies
Home-Made Music
Iyengar Yoga
The Elephant Story
A Bruce Springsteen concert
Elizabeth Gilbert's TED Talk on Creative Genius
Erbach Communications Group
Scuba Diving
Schoolhouse Rock
The virtually endless "How to" tutorials
New Orleans
Renaissance Faires
Broiled salmon with herb mustard glaze
NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour


November, 2013

25 years

3. Giving Thanks

We continue our 25 acts of service in celebration of our 25th anniversary this Thanksgiving by contributing to the Hoboken Shelter. We're grateful to our senior art director, Lynn Martin, for organizing the drive and delivering the food and clothing to the shelter at 3rd and Bloomfield.

The Hoboken Shelter relies on the generous support of many individuals to provide food, shelter, counseling, skill-building workshops, and creative expression classes to those who are homeless. You can learn more at hobokenshelter.org/items-needed.

We also wish to give thanks for our clients, without whom there would be no Erbach Communications Group.

Happy Thanksgiving.


October, 2013

25 years


Liz1. A Gift of Life

Our first of 25 Acts of Service to celebrate our 25th Anniversary comes in support of our fearless and (nearly) flawless production manager, Liz Pagan.

Liz has been with ECG in a variety of roles since 1996. A few years ago she read an article about organ donation in the New Yorker and thought, "that's something I could do."

That willingness was called into action when she learned someone she knew needed a new kidney. And even though her friend received a more compatible kidney from another source, Liz decided to go ahead and donate her kidney anyway so that someone else could receive the gift of life.

Tonight Liz will be honored by the Barnabas Health Renal and Pancreas Transplant Division for her "selfless gift of love and life."

It is an honor to work with Elizabeth Pagan every day and to make a donation to the the Renal and Pancreas Transplant Division of Barnabas Health'sDennis R. Fillipone, M.D. Living Donor Institute in her name.

To learn more click here

2. Caffe Sospeso 

Our second Act of Service may not save a life, but will probably rescue a good number of rocky mornings. In the Neapolitan tradition of caffe sospeso, one who has experienced good fortune pays in advance for another's coffee.

Dunkin Donuts Card

In celebration of our good fortune -- 25 years doing work we love for people we respect -- we are distributing 25 Dunkin Donuts gift cards. Our hope is that the recipient might enjoy a tasty morning cup o joe, then use some of the card balance to spring for another person's cup. Cheers!



September, 2013

Twenty-five years ago this week, I opened Erbach Communications Group in a 300-square-foot ground-floor office in Jersey City.

I remember waking up that first day and wondering what to wear. I had no meetings, no clients, no phone, no curtains -- and, truth be told, no idea what I was getting myself into.

BuOn that first day I recall a man who walked by my new office. He peered in through the bare windows. The previous tenant had left behind a 55-gallon drum of joint compound and an antique table, which I pulled together as a chair and desk. There I sat in my suit and tie typing away (what, I have no idea). The man just looked at me, shook his head, and kept walking.

I'm shaking my head now when I think of all that has happened over the ensuing years. Our different locations and different projects. Political campaigns. Corporate clients. Hospitals and colleges. You wouldn't believe some of the people who have sat at our green granite conference room table.

I think about the team we have now, a team that has been together for more than a decade. Our vice presidents, Kristen Kelly Volkland (client services) and Kathy Noyes (operations). Our extraordinary designers, Lynn Martin and Liz Pagan. And our creative gurus, Cindy Tavlin and Don Kilcoyne. Not to mention dozens of creative partners, writers and web programmers, videographers and photographers, who have contributed to thousands of projects through the years.

Who is luckier than me to work every day with such talented, caring and fun people?  

We've talked among ourselves about how to celebrate this 25th Anniversary... or perhaps more accurately, what to celebrate. And we find that we are mostly feeling grateful for the opportunity we have to work together for such good people.

We have had, and still have, incredible clients -- people and institutions dedicated to changing the world for the better. We are proud that we have been able to help them improve people's lives, whether through education in New Jersey or Nepal, health care in our neighborhood and our nation, social services for newborns and the neglected, and even spiritual growth of many different stripes.

The work has not always been easy, the budgets not always big, but along the way we know we have made a real difference for organizations that make a real difference. In a few instances, we have even been instrumental in helping schools and hospitals to stay open. We are proud of this work. This work matters to us.

So, inspired by our clients, we have chosen to perform 25 acts of service this year to celebrate our 25 years in business. We'll share some of these with you as our celebration unfolds.

It's just a small way for us to say thank you to our corner of the world -- to you -- for sustaining our lives and feeding our spirit.



August, 2013


Finding a Fresh Outlook

We all know that it's much easier to see what's happening in someone else's life than it is to see clearly what is happening in ours. This is true in business, too.

Once the leadership team of one of our clients came to us with what seemed an insurmountable challenge. They looked very worried. Their board of directors had mandated a significant increase in sales over the next five years.

When we asked what level of increase they would need each year to reach the five-year goal, they didn't know. They were so focused on the looming summit of the five-year climb they couldn't see the incremental steps that could get them there.

So we sat at the conference table and did the math together. We broke the goal down into achievable objectives and proposed some new strategies to attract the new business. When we were done they said, "Oh, we can do that!" Suddenly they were smiling.

Problems are made to be solved. If you think you could use a fresh perspective on your marketing challenges, let's talk. You might be surprised to learn the solution is easier than you think.
July, 2013


Bird 1

Our Bird's-eye View

Inside our office we are routinely working to meet a deadline. But on the other side of our floor-to-ceiling glass window is a unique reminder that much of the world moves at a less stressful pace.
Call it the ECG bird village.
Established by our Senior Art Director, Lynn Martin, these bird feeders attract a steady stream of birds. In the course of a day, robins, finches, sparrows, mockingbirds and many others all swoop in for food. 
No surprise. We are situated in the Meadowlands, which is a major stop along the Atlantic Flyway. More than 270 bird species have been reported here, most of them migrants who visit for just a few weeks or a few months.
We enjoy walking over to the window to watch our feathered friends. Or going outside to fill the feeder and hear their songs.
Every now and then we are also reminded of the power of standing out in a crowd. That happens when a cardinal stops by. It turns out that their shocking red feathers and yellow beak are designed by nature to attract attention. 
As we say in the advertising world, it works. 

Bird 2

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Power of Direct Messages

In preparation for his Trans-Antarctic expedition, Ernest Shackleton ran the following ad in a London newspaper:

"Men wanted for hazardous journey.
Small wages, bitter, cold, long months of complete darkness,
constant danger, safe return doubtful.
Honor and recognition in case of success."

5,000 people applied for the job.

Surprised? Actually the success of this ad isn't all that shocking when you consider that Shackleton followed three fundamental tenets of advertising - things you might want to think about when creating a marketing message for your company or non-profit organization:

1. Know your audience. Shackleton had a particular applicant in mind, and didn't care if the ad alienated the majority of job seekers.

Too often, organizations try to be "all things to all people," for fear of turning anyone off. The result? Ads that are too vague to capture anyone's attention. So if your institution is a small college make sure you say it. That message may be a negative for the prospect who has her heart set on the Big Ten (but she's not your customer no matter what you do). Speak directly and forcefully to the audience that wants a small school experience.

2. Focus on benefits, not features. Shackleton provided a few details, but the reason the ad works is that it speaks directly to the human desire for adventure. Many ads describe a product or service, but what are the benefits? A hospital ad for digital mammography considered talking about all the technical bells and whistles but in the end decided to focus on the new technology's central benefit - more accurate mammograms. That sent a powerful message to the target audience.

3. Be truthful. Shackleton didn't tiptoe around the danger. In fact, by highlighting the negatives he turned them into positives that resonated with the target audience.

In a world where we are daily bombarded with information, a direct message is the best way to get attention.  


Monday, April 2, 2012

Think Like Your Customers


This venn diagram about college websites from Russell Munroe, creator of the web comic xkcd, shows how easy it can be to lose sight of the needs of your target audience. On the one hand, you have web visitors who want to know some basic facts like location, a list of academic departments, and places to park. The institution, on the other hand, places a premium on virtual tours, news releases, and the campus slideshow.

The disconnect isn't exclusive to higher education. Very often, your perception of customer issues and priorities don't quite align with the real and existing priorities of the people you are trying to reach. To put the emphasis back on the customer, here are three questions we often ask:

1) Who exactly are your potential customers? 
2) What essential needs are they trying to fulfill? 
3) What factors matter most in their decision-making process? 

Thinking like your customers not only leads to better websites and advertising, but it is the foundation for building your brand.