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Meet our summer interns image

Alec Schlitt is a recent graduate from Grand Valley State University with a degree in marketing. He enjoys photography and investing in his own creativity. He is excited to share his passion and creativity, to learn, grow and be part of the SMZ team. Krystal Robinson recently graduated from the Mike Illitch School of Business at Wayne State University. During her time there she was involved in the WSU Chapter of the American Advertising Federation, of which she was the president. She enjoys dancing and going to Cedar Point when she is not working. Daman Nallamothu will begin his junior year at Michigan State University in the fall. His major is advertising: management and media. In addition to his studies, ...

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She always talks back. image

I remember a teacher in 10th grade who used to reprimand the student next to me, “don’t talk back.” Of course, then he talked back. I wonder did that guy (who always wore his varsity letter jacket regardless of the temperature) go on to help invent Siri or Alexa? Anyhow, we welcomed Alexa into our home recently. Say her name correctly and she always talks back. I’m fascinated with how far the voice recognition ability of iOt has come. My car has what was state-of-the-art nav seven years ago. Today that car turns my saying “Grand Rapids” into something unrecognizable. On my iPhone I purposely mispronounce my sister’s names to get Siri to call the right number. Alexa worked perfectly ...

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It’s Important to Daydream – and other advertising career advice from SMZ Associate Creative Director Victor Spieles image

What did you want to be when you grew up? “World’s Ace Partyer” or “Helicopter Pilot” according to a paragraph I wrote in the sixth grade. (And yes “Partyer” is how I spelled it. It was circled and called out by the teacher.) In high school I wanted to have a syndicated comic strip like “The Far Side,” or “Calvin and Hobbes.” In college I wanted to be an animator on Disney Films or TV cartoons, but I learned it’s really tough business. Not for those looking for steady, long-term employment. So instead I studied illustration, advertising and graphic design. What’s a typical day like for you—what takes up big chunks of your time? There is no typical day in ...

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Work less. Get more done. image

I know, I know. Sometimes in this business, we have to put in marathon days and nights to meet a deadline or prepare for a pitch. Weekends included. I’ve always felt for the rest of the time, I do a pretty good job of getting my work done in the hours allotted and shutting it down when I walk out the doors. But not everyone can shift gears as easily. “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” — William Penn This great article features some tips on how to balance working efficiently, getting more done and keeping your weekends for yourself. Here’s my mini version: Disconnect. Remove yourself electronically from Friday eve through Monday morn. If that’s ...

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Community Choice Credit Union Wins Again at the 2017 CUNA Marketing Awards image

Community Choice Marketing Team SMZ and our Community Choice Credit Union client were awarded once again at this year’s Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Marketing and Business Development Council’s annual meeting in San Antonio, TX March 29-April 1. Community Choice won a Category Best for their Let’s Find Your Fit campaign radio, which was a natural progression from the award-winning We Found Your Shirt campaign. With over 1,100 collective advertising category entries this year, it’s great to be recognized for the work and effort on this brand. SMZ has worked with Community Choice for four years, continuously helping to build and evolve the brand beyond just another credit union. We couldn’t ask for a better client partner and can’t wait ...

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Long Live Sushi. image

I enjoy sushi. Part of the experience is the dip into soy sauce. Recently I read an article about Kikkoman Soy Sauce that fused that flavoring with my interest in generational family businesses. Kikkoman’s origins trace back to the 17th century. The product moved from a local brand to a national brand (in Japan) in 1917 and to overseas production in 1973. In the modern business world, longevity is increasingly rare. Companies are dying younger, but are also more prone to collapse at any given time. According to a Boston Consulting Group report, “one-tenth of all public companies fail each year, a fourfold increase since 1965.” There are, however, exceptions to these statistics: world-wide, there are 967 businesses founded prior ...

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It’s in the mail … box image

A May 2016 article in Entrepreneur identified that large and small businesses are recommitting to direct mail as they discover that the pendulum may have swung too far in the digital-only direction. Shaun Buck The Newsletter Pro points out an example: Costco sends 8.6 million magazines/catalogs per month — the third largest monthly publication in the world. The average member who receives Costco Connection has a household income of $156,000 annually, and 56 percent of members who receive the monthly magazine buy something based off of what they read in it. Costco considered discontinuing the print version of the magazine, but found that their members preferred it to the digital edition. Ginnie M. Roeglin, Senior VP of Costco’s e-commerce and publishing, ...

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Why does it matter which pen? image

My top desk drawer is full of the usual: paper clips, change, post-it notes, keys to who knows what, a bag of jump drives filled with who knows what, and pens. Pens of all shapes, sizes, and colors. What is it that makes some mornings scream for jotting things with a Sharpie while other moments call for a precise point? Then it hit me the other morning at the dentist: tools. The hygienist kept pulling different implements off the tray to scrape my teeth. From my up-close, open-mouthed POV some were fine point and some thicker. Some were shiny metal and others more matte. All worked to make something rough much more smooth. When I got back to my office ...

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Experience Matters. image

Late last year I tried a couple of Yoga Basics classes. I certainly see the appeal and have much to learn. In other words, I suck but I’m not giving up. At one class a much older gentleman was doing yoga. He was more fluid than me, had a definite spring in his step, and I gather an active mind. After the class (because during class you are encouraged to stay in the moment) I began thinking about the parallels to how older companies stay young. They try things. They work on being flexible. They know who they are. Sometimes they hang out with the cool kids. Other times with seasoned veterans. They repeat an activity over a long period ...

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Ways to make conversations with anyone easier image

Some of us are natural conversationalists. For others, not so much. But there are times when we meet someone we know can be a valuable business asset or customer. Here are a few good conversation starters … Do you know … Mutual acquaintances help people think of you as familiar and part of their work or social circle. A shared experience. Are you from the same town? Go to the same school? Have a common hobby? This is always a good way to get someone talking. Compliment them. “Great shirt.” “I love that handbag.” Appreciate their taste. But remember, comments on physical appearances are off limits. And never overdo it. Note something pleasant. “This is a great venue.” Starting a ...

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