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Expecting a Transition? MJM’s Account Team Helps You Avoid the Pitfalls

Change is inevitable. Key leaders will retire or move on. New locations will be opened or a smaller business will be acquired. Technology will improve your operations, but disrupt your workflow for a season. No business, including yours, is immune to these and many other changes.

MJM’s account team has helped navigate all manner of business transitions for clients. Here’s their advice for handling change well.


Abby Rogers

Abby Rogers

Communicate change from the inside out. Start internally with those most vested in the organization and work your way out. Once everyone on your team knows, move on to your referral networks and vendors. Announcing your news to the public should be your last step.


Justin Mootz

Justin Mootz

It’s tempting to skip it, but a basic communication plan complete with a tentative timeline is a must before announcing any change. The process of drafting the plan will bring up logistics you may not have anticipated. It also provides a reference so that everyone tells the same story consistently and confidently. You can’t take back your words and a communication plan will help you get them right the first time.


Bobbi Trumbull

Acquiring another business is a common transition, and it’s wise to acknowledge that, while your ultimate goal is one unified team, the business you’re acquiring comes with an already-established culture. You can move the needle, but don’t expect to do it overnight.


Courtney Davidson

Courtney Davidson

You’ve likely had the benefit of months of research and time to get used to what you’re planning to roll out, but your team will need time to get used to your proposed changes. Be patient and receive their pushback graciously. Teams tend to come together once they’ve had time to get used to the changes.

Q&A: Giving Great Feedback on Creative Work

There’s a mock-up of an event invitation in your inbox.

Can you give feedback? your co-worker asked. 

You’d love to, but everyone knows that good feedback is more than chiming in with your two cents. It’s thoughtful and keeps both your organization and your audience in mind. Plus, your thoughts have to be communicated to the designer.

How do you accomplish all that without taking up your whole day?

The next time you’re asked to offer feedback, use these tips from MJM’s Abby Rogers. She’s worked on both sides of graphic design — first as a designer and now as an account executive —, making her the perfect teacher to help you evaluate mock-ups. She answers the questions we all ask when the invitation (or brochure or digital ad) lands in our inbox.  

What should we look for first?

A focal point and a hierarchy throughout. There has to be someplace for your eye to focus first and travel a logical path. Varying sizes and thicknesses also help give visual cues for where to start so you get the story in the right order. 

To test this, pay close attention to where your eye goes first, second, third. Something’s wrong if what you’re drawn to most is the disclaimer at the bottom.

Anything else?

Even when it seems obvious, there should always be a clear call to action. Tell readers what you want them to do next — call, sign-up, RSVP — and make sure you’ve given them the tools to do it. 

What shouldn’t be there?

Chaos. Thick headings, italics, bold, intricate graphic elements — it’s too much all at once. Good design should feature only a handful of elements. 

Large blocks of text also should be checked carefully. They aren’t likely to be read, and harsh as it may sound, can contain details that only matter to you and not to your reader. Trim whenever possible. 

How do you keep the end product in mind?

As much as possible, assess mock-ups in their final format. If it’s digital, view it on your phone and computer screen. If it’s paper, print it out, cut it to size, and fold it as needed. For print projects, consider if your audience will be impressed or annoyed by complicated folds or fasteners.

That’s not to say things can’t be fun and artistic, but make sure it carries the main message and is the best method for those who will receive it. 

Repetition can be a good thing. What’s worth repeating?

I’d say the benefits and the call to action. The rest can be on your landing page or in a brochure. 

What common mistakes do you see?

Typos! You can spend a ton of time on an awesome piece, but if there’s a typo, the only thing that’s remembered is what was wrong. You can’t proofread too much.

What’s one thing we need to be reminded of?

White space is your friend! It keeps your reader from getting overwhelmed. Leaving white space doesn’t mean you haven’t spent your money well. It means you’ve been considerate of your audience.

Anything else?

Two things. Look for brand consistency. It’s tempting to introduce new colors and images, but, even though you’re sometimes worn out on your palette, your audience doesn’t see it often enough to get tired of it. Your brand is like a capsule wardrobe; its pieces are designed to look nice together.

Second, your logo doesn’t always have to be the main, hero image. Sometimes you need another hook to peak a reader’s interest.

Know someone who will use these tips? Share this post!

Scouting the Competition? You Should

Imagine you’re camping for the weekend. You’ve hiked and cooked over an open fire and now it’s time to settle into your tent for the night. You kick off your shoes and climb through the zippered opening, and as you do, you realize you’ve left your toothbrush in the car. Slipping back into your shoes for the hike to the car, you reach for a flashlight.

To borrow grade school language arts, that flashlight is to your hike what scouting the competition is to your business. It sheds light on the landscape and provides important clues for your success and survival.

It can be scary to click on the light (what if there’s a bear nearby?), but it could be even scarier not to (what if there’s time to escape?). Having all the information always leads to better decisions, and that’s never more true than when it comes to scouting your business’s competition.

Knowing what your competition is up to can:

  1. Give benchmarks. Sticking with our analogy, there’s no need to stumble around in the dark. Not sure where to set your price? Check your competitors. Wondering how to structure your offer? Check your competitors. Thinking of sending emails but not sure how often? Check your… well, you know what to do. Gathering data from the field gives perspective, takes minimal time, and saves you the anxiety of guessing.
  2. Push you to do better. Comparing your business only to itself cheats it out of the healthy pressure sparked by competition. It isn’t uncommon for CEOs to cite competition as the reason for their greatest periods of growth. To stay ahead, they had to strive for top notch customer service, products, and business operations and were better for it. Keeping tabs on the competition means keeping away from a complacent mindset.
  3. Help avoid pitfalls. While checking in on a competitor, let’s say you notice two social media posts — one that received lots of attention and one that, even though it advertised a sale, didn’t get a single like. It doesn’t take long to see why (there’s too much text on the sale post), and you’ve just gleaned valuable information that will help your own social media campaigns. Scanning Google for reviews will often yield similar results as customers air their unfiltered opinions about what pleased or displeased them. Put the detailed information they share to good use on your own customers.
  4. Hone your strategy. Deciding how to stretch precious marketing dollars can feel like roulette, but evaluating where your competitors are spending theirs can provide clarity. If one of your competitors is dominating billboards, do you go head-to-head or spend your budget elsewhere in order to own another space instead? How are others using social media and what can you do to stand out on those platforms? That kind of research and the discussion it sparks can lead to big payoffs.

The moral of the story? Avoid bears, but not competition. Having competitors means there’s a market for what you offer and that’s a good thing. Regularly taking stock of what others are doing reaps benefits for your business, your industry, and most of all, your customers.

Need help identifying your competitors and ways to outperform them? Here are some steps to get you started. Need more assistance or just want to chat? We’d love to. Contact us today.