Welcome to Kansas City

imagesWe’re a kind bunch here in Kansas City. As a people we are friendly, helpful, hardworking, and we treat everyone with a smile. It’s our Midwestern way. Especially when it comes to welcoming visitors to our town. When we see an out-of-towner, we go out of our way to make sure they know how to get to the Country Club Plaza, or to remind them they are actually in Missouri right now, and (of course) to assure them that the line that reaches outside the door at Oklahoma Joe’s won’t take too much longer … and, yes, it is worth it.

We roll out the welcome mats and greet them with open arms. Unless they are going too slow along Ward Parkway, or taking too long figuring out what to order at Gates Bar-B-Q. If that’s the case, all bets are off. They can go back to California. But that’s a whole other story.

When it comes to business, though, shouldn’t we show the same Midwestern hospitality? Imagine you are an established company – maybe from Austin or Houston, Boulder or Vancouver, Wash. – and you’ve picked Kansas City to expand your brand to the Midwest. Wouldn’t you want a friendly face waiting with open arms to show you the ins and outs of Kansas City? To describe the difference between folks from Parkville and Leawood? To explain the fact that parking really is a big deal to us?

At Trozzolo Communications Group, we’ve adopted this Midwestern hospitality as a charge for our “Community Team.” We are truly inspired when an out-of-town brand chooses Kansas City as its next place to do business.

We are constantly surprised when a new prospect or client comes to town and they haven’t heard of the Plaza Lights or the Plaza Art Fair, or they don’t quite know the difference between Missourians and Kansans. (Yes, we’re all the same. But not really. But sort of. But not really.) We’ve come to realize that these new-to-KC businesses need a local’s touch. A guide. A friend. A partner.

We believe it is our duty to welcome them with open arms, share our knowledge of Kansas City, and put that knowledge and our connections to work. To inform, engage and inspire Kansas Citians about new brands – from Chuy’s to Hotel Sorella to Papa Murphy’s to the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce – who choose Kansas City to share their message, their products and their new approaches to their craft.

The heartland is the melting pot of the United States. And Kansas City is at the center of it all. Please join us in welcoming not just visitors to our great city, but the permanent transplants, companies, and brands alike. So, what can we do to play our part in a way that could impact your business, while welcoming new companies and their people here? Here are three opportunities we can leverage:

  1. Be their community concierge. Show them the ropes of this city. Describe how consumers in Leawood may be different from consumers in the Northland. Heck, you may need to describe what the Northland is. Help them discover the unique areas of town – where business is done, who their neighbors are. Ask yourself, if I don’t share this information with them, who will?
  2. Connect them with a cause. Every company wants to do something good for the community. Help them navigate the waters of finding a charity to become involved with, a cause they can connect with and truly support. Kansas City has so many great organizations that need corporate sponsorship and involvement. When the right match is made, special things will happen.
  3. Help define their position in the community. Often times a business that is new to Kansas City may not fully realize the competitive landscape that awaits them here. We all know that competition can come from all angles, in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t have to be from another company. It can be misperceptions, or the dreaded “they’re from out of town” tag. Help them define themselves here in Kansas City. Don’t let the market or the competition do it for them.

Let’s help those who are new to our great city add something great to our community. Let’s roll out that welcome mat. Shine up that smile and say it like you mean it with the words, “Welcome to Kansas City.”

Josh Brewster, Account Group Vice President

 

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Avoiding the Dreaded Rejection Letter

Sarah Davis

Sarah Davis

Let us begin by saying thank you for your interest in Trozzolo. We know that our application is not for the faint of heart so the fact that so many of you have already applied or are thinking about applying really means something to us.

The No. 1 question we get asked by potential interns is, “How do I break through the clutter?” To shed some light on this age-old question, we wanted to take this opportunity to teach you about our process. Perhaps this will help a few of you get our or another agency’s attention.

To be 100 percent honest, we look for reasons to put you in the “no” pile. Not because we feel like it or because we are mean, but because we want to spend our time focused on the candidates who might have what we are looking for. There are five rounds to our process.

Round 1 – We skim your résumé for the following:
- Spelled Trozzolo right.
- Free of typos.
- Submitted a complete application.
- Addressed the application to the correct company.
- If there is an objective listed, it mentions something our company does.

I know that more than one of you reading this is saying “Well, duh!,” but you would be surprised how many people get knocked out of the running in round one.

Round 2 – We look more thoroughly at what is listed on your résumé and skim your brand essay. We look for the following:
- What year you are in school.
- Previous internships.
- Involvement in school and community.
- If you are a designer, we look at your portfolio.
- Brand essay is clear of typos and has original thoughts.

We want the best and brightest; therefore, past experience, involvement and your ability to articulate who you are matter. Those who have all three move on to the next round.

Round 3 – We do a detailed review of résumé, portfolio and essay. This is where we get really super-duper picky. This is where we decide who gets an interview and who gets thrown into the “no” pile.

We pit résumés and portfolios against each other. We ask, who has the experience or design aesthetic we are looking for? Who has the talent that would be a good fit for our agency?

We read the brand essays again – and in more detail. What essay grabbed us and left us wanting more?

Oh and then we stalk you on social media … you knew that was coming!

The people we select to interview have the following:
- Experience via internships or school activities that match what we do.
- A brand essay that showed personality, spunk and creativity. Hint on this: Not one of the interns we selected last year said they were Google, Apple or Nike. That is a tad too cliché.

Round 4 – The interviews. We look for candidates who:
- Have a personality that matches or clicks with ours.
- Are self-starters who are hardworking and hungry.
- Answer the tough questions with ease.
- Have questions for us.
- Do their homework on Trozzolo.
- Bring their “A” game to the interview.

The interviews are, as we say, “where the rubber meets the road.” We want to make sure you are not just great on paper. Those who come in eager to learn about the company and show us how they could fit in here are the ones that get to the selection process.

A few no-nos to touch on quickly –
- Don’t leave your cellphone on. In fact, don’t bring it in!
- Don’t come unprepared. Please bring in your résumé and work samples.
- Don’t say you want to work in an industry that we don’t touch on.
- Don’t forget to follow up!

Round 5 – The selection.

From there we pick our top three, run the portfolios and résumés by the management team and then make the offers.

Please use this advice as an opportunity to review your materials and approach. You might notice a typo or rethink your interview strategy. It will make you better … and you will have a better chance at getting that internship or job you are pursuing.

And know this, for several of you, there will be nothing wrong with what you submit or your interview. Someone was just a better fit. Keep trying!

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Care Enough to Get It Right

Lisa Phillips

Imagine a company called Acme Optical & Eyecare (I know it’s redundant; work with me here!), founded by Jon Kelley and Michele Hofmann. And you offer services you think could benefit Acme, so you reach out to them in hopes of doing business together. You decide to write them a letter and explain the many benefits both companies can reap in such a fruitful relationship. You begin by addressing the letter:

Acme Opticians and Eye Care

John Kelly and Michelle Hoffman

Dear whoever you are:

Blah, blah, blah, just another sales pitch, blah, blah.

Insincerely,
Who Cares

That’s how the letter will likely read after noticing the sender didn’t even bother referring to the company website to check the names. Jon and Michele put their blood, sweat and tears into building their business, and they deserve the respect of having their names and the company’s name spelled right.

How many items do you think Procter & Gamble receives each day addressed to Proctor & Gamble? I’ll bet those letters and direct mail pieces don’t receive the same attention as letters whose senders cared enough to get it right. Résumés with errors like that are destined for only one place: the trash.

Thanks to the Internet, the world is our oyster. Do your homework before reaching out. The company website and LinkedIn are great resources and will likely have the correct information. But beware of other sources that come up in search results; there’s always a chance they got it wrong. If you’re unsure, just pick up the phone and call. They will appreciate the extra commitment to detail.

And getting it right goes beyond just spelling names correctly. Is it Eyecare, Eye Care, or EyeCare? Is it ‘&’ or ‘and’? Check carefully, and make sure it’s consistent throughout your communications. If you’re using industry-specific terms, do some research and make sure they’re spelled correctly and used correctly.

Read up on the company, too. Perhaps in 2012 WeMakeStuff Manufacturing, Inc. changed its name to WeMakeStuff Industries. Mail items addressed to the old company name could give the impression that they’re just another company on a long, outdated mass mailer list.

Cliché or not, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Show that you care enough to get it right. And once you’ve gotten it right, keep getting it right. Your client will likely not be impressed if you create a brochure for them that reads Acme EyeCare, when their name is actually Acme Eyecare; or acmeeyecare.com, when their Web address is acmeeyecare.org. These little errors might make an impression, but probably not the one you were going for. Attention to detail creates a good first impression, and diligence in the details will make it a positive, long-lasting one. The motto for a happy ongoing client relationship: Get it right; keep it right!

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Don’t just tell ‘em – understand ‘em.

Shawna Samuel

Shawna Samuel

The account service team at Trozzolo is always sharing cool things we see – ads that work, videos that make an impact, strategic ideas that are different. Jeff Madden recently sent me the P&G “Thank You, Mom” television spot running during the Olympics. It represents a number of their consumer brands that are purchased by moms – a powerful buying group.

This campaign is a perfect example of what we tell our clients – that it’s more important for a brand to establish a place and meaning in its target audience’s hearts and minds than “just telling them” about products, services and features.

Today, there’s clutter and distraction – beyond a brand’s obvious competition. Because of the 24/7 access to news and social media, marketers are trying to find creative ways to break through the clutter, which, in turn, only adds more clutter.

People crave simplicity. They want to be able to make a clear choice. Establishing a “feeling” leads to a subconscious loyalty about a brand that ultimately leads to more buying.

Research shows that two-thirds of Gen C agree that “if there is a brand I love, I tend to tell everyone about it.” And, 90 percent of Gen C are content creators, increasing the odds a spot like this will go viral, the ultimate home run. Gen C is a powerful force marketers need to pay attention to. More than an age group, Gen Cs care deeply about community, connection, creativity and curating content.

“Thank You, Mom” says “we get you, we’re in it with you. We’re here to make your life easier because you are pretty terrific and important.” It doesn’t push a product, or highlight its own features and benefits. It doesn’t “just tell them.” And, it’s in context – everyone will be talking about the Olympics, so this spot rides on the coattails of where our minds will be anyway.

One of the reasons brands fail is their “feature-centric” approach. Instead of just telling them, make your communication about them, and where they are and what they want.

— Shawna Samuel, Senior Vice President/Account Group Director

Source for statistics: *Ipsos MediaCT YouTube Audience Study, June-August 2013 and TNS Australia Pty Ltd YouTube Audience Study 2012-2013.

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Think Arial is the best option for the website? That’s so 2010.

Marie Baldwin

Marie Baldwin

That’s right, you heard me. Gone are the days when online fonts were limited to the sad standards available on both PCs and Macs. The likes of 2014 is finally filled with endless options in the proverbial font “clouds.” There are great free options, like Google Web Fonts and Adobe Edge, or you can spring for a subscription-based plan like Typekit, WebINK or Fontdeck. Even print resources like myFonts.com has Web-usable options when shopping for desktop fonts. Whatever your poison, you’re sure to find a resource available to outfit your website and bring it into twenty-fourteen.

Choosing fonts, however, should be left to the professionals. Let’s be honest, unless you can define words like ascender, sans serif, tracking, slab and x-height, you should probably leave it to your design team. So on that note, here are a few tips for the designers geeking out over the options:

  1. Easy access – Can you download the font and test it? If trying something new, especially for paragraph text, it’s always best to try before you buy. SkyFonts has a new Web interface that allows you test for free and only pay for what you use. Google also allows free downloads.
  2. Cross-dressing – Once you’ve committed to using a Web font, make sure you test the site cross-browser and cross-platform before going live. Certain fonts, browsers, etc. can vary in small details like letter spacing and leading. Once you finally see actual content, it may change your opinion of the application. Typekit has a great Browser Samples tab that allows you to see how different browsers and platforms will render the font.
  3. Getting loaded – In print, large families can be really great. They provide variety and contrast while keeping things consistent. When committing to a Web font, less is more. Even though it’s great that you have a light, regular, medium, semibold, bold and black, undoubtedly it will slow down your load time. So, before asking the developer to add all 15 options to the site, make sure you actually need them, which you won’t. So back off the options, Bro. Two to four options are about as crazy as you should get – and with some fonts, that’s too many. Google Web Fonts has a great meter for load times when selecting fonts from a family to use.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use five fonts; it means using five fonts with three variants each equals crazy town.

Working with your developer is key. After all, they won’t see the leading change from 13px to 30px, and that’s cool, but on that note, a few tips for developers:

  1. Expect surprises – Be communicative about variances in spacing. If a 30-pixel header requires a lot of negative margins or special aligning, let the designer know. Also, expect to make some manual adjustments to line height and margins for odd spacing allowances.
  2. Backup plans – If you aren’t in the habit of asking what the client’s primary platform and browser are, you should be. It just makes everyone’s life a little easier. Several times, I’ve run into a well-designed Web piece only to find out @font-face won’t work among other CSS3 tags. You’ve been there; I don’t need to harp on this. So, when using Web fonts, always consider a backup plan and font. Consider links, imports and scripts as options.
  3. Get chatty – Be open to working with your designer. When designers know how the Web works and you understand the need for clear form and function, magic happens. Open dialogue will streamline Web design processes and enable the most efficient use of time, budget and technology. This also ensures all roads lead to happy developers, happy designers and, above all, happy clients.

– Marie Baldwin, Digital Designer

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Company Bios: A fine line, every time.

Scott Watson

Scott Watson

Writing employee biographies can be tedious, time-consuming and redundant. Use these tips on effective bio writing to keep yours from sounding like a book of tall tales, and give clients what they want – a directory of real people with real skills, eager to help.

Short and sweet.

There’s nothing more annoying than reading the same sentence with different words. Getting to the end and realizing it’s just a reworded mirror of the sentence before is frustrating. The only thing more maddening is a whole paragraph of these repetitions.

If you’re still with me, you get the point.

If experience is available, use it. Use employment history and tie like themes together, showing patterns of growth and specialization. When there’s no history to speak of, talk about what they do have: skill and drive.

Show, don’t tell.

Nothing discredits a bio faster than exaggerated claims. Words like ‘best’ and ‘genius’ are as convincing as a heal-all elixir sold from the trunk of an Altima.

Experience speaks for itself. Too many adjectives or exaggerations make a bio start smelling … bad. If you can’t talk about prior experiences, explain what it was about them that won you over. And describe their role at your company.

Be friendly.

A friendly, casual tone is sometimes mistaken for a lack of professionalism. But at its best, a casual tone enhances understanding, increases relatability and gushes confidence. Still, many professional industries are filled with technical jargon and mistakenly use it to qualify effective communication.

No one wants to read something that sounds like an instruction manual, and no one wants to be sold to. People want to be given plain truths, then left alone to make their own decision. So be straightforward and say what you mean in layman’s terms. As famed advertising guru Luke Sullivan once said, “If content is king, conversation is queen.”

Proofread again.

Nothing says minor leagues like fundamental errors. Typos and poor writing scream amateur. Make sure whatever you’re putting up for the world to see is accurate, clear and polished. And don’t be afraid to speak in fragmented sentences. But do it smartly.

Have the bio fact-checked by the person it’s written about. Then have it proofread – by someone other than the writer. Edit equally for grammar and readability. If one person finds a line confusing, someone else will too. Make the edits. Then proofread it again.

Put in time.

Writing a bio always takes more time than you’d think it should. And that’s okay. If it’s written in 30 minutes, it will sound like it. Try combining different phrases with new ideas until you hit that sweet spot where conversation reflects content, and you’ve painted an accurate picture of this person and the value of their work.

The secret to writing great employee bios is to be thorough without exaggerating. Professional, yet casual. And informative. Not dry. It may sound like a small target to hit, but give it a shot. Start with basic ideas, then simplify and edit, edit, edit until you get it there.

— Scott Watson, copywriter

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Growth. It’s Waiting For You.

1017245_10200158862802882_1570696406_nThis summer, you’re going to be seeing (and hearing from) us a bit more. We’re spreading a message: We believe that business growth is often hidden in plain view … just waiting. You’re not alone. Some of the most successful brands in the marketplace – including yours – may just need a little nudge to get growing.

We’re excited for you to hear our message. It’s not often that you see a marketing agency creating a campaign and promoting itself. We’re the ones behind the camera, behind the message on the billboard and the voice on the radio, right? Well, not this summer. We’re doing this because we know there are many significant companies in Kansas City that may just need a little nudge. We want to get them thinking about their next move and how they can get growing.

After all, it’s always fun to see your name on a billboard, hear it on the radio or see it on TV. Who doesn’t love that? We’ll also be sharing our campaign messages via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more this summer. Check out our TV spot here. Let us know what you think.

And, remember, your growth – business growth – is waiting on you. Take the next step.

Angelo Trozzolo, President

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