Category Archives: Our thinking

Get Inspired

Working in the creative industry can be very stressful. There are deadlines, long meetings, endless e-mails, pressure to be unique and original, and that can lead to creative block. You know the feeling—you’ve done that before, you’ve seen that design in a million different places, that color palette leaves you feeling blah.

It feels impossible to get those creative juices running, so what can you do to find that spark again? Here’s my top three ways to get inspired.

Looking at others’ work is a great way to get inspired. The Internet makes it so easy to find great stuff. Some of my favorite sites to browse are Lovely Package, From Up North, and Pinterest (it’s not just for baking, folks.) Get motivated by seeing what other designers are doing, and figure out how you can make it better.

Take Breaks
I have a tendency to sit at my desk and pick at a project until I think it looks right. In that process I don’t really accomplish anything, and I just get more frustrated in the process. Instead of stressing out, and getting wrinkles—take breaks. Go for a walk, sit outside, grab some coffee. Take time to refresh your creative process.

Music is one of my favorite ways to get motivated. Sometimes all you need is a good beat to get moving. Use Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, etc. and find a playlist that speaks to you to help you create work that you’re excited about.

There are lots of other ways to get your creative juices flowing, but these methods have always helped me get over my creative hurdles.

Drip Marketing

Long gone are the days where a simple print run in the local daily newspaper will get the phone to ring. The old adage: The first exposure to a consumer is to familiarize them with your company, the second exposure is to get them to recall your company, and the third is to get them to respond.

Unfortunately, the formula isn’t even that simple anymore. Both in training and in practice, marketers rely on the marketing mix, getting the right blend of attention-getting creative into the right media channels to drive consumer action. It’s not just marketing speak, it truly is what will trigger conversions.

Drip Marketing is the process of building consumer touchpoints that a customer receives on a strategic timeline. For example, they may first receive a direct mailer from you (to familiarize) followed closely by an email blast with relatively the same information (to recall). But what is the right blend of scheduling a reminder system that won’t annoy your consumer and possibly cause them to…GASP!…unsubscribe from your contact list?

Here are my two pieces of advice: start conservatively and test. While you don’t want to just throw the ball in their court and expect them to convert, you also don’t want to hit them with five reminders. That will surely get them to hit that “Unsubscribe” button. Create a campaign that includes several different kinds of media rather than only a series of emails or direct mail. Utilize paid search ads to bring the item they viewed on your website or an upcoming deadline back to the front of their mind. Drip with a followup phone call from a sales rep if your development team can take that on. Just make sure you test your strategy. Carefully note your benchmarks of your retail funnel when you start your drip campaign and make sure that as you do get more targeted to your potential sales pool, that you are also not forcing people out by messaging or fatigue.

The downside of drip marketing is that the whole channel is hard to measure. Most media sources are becoming more and more trackable by online click through rates or impressions, but for the foreseeable future, there are some inherently untrackable channels. Billboard performance, for example, can be guesstimated through monitoring web traffic or phone calls while the board is up (based on the Call to Action used) but really, for entire campaigns, it will need to be judged as whole and how it affected your company’s intake of interest.

Branding, Strategy and Design for the AEC Industry

The value of rebranding — it’s not about the logo

The AEC industry has changed drastically since many firms were formed. If your firm wants to remain relevant, it’s time to re-evaluate your brand to make sure that it’s clearly reflecting your grand vision (you do have one don’t you?), brand personality, core values and purpose. Many established firms that come to us (over 20 AEC firms to date) are looking to refresh their identity or their website or {fill in the blank} without an integrated approach. Unfortunately this doesn’t always achieve the desired result. Your brand is so much more than just a tactic.

Probably one of the most significant outcomes of our branding process is the clarity and focus that it generates for your leadership team. It has a rejuvenating effect on the entire company—a renewed sense of purpose that goes deeper than some cheap marketing gimmick or incentive ever could.

The top 5 benefits of rebranding

  1. You will have a platform to establish a leadership position in your category and more importantly create alignment inside your company. It’s another chance to get things right.
  2. Your vision, purpose and core values get reflected into your new brand identity creating a sense of pride within your company.
  3. You will attract the right talent to your company and more importantly, make it easier to finally release those people that you know should have released long ago.
  4. You get exciting new graphics that rejuvenate your proposals, business cards, signage, shirts, trucks, website, etc.
  5. You get a brand standards guide to make sure your brand is consistent across all forms of communication – a key ingredient to managing a strong brand.

Tripp Co. Creative Introduces Certified Zombie Marketing Specialist (CZMS) Certification

St. Louis, MO & Collinsville, IL —Tripp Co. Creative – the fastest growing creative and marketing services firm in the Metro St. Louis Area – has made it their mission to help businesses plan for what looks like will be the biggest change in society since the extinction of the Twinkie.  This change is going to be crucial to every company’s bottom line.  As of June 20th, 2013 Zombie’s will be a part of our world and they will need to be represented in every marketing plan and mix.  How is this possible you ask?  Well, that’s where Tripp Co., premier leader of the successful Brain Biter Marketing Association (BBMA) has stepped in by offering Certified Zombie Marketing Specialist (CZMS) Certification and Survival Kits.

Recognizing the need for yet another marketing certification and the desire of so many marketing pros to add cute little initials behind the name line on their business cards, Tripp Co. has made sure to create a certification to prove the pros are ready for the living-impaired.

Marketing professionals can log on to to meet the Tripp Co. Zombie Crew, receive exclusive tips on Zombie Marketing, take the Marketing Quiz and become a Certified Zombie Marketing Specialist. They can also purchase their own CZMS Survival Kit! The kit includes: Target Markets, Lethal Marketing Tactics, and a handy-dandy Survival Guide.  With their certification and Tripp Co. Creative’s creative expertise, together they can knock these zombies dead with lethal marketing tactics in 2013.

WARNING:  Tripp Co. Creative’s arsenal – including collateral design, web design, branding and identity, advertising, interactive campaigns, social media and marketing, has been know to receive “Bieber Fever” type reactions in Zombies.  Tripp Co Creative, Inc. is not responsible for any Zombie related bites, scratches, or groping.  In the event that an injury does occur please seek medical attention immediately.

Tripp Co. Creative is a creative service, marketing and advertising firm located just outside of the St. Louis metropolitan area. From brand identity to web design, Tripp Co. Creative is capable of handling any and all creative and marketing needs for clients. For more information, please visit our website at

Bargain bin or custom fit?

Let’s just imagine for a moment that you are a man (maybe you are) and you are buying a suit. This “outfit” is going to represent who you are and tell the world that you are successful at what you do. You walk into the store and spot the perfect suit. Maybe it has a slight pinstripe or perhaps you go for the classic charcoal gray. The sales person approaches and says, “Sure, those are nice. We could tailor that to your unique needs and your suit will be exactly what you want, but let me show you these suits over here.” The sales person walks you to the back of the store where there are several identical black suits hanging loosely on wire hangers. He continues, “They are pretty close to what you want and the material is inferior. Oh, and the fit may be a little off in places, but look at the price. I can get you into this suit here for 1/3 of the cost of the good suit.”

A lot of businesses have been considering the cheap route lately (templates) when it comes to print and web projects. On many levels, we get it. We haven’t been in a booming economy and we all need to be better stewards of our marketing dollars.

It’s an overall unfortunate situation, really, because those who go the template route are missing a really great opportunity. This is your chance to get ahead. While everyone else is settling for a template, you can bust out with custom built materials. There’s truly no better way to get your customers’ attention.

Having a brand created just for feels exactly the same as getting that suit tailored. Was your business card created custom? If so, you know you won’t see another one like it in the whole world. It truly represents you, because it was built for you. We may have actually done the design work on your custom pieces, but it’s your voice behind every syllable, behind every pixel, and behind every backend function. It’s truly unique.

One thing we have learned here at Tripp Co. Creative; there’s no better way to build a relationship with customers than by being yourself. When your customers see how much you care about your own business and reputation, they’re receiving a very strong message about how you’ll care for their business and reputation. When actions speak louder than words, custom is the only way to go.

Scared of Commitment?

Goin’ Courtin’

Many times we walk into a potential or current client’s office and just sit down and chat. We like to keep it casual… that’s how we roll. Lately, we have been discovering that many companies have put off marketing themselves during the “Great Recession” and are now in dire need of many tactics.

Inevitably, the conversation turns to budget and we see the client’s eyes fill with fear and little flaming dollar signs. Then comes the question, “How much is this going to cost me?” We calmly explain options and, when their needs are extensive, bring up the concept of implementing a retainer. Then, like in that Julia Roberts bride movie, they are putting on their sneakers and high-tailing it out of there.

Retainers shouldn’t be scary

Let us explain how our retainers work and you’ll see there isn’t much to be phobic about. We use retainers as a way to help businesses be able to attain all of the projects they need done without a large outlaying of cash up front. We like to call it “interest-free financing.”

Most of our retainers run 12 – 18 months (Not bad right? You’ve probably had most of your underwear longer than that). To determine a retainer amount, we will propose on all the projects needing to be done using our standard formula – which consists of figuring up total labor hours and multiplying by our hourly rate for the work being performed (here’s a secret… most agencies do it the same way). Then we look at the percentage of time that would need to go towards administrative work…billing, account coordination, time tracking, etc … and subtract that figure from our à la carte total. We then take that discounted rate and evenly split it over the length of the retainer.

Easy Cheesy! So now the client can get all of the projects they need done without severely impacting cash flow.

So how much should you expect to pay?

Well, that depends on the amount of work needed. Let’s say needs are extensive – rebranding, sales collateral, website, the works. You can usually expect to pay the annual salary cost for an entry- to mid-level marketing person. Now you may be asking, “Then why not just hire another marketing person or even a designer?” You could, but the chances of finding someone that can do it all – strategy, design, coding, etc. – are minute at best. By hiring a firm, you get a team of experts tackling your challenges. Additionally, while you may pay close to an annual salary for our services, you don’t have to provide benefits, training, equipment, etc., thus saving you money in the long run.

Drupal vs. WordPress


Just to be clear, the purpose of this post is to explain why we feel a Drupal-based website has advantages over WordPress for many larger web sites we design and develop . Don’t get us wrong. We use WordPress for many sites (in fact you are on one right now) that don’t require advanced functionality and are truly just meant as an electronic brochure. In fact, we agree that WordPress has a much more user friendly interface than Drupal does when it comes out of the box. The difference comes in with our ability to customize the experience for you…

With WordPress, what you get is what you get. The interface is the same for all users and is in no way customized to how your company works. Think of it as a prefab house. You go to the builder, pick out your house and any customization to the plan is all superficial and not structural. If you want to drastically change the house later on to fit your lifestyle and growth, an addition will be required. In WordPress, any customization to the CMS’ capabilities are handled by plug-ins. In many instances, you will need several plug-ins to perform advanced features needed for your site. These plug-ins are maintained, for the most part, by a community of developers. However there is no guarantee that each developer will continue to support their plug-in. So, it is very possible that a plug-in could have to be replaced in order to work with the latest release of WordPress software.

Drupal is less of an out-of-the box solution and more of a custom designed and built home. The user experience will be tailored to your needs and your terminology. Think of Drupal being more like the exterior framework of the house before any interior plan has been laid out. We know the footprint, but we now need to design the interior to what suits you. Drupal would act as a shell for what ever custom CMS we would build for your company. Essentially, in the end, the CMS we end up with could be titled “Your Company CMS,” rather than Drupal because it will look nothing like it did when we started the process.

Another thing to keep in mind, the WordPress model calls for a major new release of its software every few months. Since it relies heavily on outside plug-ins, one release could break your whole site due to incompatibility with a plug-in. Drupal comes out with a major release every couple of years and all releases are guaranteed to be backwards compatible. In fact, we don’t even upgrade our websites to the latest version because we completely customize the code to the point where we have already coded in any new functionality the new releases may bring to the table.

We understand many people have had a bad experience with Drupal or another CMS (such as Joomla) and have been turned off by it. In our experience, this is typically due to the programmer’s and the user interface designer’s lack of knowledge. Sadly many firms stop at the website itself and don’t take into account the needs of the administrator to easily access, create and publish content. We develop a customized experience in the back-end to help prevent frustration and make the administrator’s job as easy and intuitive as possible.

One of the arguments we have heard for WordPress is the fact that they have a large community developing plug-ins to extend its capabilities. We agree, there are a lot of people trying to improve WordPress. Drupal also has an active developer community, however they are not working on items to extend Drupal’s capabilities, because that is typically handled by each developer in order to customize the site’s functionality for the client’s needs. They have been hard at work improving the user interface.

The latest release of Drupal was several years in the making and they listened to many of the complaints heard around the world about Drupal’s out of the box “developer focus”. The latest release (Drupal 7) has taken quite a few hints from WordPress. If we WERE to use it as it ships, the experience would be vastly different than it was just six months ago.

SEO is another topic we hear quite often. Both systems handle basic tasks similarly, however to get some of the advanced options that Drupal has built in, WordPress requires yet another plug in. Important SEO features in Drupal include:

  • Advanced URL Control — Unlike WordPress, Drupal gives us precise control over URL structure. Each item of content in Drupal can be given a custom URL. In WordPress you are generally limited to predefined formats.
  • Taxonomy — Drupal has a powerful taxonomy (category) system that allows you to organize and tag content.
  • Page Titles and Meta Tags — Drupal’s Page Title Module gives you custom control of your HTML <title> elements, while the Meta Tags Module gives you control over your pages’ individual meta description tags. This is difficult in some content management systems, but it’s easy with Drupal.


Staying true to our beliefs

When Tripp Co. Creative was formed, we did so with three priorities in mind — doing great work, treating people really well, and exceeding client expectations. I also made a decision early on that we would never work for bad people. They run rampid in our business and we all know them. We aren’t talking about clients that many agencies bitch about. Tight deadlines are part of the biz. Weird requests come with the job. We are talking about abusive, nasty people. Let me give you a real-life example.

We had a freelancer working with us on a pretty major account (for a small firm). The client contact started out much like any client does – eager, fun, chatty, etc. Everything was going swimmingly.

The freelancer was conversing direct with the client and I was allowed to focus on other projects. Little by little the demands of the client were getting more and more aggressive. She was sending pages of extensive changes (including redesigns and additions)  and demanding them back in shorter and shorter time frames. Her treatment of people here was becoming more and more loathsome. It was getting to the point where we were going to fail no matter how hard we tried.

The final straw came when the freelancer had to rush to the hospital due to one of her parents having a stroke. The client called the freelancer at 8 a.m. that morning and emailed four new designs and massive changes that she wanted back by noon (the work was easily 9 to 10 hours of work). Of course the freelancer did not call her back right away due to the situation with her parent. The freelancer got the message around 10 a.m., called her back and explained the circumstances. The client proceeded to ream her for not answering her call that morning and then told her “next time you need to find someone else go to the hospital so you can be there when I need you.”

WHAT? How dare you tell someone the life of a parent is less important than changes to some marketing materials. I will say it here and say it now… WHAT WE DO IS NOT LIFE AND DEATH! No one is going to die if an ad goes out an hour late. No one will lose their life if a brochure goes to the printer a day late. Don’t get me wrong. We make every effort to meet deadlines, but when someone’s life literally hangs in the balance, how dare she lessen that life and rank its importance below a brochure. The parent died a few weeks later.

That’s what WE mean by bad people. Needless to say, I demanded she apologize to the freelancer (which she refused to do) and we resigned the account. It is never  easy to let an account go, but I knew in my heart that a continued relationship with her was not possible. I no longer respected her and she obviously didn’t respect us. Sadly, this client is not unusual. There are many out there and there are many agency leaders that would let their team be abused and mistreated— all in the name of getting that check… hell I’ve worked for those agencies!

I firmly believe in sticking to the principles on which this company was founded and I will go to bat to defend them… and my team. I sincerely believe that it was a good decision to resign the business and that we will gain more work by staying true to our core beliefs than we will if we had just swept them under the rug.

And, just to go on record, all of our other clients are truly a joy to work with and are the epitome of the type of clients I hoped to have when we started out.

Reflections on the past year

As I sat here at my desk today, I looked at my iCal and realized we had forgotten to celebrate our one year anniversary. The company has successfully weathered our first year and we are well into year two. We have been so busy that the milestone just came and went, luckily.

It’s funny to remember how nervous and unsure I was about my choice to start this business. I remember those first few months of just worrying… constantly worrying (thank you Tums for your unofficial sponsorship of Tripp Co. Creative, Inc.). Don’t get me wrong, I still worry (a lot), but now it is more about keeping clients happy and getting new clients to help grow the business. It is less about “can I feed my dogs or myself”.

My business partner and I still struggle with the balance of doing the work and getting more work and I think we are on the right track. I would like to eliminate the peaks and valleys in the work flow, but for now I can’t complain. I know many more companies out there that are struggling and laying people off. Some of that comes from bad choices made before this economy crisis, but some is just luck of the draw. I am confident our smaller size and flexible business model will help us expand at an appropriate rate and we will grow as projected over the next year (well, 9 months now).

And to our valued clients, thank you. Thank you for trusting us. Thank you for referring us to your colleagues. And thank you for being the best clients on the face of this earth. I have worked for several agencies where that wasn’t the case. When I first started this business, I vowed I would not  do any work for anyone that did not respect us and whom we did not respect. Case in point: we had a designer who’s father was rushed to the hospital. She was not able to answer a client’s call at 8am. Later (once our designer got the message and called her back) that client asked her why she was not available when she wanted her to be. After our designer explained the situation, the clients response was “Couldn’t you have had your sister deal with it?”  Needless to say, the designer was very upset and told me what happened. Long story short, we will not be doing work for that client ever again. She refused to apologize for her remarks and I refuse to work with someone so callous and cold. We don’t need that kind of business… no one does.

So here’s to another year and more. I hope you’ll stay on the ride with us.

I’ll take some Cholula Sauce with my marketing campaign please…

Hispanics are the United States’ largest growing demographic. Making up a whopping 15% of the nation’s population and looking to jump to 30% by the year 2050, it goes without saying that marketing towards Hispanics is essential for any and all businesses. In fact, companies like Target, Allstate and JC Penny’s have all invested more than 10% of their marketing budget towards Hispanics.

It is integral that businesses today, large and small, focus on welcoming the Hispanic population as a part of their marketing campaigns. In order to target this market, time must be taken to research this ever thriving population effectively.

Cultural diversity amongst Latinos

The Hispanic/Latino community within the U.S. is largely made up of persons from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, The Dominican Republic, Spain and other Spanish speaking countries in Central and South America. Although they are all unified by language, many of these countries have their own unique idioms and cultures that separate them from each other. It is within these sub-cultures that extensive research must be done to help keep the focus on the population as a whole, without excluding anyone. Focusing on the Hispanic cultures view of family for example, and their strong ties with religion, can help keep the campaign focus on this ever growing population.

Utilizing appropriate media tools

Hispanic households tend to be very culturally diverse in and of themselves. Many households have more than one generation residing within its walls. With different generations also come language preferences. Older generations tend to stick with the traditional Spanish language; younger ones go for a mixture of Spanish and English, typically dubbed Spanglish. With this assimilation also comes the use of newer more innovative media technology such as mobile media and social media networks. While the amount of Hispanic households that watch television are ever increasing, so too are those households whose individuals utilize face book, twitter and viral video. It is therefore of essence that marketing campaigns focus on using these media tools in order to reach out to target audiences.

Understanding bilingual campaigns


It is of great importance when focusing on bilingual campaigns, that the integrity of both languages is upheld. So many times, phrases in English are translated into Spanish literally, and lose their meaning completely.  Even worse, the meaning changes so significantly that the message because more of a joke or sometimes offensive. We are all familiar with the Dairy Association’s iconic“Got Milk?”campaign. Unfortunately for them, when the campaign was translated, it asked the Latino market ““Are you Lactating?”

So how do you get started?

Tripp Co. Creative has bilingual staff members waiting to assist you with all your Hispanic/Latino campaign needs. Let us be your eyes and ears into this rich culture and allow you to better implement techniques for marketing to the Spanish-speaking world. Tripp Co. Creative expertos en mercadeo y publicidad.