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Graphic designers, copywriters, marketers: There is no substitute for talking to actual customers and prospects.

But instead, nine times out of ten, we talk to people who tell us what customers think. I don't doubt that many executives, administrators, and sales people for our clients DO know what some customers think, but it will never be clearer than when you determine it for yourself.

I know it sounds like torture, but I suggest getting on the phone with a half-dozen of your client's customers and asking them to share their insights (it's often most fruitful to focus on those who you are already having success with). Then try calling some of the client's prospects. People who match the profile of what the insiders view as those they should be reaching out to and talk with them.

In both cases, ask questions that give them a chance to give you more information than you expect, such as...

1. Where and how do you find new suppliers to provide this category of products or services?

2. What do you need to know before you buy?

3. Who in your organization does the product/service research? Who make recommendations? Who makes the final decision?

And so on...

The truth is, there are plenty of small businesses out there that market their products and services on very little information. They figure if, for example, they send a direct mail piece to anyone in the prospect's organization that it will somehow make its way to the desk of the right person.
Or that all of the client's best prospects are doing Google searches (using certain keywords), reading banners, and clicking on ads.

The problem with speculating about who the customer is and what they think, is that you may end up with the ladder up against the wrong wall. The client's previous marketing program may well have failed because they were reaching the wrong person, missing the decision cycle, taking to the wrong audience al together, and so on.

My point is there is no substitute for talking to actual customers and prospects. It won't go like you think it should, you'll come away with a much better understanding of what you need to do to be successful, and I guarantee, you're going to be able to tell the client a few things even they didn't know.

What are the rules for endorsing products on the web/social media?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates, among other things, the disclosure of material connections between advertisers and endorsers.

Some answers to questions are obvious, such as:

You can't talk about your experience with a product if you haven't tried it. If you were paid to try a product and you thought it was terrible, you can't say it's terrific. And you can't make claims about a product that would require proof the advertiser doesn't have.

But some questions are more subtle:

When I endorse a product, must I disclose that I work for the company that makes it? Is a product hashtag an adequate enough incentive disclose on Twitter? Must I make a disclosure if I return the product after I review it? Can you use testimonials featuring endorsements from consumers who achieved the best results?

You might be surprise to learn what you should be disclosing and how you should be presenting it.

Thanks to Jim Green for pointing us to it.

The FTC's Endorsement Guides...
A PDF version (317KB PDF)...
Packaging heaven

The Dieline Package Design Awards, judged by a jury of structural packaging, design branding and consumer product experts, presents awards based on the quality of their creativity, marketability, and innovation. Here are the 2015 winners...

Dieline Awards 2015: The Winners Ebook...
The online version...
The Dieline...
Another packaging blog: Lovely Package...
One more...
What fonts did people buy in 2015?

MyFonts.com makes it clear that their Most Popular Fonts of 2015 is based on sales. "Not simply the total sales volume across the year, as that would give the oldest font families an unfair advantage. We've looked at average sales over the year and during the successful introduction period; we made sure popular genres are fairly represented; we included no more than one font family from each foundry."

Thanks in advance: I make a small commission on fonts ordered using these links.

The most popular fonts of 2015...
The last month's bestsellers...
Hot new fonts...
A free collection of dielines for packaging

Design Packaging, a retail design, manufacturing, and sourcing company, generously offers this substantial collection of packaging dielines. You can use the book to spark an idea or import pages of the PDF into Adobe Illustrator and edit, scale, and otherwise customize them.

Dielines for packaging...
Design Packaging created the ebook...
Two words: Horse lamp

I thought you might be interested in a quirky design brand I stumbled across. I love the thinking and I love the horse lamp.

I wonder if most other graphic designers are as interested in furniture design as I am. Are you?

Example 1: Horse Lamp...
Example 2: Smoke Chair...
Example 3: Vulture carpet...
Example 4: Labyrinth Chair...
Moooi launches photorealistic print-on-demand carpet company...
The Moooi Boook 2015...
Calendar design

Haha... We should always question the reason for the design...
Mobile first, display forever

Here's a very interesting website design. One that incorporates lots of mobile device user interface components in it's full-screen display version (be sure to see it in desktop form).

This is one of the sites featured on Jeremiah Shoaf's Typewolf (previous post).

SF/Arts Media...
At this level you can narrow search choices by choosing from a collection of dropdowns...
The site was designed by Didier GarcĂ­a...
What's trending in type?

Designer Jeremiah Shoaf couldn't find the type of type website he was looking for so he created Typewolf.

He was looking for a resource for choosing fonts and font combinations for design projects and narrative that was written from the perspective of someone who uses type versus those who design them.

What he created is all that and more. Typewolf points to websites Shoaf believes demonstrate the creative use of typefaces, typeface resources, and offers font recommendations.

I particularly appreciate his eye for websites.

This is Typewolf.com...
Here are some interesting lists...
An excellent collection of typographic resources...
Jeremiah Shoaf's website...
MIT (sadly) sponsors a "creative" contest

Sorry to hear this. So many organizations are tone deaf about this issue...
Should designers do spec work?
Thanks to Henry Ford

The surprising reason we have a 40-hour work week...
Some impressive panoramas...

About this newsletter

I try to remain as objective as possible about the information I share here. Unless I tell you otherwise, I receive no compensation from the organizations and people mentioned except for occasional product samples. I am an affiliate of Lynda.com and MyFonts.com -- that means, if you purchase something from them, I get a small commission. Comments? Suggestions? Write me at chuckgreen@ideabook.com -- Chuck Green