Milpaws Tells Customers, “Don’t Ever Get Hosed By Your Hose”

The home page for Milpaws.com is direct and to the point.

The home page for Milpaws.com is direct and to the point.

I don’t often get excited by websites for hose, fittings and fluid conveyance systems.

But the new website for Milpaws (http://www.milpaws.com/) is a definite exception to the rule.

BloodLines Creative joined forces with E-Merge Interactive to design a whole new look for Milpaws – a supplier of hose, fittings and fluid conveyance systems here in St. Louis, Missouri. The photography is crisp and clean along with the design.

Navigation of the site is easy – and there’s going to be an e-commerce portion coming in the very near future which will make it easier than ever for customers to order the parts they need.

But that’s only part of the story. Milpaws is a company that is totally devoted to customer service and it’s their custom-made pipes, fittings and fluid conveyance systems that they’ve designed for a wide range of applications that enable them to stand out from the crowd.

They’re a no-nonsense company that tells it like it is. A faulty connection that breaks down can cost a manufacturer thousands of dollars – sometimes reaching into six figures – and bring an entire production line to a halt.

It’s imperative to work with a company that helps assure that every fitting and every custom-designed solution works on a day-in, day-out basis. And if something ever does go wrong, the supplier needs to be able to jump in and solve the problem immediately.

That’s Milpaws. And that’s why we came up with the simple theme of “Don’t Ever Get Hosed By Your Hose.” No, we’re not using it as a tag line. It’s more of a description of the way they do business.

The company’s DNA was forged as a commercial hose and fitting distributor in the St. Louis market over 40 years ago. Though Milpaws designs and fabricates fully-integrated Fuel and Potable Water fluid conveyance and dispensing systems for the US Military, their key focus has always been servicing contractors and contractor supply companies with both industrial and hydraulic hose and fittings to meet their needs on a moment’s notice. They know with Milpaws, they’re getting the best products, backed by the best service – no matter what the application – from industrial to environmental, manufacturing to utilities.

There are some very simple things about Milpaws.com that makes navigating the site just a little more interesting. The Products page features an accordion-style drop down menu – click on a specific category and it opens right up, only to get folded back into the menu when you’re done. The Applications page features a parallax means of navigation where one category naturally flows into the other.

We intend to make Milpaws.com a site worth visiting time and again for both customers and potential customers. The e-commerce portion of the site is currently being developed and that’s going to be a game-changer. We’ll also be regularly updating the “In The Flow” section with pertinent news a customer can use to help them with their business.

Overall, it’s a very cool site in what was once a very boring category. Not anymore.

BloodLines Creative provides advertising and marketing communications support to a variety of consumer, B2B, non-profit and government-related clients. No project is too big, no budget is too small. If you’re looking for big idea thinking, you’ve come to the right place.

The endless pursuit of ‘What’s Next?’

As a business, BloodLines Creative is continually in new business mode. Even with my existing client base, I’m always seeking new ways to help build their business, knowing full well that if I can help them expand their market share or drive more customers to their website or Facebook page or directly to their store it will ultimately generate more business for BloodLines.

So I’m always on the lookout for new ways to deliver messaging, new techniques for grabbing attention, new avenues for targeting potential customers, new ways to reach people in unexpected ways. One must remain forever curious.

With BloodLines Art, I face a similar challenge. I do paintings very similar to the way I read books – once I start one, I don’t even consider what’s next until I put my name on the painting. When I do finish, I begin searching for ideas.

Rene Magritte said that the most difficult part for any artist is deciding what to paint.

I agree with that dilemma.

So with my work by day and my art by night, I continually face the challenge of, “What’s next?”

Work has been strong this year. One project seems to lead to another and when one client goes dormant or isn’t currently in need of marketing support, it seems another one comes along. I have been very fortunate.

I have also been quite pleased with my painting progression this year. My techniques are improving and I feel as if I’m getting better at what I do and finding my own unique style.

Every business faces that “What’s next?” quandary.

The key is to never stop learning. Never stop exploring. And always be open to possibilities as well as opportunities.

If you do that, the opportunities will find you.

Working partnerships – Part III – E-Merge Interactive

I’ve been working with the fine folks at E-Merge Interactive (http://www.connectwithemerge.com/) long before they were known as E-Merge Interactive.

Barry Lee, David Smith and Kerry Brown are pretty much the brain trust behind E-Merge Interactive and I have worked with all three of these individuals for more than 25 years. I used to do quite a bit of video and audio production at Smith-Lee for a variety of clients. Dave’s wife, Sandy, is an amazing composer and gifted musician who I worked with to create award-winning commercials and videos back in the day.

But times changed and though Smith-Lee still does an impressive array of audio work, they shifted their focus more to the interactive world and formed a separate company,
E-merge Interactive, providing a full range of interactive services, primarily for B2B clients.

One of those clients is Byrne & Jones Construction. (http://www.byrneandjones.com/)

A partial look at the home page of Byrne & Jones Construction.

A partial look at the home page of Byrne & Jones Construction.

When we first began working with Byrne & Jones, their website was, to put it politely, a work in progress. Many of the sub-pages were incomplete. The home page featured rotating imagery but it didn’t really focus on key benefits of what the company provided.

And Byrne & Jones provides a lot. They’re the largest asphalt provider in the St. Louis metro area. Their sports division is one of the largest builders of tracks and athletic fields in the Midwest. They have a booming micro surfacing division, as well as perform concrete and soil stabilization work. In the past year, they also bought a company called Midwest Foundation that does marine work on rivers and lakes throughout the Midwest. (http://midwestfoundation.com/)

We recently launched a newly updated website for Midwest Foundation, a Byrne & Jones Company.

We recently launched a newly updated website for Midwest Foundation, a Byrne & Jones Company.

Over a period of time, we completely overhauled the website and began doing SEO work as well, partnering with Romondo Davis of Davis Interactive for his expertise in all aspects of social media. The Byrne & Jones blog, that hadn’t had any new posts for quite some time began getting regular entries which we pushed out via social media to help drive more traffic to the site.

Thought leadership articles and profiles of projects are now regularly posted via the Byrne & Jones blog.

Thought leadership articles and profiles of projects are now regularly posted via the Byrne & Jones blog.

Numbers have been trending upward and the growth of Byrne & Jones continues to be on the rise as well. They are a well-managed, well-run company that needed their website and social media to catch up in order to better tell their story.

Byrne & Jones is just one of the clients that I have partnered with E-Merge Interactive to help provide marketing communications. We’re in the process of launching a new website for another B2B client and there are more projects in the works. It’s been a good blend of their interactive capabilities and my branding and writing expertise.

There’s always room for more.

The business model for BloodLines Creative is fairly flexible. I work directly for clients. I also work with agencies to help with their client needs in times of overflow or for select projects. I work with in-house agencies, helping to write or produce videos. And I partner with other designers, social media providers or production companies to assist their client needs. It all results in an ever-changing, always interesting flow of assignments. I am honored to be a part of each and every one. Now, what can I do for you?

Working partnerships – Part II – The Epstein Group

I didn’t know Alan Epstein when he was Partner of Adamson Advertising. But I did meet him back in the early days of BloodLines Creative. Alan enlisted my help, along with E-merge Interactive, to create a campaign for Maryville University – and that began a working relationship that continues to this day.

Over the past year, we have partnered together on a variety of new business pursuits and, once again working with E-merge Interactive, did some significant branding work on behalf of J.F. Electric – a large, family-owned electrical contractor located in Edwardsville, Illinois.

The work done for J.F. Electric began before I got on board. Alan had helped conduct a market research strategy that identified key strengths of the company as well as a few areas in definite need of improvement. On the plus side, the company was known for their customer service and how hard they worked to find solutions to their customers electrical needs, often delivering innovative solutions that saved time, money or oftentimes, both.

But the J.F. Electric brand seemed dated. Their website had been launched quite a few years ago and was never actually fully completed and the info on the site was rather nondescript. They had a theme line but it was so generic I can’t really remember what it was. The J.F. Electric logo needed a refresh as well.

So we went to work. With a focused creative strategy in hand, we continued the branding process, beginning with the development of a new theme line as well as creating a new logo that wouldn’t depart too far from their scripted logo treatment to a bolder, more contemporary looking version.

The script format seemed dated and some people mistook the 'F' for a 'T'.

The script format seemed dated and some people mistook the ‘F’ for a ‘T’.

download

The new J.F. Electric maintained the bright red and the italic flex of the font was similar to the scripted version but  was also easier to read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, we focused on the theme line. When it came time to present, we had three options, all of which we liked but after the meeting, we knew we had landed on a version that made perfect sense for the company – “Creating connections. Delivering value.”

They were in the business of creating connections – both electrical and on a personal level, too. Delivering value spoke to the added value aspect that stood out with so many of the customers that had been interviewed.

Once the new logo and theme line had been approved, we developed an overall collateral look, giving them new business cards, letterhead, powerpoint templates and how the logo and tag line would look on their new website – which was also underway.

With a company like J.F. Electric, oftentimes their best form of advertising is found on the sides and backs of their vehicle fleet. So we designed vehicle graphics for pickup trucks, bucket trucks, digger derricks, vans and trailers.

J.F. Electric's fleet turns into rolling advertisements for the company.

J.F. Electric’s fleet turns into rolling advertisements for the company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, work continued on the J.F. Electric website. We wanted to effectively capture the work they do in four different categories: Utilities/Commercial/Industrial and Telecom. We wanted case histories in each category and wanted to be able to tell the full story of J.F. Electric – a company whose roots go back to the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

It took a while – but in the end, both client, customers and the web team that helped develop it were all happy: http://www.jfelectric.com/

Screenshot 2017-08-14 14.23.10-1

A portion of the parallax formatted home page of the J.F. Electric website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
On the J.F. Electric website you can view the history video that we created: http://www.jfelectric.com/About/History

In addition to the website work, we created an extensive Brand Standards guide that can be used internally and by vendors to assure that the J.F. Electric brand is consistently delivered across all media and platforms. We also created a new employee video and helped with the development of trade show materials.

All in all, the newly refreshed J.F. Electric brand is getting noticed, remembered more and business continues to grow. And that’s what it’s all about.

J.F. Electric has been an excellent client to work for and there’s more to come as Alan and I both continue to partner together to help collectively solve our client’s marketing challenges.

The business model for BloodLines Creative is fairly flexible. I work directly for clients. I also work with agencies to help with their client needs in times of overflow or for select projects. I work with in-house agencies, helping to write or produce videos. And I partner with other designers, social media providers or production companies to assist their client needs. It all results in an ever-changing, always interesting flow of assignments. I am honored to be a part of each and every one. Now, what can I do for you?

Working partnerships – Part 1 – Phoenix Creative

It all began with a recommendation.

Phoenix Creative needed a broadcast writer to assist them in the development of a new TV and radio campaign for one of their clients. They asked Mike Sneden, a director at The Arbor Group if he knew of anyone that could help and he mentioned my name.

The good folks at Phoenix Creative reached out to me, asking if I was interested and after a get-acquainted meeting where I met the team that I’d be working with, I was awarded the assignment: develop eight new TV commercials and eight new radio spots promoting a variety of topics for Jensen Tire & Auto out of Omaha, Nebraska.

A still from one of the 8 new Jensen Tire & Auto TV commercials.

A still from one of eight new TV commercials developed for Jensen Tire & Auto out of Omaha, Nebraska.

Deans Lynch was my key point of contact. Becca Jordan was the account coordinator who kept me in the know. And Matt Mauger was the art director/agency producer who ultimately would be turning my scripts into storyboards and then, working with Mike Sneden as director, turn those boards into actual commercials and my radio scripts into radio commercials.

Our initial download on the Jensen brand was full of information and gave me a solid understanding of the tone, style and expectations they hoped I could match. They gave me a list of about 10 potential commercial topics, provided a good creative brief and strategy and told me to see what I could come up with.

Jensen Tire & Auto is a locally-owned, family-owned operation that has been in the Omaha area since 1973. They’re honest. Straightforward. Down-to-earth. They’re proud of their stores, the people who work there and they all work hard to deliver the best in service and services. Both the TV and radio concepts had to reflect that.

So I began generating ideas. I wrote a variety of scripts – from the customer point-of-view, the employee point-of-view and a few from the store manager point-of-view. I wanted to be clever – but not overly so. I wanted to find interesting ways to help deliver key points of difference.

At our first internal presentation, I presented campaign directions. We narrowed those down and I went back to work. At our next presentation, I presented more script ideas on the campaign directions I had previously presented. We narrowed those down some more and I went back to work.

By our third presentation, we had zeroed in on the direction – then I needed to fill out the roster, making sure I covered all of the topics that had ultimately been decided upon. We fine-tuned some more. After all those meetings, I understood just how well the people at Phoenix understood their client.

Ultimately, we narrowed down the script candidates and Matt went to the story boarding process. I, in turn, started in on the radio scripts and with a stronger understanding of what would and wouldn’t fly, I seemed to fall into the Jensen point-of-view and hit the mark right off the bat with a few of the scripts.

By the time we made the trip to Omaha for the client presentation, we were more than ready and I truly felt a part of the team – and for that, I congratulate and thank Deans, Becca and Matt for how they welcomed me and enabled me to play a key role in the presentation.

“So the only pressure around here … can be measured with a gauge.”

The homework, teamwork and hard work all paid off. The result is a new broadcast campaign that began airing earlier this summer and will continue for many months to come. This was a working partnership that really worked.

The business model for BloodLines Creative is fairly flexible. I work directly for clients. I also work with agencies to help with their client needs in times of overflow or for select projects. I work with in-house agencies, helping to write or produce videos. And I partner with other designers, social media providers or production companies to assist their client needs. It all results in an ever-changing, always interesting flow of assignments. I am honored to be a part of each and every one. Now, what can I do for you?

A dramatic ‘before’ and ‘after’ with BloodLines Art

About two weeks ago I worked with Scott Schaefer as we set up a mini photo studio in our basement and shot more than 80 of my paintings. Scott has his own company where he markets classic Winchester hunting artwork, selling vintage posters online. It’s a thriving business and he has found a definite market niche.

I’ve been hoping to find a market niche of my own with my artwork. Currently, I have two different websites – https://bloodlinesart.com/ and https://tom-blood.pixels.com/

My bloodlinesart website seems to only be visited by other artists. And not that often. I haven’t really done any full-fledged marketing efforts to promote it and when renewal time comes around, I’m probably going to cancel it. There are lots of other places where I can showcase my art that I haven’t fully taken advantage of to date.

The pixels website, which is also called Fine Art America, has done a lot better as far as visitation. About two weeks ago, I was nearing my 10,000th visitor. They come from around the world. I’ve had views from China, Russia, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, India – and that’s just to name a few as well as people from all over the U.S.

The fun thing about the pixels website is that you can order items featuring my artwork on pillows, tote bags, iPhone cases, shower curtains and a variety of other items. Unfortunately, sales have been less than lucrative.

So I decided to try and become a bit more professional with the presentation of my art and Scott got me going with the hi-res digital images he took. But that’s just for starters as he showed me a number of photoshop treatments all designed to make your photography sharper than ever.

Here’s a pic of one of my paintings before:

A true, 'before' picture.

A true, ‘before’ picture.

And here is the same painting that was digitally photographed and saved in a much higher resolution format. (The image is a higher resolution than the download of this site allows.)

https://tom-blood.pixels.com/featured/white-thomas-blood.html

I’ve tried saving my ‘WHITE’ painting image in smaller sizes but with no luck. So please click the link to see the vibrant color and sharp detail that will now be present with virtually all of the images that I have featured on my pixels site. (While you’re there, I encourage you to see many of the other paintings I’ve done!)

To date, I’ve uploaded about 14 of them – so I have a long way to go. But already, the number of visitors has skyrocketed as I’ve had more than 1,000 new views since I began re-uploading my images. I wish I could say that the sales have skyrocketed, too. Not yet.

But I’m hopeful. I plan on launching a new e-commerce site sometime before the holiday season officially kicks off where people will be able to order prints of my work direct from me. Scott will handle the printing and shipping and together we’ll both profit.

I have a lot of fun creating my art. I hope to soon begin having more fun (and success) in my efforts to sell it.

 

 

BloodLines blogging takes a back seat

There really is no excuse why my posts have become so infrequent.

But I’m going to offer a few anyway.

Recently, I’ve been stepping up my blogging activity for a few clients. Unlike my own personal diatribes where I write about the items that are popping into my head at the time, these take a good deal of research and often multiple interviews, drafts and re-writes before we go live.

I generally don’t like to divulge client information without their permission so the clients for whom I’m creating these posts shall remain nameless. Fortunately, the number of clients continues to increase. So I find myself writing about a wide variety of topics.

I’m sure Google is confused by my browsing activity. They must think I have some fairly eccentric and quirky tastes as one day I’ll be researching the Army Corps of Engineers and the next I’ll be investigating Gmax impact testing. I’ve been fortunate enough to blog about museum exhibitions as well as new curricula being offered at university programs.

These days, I’ve been diving into swimming pool construction. Soon, I hope to be writing more about thermal power generation and posting knowledge about fluid conveyance systems. If that all sounds a little heavy-duty, it is. But it’s also quite interesting to go on a crash course of learning, consuming as much information as possible and then doing my best to digest it and create something that’s relevant and useful to the target audience I’m addressing.

My most recent painting is just one of many items that are keeping me away from regular blogging.

My most recent painting is just one of many items that are keeping me away from regular blogging.

On top of all that, I continue to try and get better as a painter. So there’s always a work that is in the works. One is awaiting more brushwork as soon as I decide that I’ve said enough regarding this particular post. I have another painting that is sketched out and waiting to show up on canvas as soon as I wrap this current one up.

So my attention has been elsewhere. That’s a good thing and a bad thing.

Good, because my business has been booming and blogging has had a lot to do with it.

Bad, because in order to keep building your business, you’ve got to keep at it, particularly when it comes to blogging.

What can I do for you?

BloodLines Creative provides a wide variety of advertising and marketing communications services to a wide variety of clients. From concept through completion, you get work that is on target and cuts through the clutter to connect with your target in a way that generates results. If you’re facing a creative challenge and you’re looking for big idea thinking without the big price tag, you’ve come to the right place.

Volkswagen gets it right this time

A few weeks ago I lambasted Volkswagen for their ‘Birds and the Bees’ commercial in which a couple love to procreate in their VW, eventually, needing a bigger model to accommodate their growing family – hence the need for the new seven-seater VW Atlas model.

Now, I’m here to sing their praises as they’ve taken another iconic song, this one Simon & Garfunkel’s classic, “America” and set it to a story that is both moving and beautifully told.

The first version I saw was 60-seconds. Here’s a link to the full :90 Volkswagen Atlas commercial – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpq4NXtokNU

Not only is it a masterful telling of a story that connects generations, it’s also some brilliant editing of the song, making the most of the lyrics that are applicable to a cross-country voyage while cutting out the parts about being on a bus and smoking cigarettes.

One of the scenes from a new VW Atlas commercial using Simon & Garfunkel's 'America' song.

One of the scenes from a new VW Atlas commercial using Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘America’ song.

I was drawn into the story immediately. An immigrant father’s dying wish – for his wife to see America courtesy of their daughter and her own family. We see them leaving New York city behind and they’re off on their journey in the new roomy VW Atlas. Of course, that is never mentioned. They simply let the visuals of the cross-country trek unwind, managing to get in a few on-the-road shots as well as interior shots.

But it’s not about the car, it’s about the experience. We see the granddaughter, bonding with her grandmother and getting reassured from her mother that everything’s going to be okay. We’re along for the ride as we get to see the entire family taking the time to experience the many sights and sounds that America has to offer.

Sure, it’s a little sappy. But the cinematography is gorgeous. The on-going story, told through a few snippets of family interaction between various family members evolves and pulls you in. This isn’t meant to be Aunt Edna strapped to the roof of the Griswold family truckster. When they reach the coast of California and Grandma sets Grandpa’s ashes free into the Pacific ocean, I didn’t feel like the story had been trivialized.

And this time, the payoff of “Life’s as big as you make it. The all new 7-seater Volkswagen Atla” made perfect sense to me. I felt better toward Volkswagen as a company. I only wish that it had been Chevy that had jumped on this song and told the story rather than some German manufacturer.

But I don’t blame them for borrowing a bit of Americana and a classic American song called “America” to try and sell vehicles here in the good ole U.S.A. – that’s what commercialism is all about. And this one gets four stars in my playbook.

Watch the commercial. Then let me know what you think.

BloodLines Creative provides advertising and marketing communications support to a variety of consumer, B2B, non-profit and government-related clients. No project is too big, no budget is too small. If you’re looking for big idea thinking, you’ve come to the right place.

 

 

 

An unexpected blast from the past

The music grabbed by attention and pulled me upstairs

The music from this 60-second commercial grabbed by attention and pulled me upstairs.

I was downstairs painting Thursday night, starting in on a new canvas when I heard a music track from the TV upstairs that immediately grabbed my attention.

It was the music we had created for an Infant Adoption Awareness commercial that I wrote and helped produce back in 2005 while working at Hughes.
http://bloodlinescreative.com/tv-radio-video/infant-adoption-awareness

That commercial has always been one of my favorites that I’ve written. It is simple, understated and delivers a powerful message at the end. The whole spot consists of a girl on a swing, coming in and out of the frame.

Each swing takes her higher, and with each swing, she knocks the type that’s on-screen out of the picture …
Like many kids,
she’s happy,
well-cared-for,
loved,
confident,
optimistic
and adopted.

A voiceover delivers the line, “To all those who give birth to, homes to, or just give thought to people adopted as infants … thanks for considering adoption.”

The whole purpose of the commercial was to raise awareness for the Infant Adoption Awareness Council of America. An adopted child is no different than any other child. So why not show a happy kid on a swing to help point that out?

We shot the commercial in Oakland, edited in San Francisco and used Elias Music to create the original score. That was more than a decade ago so I was truly surprised when I saw the commercial was still running.

Its message and ability to cut through the clutter was as strong now as it was back then.

That’s the power of Big Idea Thinking. That’s the power of BloodLines Creative.

 

 

 

‘The Traveler’ is already making his way around the world

My latest painting has already had many views from around the world.

My latest painting is getting views from around the world.

My most recent painting, titled, “The Traveler” has literally taken off, being viewed across the United States and in countries around the world via my http://tom-blood.pixels.com website.

Normally, when I post a new painting, it may garner 50 initial views the first day and then, depending on how popular the painting is, continue to get views from time to time. Early next week, my website should go over the 10,000 view mark which is pretty cool considering I’ve only had it since July and I don’t do all that much to promote it.

Yesterday, I finished up my most recent painting and put “The Traveler” onto my pixels website around 9 pm along with my other website for art: http://bloodlinesart.com as well as on Facebook, ArtLoupe and twitter.

This morning when I checked in, I was amazed – ‘The Traveler’ has already had more than 300 views and more keep rolling in by the minute.

It’s always fun to see where the views are coming from – currently, people in 22 different states across America have checked it out. Not bad for less than a day of exposure. What’s really fun though is the list of people from other countries who have taken the time to view this painting. Canada and Mexico are nice. Germany, England, Ireland, Italy, Austria, France, Belgium, the Netherlands that’s all pretty cool. But when you’re getting views from people in Bosnia & Herzegovinia, Pakistan, Slovakia, India and Cambodia it makes you say, “Wow, ‘The Traveler’ must have some worldwide appeal.”

If only people liked it enough that they would consider buying it – or at least an item featuring it, be that a re-print or a tote bag or iPhone cover. Those items aren’t very expensive at all and it certainly does make a rather striking impression.

Screenshot 2017-04-14 08.21.56

Screenshot 2017-04-14 08.20.25 Imagine having The Traveler as a shower curtain or perhaps on a pillow.

Screenshot 2017-04-14 08.19.54

He’d make a great image for a tote bag, too, traveling wherever you go.

The Traveler would be cool to have as an iPhone cover ...

Or consider having him travel with you as your new iPhone cover.

You can purchase any of these items (along with other things like coffee cups, greeting cards and beach towels featuring my art) via http://tom-blood.pixels.com – which is home to lots of my other paintings in case you’ve never checked it out. I’m hoping that one day, I’ll be able to turn those 10,000+ views into 10,000 plus purchases.

So check it out if you’re interested – wherever you may be.

And safe travels, wherever you’re going.