Looking forward to what’s next

Labor Day will be upon us in a few days and summer will soon be in our rear view mirror.

It’s been a great one in all regards – work, art and family, though not necessarily in that order since family is always first.

Though we didn’t have any extensive travels, we did celebrate a memorable weekend in Chicago attending a Cards-Cubs on my daughter’s 20th birthday and thoroughly enjoying ourselves as the Cards bashed the Cubs, 18-5. Once they reached their 14th run, we were really hoping they could post a 20-run tally but 18 was more than sufficient.

Our visit to Wrigley Field was extremely enjoyable.

Our visit to Wrigley Field was extremely enjoyable.

This was also our first summer in our new home and we finally christened it by hosting a  25th Anniversary celebration-Open House combo on perhaps the nicest day that July had to offer. Attending the PGA on three different days also was great fun.

Any time you can get this close to Tiger Woods, it's a good day!

Any time you can get this close to Tiger Woods, it’s a good day!

Work continues to roll along and it’s what’s on the horizon that has me excited. I continue to serve a few key accounts and there are some potential great new client relationships that hopefully will become reality over the course of the next few weeks. BloodLines Creative will be entering its 8th year in business and though I’m not creating an abundance of TV and radio commercials anymore, I still enjoy the creative challenge that each and every assignment brings.

One of a series of email reminders that go out to Ad Club members encouraging them to play in the upcoming Ad Club Fall Golf Classic.

One of a series of email reminders that go out to Ad Club members encouraging them to play in the upcoming Ad Club Fall Golf Classic.

It’s always the chance to do the best work you’ve ever done and a continual opportunity to learn something new every day. I love to create and I love to turn marketing challenges into opportunities. That will never grow old.

Painting has also been a joy this year. I continue to take on paintings that challenge my skill set and I feel as if I’m becoming better as a painter. I love to paint the impossible or at least the highly improbable. Though I continue to explore many of the same concepts as Magritte once did, I think I am developing my own, unique style.

A painting of a painting showing what you would see if the painting weren't there.

A painting of a painting showing what you would see if the painting weren’t there.

I am thrilled to have received more than 20,000 views on my Tom Blood fine artist website. I was honored to have recently sold four of my paintings to one of the largest collectors in the Midwest. And I am looking forward to some exciting coverage of my work and announcements about it that will be coming in a few short weeks.

I have been blessed in so many ways. Yet you never know what lurks around the corner. So I’ll end with this simple thought. Cherish your memories. Look forward to the future. But always live in the present. For what we do each day matters. Somehow, someway, each day, try and make a positive difference in someone’s life.

You’ll be glad you did.

BloodLines Creative needs a blog post every now and then, too

Blogs are always more fun when they have a picture so here's a view of my most recent painting.

Blogs are always more fun when they have a picture so here’s a view of my most recent painting.

It’s been a busy stretch of work these past few months for BloodLInes Creative.

There has been an assortment of video projects, video shoots and a few photo shoots, as well.

I’ve been blogging away on behalf of three great clients who I continue to not mention simply because I don’t want other agencies or freelancers knocking at their doors.

We’re about to launch a new client website and for another client, we’re going to be launching an e-commerce website which has been a real learning experience for everyone involved. It’s very close to launch. Very, very close!

My artistic endeavors continue, having recently won the People’s Choice award at a recent MySLArt.org 33 Show and with two entries about to debut tomorrow night at The Soulard Art Gallery. My artist website, http:tom-blood.pixels.com has climbed above the 20,000 view mark and sales continue to surprise me from time to time with people buying assorted items featuring my artwork. And yes, I’m continuing to enjoy painting and always trying to get better at what I do. I’m hopeful that next year, I will be able to garner another solo show, featuring all new works since my last solo show at 1900 Park.

New business activities have resulted in a variety of new partnerships and new clients – and there are more on the horizon.

And yes, it is officially now summer so there’s going to be some golf-time built in.

I’m no longer going to apologize for the lack of blog posts. Nor am I going to vow to do more.

Like I said, BloodLines Creative needs a blog post every now and then, too.

This was it.

A writer’s gotta write – part two

The other day, I picked up one of my three print portfolios, opened it up and took a look.

What a fun blast from the past, looking at print ads, outdoor boards, direct mail pieces and company image brochures that I’ve created through the years.

It got me thinking about how fortunate I’ve been to be able to continue to pursue my passion for creating advertising and marketing communications for such a wide and diverse array of clients.

I literally have hundreds of samples. So many, that I can no longer fit them into three different portfolios. So there are also boxes of print and collateral work, along with award programs, award certificates, DVDs of TV commercials and various videos, CDs of radio spots and other reminders that I sure have written a boatload of communications.

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to create work for some major brand names that just about everyone in St. Louis and a lot of the world has heard of before. Mix in work for some much smaller clients that are in a variety of industries, along with some pro bono work for a charitable organization that I’ve been involved with for a few years as well as creating the invite and reminders for the annual Ad Club Fall Golf Classic and it’s been a very enjoyable juggling act the past few months.Screenshot 2018-05-16 07.17.13The only thing that doesn’t keep growing is this blog. I’ve put it on the back shelf, along with updating my website with some more current work.

These days, you rarely get print samples – if you get to do any print work at all. So many things transpire in the digital world and I simply don’t bother to update my client list or work samples. Nor do I blog too much about the daily trials and tribulations I go through trying to get work, create work, and then get more work.

Most times, that process simply doesn’t seem interesting enough to merit any mention. The work always does a strong job of delivering the client’s brand personality in a compelling and very focused way and I really should promote it more. But I’m often hesitant to reveal current clients, fearing that some bigger agency will come in and try and swoop it up. And when the day is done and evening rolls around, most times, I’m done with writing for the day and much prefer pursuing my other passion – painting.

That needs its own separate marketing effort, further putting my blogging into a secondary or even tertiary role.

That’s why there simply isn’t a regular flow of blog articles coming out of BloodLines Creative. A writer’s gotta write. Unfortunately, most times, it simply isn’t for this blog.

Thanks for reading anyway!

 

A writer’s gotta write

2018 is off to a great start, but in the coming weeks, I hope it gets even better with a variety of assignments that would spin most ordinary heads.

Blogging. Video scripting. Website content creation. Speech writing. Print ads. Email marketing. Pay-per-click ads. Direct marketing. All for different clients and all tied back to delivering the brand.

What’s missing? Well, I sure would welcome the opportunity to create some cut-through radio ads and develop some local TV commercials that would truly stand out amidst the sea of mediocrity that litters our airwaves.

But I’m not complaining. I love to write. And I love to write just about anything as I am insatiably curious and love to find creative solutions to whatever marketing or advertising challenge I may face.

All of this requires an inherent ability to ramp up quickly on a subject so that i can quickly grasp the key messaging that needs to be delivered and then deliver it – in an unexpected, surprising and memorable way.

I don’t always hit home runs. And I certainly don’t accomplish everything on my own as I continue to be blessed by working with a talented team of designers, developers, editors, account people and best of all – clients.

BloodLines Creative is now in its seventh year. We’ve been staying quite busy. But there’s plenty of room for more.

If your business would benefit from big idea thinking, BloodLines Creative can be the communications partner you thought you couldn’t afford. Put us to the test. You will not be disappointed.

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.

Being responsive

Visit BloodLines Creative on whatever device you have and hopefully you'll enjoy the experience.

Visit BloodLines Creative on whatever device you have and hopefully you’ll enjoy the experience.

Yes, it took a while.

But BloodLinesCreative.com is finally a responsive website.

So whether you visit on an iPad, your phone, a tablet or on a mac or pc, the site now adapts to the confines of the device.

Yes, it should have been done some time ago. And yes, the site could use a refresh of new work that’s been done over the past year or so. That will come. In fact, the site still isn’t 100% fully functional – my broadcast reel still doesn’t play on mobile devices – but that should be addressed in the next week or so.

I have fallen victim to what so many other advertising and marketing communications companies deal with all the time – it’s tough to manage your own marketing when you’re busy helping with the needs of the clients you serve.

It’s been a busy start to the year. But in order to keep that momentum going, I need to ratchet up my own marketing efforts – and before I began that endeavor, I needed to get the website fully functional no matter how it was viewed.

So I guess I need to wait a few more days until we get the broadcast section remedied for mobile viewing.

In the meantime, feel free to visit the rest of the website – http://bloodlinescreative.com

I welcome any feedback!

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.

 

2016 and beyond for BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art

So on this last day of 2016, I take a few moments to look back on the year and try to project what lies ahead for 2017.

Business wise, it was a good year. Not a great year. But a good year. I worked with a variety of new clients, lost an established one and still maintain ties with a long-time relationship which is very rewarding.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

I created a number of videos, helped re-vamp one client’s website and we’ll soon be launching a new branding effort for another one. I began blogging for one client, worked on some PPC ads and I’m in the midst of working on a new TV and radio campaign as well. (Sorry for not naming client names – I only do that when I have permission and for this particular piece, I’m not even bothering to ask.)

On the art side of things, I was happy with the progress I’ve made as a painter. I created 11 paintings in 2016 – I don’t exactly churn them out, but I do stay at it and I continue to try and improve my brushwork, executing a variety of ideas that come from all places but always seem to circle back to Magritte in one way or another.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

I began to more actively market my art this year as well. I now have two websites devoted to my art: http://bloodlinesart.com and http://tom-blood.pixels.com

The first site looks nice but has basically been useless due to a lack of promotion on my part. The second site enables you to take your art and have it show up in the form of pillows, tote bags, iPhone covers, coffee mugs, greeting cards and a variety of ways to order prints. That site continues to draw about 25-50 visitors a day and I’m approaching more than 8000 views since I started it back in July. The sales effort though has been somewhat disappointing – I’ve made enough to pay for the site but that’s about it.

Nuts and Bolts - one of my 'stick' paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I've sold a few of them in 2016.

Nuts and Bolts – one of my ‘stick’ paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I’ve sold a few of them in 2016.

There are more than a million works of art on the website. So I’m not overly surprised that my work isn’t selling like gangbusters. I don’t do art for a living. I do it for fun. I do it because I can. And I will continue to try and get better with each painting.

Prospects for 2017 look solid for both BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art. Currently, I have a number of projects already in the books, some that will be on-going thru the Spring. I’m hoping to have my website fully optimized by the end of January and then I’ll begin more aggressive new business pursuits.

I hope to ramp up my blogging efforts in 2017 and have them be more focused on advertising and art. I dropped off the blogosphere and I’ve lost a lot of regular readers. Hopefully, I can earn them back.

I’m going to be ramping up for my first solo art show since 1994 over the next two months. It’s going to be at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery. It’s both an art gallery and a music venue which will be awesome as I’ll have more than 30 works on display throughout the month of March. Opening night is going to be on Friday, March 3 and feature the music of Tom Blood, Jr.

More on that will be coming.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

I have learned in this business that you never know what’s around the corner. You do your best, try your hardest, be honest with the people you work with and have fun in the process and generally, good things will happen. I have been blessed to work with so many gifted individuals through the years. I continue to learn and explore new ways to market – but bottom line, whether you’re doing a website or online ads or developing a trade show booth, you still need big ideas to stand out, get noticed and acted upon.

I’ve still got a lot of those.

Happy New Year and I’ll see you on the other side of 2017.

 

All in a day’s work – augmented reality, vehicle signage and video script writing

I don’t often post about the work I’ve been doing for BloodLines Creative – which is probably bad for business. Yet I’ve been so busy doing things, including continuing to paint in the evening hours, that I just haven’t found the time – or the energy to tout some of the recent projects I’ve been involved in.

That’s okay because business continues to roll along – never at the volume that I would prefer which would be 40+ billable hours a week – but at the end of each workday, I often wonder where did the time go.

These past few weeks I’ve been working on a new business pitch and part of our proposal involved using augmented reality. In case you’re wondering, Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

In case you’d like to see it in action, here’s a little demo you can view – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaO5tXzj58U

I won’t go into the actual applications that we were proposing but suffice it to say, it has the potential to be pretty cool – if we actually get the business.

I’ve also been involved in creating new vehicle graphics for an electrical contractor we’ve been working with via The Epstein Group. Recently, we got the opportunity to see some of the new graphics put into place on a variety of vehicles in their fleet – vans, bucket trucks, pickups and even a trailer where we wrapped the entire vehicle in graphics.

What’s really exciting is this is part of a comprehensive re-branding effort that will include a new website, print and collateral materials along with new videos.

Speaking of new videos, I’ve written a number of them recently. One for a construction company, another for a new product launch along with a series of internal award videos recognizing the collective efforts of groups or individuals.

No, I’m not naming names or showing the work as some of the projects are confidential in nature or haven’t been approved for public release.

But the work has been both fun and rewarding. And I continue to learn new things and new tactics to utilize in the ever-changing world of advertising and marketing communications.

Regardless of the tactic, they still take smart, strategic thinking in order to stand out, get noticed and acted upon.

Big Ideas Start Here.

BloodLines Creative provides Big Idea Thinking to a wide variety of consumer, B2B and government-related and not-for-profit accounts. The work we do ranges from individual projects to full-scale advertising and marketing communications across all media. If you’re looking for something out-of-the-ordinary, then resist the ordinary. Give us a call at 314.973.9197 today.

The balancing act of the creative entrepreneur

I painted this a few months ago. Little did I know that it was a self-portrait.

I painted this a few months ago. Little did I know I was creating a self-portrait.

I knew the day I resumed BloodLines Creative on a full-time basis that my life was about to face some dramatic changes.

The workday routine would no longer be routine. Business hours would be expanded, beginning earlier and ending later.

I am a creative entrepreneur and I need to be creative about how I go about being an entrepreneur.

There are so many things to do and it’s so easy to get swept away – one minute, you’re focused on researching the competition for a new client where you still need to learn more about the market they’re in and what exactly they’re selling so you can be more targeted with the messaging you’re trying to create. The next thing you know, you’re scanning your emails and end up clicking on any of a multitude of links and blogs and white papers you receive in your efforts to stay on top of industry trends. Suddenly, you’re reading something you had no intention of reading mere seconds beforehand and you realize you’re off the path again.

Get back to the task at hand.

What was the task at hand? After all, there are twenty things you want to accomplish in the day.

But I’ve come to find that if you try and accomplish twenty things, odds are good you may not accomplish anything at all.

So at the end of each day, I make a list. The list can contain no more than five items and they have to be actual doable items. I create a larger, weekly list as well that contains bigger picture items as well as follow ups. I even have a one-month and six-month list of objectives I want to accomplish. Sometimes, an item from the daily list ends up on the next day’s list. And the day after that. But if it’s still on the list after three days, you’ve got a problem – either the item is too big to be done and you need to scale it back so you can actually accomplish something or perhaps you really don’t need to do it in the first place.

I have failed at several tasks so far. Most of them have been signing up for free trial periods. I had a free, 20-day trial of HubSpot and I was really determined to learn more about it.

I couldn’t find the time. (So now it made it on to my long-term list.)

I had spoken to one of my new client contacts about the need for a dashboard so I investigated and found a great source called Klipfolio. I signed up for their free trial and even sat in on their initial overview webinar. I had to quit the webinar because of a conference call that had to take place during the last half-hour. Then my free trial expired. I still want to learn more about Klipfolio because it’s a great way to manage all of your communications activities. Another item for the long-term list.

The good news is that business has been great so far.

BloodLines Creative is off to a rollicking start. But I know how hard it is to keep that momentum going.

I know the importance of giving every assignment your absolute best effort and the importance of building working relationships with your clients and your fellow creative partners that are based on trust and on the simple premise that the product you deliver will generate the results you say it will.

That’s easier said than done.

And that’s the balancing act that you have to walk every day.

Today, writing a blog post was the last thing on my list.

Consider it now crossed off.

 

 

What’s the real key to keywords?

One of John Caples most famous ads.

One of John Caples most famous ads.

Is the copywriter an endangered species?

Do people still value a well-crafted headline that stops you in your tracks, grabs your attention and pulls you into the rest of the story?

Is it possible these days to get someone to read past the third sentence of anything?

I hope so, because this is the fourth sentence.

Originally, this post was going to be titled, “At a loss for words?” The premise was simple. If you were stuck with any creative challenge that needed some big idea thinking backed by some well-crafted, on target messaging, I had a very strong recommendation for you. Me.

But then I ran across an article on HubSpot about the value of keywords, particularly when it comes to headline writing. http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/common-keyword-data?utm_campaign=blog-rss-emails&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=19663780

I read through the article and it reminded me of John Caples and his tested, proven headline formulas that he published in his book, Tested Advertising Methods back in 1932. Back then, Mr. Caples came up with 35 rules to follow for headline writers. Those rules still work today – but anyone who strictly goes by the rules is doomed to mediocrity.

So now we get this modern day list featuring the most common keywords found in the top shared articles. It’s even broken down by where the keywords are appearing in different social media. What works for twitter, may not be right for Facebook or Pinterest or LinkedIn.

Amazing.

Not really. Nor is it really all that surprising to read that people sharing articles on, let’s say, Content Marketing react strongly to words like ‘Content’ or, ‘Marketing’. For science topics, we’re told to use words such as brain, smart, and future.

No wonder the role of the copywriter is being so devalued. When lists like these come out, it’s so easy to stoop to using keywords in your headline just so that the search engines can find you and your odds of being shared can increase exponentially.

So is it selling out when you include keywords like ‘keywords’ in your headline?

Yes, it is. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. After all, you are trying to get people to read what you’ve written. But the real key to using keywords is still creativity. It’s not if you use them, it’s how you use them.

And if you’re still reading this, congratulations. You made it past the fourth sentence.

If you’re at a loss for words for any of your advertising or marketing challenges, I’m here to help. To see some of my words in action, visit www.bloodlinescreative.com or wander amongst a few of my other blog posts and thanks in advance for reading.