Chris's Recent Posts

Work: TWP Products Website Design and Build

TWP Products website

Amteco Inc. currently has two different product lines: TWP and Zero Rust. Each product is featured on the Amteco corporate website, but their goal was to launch individual product sites for each brand. TWP was the first project to commence, and Falk Harrison got the call to design and build the new site.

One of our first decisions was the URL. Several ideal URLs were already in use by various TWP dealers. Amteco had previously purchased some other URLs, but none seemed to fit the bill. After a brainstorm, we came up with, hoping the call to action right in the address would give the company an edge.

Our creative director, Steve Hartman, shot photography of the four product cans (a fifth was subsequently added). We presented site design comps to the client, and after approval, our development team built the store locator, project planner, and the color samples order page.

TWP Products website

Our client was thrilled with the result, and we’ve continued to work with Amteco on videos and brand development. A new website for Zero Rust is in the offing, as well.

Falk Harrison has been building websites since 1995, and our creatives and developers are ready to help you take your web presence up a few notches. To get us building you a site that helps you claim thought leadership, generate leads, and close sales, contact Jon Falk at (314) 531.1410.

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Work: Sugarfire Smoke House Video Production

CAUTION: just a bit of foul language in the video

Late last year, Mike Johnson, owner of St. Louis BBQ joint Sugarfire Smoke House, received an email that made him jump out of his chair. The producers of the TV series BBQ Pitmasters invited Sugarfire to apply to appear on the show. All the producers needed was a 3-5 minute audition video that explained, with as much in-your-face attitude as possible, why Sugarfire deserved to be on the show.

Mike texted me, asking if I had any good ideas. I said, “Not off the top of my head, but let me put a creative and a film crew on this.” He agreed the opportunity was important enough to bring in outside help on, and we got to work.

Chris Reimer, our VP of Social Media (me), contacted Bill Streeter of Hydraulic Pictures. A documentary filmmaker with some amazing work under his belt, Bill would prove to be the perfect choice to concept and shoot this project.

Falk Harrison video production

Bill shot raw footage on location of Mike and his pitmaster, Casey Jovick, with help from Chris and Bill’s business partner, Gretta Forrester. Mike and Casey are, believe it or not, pretty humble guys, which presented a small problem. They’re masters at their craft, having trained with some of the best chefs in the world. However, like most of us, they’re a bit shy around a camera. Per the show’s instructions, this audition video needed to be loud and boastful. As conflict makes the reality TV world go ’round, the producers had to ensure that Mike and Casey could hold their own. So they had to be quite a bit louder and more boastful than normal. After a slow start, Bill kept shooting and providing advice as Chris and Gretta jumped up and down in the background, imploring Mike and Casey to get crazy. Eventually, they got warmed up and began explaining their smoking process, talking trash about Memphis BBQ, and basically claiming the $50,000 prize before even appearing on the show.

Bill got what he needed, chose a great musical track, and added a nice little message to Memphis at the end. With a final video in hand, Mike submitted his application to BBQ Pitmasters. Within a week, he had received the good news: they were going to Tampa at the end of January to be on the show. Tune in to Destination America on April 26th for the Season 6 premiere!

What’s the ROI of this expenditure? Prospective clients ask us this all the time. In this case, it would be a tough calculation. Mike didn’t ask that question; he just knew that appearing on television would be a huge break for them. Since opening Sugarfire in 2012, Mike has generated amazing publicity via sandwich giveaways during the government shutdown, winning awards like Best New Restaurant in St. Louis and Best BBQ in St. Louis, making a Sweet Baby Cheezus sandwich for famed NYC PR man Peter Shankman, and the list goes on. Mike knows that such publicity adds up over time. Mike and his team are very thankful and honored to be mentioned among St. Louis’ best barbeque joints after less than a year and a half in operation, but they’re not resting on their laurels. They’ve built a social media machine (check out the post they did on Facebook, announcing their appearance on the show – over 500 likes). Mike uses this ever-growing marketing asset on a daily basis to drive traffic to the restaurant. They also employed Falk Harrison to build their website, which was a substantial investment for them.

Mike and his team are taking a long-term approach to social media and brand building, and the lines out the door are evidence that it’s paying off.

Falk Harrison has been helping organizations with marketing and communications since 1971. Believe it or not, we don’t specialize in making 3-minute reality TV show audition videos; we simply apply great thinking to whatever communication challenge stands before us. The storytelling mediums have changed over the years, and video is the latest (and one of the greatest) ways to communicate with your key stakeholders. To star in your own video production, customized for your organization’s specific needs, contact Jon Falk at (314) 531-1410.

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Work: Recruitment Website and Videos for Benjamin F. Edwards & Co

Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. (BFEC) is growing by leaps and bounds, spreading new locations across the country. To both spur and continue this growth, the organization reached out to Falk Harrison to design and implement a messaging strategy.

The organization does benefit from investors placing their trust in and their assets with a Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. financial consultant (FC). However, after conducting research, we determined that accelerated growth would be realized if financial consultants working at other full-service broker-dealers decided to make the move to Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. The book of business they’d bring with them would be the new clients BFEC is seeking.

Falk Harrison built a microsite designed to highlight how easy it is for FCs to move to BFEC, what the core values of the organization would mean to them should they decide to make the move, and how great the move worked out for the FC and his or her clients.

Benjamin F Edwards & Co Website

Our assignment started with three recruitment videos, focusing on the three core values the organization relies on every day. The values are integrity, trust and mutual respect. A video was concepted for each core value, and shot on location in St. Louis and Chattanooga, TN.

Benjamin F Edwards website

We shot photography of six current FCs, and solicited testimonials from them. Future potential Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. employees now have a website they can peruse while trying to make a very important life decision for themselves and their clients. BFEC wants to make it easy on FCs to figure out if the firm is going to be a good fit for them, and they want to make it easy to join and work at the firm. Falk Harrison’s job was to make this abundantly clear on the website. The site is rich with information and presents the organization in a fun, yet professional light. And our client reports that it’s working, as they continue to expand across the country.

To get Falk Harrison thinking, designing and implementing solutions for you, contact Jon Falk at (314) 531-1410.

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Recommended Reading for October 2013

Below are a few articles we found interesting enough to pass along:

1. When I first saw the title of this article, “Why Social Media is Not a Distraction for Entrepreneurs,” I kneejerk disagreed. I hadn’t even read the article, but was skeptical. Just being honest, social media is a wonderful communication and marketing tool – it is in fact changing the world. But in the wrong hands, it can be a huge distraction. However, the piece by Michael Simmons provided me a huge reminder – find the important people in your network, and keep up with them. People often ask how I can keep up with 17,000 people I’m following on Twitter, and the answer is that it is impossible. So I don’t even try. Instead, I curate lists of the people I learn from, the people that inspire me, and the people that might want to hire me. There’s a lesson here for companies worried about keeping up with their duties on social media – you’re not talking to everyone, just your customers and prospects. So I supposed the title of the article was a bit misleading.

2. A common misconception is that one tweet from an influencer, or someone with many followers, will cause the floodgates to open. It just doesn’t work that way. This article dispels the notion that targeting influencers will be the key to your success. Sneak preview: influencers sometimes purchase their followers, and robots don’t listen.

3. On the other hand, Mark Ecko is truly an influencer, and he offers an incredible list of “10 Rules for Getting Influencer Attention.” If you’re going to try to catch a lucky break via an influencer, these are some very helpful guidelines.

4. Email marketing is not dead. Here’s ten great reasons why email should be one of your marketing priorities. I especially liked #3 – the lifespan of an email. I had never considered this angle.

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Social Media Can Hurt Your Employment Prospects. Or Help!

Here’s what social media has wrought: I arrive at work on a Monday, and I have no idea that, by the end of the day, some unemployed dancing girl will have a multi-million-view YouTube video on her hands.

Marina Shifrin worked as a comedy writer and video producer for Next Media Animation in Taiwan, and was disillusioned with her job. She was apparently tasked with making “viral videos,” which we all know are difficult to make. Great videos aren’t tough to pull off, but it takes a very special, almost secret formula to get something to go viral. We advise our clients to not worry about virality as much as quality.

Marina decided to quit, and to make a point, she took at swing at making her own viral video. She arrived at work during the 4am hour and made this:

A well-made video, excellent dancing (seriously, she has moves), and not too terribly mean to her former employer. As of this writing, it has nearly six million views. Mission very much accomplished.

Here’s what the video’s YouTube description said:

“I work for an awesome company that makes news videos. I have put my entire life into this job, but my boss only cares about quantity, how fast we write and how many views each video gets. I believe it’s more important to focus on the quality of the content. When you learn to improve this, the views will come. Here is a little video I made explaining my feelings.”

I walked over to Jon Falk‘s office and asked him what he thought. Jon is an employer – I wanted his opinion not only on the video, but on whether she was hirable in his eyes. Jon’s always pretty pragmatic – very fair, very results-based. He asked me, “What does this video say to you? Does it say ‘I’m a crazy person and I absolutely hate this awful employer?’ No, it says, ‘I care about quality.’ That’s what I got out of it.”

Bingo. Granted, neither he nor I have ever met this person, so it’s very difficult to definitively say that she’d be a personality fit for Falk Harrison. However, many of these “I quit” videos at first glance seem to be made by petulant, angry ex-employees. It can therefore be difficult to take them seriously. I am taking Marina seriously.

Thank you Rebecca Roberts for inviting me to Fox 2 to discuss the social media implications of Marina’s video. Watch below:

Read more about Marina and her viral video on Fox2Now

What do you think? Was this unprofessional of her? Will this hurt her chances to retain future employment? Or could this video make her job search easier?

UPDATE: Next Media Animation responds with their own video! Watch below:

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