My “Mad Men” Donald Draper: Uncle Bill

I am often asked how I first got into web design. When they do, I tell them about my Uncle Bill.

Depending on which generation you are, you may remember ads for Bisquick, Mutual of New York, Alcoa, Bell Telephone System, Crisco and Kleenex that ran in the ‘60s and ‘70s. You may also remember the many family-centered sitcoms of the ‘70s.

I grew up watching these sitcoms and seeing these ads. My sisters and I liked a particular sitcom called Family Affair that featured a character named Uncle Bill who lived in New York City. Whenever we watched it, we would point and say, “Look… it’s Uncle Bill!” Although my own Uncle Bill also lived in NYC, he was actually less like that character and more like Darrin Stephens from Bewitched. Those more familiar with more recent TV programs would know more what I am talking about if I compared him to Donald Draper from Mad Men. Both characters were New York advertising executives on Madison Avenue in the 1960s.

Mad Men Work

A few years ago, I had the privilege of going through Uncle Bill’s portfolio with him. I have so much respect for his creative genius and how much work it took to produce such quality design work in his era.

You see, in Uncle Bill’s time, the advantages a designer now enjoys just didn’t exist. It was an exhausting and time-consuming process to produce workups for clients to review. Every part of the design, including the lettering, needed to be done painstakingly by hand. A summer class in drafting gave me an idea of how much work it was to do all the lettering by hand. There were none of the thousands of font options and low-cost stock image libraries we have today.

William Shiozawa was a great illustrator, manual typographer, and master of presentation. It is my honor to be able to show you some of his work.

sample of Uncle Bill's ad comps

Not only did I enjoy seeing these outstanding designs my Uncle Bill created, but I got to hear his stories from Madison Ave.

One of my favorites he shared is the story behind a magazine ad campaign he was creating for a brand of women’s shoes that had a unique rubber sole. His innovative ad layout showed the front and bottom of the shoe on successive pages. To get the best illustrations, my uncle hired an artist who was as known for his great shoe drawings as he was for his unusual hairstyle. The artist turned out to be Andy Warhol.

Uncle Bill commercial artist at work

“Mad Men” can keep Donald Draper. I’ll take my Uncle Bill any day. William Shiozawa was kind, gentle, intelligent and talented.

William Shiozawa attended the art school in Oakland, CA where he grew up. After serving in the US Army during the Korean War, Uncle Bill returned to his passion for art and enrolled at Art Center in Los Angeles. He then landed a job with an ad agency in New York City and continued as a “Mad Man” until 1980 when he retired and moved to Los Angeles. He didn’t hang up his pencils though; he continued to enjoy drawing portraits with a community drawing club.

Every day in my business is a tribute to “my Donald Draper” who inspired me with his work in commercial art.

Co-market for Bigger Impact from National Small Business Week Locally in Torrance

As a small business owner, and with many of our clients also being local businesses in the Torrance area, we’re believers in promoting Small Business Week.

Small Business Power!

Did you know that more than 50% of all Americans either own or work for a small business, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, and they create 2 out of 3 new jobs in this country?

This year’s SBA’s annual National Small Business Week is April 30 to May 6. 

If you’re a consumer, you can help celebrate the big impact small business owners have on the economy, the job market and our daily lives by visiting and patronizing your local Torrance and South Bay businesses. They appreciate you!

If you’re a Torrance business owner, encourage your local community to Shop Local. Co-marketing is a creative way, especially for those of you with a brick-and-mortar storefront or office.  And your co-marketing collaboration efforts may reap longer lasting benefits by strengthening your relationships with your neighborhood businesses.

START PLANNING NOW!

Collaborate with your neighborhood Torrance businesses to make Small Business Week a FUN event.

  1. Advertise “Meet Your Local Businesses!” Spread the word through each of your social media accounts, newsletters, ads and in-store banners about all the fun things you have planned.
  2. Offer free refreshments at each business stop.
  3. Put up balloons or other decorations.
  4. Create punch card for shoppers to visit each of your businesses and give a gift for doing so; maybe a grab bag with a little something from each shop, or pick from a choice donated by each of the businesses.
  5. Create coordinated promotion, e.g., get a haircut today, and get a free cup of Joe next door.
  6. Feature music or other entertainment in the parking lot (maybe using a local band.)
  7. Offer incentives you can provide to encourage first-time visitors to return, e.g., coupons.
  8. Have a fun photo booth or area (it’s a good way to get more publicity via social media too!)

What the best Small Business Week or Co-Marketing idea you’ve seen? Please share it with us!

>> READ MORE EXAMPLES OF CO-MARKETING FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES

4 Reasons to Add an SSL Certificate to Your Website Now

We’ve always installed SSLs for clients with websites accepting online payments.  We did not necessarily recommend SSLs for non-ecommerce sites.  This is not the case any more.

Do you I reallly need an SSL Certificate? How will it benefit my online business? These are some of the questions you might be asking yourself.

It turns out you need an SSL for your website more than ever.

SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is a technology that encrypts connections between an Internet browser (and other “client” devices) and a web server so that hackers can’t intercept sent data. When used in an http connection, the connection becomes https (secure https), the “S” being a sign that your site has an SSL Certificate. For example, https://umeworks.com (secured) vs. http://umeworks.com (not secured).

If the connection between your computers and your server isn’t secured, hackers can use specialized tools to intercept the data on transit, e.g., use it to access consumers’ bank accounts.

So, the number one reason to use SSL is to protect sensitive information being sent across the internet. The SSL technology does this by encrypting all data before it is sent. This way, even if somebody intercepts it along the way, they cannot make use of it because the encrypted information will only be readable to the server it is being sent to.

However, even non-ecommerce sites should use SSL Certificates because of recent changes.  Small businesses can benefit in using SSL four ways:

  • It’s important for trust

Web browsers such as Firefox are currently giving visual cues to help users determine whether or not a website is using SSL. For a secure https site, there will be a green padlock right at the beginning of your URL. In some cases, the entire URL bar may be colored green – all of these aimed at telling the user that your site is safe. HTTP sites don’t have the green padlocks. For a business, these cues can have a big impact on user trust.

  • Chrome has taken it one step further

While other browsers just display the green padlock, the new version of Google Chrome which was released at the end of January is blatantly warning users against visiting insecure sites. Just before your URL, there will be a “Not Secure” warning which could deter users from visiting your site. Google has said that at a later stage, they will in addition to the “Not Secure” warning place a danger sign next to your URL to further advice users against visiting your site.

  • Google Search Engine is giving a ranking boost to HTTPS sites

Actually, this started back in mid 2014 when Google announced that having a 2048-bit key certificate on your site will give you a minor ranking boost. At that time, Google said that SSL Certificates would have only a small impact on search results. But in their renewed efforts to make the web a safer place, the company has made SSL a permanent ranking factor and has mentioned being open to giving it more weight than other signals.

  • SSL Certificates are no longer expensive

Initially a barrier to acquiring the technology, SSL prices are now within reach for small businesses. GeoTrust, for example, offers a number of SSL certificates, including the Quick SSL Premium which goes at just $149/year. Thawte also has a low priced offer, the Thawte SSL, which is priced at $149/year. Pricing depends on several factors including brand, warrant and encryption levels. Many hosting providers offer SSLs you can purchase from within your control panel; some for less than $100/year.  So, installing an SSL certificate on your website via your current hosting company may be inexpensive and the fastest way. You can now acquire SSL Certificates free with LetsEncrypt.com, a service run for the public’s benefit by Internet Security Research Group.

Check to see if your hosting company support Free SSLs

Summary

For these reasons, if you don’t have SSL already, you need to make it a priority. It will be of immeasurable benefit to both your business and your customers.

Need help? UmeWorks can install your SSL for a nominal fee. Contact Us

How to Respond to a Bad Review

“How should I respond to a bad review?” “Should I respond to bad reviews?”

These are questions I am asked from time-to-time.  Unfortunately, for various reasons, sometimes businesses receive bad reviews.

Numerous studies have found that consumers highly value online reviews. In fact, a majority of people will never make a purchase without checking places like Google+, Yellow Pages, and Yelp to read a few reviews.

One of the reasons they read these reviews is to find out if previous customers have had any bad experiences with your brand. Did you fail to meet a customer’s expectations? Was one of your shipments unnecessarily delayed? If any of these were to happen, the angered customer will often head to one of the review sites and pour their hearts out, calling you all sorts of names.

This can seriously damage your reputation on and off the internet, and may cost you sales and customers.

So, how do you deal with these negative reviews? How do you ensure that they don’t ruin the reputation you worked so hard to build?

  • Always respond

Failing to respond to a negative review is the biggest mistakes you can make. First, when you don’t respond, you’re worsening the damage. Other people visiting the review platform will be swayed by the reviewer’s comments. Secondly, failing to respond is a way of telling customers that you don’t care. No one wants to deal with an uncaring business in today’s world.

  • Be prompt

Don’t wait for days to respond. The longer you wait, the worse the situation will get. If possible, respond immediately. However, since you may be busy, make it a point to respond within at most 48 hours. Beyond that, it might be too late.

  • Keep a cool head

Don’t lose your temper over the matter. You’ll lose that customer and a couple of his or her friends. Even if the comments were overly harsh, to protect your business and avoid a publish backlash (which isn’t uncommon), keep your cool and soberly analyze the comments to determine what exactly might have angered the customer so much.

  • Say “I am very sorry”

If the review’s name is Jackie, say, “Hi Jackie, I am very sorry…” Addressing the customer by name always has a positive effect as it makes conversations personal. Saying “I am very sorry” shows that you’re taking responsibility for whatever happened. Such an opening line will almost always win them over.

  • State the measures you’ve taken

Tell them what you are doing or have done to ensure such a thing doesn’t happen again. If it was poor customer service, you can inform them that you’ve since spoken about that with your staff.

  • Directly call them

For an even more personalized experience and to avoid public scrutiny, you can call the customer and directly speak to them. During the call, introduce yourself, thank them for using your service, thank them for the feedback, apologize for the bad experience, and assure them that it will never happen again.

  • Close that chapter

When the matter is finally resolved, ask the once again happy customer to review you positively to even things out. They’ll do so gladly. With that done, move on!

Pedro Pet Pals Looks to a Brighter Future with their Website Redesign

Here’s one of UmeWorks’ recent website redesigns: Pedro Pet Pals.

Pedro Pet Pals is a local Los Angeles South Bay non-profit organization, dedicated to saving as many homeless animals as possible.  They raise funds to provide services and supplies for animals, many in the local animal shelters.

We first sat down with Pedro Pet Pal Board members to understand their goals for the website redesign. The goals of redesigning the Pedro Pet Pals website was to update the look and make it mobile-friendly. UmeWorks worked with the client to identify the most important call-to-actions they wanted the readers to take: donate, volunteer and adopt.  So we design to make that front-and-center.  We also made changes to so website visitors could understand more quickly what Pedro Pet Pals’ does, while ensuring the site’s post contributors would be visible.

Where practical, UmeWorks kept the same page URLs as the previous site, and created 301 permanent redirects and a custom 404 page.  This helped protect the site’s SEO ranking.

You can learn more about how to avoid losing your site’s SEO juice in our free white paper.

10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid