Posts Tagged: Allison Development Group

ADG Honored with Eight Awards from Hermes Creative

Has it really been almost a year since we posted to our blog? Yep, it has! And you know why? Allison Development Group has been exceptionally busy. Busier than busy and we’re happy to say that all of that hard work has paid off.

We have happy clients. And awards.

This should be an awards post and it sort of is, but it’s really about happy clients and in the process, doing great work that we also happen to love. That’s the real pay off. Oh, and we stay in business and grow with some really great people (visit Our Team page to see who’s with us!).

How does Allison Development Group measure success?

Last year was so busy that we didn’t even submit our work for any awards. Shame on us. However, we never really measure our success by the number of awards we receive. In fact, when work is cranking, that’s the last thing on our minds. What is always first and foremost and the thing that makes us have that happy, butterfly feeling in our stomach is knowing that the client is really happy with the work that we’ve done and at the same time, we’re ecstatic about the product we’ve created.

The secret in working with creatives

When you work with a creative group like ours, there are a few things to keep in mind. We don’t do this for the money. We do this because it’s really stinkin’ fun and it allows us to push boundaries, dream up new ideas, and if we’re lucky, turn those ideas into real things that mean something to our clients. That’s why we do what we do. Of course, getting paid helps and keeps us in business and we do just fine there. But for the creative in all of us – and yes, you do have it in you – there’s really nothing harder than going out on a limb, sharing it with someone important to you (could be your mom or your client), and they say, “I’m not getting it.” Shut. Down.

For the creative lifers (that’s us), we actually take that as a challenge and turn it around. Did we listen carefully to the client? Did we present our work in a convincing way, or in a way that conveyed the thought and time we took to create it? Did we take enough thought and time to create it? If we can’t answer with a resounding “yes!” to all of those questions, then we know we didn’t do our job and we didn’t provide value to our clients. We also push ourselves to nail it big time in the second round.

Thankfully, that doesn’t happen too often anymore. We take the time. We dig in and ask questions. We push each other. We also have amazing clients that give us creative license and the space we need to produce outstanding work.

The Awards

Ok, you’re right. We really are excited to have received recognition from Hermes Creative Awards. We are also thrilled to showcase our clients by highlighting their work. Take a moment to read who helped us win these awards and then if you know any of these businesses, let them know how proud you are of them. We sure are.

Platinum – 2 awards

o   Direct Mail Piece for Southeastern Sports Medicine & Orthopedics, a Department of Pardee Hospital

Allison Development Group Southeastern Sports Med and Ortho

o   Nonprofit Sponsorship Overview for Mainstay (now known as Safelight) Sponsorship Opportunities Booklet

Allison Development Group Mainstay Work

Gold – 3 awards

o   Annual Report developed for Children & Family Resource Center


o   Logo for Tippi Mace Design


o   Advertising Campaign for Pardee Urgent Care


Honorable Mention – 3 awards

o   Motion Graphics for Dr. Pete Richards – Waterlase Pain-Free Dentistry (Cinema Slide)

o   Program Guide for NADO – the National Association of Development Organizations and their 2016 Annual Training Conference

o   Specialty Item developed for the launch of Monte’s Sub Shop & Taproom (Sandwich Board)

Interested in winning some great recognition with Allison Development Group? Give us a call at (828) 698-6918 or email us: We would love to help you!

Stipe Design Joins Forces with Allison Development Group


We’re thrilled to announce that Derek Stipe, of Stipe Design, has officially joined Allison Development Group as our Creative Director and key member of the leadership team. Working alongside Erica, these two will be charting a course for future growth, and delivering more awesome to more people.

Many of you already know Derek Stipe (as accurately represented in the photo). He’s an amazing graphic designer, musician, dad to two cool boys, and husband to a most amazing woman. 🙂

Derek has been serving up creative design to clients since 2009. We’ve been lucky enough to have him as our designer extraordinaire for almost two years, but not as an official ADG staffer.

Trust us, we secretly had plans to make him “one of us” one day. That day has come! To learn more about Derek, visit Our Team page, and stay tuned for more exciting updates to come!

Big Growth, Wearable Tech, and Customer-Centric Marketing

2013 has been a big year for Allison Development Group! With January 1st just days away, we asked Erica to reflect and comment on the big moments from this past year, and what she expects to see in 2014.

What were the biggest changes for ADG this year?

Growth!! We experienced tremendous growth this year at ADG: in accounts, revenue, and staff. That’s a lot to handle for any small business; it was even more of a big deal when it was condensed into a six month span.

Thankfully, I had been hard at work on business planning for six months prior and had started to put systems into place and clarify roles. Understanding how to forecast flow was critical to keeping our heads above water. We use Basecamp for our project management tool. I can’t imagine working without it now.

What was the #1 lesson you learned in 2013?

The perfect storm of under staffing and a lack of systems hit me mid-year and reminded me that in order to grow this business to a sustainable level, I was going to need to put the right people in positions that encouraged personal and professional development. Together, we would have to start the arduous task of creating processes to make the business run more smoothly.

As a business owner, you simply can’t do it all. Find the best and the brightest, stretch yourself to make it work, and then get out of the way. Oh, and stop being so fluid; systems and processes really are your friend.

Is there any one campaign that you are particularly proud of?

We are blessed to have had so many wonderful clients to work with this year. It’s hard to pinpoint one over another, but I can point to moments when I just knew that the outcome was going to be outstanding.

  • The branding process for MountainWise
  • The first note I heard from Mac Arnold + Plate Full ‘O Blues at Thrive’s annual Bids & Blues event
  • The moment that the entire ADG team knew that Speak Out for Kids  could be more than just a one day event and instead become something truly innovative and special for an entire community.

I’m lucky to have had lot of those types of moments and they never cease to inspire and amaze me, always reaffirming that I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing at this point in my life. That feels pretty awesome.

Any insights on marketing trends for 2014?

ff_wearables2_largeI have two trends that I’ll be paying attention to this year. The first is wearable technology. It’s seriously everywhere and will become a huge part of how all of us interpret our personal outputs: how much we sleep and eat or how much energy we expend. I’m not talking Google Glass here, I’m talking about functional technology that people are already using or wearing.

For marketers like me, I’ve long been in love with data and how to use it to produce measurable outcomes. Now, we’re all mining data; only this time, it’s from our bodies. If I eat peanut butter 10 minutes before my run, can I go longer? Faster? If I eat a banana instead, what does that do to my pace? If do none of the above and get more sleep, what can I expect then? The options for exploration are endless.

So goes the marketing ramifications. Privacy issues notwithstanding, the actual mindset or physical status of a person could now be available. Going beyond mere psychographics to actual personal profiles, marketers will be challenged to forgo the push notification and broad brush approach and instead recognize context.

That brings me to my second trend: contextual, customer-centric marketing. Read: not the lazy path marketing. Even though wearable technology may be WAY out there for a lot of folks, it represents that once more, the customer is in charge in this relationship. Until we truly understand what they want, how they want it, and when they want it, our marketing will not be as effective as it could be.

The shift in Google to secure search this year really did a number on a lot of us who relied on their Google Analytics to show keyword search. It shouldn’t have. The same goes for this month’s latest change at Facebook: a new Algorithm that made many a news feed take a deep swan dive in reach. Again, not a call to panic, but rather a call to marketers and businesses to constantly evaluate goals, understand their customers, and adjust accordingly. We have to be in tune and responsive to whims, trends, and human behavior, and adjust our marketing accordingly. Today’s marketing isn’t for the faint of heart or those looking for the easy way out. Marketing in 2014 is active, focused marketing. You better charge up that Fitbit now.

Is there a trend from 2013 that you’re ready to be over and done with?

Selfies. Stop the madness, people.

Do you have any resolutions for 2014?

To stop taking selfies.
To practice being in the moment.

What do you hope to see for ADG in 2014?

Continued growth, but not so much that we overextend or drop the ball on client projects. I hope to see my fairly new staff feel like they’ve been here forever and take on more and more leadership roles as we grow this business together.

Welcome to the New ADG Website

ADGIconFBWell, things certainly look a little different around here, don’t they? Welcome to the new ADG website, we hope you enjoy our new look as much as we do! With all the work we’ve been doing lately, it took us a while to finally put ourselves on the priority list, but we’re glad we did. Let’s take a look around at some of the changes:

New Faces

As some of you may know already, ADG has grown quite a bit this year. We’ve added new team members to better serve our clients. Please take a few moments to get to know the folks on Our Team, and learn about what they do here at Allison Development Group. I have to say that without a doubt, we have a fabulous group of people here. Our mission is to do meaningful work for our clients; these folks definitely get that. I know our clients would agree.

New Work

We’ve been so busy here at ADG that we’ve barely had time to catch our breath, and it shows in the impressive results we’ve been delivering for our clients. This year has truly been a record year, with an almost 140% increase in sales over last year. No wonder I’m tired! I’m also energized by the innovative projects that we have been able to work on and the new partners we’ve had the pleasure of working with along the way. If you’ve talked to me, you’ve likely heard about a few of these awesome projects, but if you haven’t yet heard, feel free to browse Our Work to see what we’ve been doing with Websites, Branding, and Media Campaigns.

Same Great Service

You know the saying about the cobbler and their shoes? Well, that’s what keeps us so busy. We help other cobblers not only cobble their shoes, but market them and sell them. Turns out, we’ve not always done a great job of marketing ourselves and the work we do. Being an integrated marketing and Public Relations firm is quite comfortable for us, but it’s not always something the public at large “gets.” In fact, they usually try to put us in one of several boxes: ad agency, PR firm, social media group, or marketing shop. What I realized is that I need to do a better job of telling people that we really do all of the above and if we can’t do something you ask of us, we’ll definitely let you know. First and foremost, we want to be your partner and provide comprehensive, strategic marketing and PR services.

We’ve always known what we are capable of, now we’re happy to say more people will too! Explore What We Do and learn more about our approaches to Brand Development, Marketing and PR/Media Relations. Once you do, let us know what ADG can do for you!

What to Learn From the New Chipotle Ad

I want you to think about two different scenarios. In both scenarios we have a parent trying to convince their child to brush their teeth.

Scenario #1: A parent explains to their son the reasons why brushing their teeth is healthier. They do this over, and over again. When that doesn’t work, they yell whenever they catch the child trying to avoid brushing their teeth. And yet they’re still frustrated when, after weeks of cajoling, the act of brushing his teeth is not a formed habit.

Scenario #2: Another parent reads a story to her daughter at bedtime. The main character is everything this child wants to be: well-liked, talented, smart, AND she just so happens to brushes her teeth regularly. There are other kids in the story, kids who get in trouble or aren’t as well-liked, and as you might imagine…don’t brush their teeth. Her daughter loves hearing the story, and wants to be just like the main character.

Now, who do you think is having more success instilling life-long teeth brushing?

Don’t Tell Me What to Do. Tell Me a Story.

You might be thinking this type of persuasion only works in children, but kids aren’t the only ones who want to be guided to a conclusion rather than forced there. They also aren’t alone in wanting to feel that they’re part of a group, specifically, the “right” group. Chipotle knows this. Qdoba, Moe’s, Baja Fresh, and many others are all competing to be the best Mexican burrito chain. They all boast fresh ingredients and healthy options, but with their new marketing add, Chipotle is heads and tails above the rest when it comes to communicating that message. Check it out below:

Video Link

This add captures what is so often missed in marketing: consumers do not want you to tell them what to buy, they want you to tell them a story. They don’t want you to rattle off a list of why your product or service is so much better than the others, they want to feel that your product is the better choice.

A synopsis of the ad:

In a dystopian fantasy world, all food production is controlled by fictional industrial giant Crow Foods. Scarecrows have been displaced from their traditional role of protecting food, and are now servants to the crows and their evil plans to dominate the food system. Dreaming of something better, a lone scarecrow sets out to provide an alternative to the unsustainable processed food from the factory.

Chipotle is barely mentioned in the ad. With the exception of a brief glimpse of a tortilla, there are no beauty shots of burritos or tacos for the entire commercial. In fact, the ad isn’t even for Chipotle’s restaurants, but for a new game. And yet, anyone with a soul is going to feel connected to Chipotle by the end of the 3-minute video. Chipotle’s message is clear: all those other restaurants encourage unnatural, factory farmed ingredients that promote an unhealthy culture, but WE are the kinder, natural choice. This is conveyed without the use of words or a list of facts.

The lesson to take is that although you might be able to rattle off acts and logical reasons that your product or service is better, the real way to attract customers is to connect to them on a deeper level. You have to reach beyond their mind and engage their emotions as well.

Know your customer. Tell them a story they want to hear.

Small Business Secret for Success: Don’t Push Snooze!

Hi Everyone! It’s my favorite day of the week (Friday) and as you know, I love them and typically share my video posts with you on Fridays.  Don’t worry.  I’m still going to do that.

First, I need to do a little housekeeping and that’s to announce the winner of my Calling All Mogul Moms contest.  I had some very inspiring comments and stories told about balancing work and family, including a few from some pretty inspiring dads!  I encourage you to go back to that post and read the comments of one Shakirah Dawud and Ameena Falchetto (Mummy in Provence) and then think about what your moms did to keep it all in balance!  Ladies, your books will be sent out today (just send me your mailing addresses – erica at allisondevelopmentgroup dot com).

Now, on to the video…

I often get asked at preschool drop off how I manage to get myself ‘together’ and get kids off to school and manage to look like a grown up.  Simple answer?  It’s a secret and it goes way beyond being a mom who works.  It’s a that actually makes the Fortune 500 companies what they are – successful.  Check out my video and let me know what you think!

Boy, could that still shot make me look anymore manic?

Calling All Mogul Moms: A Contest

Yep, that’s right.  I have a contest here.  You could win a copy of Mogul Mom: How to Quit Your Job, Start Your Own Business, and Join the Work-at-Home Mom Revolution by Andrea Clayton.

Not too long ago, back in the fall of 2010, I still had my office at home.  I answered a query from HARO (LOVE HARO!) looking for moms who work at home.  {If you’re in PR or even handling PR efforts for your own small business, why not sign up?  You’ll find pitch opportunities and you can even look for content sources, if that’s your thing.  Best of all, it’s FREE.}

In Business, Always Listen for the NO

I’m going to take a break from the Osama Bin Laden/Twitter news affair, and the discussions on influence and Klout to share a marketing and business development tactic with you that I have found enormously beneficial lately (with a big hat tip to my Mom for teaching it to me!).

It's a No!

Listen for the NO

We’re always on the lookout, ever so hopeful, to hear the YES.  “Yes, I want that product.”  “Yes, I want to hire you.”  “Yes, I love that pitch.”  “Yes, now’s a perfect time to borrow money or invest in your business.” 

Small Business Marketing: Sponsorship Opportunities

Do You or Don’t You?

This Friday’s Small Business Marketing Moment is about Sponsorship Opportunities:  Should You or Should You NOT do them.  The answer?  It depends!  Watch the video to see what I mean, but first, let me say THANK YOU to my awesome impromptu focus group members:  Joey Strawn, Jenn Whinnem, Ann Thomas, Robert Danos and Barbara Nussdorfer-Eblen. I ‘crowd-sourced’ my content for today via Facebook Questions through my business Facebook page.  It was fun and I was able to get enough feedback to land on a topic for today’s video.

Hope you enjoy it and please, let me and everyone else know what you think about sponsorships and your experience with them. Thanks!

My Digital Postcard

How Being Disconnected Can Actually Make Us More Connected

As I write this, I’m on vacation with my family in a Coastal port town in NC.  I won’t post it however until after my return.  The reason?  I’m for all intents and purposes, off the grid.  Not in the truest sense of the word, mind you, but darn close.  Yes, we have power, cable, phone service.  I even have my smart phone with me, but have now come to realize how limited my beloved Blackberry really is.  Yes, it did allow me to do a VERY fun podcast Wednesday night with Joe Hackman and Adriel Hamptonamazing technology with the podcast – but it’s limited in that it takes forever to load a site or allow me to comment once it’s loaded.  My AT&T account decided to become invalid on my Blackberry and no amount of trying to convince it otherwise is working.   To top it off, my laptop can’t connect to the amazingly slow internet connection here at the house.

In short, I’m not doing one of the things that I had hoped to do while on vacation and that’s get caught up on blog posts – read them, comment on them, and share them.

I’ve tried everything.  No dice.  I’m thinking that this is a sign.  In addition to the obvious sign that I need to get an IPhone and an IPad :), I’m thinking the other sign is to CHILL OUT.  Open up a Corona, squeeze a lime, kick back and enjoy my time off.  I’ll bet that the Twitter world won’t pass me by.  I’ll bet that those same blog posts will be there when I return to my super fast connections.   And, I’ll bet my family will be very happy to see me looking at them and not at my screen.

The NC Acquarium

As it turns out, I did chill out and as ‘disconnected’ as I felt, I got very connected to my family once again.  In fact, I’m pretty sure my family Klout score went WAY up this past week.

Now that I’m back, all is well and right with the world again and I did indeed CHILL OUT!  A great reminder that the world just keeps on spinning without all the ‘necessary’ items we think we can’t live without.  I hope you enjoyed your week – I sure did!