Whew! After months of teasing, I am finally able to share one of the biggest projects I’ve been working on this year.
Ladies and gentlemen, this week marks the premiere of The Studio—the official blog for Adhesive Technologies, the leading glue gun company of the world.
So much has led up to this launch, it’s almost anticlimactic simply to share a screenshot of the homepage. Adhesive Technologies, or AdTech for short, reached out to me back in January of this year, right when I was severing ties with a steady paycheck in order to go full-time into web design and photography. What they wanted at that time was more than I could take on, and I declined to take the work.
Several months later, however, they reached out again, and after narrowing the scope of all they wanted to accomplish, together we embarked on a journey that took us through three tiers of their online presence:
- first their retail listings copy on sites like Amazon and Walmart;
- then their photos and visual branding;
- and finally, their blog and the original content they put on social media.
I’ve had to piece together all the elements without the backbone of a trained team or any background myself in hot melt glue technology, and to have hit this goal feels—well, it feels like it’s been a very long time coming.
Here is a quick Before-and-After of AdTech’s online presence. At the end I will address some Q&A that will inevitably arise about what this means for Alexis the Greek.
1 - The Blog
Since it’s the biggest and most visual element we addressed, I’ll start with the blog.
BEFORE: Prior to my coming on, AdTech did have a blog. It was called Make Something Great, and it was a standard WordPress.com blog with a generic template and just a couple sidebar widgets. It was a place for a variety of bloggers to share projects they had made using AdTech products, from glue guns to adhesive erasers to glue/tape runners. The site had just two pages (“Home” and “About”), it had no way of collecting emails, and it did not have a custom domain.
From a designer’s point of view, the site also lacked character. The banner image was created using stock fonts and wasn’t particularly Feng Shui, graphically speaking—it got the name across, but there were no integrated shapes or images that could tell a story, and the proportions were a bit off. The color scheme for the entire blog was limited to one specific shade each of blue and green, which didn’t quite match the company’s latest logo even though that was the idea. And because so many different voices contributed to the blog, the range of quality on images and written content varied substantially. The blog did not feel cohesive.
AFTER: The new blog, The Studio, is a much fuller site, customized to meet the needs of the ideal user as well as drive sales for AdTech. I added several pages—“Shop,” to link users to AdTech’s Amazon listings; “Categories,” to allow users to view posts based on their interests; “Collaborations,” to link users to posts created in partnership with other companies and influencers in the blogosphere; and “Contribute,” to give DIY’ers a way to submit pitches for guest posts.
I changed the sidebar widgets to be more useful to the end user, taking them from a calendar and a list of post tags (useful widgets for, say, sports or political blogs, but not so much for DIY) to:
- an introduction to the blog,
- thumbnail previews of recent posts,
- a search bar,
- the 9 most recent images posted on the AdTech Instagram account (hyperlinked), and
- a list of shortcut links to categories.
I broadened the color scheme to include a variety of summer hues and jewel tones—colors that elicit creativity, happiness, and comfort, and which can be changed in ratio in accordance with the seasons. These colors were integrated into the banner image, which also made use of custom fonts from Creative Market, as well as shapes and images pulled from the blog itself.
We launched this week with 7 completed posts so that visitors would have a good amount to browse on their first visit. First-time visitors are greeted with an option to opt-in for email updates, and by signing up they automatically receive two beauty bag sewing patterns. The freebie will change periodically throughout the year to incentivize more and more people to sign up—expanding AdTech’s marketing reach for crucial times of the year, such as Christmas and other holidays.
We also got the company a custom domain for the blog: www.thestudio.blog.
The Studio will invert AdTech’s previous social marketing strategy, which in the end is probably going to have the biggest impact on how much revenue the company drives from their blog and social media. Where before what AdTech posted on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram was links to others’ blogs and videos, now what they will post will be original content—links that drive traffic to their blog, their videos, their online retail listings. Their blog will also be built upon in-house projects, rather than paid posts from guest bloggers, so not only will the look and feel of the blog become more cohesive, but the company will be contributing to the DIY community and conversation, instead of repeating information that has already been offered up by others. This will lead those within the community to seek out AdTech for their take, their expertise in the community, which will be invaluable to them as a company.
2 - Photography
AdTech is a company owned and operated predominantly by men over 40 whose mindsets are fixed on creating the best product for their end users—not so much on the positioning of those products.
Therefore it comes as no shock that most of their photographic options for online listings earlier this year were shots of their products still in their packages, propped against the same white backdrop—simple, functional, get-the-job-done shots.
Since a huge market for their products, however, are women between the ages of 25 and 45, whose mindsets are on creating beautiful and functional spaces, accessories, or storage, AdTech’s DIY product images had a lot of room left to speak to their audience in a compelling way.
We decided to tackle this issue by creating a series of lifestyle shots that showed each of the creative products in use or in context. I was given a hefty stack of market research and discovered that AdTech’s ideal client had a lot in common with me, so I became one of the models to show how the products could be used. (Having a background in modeling helps with my comfortability in front of the camera!) We started adding colorful backdrops for the in-use shots and doubled our return on the shots by shooting actual projects in progress, which could later be used as original content for the blog.
We kept all the original shots of the glue guns, glue sticks, finger guards, adhesive erasers, and glue runners in their packaging, because in-store shoppers should know what packaging to look for an online shoppers should know what to expect in the mail; but we added to our Know, Like, and Trust by expanding the overall number of images to show products being used by someone who resembles AdTech’s primary customer, showing the dimensions of the products in spacial context, and demonstrating how those products enhance the lifestyle of AdTech’s ideal client.
3 - Retail Listings Copy
Prior to this summer, AdTech had no system in place for listing details for products—as new listings went up, whoever was writing the listings that day incorporated whatever information he or she thought pertinent, and then moved on to the next thing on the to-do list.
This led to very inconsistent coverage of product information overall for the AdTech Amazon store, Walmart listings, and Michael’s/JoAnn’s/Hobby Lobby sites.
Together with the head of marketing, I was able to create a system by which:
- all products were described up front in terms of their benefits to the end user (benefits being some end result of using the product that the ideal client would really like),
- then by the features that set the products apart from competition (the technology or design that the company was proud of),
- and finally by the necessary information (glue gun wattage, for instance, and whether a device is corded or cordless).
Throughout all the copy were Calls to Action, encouraging the reader to envision herself using the product in a specific way and naturally conclude that the tool was vital on the way to some greater thing she desired.
By way of this system, confusion for which glue guns were designed for which uses and which hot glue sticks were designed for which types of projects will be cut down substantially. Answers to FAQ will be addressed. Buyers comfort in the product they’ve committed to should be increased. And product ratings should go up.
For the foreseeable future, I will remain one of the primary content creators for this blog, offering much creative direction, setting up the post publication and social media schedule, and engaging with AdTech's consumers on various platforms.
Although a little outside the scope of what I typically do for my clients, this work will be something fun and different for me to experience that will also lend some insight to me in maintaining an online personality for a brand that isn't my own and has nothing to do with coffee! Please note: This is no way detracts from the work I do for Alexis the Greek. I've been working with AdTech for months and have still designed sites, written copy, offered online consultation, and shot photos for plenty of businesses simultaneously. This just means that if you want more content from yours truly, you can now get it also at The Studio and all its social platforms (such as Instagram and Facebook).
Here's to the future of AdTech! Thanks for reading.
What do you think? Leave a comment over on Instagram @alexisthegreek! As always, if this information was helpful, share it with a fellow business person and stop by my tip jar to let me know you appreciated it. And if there's a topic you'd like me to cover in a future blog post, let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.