Tag Archives: the mad house

8 Things Small Businesses Need to Know About Working With an Advertising and Design Firm

If you run a small business, you should know that hiring an advertising and design firm can be one of the best things that you’ll ever do for your company. If you have never done it before, however, you should know that there are a few things small businesses need to know about working with an advertising and design firm. Follow these tips, and you can make the most out of using the services of one of these firms.

1. Treat Them Like a Partner

First of all, treat your firm like a partner in making your business succeed, not a vendor. Your advertising and design firm wants your company to be a success.

2. Be Up-Front About Your Budget

You can develop a good marketing campaign with a little bit of money or a lot. However, your marketing firm needs to know how much you have to spend so that it can make the most out of your money.

3. Talk About Your Goals

You probably have certain goals in mind, such as introducing a new beer or increasing foot traffic. Let your advertising and design firm know what your goals are so that they can work to achieve them.

4. Be Realistic

You might dream of seeing huge results in the first week, but it’s just not realistic. It’s kinda like baking a cake. Take it out of the oven too early, and you have a pan full of goo. Make sure that you are realistic in your goals and expectations because marketing takes time.

5. Take Their Advice

You’re hiring a professional firm for a reason — they know what they are doing. Trust them, and take their advice because your company will benefit if you do.

6. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Make sure that you communicate with your marketing and design firm about the results that you see from your campaign — such as if you see more people coming through the door because of your new advertising — and about other things that they should know about, such as changes in your budget or inventory.

7. Keep the Approval Process Small

You might want to have a team of your employees look over the things that your marketing firm is doing, but that slows down the process. Ideas and campaigns can lose their luster quickly when the committee weighs in. Exercise a bit of trust, and keep the approval process small, such as approving things yourself or only getting a small team of employees involved.

8. Be Prompt With Payments

Your marketing and design firm works hard and deserves payment for all that it does. Plus, it costs money to keep advertising campaigns going. Make sure that you are prompt with payments to maintain a good relationship with your firm and to prevent any hold-ups on your campaign.

If you are ready to make the jump, contact us at The MAD House today. We’d love to talk with you.


A New Office and More


Well folks, in June The MAD House packed up all of its stuff and bid Austin, Texas farewell. We landed in a little slice of paradise on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast, or as the marketing pieces call it, The Forgotten Coast.  So, our address says Carrabelle, but we’re not actually in Carrabelle. That’s where our PO Box is. Many reasons for the move, mostly personal. Let’s just say it was time and we’re glad to be here.

Cow abunga
Cow abunga

We miss Austin and all of its cool. We miss our friends, Barton Springs, the music, Maudie’s, Bert’s BBQ, Gueros, Gourmands and too many other favorite restaurants, and the crazy-good craft beer scene – all of the things that will make it fun to visit Austin. We don’t miss the trying-too-hard-to-be-hipness, the insane traffic, the overtaxed (literally) and underperforming infrastructure, the 100-plus degree days, and the influx of outworlders – all things that will make it easy to come back home to Florida after visiting Austin.

Life moves a different pace here. Many restaurants in the area are only open Thursday through Sunday when the tourists flock to the area for fishing, beaching, birding, golfing and exploring. I found a few places with craft beer. There’s even a craft brewery (Oyster City Brewing) over in Apalachicola and another in Tallahassee (Proof). Beer festivals are in full swing right now with fests within easy “driving-to” range – though, a hotel in lieu of the “driving-back” is probably a good idea. For a fairly rural area, Florida’s law enforcement agencies give this area of the state plenty of attention. Following the rules of the road makes for a happy trip.


We find that extra planning goes into our travels to nearby bergs. You know, while in Crawfordville (30 miles away) visiting the screen printer, be sure to stop at WalMart for bacon (because name-brand bacon costs twice as much at the local IGA, and I needs my bacon). Or, if I’m heading to Tallahassee (50 miles away) to go to the airport or, say, meet with that beer prospect, better hit Costco for gas, bottled water and K-cups. Then swing by Whole Foods for produce (making sure to take the ice chest so I can keep things cool and fresh until I get home), and grab shrimp at that seafood place in Panacea because the seafood place in Carrabelle is closed today. These little things can have an impact if not carefully planned. Can’t just run over to the HEB for dinner fixings or grab a T-Man from Bert’s for lunch anymore.



Yep, it’s a bit different here. That’s what we fell in love with when we first visited a couple of years ago. Work is still the same for us both. We both are able to work from our home offices like we did in Austin. As long as we have cell coverage and internet, we’re in good shape. The airport’s an hour away when we need to travel. And work, we do. It can be quite consuming. Sometimes, even though we’re in the same house, we don’t see each other the entire day.

And that’s O.K. Because, on a Friday afternoon, we can knock off a little early and head for the beach. In the evening, I can take Mrs. MADHouseLarry to our favorite spot on “the island” for hot shrimp, redneck caviar and cold craft beers while the blazing orange sun sets into the bay. We like this place. It’s a delightful blend of locals and tourists all ready to put the week behind them and slide into island time for the next two days. Everyone is happy. Everyone is friendly. No one is trying-too-hard-to-be-hip.

Sunset following a summer storm over Appalacicola Bay


Next time:  Some new stuff The MAD Freaks have been working on.


News flash: There was an eclipse last week … or was it the week before? Whatever. The lunar eclipse provided an opportunity for more photography abuse. I’ve mentioned before how I really like the idea of photography, how I can see the photo in my twisted brain, and how that vision rarely makes it to final image. So with a new tripod and Old Man Moon putting on a show, it seemed appropriate to try, yet again.

Doing a little research, I saw some HDR composites of eclipses and moonrises and thought I’d give that technique a shot. I wasn’t overly disappointed with the results. Usually, when my name is mentioned in the same sentence with the moon, it’s in a story from high school – where the full moon made numerous unscheduled appearances – from the oddest of locations. Butt that’s another story.

Here are a few results from my more recent moon experience.

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The Cafe and Brand Consistency


I have a “virtual” office. Sure, I have an office with a desk and a phone and a stapler and a computer. But, like many folks out there, I’m able to work from pretty much anywhere. Earlier in the Summer, my wife and I took a week off to hit the Gulf Coast. We both worked a little every day from the hotel room, or the coffee joint, or the bar at the beach. All it takes is a good Wi-Fi connection. Right?

When it comes to Wi-Fi connections at my local cafe, it’s always a toss-up whether there will be a connection or not. Which is a shame, because I like the food and the place is close to the office. The folks are friendly and the atmosphere is pleasant and unobtrusive. I can get cup of coffee, a muffin, and get a lot done … that is, when there is a good connection.

Seems Murphy’s Law is the rule here. If I don’t have any pressing business to knock out, and just want to surf the net, or catch up on articles or emails, there is no problem. Everything works fine. On the other hand, say I’m trying to get approvals on a file, or need to communicate with one of my creatives on a deadline intensive project, the connection will poot out right in the middle of things. The establishment’s owner will reset the router and we’ll be back on for a few minutes. Then, poof, gone again. He’s been through various modems and routers trying to solve the issue. His provider has rewired the place. Still, roll the dice.

I’ve learned my lesson (mostly) and make sure the important stuff happens from the office computer. I save the off-line work for my coffee and muffin break. I say mostly because I came in today with the intention of writing a blog piece and posting it from here. Of course, poot.

So, today’s post was going to be a quick piece on consistency’s effect on the “brand experience”.

And it still is.

The inconsistency of a product, albeit free in this case, has caused me to alter my view of the brand experience I am receiving from this cafe. Love the food. People are great. Convenient location. Atmosphere works.  Internet doesn’t.

It’s not a deal killer, but I certainly don’t spend as much time here as I used to. I’ve found other, less convenient, spots with good coffee, good people and kick ass internet connections. These are the spots at which I’ll meet clients and co-workers for concept sessions or project briefing sessions. Meetings that require a good connection to the webbed world. Yeah, a bit out of the way, but the consistency of the other features makes up the difference.

Back at the local cafe, I see people come in, order coffee and a breakfast taco, and then sit down to their laptops. A few minutes later they are looking around to see if anyone else is on a computer. Then the questions: Hey, are you on the internet? What’s the secret to getting on the WI-Fi? Is there a password? Then they are slamming shut the computers, woofing down the taco and making tracks for the next place that can offer a connection. They will not be back.

And so the lesson for the local place, if having people use your internet is an important feature you are offering, make dang sure it works correctly consistently, as in, all the time.  For many, who only have a few minutes between appointments to slurp a coffee and jump online, poor Wi-Fi is a deal breaker.

I guess I could rig my cell phone to act as a “hot spot”. Wonder how long my “unlimited data” plan would last if I did that …