We’re just back from two days in Houston as the guests of ttweak, a marketing, communications and design firm that shares our belief that authentic, original voices are the best way to convey a message. ttweak’s best-known work is probably their Houston It’s Worth It campaign, but their extensive and varied experience also includes a number of video projects that let interview subjects, rather than narrators, tell the story. ttweak principals Randy Twaddle and Dave Thompson proved to us that Houston is indeed worth it, not only for the food (mmm, bbq. I mean mmm, Mexican. I mean, mmm, Cajun.) but even more notably for the almost unbelievably friendly people.
While we were in Houston we had the opportunity to meet with a number of ttweak’s clients, all of whom reinforced our impression that Randy and Dave have mastered the art of bottom-up marketing campaigns — and did so long before us johnny-come-latelys in the Web 2.0 world started yakking on about user-generated content. Here’s some of the wisdom we gleaned from their example and their advice:
- Let participants speak for themselves. Don’t drown out original voices with heavy-handed narration or moderation.
- Remain tool agnostic. If your goal is to convey a message, you’ll need to choose a different medium depending on the message you’re delivering.
- Production values matter. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that people will see past your barebones interface to appreciate the depth or brilliant of your feature set. Appearance counts.
- Invest in your local community. Even if your business has a national or international reach, a solid reputation with clients in your own city provides a bedrock for growth.
- Build relationships with your client’s entire team. During one client visit, we saw how ttweak’s introduction counted with the CEO — but we also saw Dave on hugging terms with the parking valet. We got a warm reception in the boardroom — and a warm car waiting outside when we were done.
- Client service is the surest way to grow a business. Resist the temptation to cash in by focusing on a single hot product, or cash out by selling your company to the highest bidder.
- Do what you’re great at. Over-reaching is the surest way to burn your client — and your brand.
We’re excited to work with a company that realizes Web 2.0 values of user engagement in all of its work. And thanks again to Randy and Dave for introducing us to their wonderful city!