Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Update. (Two days late.)

Today is a good day to write a blog entry about my new campus bookstore job. Why, you may ask? Because today (recently) Amazon announced that they are going to offer textbook rental on their Kindles. So, students can rent a textbook, for 20% of the cost of purchase, and it will download to their Kindle. They can make notes on the book directly on their Kindle, and even when the rental expires they will still have access to their notes via the Amazon cloud. Holy shit! So my Bookstore job is going… fine.

I'm just kidding. The bookstore is also going the way of rental books and they will be priced to compete. We're also releasing an App for iPhone, Windows Phone and Android.

Freelance continues. The Canadian Mathematics Society has touched base with me to arrange a meeting. I hope that works out. More business is always good. Charlie Smith has also told me that he'd like to set up a freelance arrangement. I'm skeptical that anything will come from Mr. Smith but it would be fantastic if anything did.

I'm learning constantly at this new job. It's ridiculous. The office is filled with very motivated and resourceful people.

I've found and used two cool services in the last two weeks. www.surveymonkey.com has some awesome survey tools and tiny.cc lets you track click-throughs on your microlinks for free.

The Bookstore purchased a new copy of Office for me because I had to do up a Powerpoint presentation. Fun! More exciting though is that I will have to create messaging for the internal monitors at the bookstore. Powerpoint was suggested but I said that video would be cooler. They liked the idea and asked me what I needed. I said After Effects CS5 and so they bought me After Effects CS5. Now the only problem is I have to learn to use After Effects CS5!

I still can't help but feel like I'm still in someone's desk, on someone's computer, doing someone's job. I'm really hoping that it starts to feel like home soon. I have a meeting with HR tomorrow to set up my salary and benefits. Signing something that says that I work here might help me to feel more like I work here. Plus, when I get a staff card I can sign up for the gym, have a place to shower, and start biking to work immediately.

The Queens Campus is amazing. I've always loved to walk at lunch. Bank Street offered me homeless and urban decay. The campus offers students and ivy covered limestone buildings. I'm much more serene here.

As far as what I've been doing here, I've been busy. The Facebook page hasn't budged. I put up a video and that surged impressions and traffic but there wasn't much else I could post so I've put that on the back burner for now. As for Twitter, we're booming! I'm creating an annual tweet schedule for incoming and outgoing students. I started requesting feedback from my followers and have been getting it. So, based on the feedback, I'm creating simple infographics to post on Facebook answering some of the most frequently asked questions. I've also received quotes for a bookmark I designed and am going to be working with Kingston's DigiGraphics to produce them. I spent a great deal of time yesterday attempting to capture video of our new silk-screen printer's arrival to post on FB. I'm also a bit of backup IT so there's been some printer troubleshooting. No shortage of hats to be worn over here.

If anyone out there has good After Effects tricks or resources I'm all ears!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Week two—I'm coming for you!

Week one is in the bag. It was up and down. Hard to know what people are thinking when you're just getting to know them, I guess. Some are easier to read than others. I'm going to lose the tie. It was creeping people out.

I think this might be my dream job. The twitter account will require me to seek out and promote anything students might want to do in Kingston or ways for them to save money in Kingston and tweet about it. Running the facebook page will require me to take a lot of Queens-life photography so I will, at least for long enough to snap a few photos, have to be out-and-about at any exciting events on campus.

I wanted to do a little 'behind the scenes' tweeting/facebooking but quickly found out that management's action-plan is a little more private than a transparent social networking strategy would allow for. So I'm going for Queens-life-social, etc. It will have to do for now.

I had to seek out and evaluate the other Canadian bookstore's twitter feeds and facebook pages and analyze them. Very easy to see where they went wrong. They were all running an advertisement feed. There were even some complaints from customers that went unanswered in one of their facebook pages. Not good as far as I can tell but it's hard to criticize as I am new to this stuff. It could very well be run by someone who doesn't have the time to manage it. You never know, maybe I won't have time in a few more weeks when school starts.

Here is a list of content I'm intending on making available through @queensbookstore and the bookstore's facebook page.

–Quote from Email:
Our feed could be branded with saving money, student life, Kingston, etc. and feature constant information regarding:
• Free events in Kingston
• Cheapest ways to eat-out in Kingston
• Cheapest ways to eat-in.
• Cheapest ways to travel or get home.
• Free lectures or public performances.
• Student surveys on cheap recreation.
• Study tips.

Then, if at a later date we want to tweet more heavily or we wanted our content strategy to include more bookstore related stuff then you could employ things like:
• Behind the scenes stories.
• History of the bookstore stories.
• Ask for Feedback
• Feature Employees.
• Live-report from an event.
• Share our press highlights.
• Create student top-ten lists.
–End Quote

The most exciting portion of my week was being given permission to sign up to a Queens course! :) Film240, here I come! The bookstore is paying for me to take it as it is relevant to my position. It's taught by my digital-mentor, @sidneyeve I'm so excited! (Link: http://film240x.com/ )

The only thing left to report is that I'll be training on an awesome silk-screening printer in two weeks. :)


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day four, here I come!

Yesterday was key. I'm settling in and getting some real projects started. I started some small signage and bookmarks. It felt good to do some simple layout again. It made me feel at home. I have the camera and need to snap some photos this morning. I also need to write a quick something about this new printer we're getting.

The Campus Bookstore, in it's ongoing effort to save money and provide a lower price to the student body, has purchased a beautiful Brother GT-782 (Direct to Garment Printer). I will be overseeing the photoshop files sent to this beauty and helping the older staff members set up their orders when the school year starts. From a 'graphic design career' standpoint this move is a nightmare. But as a marketer, with no other reason to be in Kingston other than family, it's pretty cool!

As for the bookmark that needs to be printed. It normally wouldn't be anything special, but, from what I can tell it will be my second (but more powerful) opportunity to inform my market that the bookstore has a twitter account and Facebook page. The first is looking around with the bookstore account on Facebook to see if we can rustle up some queens group participants to join our group as well. But that is about as easy as it sounds. I'm really hoping for the website component, ASAP. If we can get those two icons on the website before September it would help. Management is on board to make it happen but the web department is bogged down with App development and rental-system rollout.

I got access to the Facebook and Twitter accounts yesterday as well. I haven't told the management what we need to do with the accounts. I wonder if they'll be open to give-aways and contesting? Content is key so I have to start racking my brain for daily updates. The good news is that no one is paying any attention yet so I can put together a back-log of need-to-tell stories. I should also be out there grabbing photos of anything interesting that happens at Queens. Frosh week should be interesting. I hear it's a mad-house.

Another quick-job I've got is the internal signage for sold-out books. It will direct disgruntled students to the bookstore website, twitter and Facebook page–providing them with plenty of options.

My job has seemed to expand, even further, with the contract signed with athletic department. They'll be doing web banners and internal marketing without he bookstore. We'll be providing contests and prizes at the home games. Including providing staff. Which, yes, will be me. Not sure what that's all about, but, rest assured, this job will not be boring or easy.

Everyone who works there's been absolutely welcoming and helpful. Now that I have some real work to do and lots more to come I feel a little more confident going in in a tie. :) On a side note, working in InDesign on an iMac 27" is better than the 24" with a second monitor attached. Apple is definitely onto something with larger screens and no extra monitors. Also, CS5 Rules. Amazing little doodads like gap tools and quick-corners!

Every day this job grows and gets more exciting. I think my favourite thing about it is that I can see that I won't be spending all my time at my desk.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Two days down, the third just starting.

I love my new job and all the excitement that it brings. The GM pokes fun at my ties. I think I'll keep wearing them as it makes me feel far more comfortable. I'm looking for some places to go for lunch too but I'm thinking I'll switch to bagged lunches. On the first day I got a brand new iMac to work on. There was a Queens expense account that paid for it; that was cool. This office is very quiet. I have the QueensU Radio station in my ear but the surrounding silence certainly makes the atmosphere a little less comfortable. I'm also paid once a month… which is definitely new to me. Every job I've ever had has been bi-weekly.

I guess the biggest surprise was finding out we're not a part of Queens University at the Campus Bookstore. So technically, I don't work for Queens. The Queens Campus Bookstore is the only university bookstore not owned by its university. This is why you'll find interesting things on their site like the "used book buyback app", and "used book classifieds". They're here to save the students money. As a student who paid a small fortune (or at least my parents did) getting my books from the St. Lawrence College bookstore, this strikes me as odd. But, this is the organization I represent, so onward and upward.

While I thought that generating a conversation with our audience would be the primary objective I have come to find out that it is even more necessary than I thought. I am not, however, presently tasked to do so. I have been given a branding assignment for a new book rental system. Which, in itself, is a necessary task, however, it needs to reach the incoming students most of all, an audience with which the bookstore has had zero exposure. We do not even have a contact list of incoming students. We don't have this list because the registrars office does not share it with us. They don't share it with us because we are not a part of Queens University. Very interesting indeed. How do I get their attention?

Designing a campaign for book rentals is my first task. It would be easy if all they did was book rentals… but it's not. They approached me with this concept and the first thing I did was make the project bigger. There are many ways to purchase books through the bookstore. You can buy (at our discounted rates), buy second-hand, or rent. There are also a number of free services offered like free eBooks (DSVs) and encouraging teachers to use Custom Courseware. So clearly this is not just an advertisement for the new rental system. I am clearly branding a single product in a suite of products.

A very interesting first two days indeed.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Queens University Campus Bookstore

As we drove from Ottawa yesterday, ending a ten year phase of our life, I couldn't help but think of the line Julius Caesar used when crossing the Rubicon; "The die is cast, let it fall where it may."

Now I'm not a wanted criminal for political crimes... and I don't think I've started any unjustified wars with the germanic barbarians, but, I did cast my dice in on this one move. I quit my stable job, we've rented-out our houses, and I've moved in with my in-laws. (So maybe their will be a war after all... ?)

I already like one thing about my job. It's 7:40 and, if I were in Ottawa, I'd be late catching my bus. So I have another 50 minutes or so before I have to leave to work for 9:00. (And that's with a stop for coffee!)

I am very excited to be living in Kingston once more. I'm excited to meet a whole whack more new people and move my career in a different direction. Did you know Queens has 7,000 employees!? My last job had 4. Yikes! Among those employees are some pretty spectacular minds. I'm hoping, with my new job, I'll get to meet some of them.

Right now I'm just killing time before the kids have their hair in pony tails and are ready to get out the door. The anticipation is killing me.

Oops, there's Ann Marie! Time to go!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuning-in to Queens

Tune-in? Who listens to radio anymore? Well, I might. :) Queens Radio anyway.

When I accepted the position at the Queens Campus Bookstore I thought I didn't know anything about digital marketing. Until this point in my career I've snickered at the position of marketer from my broad-stroked advertising and big-budget design background. The funny thing is, I've been marketing myself digitally this whole time and didn't even realize it. I've been selling myself through LinkedIn.com, Blogger (adsportfolio.com), Facebook (facebook.com/andrewdeansutton), my Twitter account (@andrewsutton), my company's website (g33kdesign.com), my podcast (www.jedivshobbits.com), and, linking them all together, my Google profile page.

Since 1995 or so, I've been surfing around the web as a power-user. I'd poke my nose into various RSS feeds, newsgroups and chat rooms. I'd read blogs or design myself a web page or two, open up a new account on any number of curious startups like amazon or myspace just to see what they're all about. Before 1995 I was connecting to Bulletin Board Systems with my computer to read tech articles and play online text-based games. The digital world has been my playground since there's been a digital world to play in.

Needless to say, I know what I'm doing. Which is good and has put my mind at ease. However, every day since I've accepted this position I've been trying to tune-in to the digital scene at Queens and I'm being overwhelmed! Each day I find another twitter feed, RSS feed, news source or social site to watch. Queens is bursting at the seams with digital media!

So the question is: How am I, with the bookstore, going to break in?

Wish me luck!

Monday, June 27, 2011

One more week.

I feel like I have just been buckled into a roller coaster. We are slowly tracking up the massive inclined rails and, while I can see the peak and I know what’s coming, the suspense is excruciating.

I am wearing a safety harness, so that’s comforting. I received some excellent news for my career today. I’ve passed the examination and portfolio interview and now qualify to apply for membership with the Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario (R.G.D. Ontario). Membership will look fantastic on my resume and finding out I’ve passed has made the weight on my shoulders a little lighter.

As the peak of the coaster approaches I can’t help but think of the fast, out of control feeling to come. In the next few weeks I’ll be leaving a comfortable job of four years that hasn’t given me much grief. (With a glowing letter of recommendation.) I’ll be saying goodbye to Ottawa and moving back to my ‘hometown’, Kingston. We’ll be giving the keys to our house to complete strangers as tenants. That, I have to admit, disturbs me somewhat. We have our second property that will need some ‘sprucing up’ before we can hope to ask for rent that will exclude the wrong class of people. I also don’t have a home to move my family into right away. So, for the first time in my life, I’ll be couch hopping with my wife and two kids. One week at my brother and Millie’s house and one week at Randy and Mary Ann’s house (my in-laws). Hopefully after that we’ll be moving into our new home and we can start to put down roots.

All this is happening because in exactly one week today I start my new career in marketing at the Queens University’s Campus Bookstore. I have to admit I am more excited about this job than I have ever been over the previous two. I think the challenge is fuel for my fire. Every minute of packing and preparing has been one hundred percent worth it.

I am continuing to read and brainstorm and think about this new position and I am planning to arrive on the scene with really great ideas and ready to initiate them. I’ve spoken to professional marketers in my circle. They’ve given me great advice and I am very interested to see what I can do with it.

Next week I will have a real update. This week I’m packing my house and preparing my mind!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A new year. A new perspective.

Ok. I'll be the first to admit that I've let my blog slip over the last year or so. I was fired up at first but then I didn't think it was getting me anywhere and that blogs weren't important. However, many things have now come to pass that are making me think otherwise. Thus, I am promising a weekly update of my career for, what I hope will continue for, the rest of my career.

I recently accepted a position at Queens University Campus Bookstore. This means, after 10 years, I will be leaving Ottawa. I am very nervous as I feel I understand the design/advertising industry in Ottawa and I am not sure if that same understanding will translate. Fortunately, I am not going to be working in design or advertising; at least not in a primary capacity. I will be a digital marketer. Confused? So was I. I had to do some research and, quite frankly, I was shocked at how much digital marketing entailed.

I thought the usual 'advertising avenues' would suffice; Google AdWords, Facebook Marketing, email newsletter and we're done. I couldn't have shot lower if I tried.

I bought a copy of Strategy Magazine. I will definitely be subscribing. I also read "Everything I know about marketing I learned from Google" by Aaron Goldman. I am currently reading "The new Rules of Marketing & PR" by David Meerman Scott. These books are opening my eyes and blowing my mind.

I now have big plans that will involve a lot of work. I am excited about how success will be gauged with actual response. I am going into this job with little experience in marketing and public relations. However, when I'm done I'm hoping to emerge with a shiny new addition to my resume; "Andrew Sutton – Advertising, Graphic Design, Marketing & PR". Won't it be wonderful.