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Robert Wasiluk, of Ingenuity Marketing cover for his vlog on secrets to impactful ads- the future of print advertising

Secrets to Impactful Ads – The Future of Print Advertising


While many companies are now focusing solely on digital ads, they are missing a big opportunity for professional services marketing and accounting advertising.

It’s print ads!

By establishing your brand through unique messaging, original imagery and proper placement of your logo, you can create lasting and memorable advertisements that get noticed.

Set yourself apart from your competitors by perfecting the print ad campaign along with your digital ad strategy. Watch Robert’s video to learn more about professional services ad campaigns and accounting advertising.

Yoga for an accounting advertising ad? This ad campaign shared the message that advisors were flexible for the unexpected, and it served the firm well during the pandemic when everyone needed to breathe and work together.

If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

When you’re working on your next ad campaign, you may be looking for some inspiration to keep your ads fresh.

Here are some tips to make your next print ad campaign a success:

  1. Keep it simple

Did you see Coca-Cola’s ad when they wanted to win over the new non-alcoholic sub-market? They didn’t need to say all of that in their ad; they didn’t use any words at all.

The familiarity we have with their typeface, along with the lemon peel says it all. This is Coca-Cola with lemon. Enough said.

  1. Always use eye-catching imagery

Use high-res images. Try to use original imagery when you can, so your audience ties your image to your brand. Play on the unexpected. Surprise your audience.

  1. Be Collaborative

At Ingenuity we work very collaboratively on ad campaigns. We can create a concept that’s clever and addresses your pain points to help you reach your next best clients!

Contact Ingenuity for more ad concepting ideas, tips and tricks.


NEXT ARTICLE: Best practices for a digital ad campaign




Christine Nelson, lead communications consultant at Ingenuity Marketing Group

How to Develop a Brand Strategy: Nail Your Brand Survey

When you are working on your brand strategy, where do you start? Conduct a brand survey. Remember, the most important part of the survey are the questions!

Christine Nelson, lead communications consultant, shares her tips for ensuring your brand survey questions provide actionable insights that you can use to elevate your brand.

Watch this video to learn how to develop a brand strategy through market research.


If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

Get the questions right.

Any good journalist knows the right questions matter.

Be clear. Be concise.

Include multiple choice to challenge and measure your own perceptions of firm value.

If you only ask about levels of satisfaction with service or teams, you won’t have anything specific to improve upon.


If you have any questions about how to conduct brand surveys, please reach out to us.



A boy giving the peace sign in a yellow Hawaiian shirt with yellow background.

Own Your Brand: Lead Generation Tools

A boy giving the peace sign in a yellow Hawaiian shirt with yellow background.

A longtime engineering and architectural firm needed to change its brand positioning strategy. Historically, it was perceived as only serving clients in a certain region, but the firm was gaining a national presence. Leaders also spoke of being overlooked for certain services even though they now offered a full-service solution.

This is a good problem to have because a strong, historic brand position is hard to shake once established. It’s also a bad problem because the full potential of this firm is not recognized by people who can offer new business. If segment leaders don’t change how they talk about the firm in all aspects of marketing, their firm’s former brand will persist.

If your firm is limited by old perceptions about your capabilities, then your brand positioning strategy needs to change. Otherwise, you can miss out on new leads and projects.  

Ask the Market about Your Brand

Research is a good first step. Talk to your clients and project partners about why they work with you and what you are best known for. Investigate how much they know about other services, disciplines or locations that you serve. We recommend up to 20 interviews among your best contacts or three to four interviews per market segment/discipline to get a good cross sampling. Interviews are better than a survey because you can ask more detailed questions to determine gaps in perception about your firm’s strengths and capabilities.

Sometimes your brand perception erodes because longtime project partners or clients experience a change in leadership through retirements or mergers. Make sure to interview those leaders and then follow up with a capabilities conversation.

Analyze all the interviews for common themes, such as lack of knowledge about (1) locations you serve (2) special skills (3) approaches or outcomes that are unique to your team. Make a list of what you are known for better than anyone else (your current brand), and make another list of what you want to be known for.

Clarify Target Clients and Growth Opportunities

Your new brand position should always be aligned to business goals. Identify your target clients and revenue goals as part of business planning. This will help you allocate a budget for strategic marketing spend and business development efforts.

Let’s say you want to increase awareness and revenue for your firm’s surveying services, but the market perceives your firm as mainly offering structural engineering. Practically speaking, your brand positioning strategy should include new messaging about your team’s skills and unique approaches in surveying.

The market already knows that you are a go-to firm for structural engineering. Let that branding stand on its merits and history for now. Focus your brand positioning strategy on the gaps and best kept secrets of your surveying team and services — the capability that fewer people know about, but should.  

Create Your New AEC Brand Messaging

What is brand messaging? It’s not really about your surveying services. Brand messaging lets people know how you deliver surveying services in a way that is unique to your firm…how you promise a certain level of quality. For example, your conversation about surveying services would address the outcome that people can expect when working with you: easy scheduling or team collaboration or quick results using new technologies.

Build awareness that you offer a service, but then take it a step further with branding messages that identify why your team is the best choice.

You can also create brand messaging around a geographic location that you serve. Emphasize your connections to local project partners or how fast you can mobilize your team. What is the difference you deliver that will help you stand out in this location? That messaging will make you memorable and will help you change a limited perception about your firm.  

What’s Next?

After conducting your branding research and creating competitive brand messaging, build a marketing plan that gets the word out about these expanded markets, locations and services. Add your new branding messages into your proposal copy as well as your website content, advertising and sponsorship descriptions. Start using this new messaging in client and sales conversations, too. Create talking points for leaders to use in prospecting discussions or presentations.

In six months to a year, check in with your clients and project partners. What is their perception of your firm now? Has it changed and evolved through your brand positioning strategy? The proof of change should be clear in new discussions and opportunities that you didn’t have before.


AEC Marketing Essentials



What Do Your Colors Mean?

Professional Services Branding

Your color palette can communicate the promise you make to clients in professional services marketing. It is important to choose colors that match your professional services branding messages. Use your color palette consistently to strengthen brand awareness.

Design Consultant Robert Wasiluk talks about how to choose the right color combinations and why you need to pay attention to how colors affect readability, such as on your website. A good understanding of color theory along with ADA compliance standards can help you get started. See more tips in our video.

If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

Adding color is a great way to help your proposals, your presentations or your website stand out.

But too much color can take away from your messaging. It can get distracting instead of helpful. 

It’s important to understand how each color complements the other colors. You also want to have some white space and neutral colors to give your eyes a rest! 

When I design a color palette for professionals, I consider their industry but also the industry of their clients. A color like blue is associated with trust, for example. But a touch of orange adds energy. 

The same goes for a primary color palette of green, which is associated with wealth or growth. You could add fuchsia as a secondary color, which means that you take action. But a little goes a long way!

To get some inspiration, start with a color wheel and see which colors work well together. 

As a designer, I also use online resources like the Adobe Color website, where I can start to create my own color palettes or be inspired by palettes that other users have uploaded. 

Once you have established your color palette of primary and secondary colors, use them consistently in your marketing and sales. 

For example, include color in your proposals for subheadings or a tinted box to emphasize certain information. 

Use bright colors to grab the eye. You should also keep your paragraphs short, because black is also a color. It can make your information feel heavy when it’s in a long block.

And finally, check your website for any color combinations that make your information hard to read. This often happens when text is placed on top of an image like a slider or call to action. This can adversely affect your site’s ADA compliance.

As you can see, there is a lot to think about when creating a branded color palette and using it well for professionals. If you have any questions, I’m happy to help here at Ingenuity.

See more ideas to refresh your brand with color.  


Video tile header for brand refresh video

Elements of a Brand Refresh

Could your brand use a change? An industry rule of thumb is to update a brand every five years, but instead of creating an entirely new brand maybe you could use a refresh! In this video our Lead Design Consultant, Robert Wasiluk, gives advice to bring new life to any brand. Check out the video to hear Robert’s five creative branding tips.

If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

Your team is hinting that your logo and overall look could use a change. But what if you just updated everything a few years ago?

An industry rule of thumb is to update your brand every five years. Instead of a whole new brand, you might just need a re-fresh!

Here are 5 elements of a visual brand re-fresh that can make a huge difference in your firm’s or association’s first impression. 

  1. Inspiration – Whenever you do a brand refresh, look at fonts, colors, inspirational imagery and words. They can give you direction for updating your visual branding. Also look at your competition. You still want your refreshed brand to be unique.
  2. Logo Usage – Look at the different formats of your current brand identity, and how they are used, to make sure a revised logo will fit those specific uses. Does your refreshed logo need to look good in an email signature, but also on a t-shirt? Test it out.
  3. Color Palette – Sometimes your current color palette is limited or out of date. By adding complementary colors to your primary color palette, you get an instant refresh!
  4. Brand Style Guide – Do you have a style guide? Sometimes your style guide can point to options for refreshed logo uses, additional approved fonts or colors, and even new photo imagery.
  5. Identity Kit – You want to save your refreshed brand identify in a variety of file formats. This makes it easier to send a .jpg or a vector .eps file to a vendor for an ad or to your webmaster. Create presentation templates and digital forms with your refreshed logo, so that everyone is using it consistently.

Once your brand is refreshed, use this opportunity to include your internal team and promote it to the public. Share your new look on social posts or host an old stationery shredding party! Everyone loves a makeover!

Clarify your brand positioning. Download our brand strategy resource to better identify and establish your brand.

Video title header for "Why Market Position Matters"

Why Your Market Position Matters

What do you do? How you answer that questions explains what you want to be known for and describes your brand or market position. As your firm, services or industry changes, so should your market position. Dawn Wagenaar, Principal at Ingenuity, explains how you can describe what you do in a clear way for all of your future networking opportunities.

If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

What do you do?  That’s a good question. I’m sure you’ve had people ask you that at networking events or private parties, and sometimes it’s not easy to answer.

If I say that I own a marketing agency, people find that interesting, but it doesn’t really tell them what I do. I have to clarify how my agency is different from all my competitors.

Questions about what you do are really about your market position. What do you want to be known for? Can you describe your brand or market position in a few words?

I might say, “I own a marketing agency. We deliver strategies to help professional service firms and associations grow their firms and organizations.” That sounds like an elevator speech, but it comes from a clear and focused market position.

Usually people also want to know where we’re located and what services we offer. Your market position answers these questions and clarifies where you fit in to your industry.  

Why is a market position important? It’s because your business will change over time. You attract new kinds of clients. You attract new talent. You may add services, offices or target markets.

Your market position defines and focuses your communication to potential partners and clients and employees. It can even be used to describe your firm to the media and to trade associations.

When you pay attention and refocus your market position as your firm changes, then everyone is clear on why your firm exists.

From there, you can research and create differentiating key messages, target client personas and your growth strategy.

My advice is to focus on the big picture of your market position. Make sure it’s still accurate. That way, you will have a clear, competitive statement for all those future networking opportunities.

If you need guidance on your market position or branding, call me at Ingenuity!

How has your industry changed over the years? Our research strategy tool makes it easy to identify gaps. Take a look!

Hand holding phone with social icons around it.

What’s a Social Media Brand Ambassador Program?

Your long-term clients know the ins and outs of your services, and they may serve as referral sources. But have you thought about how your dedicated clients can support your brand on social media?

Social media is a powerful tool that can help your firm generate quality leads, and it should be part of your business development strategy moving forward. One way to have social media support your firm’s branding process is to incorporate brand ambassadors to further your social reach. Ambassadors speak highly of your brand, services and events on their own social media channels. They can provide quick shout-outs to your firm or association, highlight upcoming events or timely services, and recommend your brand to their social media followers.

Here are three key elements to start building your own brand ambassador network to generate quality leads.

Who ‘Likes’ you?

On your social media channels, you may notice certain individuals who are consistently ‘liking’ or sharing your posts. This is one easy way to identify who is naturally falling into a brand ambassador role for your firm or association.

Check out your @mentions, post likes and comments to see who is already promoting your brand. You can also see who is using any of your company or industry-related #hashtags. If there is a particular client that you routinely recognize on your social media channels, chances are they would be a good candidate to become a brand ambassador.

Maybe you’ve noticed that people who ‘like’ you on social media and share your content are mostly employees of your company. Some of your employees should be brand ambassadors based on their public reputation or status. While you will have employees that you encourage to share information about your brand on social media, it’s also important to have a dedicated client serve as a social media brand ambassador to give a unique perspective to your services and products. Having a mix of perspectives allows you to speak to different audiences, which can help gain new referrals.


Remember, when your employees are active on social media, touch base with them to make sure their personal channels are professional representations of your brand with up-to-date competitive messaging. Review your social media policy with them

Criteria for Brand Ambassadors

You don’t want just anyone, even if they do engage with your content, to become your brand ambassador. Think about these key factors when determining who you want to represent your brand on social media.

  • Current Social Media Following Are their followers your target audience? If not, they are not a good brand ambassador for your firm. Also look at the size of their social media following, how their audience engages with their posts and if they naturally use a tone that you think fits your brand.
  • Dedicated Client or Referral Source Can they speak specifically to your service experience? Make sure an ambassador you select knows all the ins and outs. It’s much easier for you and your future ambassador to already be familiar with your brand instead of teaching or training them. This also makes their promotional efforts more authentic.
  • Networking Opportunities ­­– Make sure your brand ambassadors have networking opportunities on social media. Chat with your brand ambassadors about what social media networking groups they participate in and how your brand or service could be shared amongst those groups.

Guidelines to Move Forward

Since the brand ambassadors you’ve identified already understand your firm or association, you may not feel like you have to tailor specific messages for them. But being clear about how you can work with each other will help you avoid misrepresenting your messages or brand on social. Here are a few tips for professional service firms and associations to build long-term relationships with brand ambassadors.

  • Regularly discuss topics or upcoming events that you would like to see brand ambassadors promote. Here are a few examples of how your services or events could be shared on their personal social pages:

“If you missed ABC Construction’s webinar today on land surveying, you definitely want to watch the recording! I learned so much about the process and plan to share many take-aways with my own team. Here’s the link: [insert link to recording]”

“Planning for my individual and small business tax returns was made easy this year because of the counsel I received from 123 Accounting. Check them out for expert advice! [insert link to company homepage]”

  • Clearly identify how often you would like your brand ambassadors to be promoting your brand. Maybe set a standard of two posts a month.
  • Give back to your brand ambassadors! Offer a free service, conference registration or webinar to thank them for promoting your brand on their personal social media channels.
  • Create a ‘thank you’ post from the firm’s social media account to publicly recognize them. This is an easy way to boost brand loyalty for your firm and the individual promoting your work.

Social media is a powerful way for potential clients or members to learn about your brand and services. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to share what’s going new at your firm or association. Learn more about how you can with your target audience through social media.


Office background with smart phone in orange color.

How referral sources influence your branding process


What is one of your favorite brands, and how did you get hooked on the product or service? It’s likely that word-of-mouth was your referral. Think about it! We talk about products and brands with our coworkers, family and friends all the time. Our loyalty to certain brands or products supports business development.

Here’s an example of brand loyalty and how referrals impact the branding process.

You and your family have always purchased Chevrolet vehicles. You decide to look for a fresh perspective and seek advice from a coworker for your next vehicle purchase. Based on their advice and feedback, you purchase a new Ford SUV.

You end up loving the new amenities and low-maintenance fees the Ford SUV provides. Your brand loyalty has changed! You plan to inform your family members of how much you’re enjoying your Ford vehicle, knowing their brand loyalty could switch just like yours did.

This is exactly what Ford wanted to happen! Building reliable vehicles that people want to talk about and share is all part of their branding process. This can be part of your brand loyalty process, too!

How can you build referral sources that ultimately support your business development strategy?

Engage with your current clients

One of the most efficient ways to attract future clients is to utilize your current client base, allowing them to tap into their networks for you. It’s likely that their business connections are also your target audience or potential referral base.

One way to encourage engaged conversation with your current clients is to offer a survey or assessment. Surveys provide an opportunity for you to better understand your clients, but also help your clients give you referral information directly.


Make sure to follow up after you have received survey responses. This tells your clients that you appreciate the feedback. During this follow-up step, they may be more likely to make an email or personal introduction.

Tips to connect with referrals

Always collect your referral’s email address to easily follow up and connect. Frequent follow-ups allow you and your business to stay top of mind with your referral sources without taking up too much of their or your time.

Keep the emails focused on what’s new with your firm or association, what services or events you’re offering and the ways you can assist them with their own clients. Your goal is to show your clients that you care and by doing so you will build brand loyalty through these emails and keep your firm top of mind.

What happens next?

You received referral contact information, engaged with those referrals, and now they have started working with you. Hooray! You have reached your goal. Or have you?

The process isn’t complete just yet. Give the referral source a quick phone call or write a personal note, thanking them for their referral. Better yet, depending on the size of the prospect they referred you, you may want to send them a gift such as a gift card, a bottle of wine or something they would enjoy. This is a great way to increase brand loyalty even further and start the referral process all over again.

Ultimately, if you can refer business back to your referral sources, that’s a slam-dunk branding gift that they will remember the next time their clients have a need!

Over time, you will see the trickle effect of your referral program! Your new clients will begin to share their own referrals, which can further establish your brand positioning.

Want to learn more about adding partnerships and referral sources into your brand positioning strategy? Read this blog post for tips.

A dial marked with the word "Trust" and turned to high.

Fostering Brand Loyalty

A dial marked with the word "Trust" and turned to high.

Brand loyalty is up for grabs. It’s rare these days to do business with a client for a lifetime, but there are things you can do to inspire your clients to work with you for a long time. It is not enough to do everything right or to simply not make them want to leave. You need to take your communication and connection to the next level.

It probably goes without saying but providing the highest quality customer service and making your clients feel valued is one of the best things you can do to create brand loyalty. This is a great foundational start but now you want to see that loyalty expand to create a community of raving fans for your brand who refer others. Here are a few ways to help you do that.

Provide timely updates about changes that affect your clients and prospects. If you have a robust CRM, you can segment your contacts based on their industry or niches, their role in their organization and what you know they are interested in. You wouldn’t send a manufacturing tax update to a prospect in healthcare. By segmenting your lists to provide relevant information, you show your audience that you care about what interests them. This can make the information appear personalized to them and foster their loyalty to your brand.

Create opportunities for individual connection and make it personal. If you are keeping notes about your clients and top prospects, you likely know a few personal facts about them. Perhaps you know they just took a family vacation or that one of their children graduated from high school. Asking about these events during the beginning of a call or email is a great way to get the conversation going. You can then bridge into the business at hand, but remember to always show an interest in them personally.


Thank your clients for working with you. You may be thinking that this is an obvious one and, yes, most everyone is good at thanking their clients for their business around the holidays. However, when was the last time you sent a client a thank you card at a random time of the year or a gift card to a coffee shop? Perhaps they just got through a challenging audit or completed a coveted development project. Sending a gift when one is not expected is when you will stand out and, even more importantly, it will make them feel special. We aren’t saying you should forgo the holiday gifts but sending a thank you at an unexpected time will stand out.

Fostering brand loyalty is something that begins with a prospect and continues throughout the client relationship. Once someone becomes a client, it doesn’t mean the work ends. This is when the relationship can truly grow and thrive.

You may also be interested in four ways you can enhance client service in your professional services firm or association.

person holding chalkboard with the words "who are you" on it

Stay Ahead of Your Competitors with Brand Research and Differentiation

person holding chalkboard with the words "who are you" on it

Accounting firms and engineering firms often call us when they see a competitor suddenly showing up in their market space and winning bids seemingly “out of the blue.”

A closer look at the competition reveals that those firms have set up a strategy to target a certain buyer, market or industry and are now reaping the rewards of months of focused effort. They didn’t just show up. They’ve been there for a while.

When a competitor enters your market and begins to win bids, it’s time to look at your firm’s brand positioning.

What are your clients saying about you?

The first step is to look at what your clients are saying about you. We often find that what firm leaders think about why clients value the firm is different from what clients say.

You can find out what clients are saying by conducting client interviews. We recommend that these are done by an experienced brand consultant. This provides more objective and detailed feedback because the viewpoint is fresh. In addition, your best clients hold the key to discovering how to attract more clients of that caliber. Asking the right questions can bring out open and honest feedback, which helps you align your message with how your clients view you.

Who are your competitors and what are they up to?

You won’t know unless you do some research to find out who they are and what they’re up to. Invest in a competitive analysis that gives you a side-by-side comparison of key industry and niche competitors and where they’re gaining an edge — before they get the jump on you.

To do this, look at competitors’ websites, advertising and social media. You can also hire a secret shopper of your competitors to find out how they talk about themselves. 

What are your firm’s differentiators?

What is it that makes your firm unique? How are you different from your competitors? Competitive differentiators show up in your community. Some firms are already known for a level of charitable participation, a landmark building, an outrageous personality or some other unique feature of their community involvement. If you’re working on your differentiation internally, you may already be aware of what your community knows about you. Is it consistent with the messages from clients and prospects and your leadership? Is there something new to add?

Developing your Brand Message

At the end of this brand research process you should be able to come up with a list of three to five areas that distinguish you from your competitors. State them as phrases that are easy to remember. The end goal is for each individual in your firm to remember the core ideas that define the brand of your firm. When you give people core ideas, they can customize these to fit the situation they’re in at the time. The same ideas can be represented on your website, in proposals, public relations and all your marketing messages. In an information-flooded world, the beauty of clearly stated key messages leads to consistent branding and client expectations.

Ingenuity has the tools to provide analysis and recommendations for preserving or expanding niche business and clients. Don’t be caught off-guard by a competitor creeping into your market.