Dig Deep


Last week I had the opportunity to review some student's portfolio's for the AIGA/OC. It has been a while since I have been involved in the design community in such a way. It was very rewarding. I saw a couple of student's who reminded me of when I was in their shoes, 25 years ago.

I asked each student what they were passionate about. Most knew right away. When asked, I shared a bit about my history, how I struggled to find a niche, or a specialty. I remember how scary it was to break away as a designer for everyone, and focus on a specific industry, or specialty. I shared how, with a specialty comes expert status. You dig real deep. You have to immerse yourself in that industry culture. You have to be one of them, speak their language and know who their customers are. With that specialty, you gain a unique attribute that can be very valuable to the industry.

We are not here to make pretty pictures, but to create value for our clients. We are "COMMERCIAL" artists. The result has to create an effect on the bottom line. When that result is proven, there is no question about cost. 

That was for the students.

How are you digging deep?As a professional in your industry, complacency is easy to fall in to. How are you digging deep to create the value your company and industry needs to lead and succeed?


Your Brand Advocates

The Blacktop Media Network exists to help you build your brand.

One of the things we dig the most is creating content for your marketing department. Our content can be in the form of Press Releases, Testimonials, Photos, Video, Audio and Broadcast. We recently completed a Brand Advocacy program for a local nitrile glove distributor. Billy took up the task as Brand Advocate and offered his testimonial for their products. Take a look:

Ready to Start a Brand Advocate Program?
We have a free outline for you. Click here to request yours.

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Here are the testimonials Billy presented:
I wear gloves because my hands are important to me. Not only do I use them as tools like everyone else, but I also use them to get around in my wheel chair or with my sticks (crutches).

I saw Adenna at the SEMA Show and had to try them out. I found their nitrile gloves to be comfortable for my daily medical use and strong when working on my Harley or other projects in the garage.

If you want to protect your hands, I suggest you look into Adenna latex or nitrile gloves. They have a wide assortment of styles and weights for most every job.

-Billy Colombini, Blacktop Magazine

I use the Adenna Miracle gloves for my medical issues, it is important to be as clean as possible. When I use a catheter or administer a shot, the Miracle gloves are a good fit and work great for my needs. The thin gauge, and skin-like feel help me to be precise when using a catheter.

Billy Colombini, Blacktop Magazine

Blacktop Branding's Strategic Marketing Map
We have developed a great tool to help craft the right message for your company, product and people. Our Strategic Marketing Map is a worksheet that includes deep customer research, cross-channel stratgies, content creation, goal planning, and reporting. 

We appreciate the opportunity to contribute to YOUR success too.
Click Here to Request your FREE Strategic Marketing Map.

Collector Car Appreciation Program

Blacktop Branding now offers products to share your vehicle. We have created the Collector Car Appreciation Program. Build Books, Show Boards, Video Spotlights and Featured Articles are now available.

Here are some examples:
buildbook1Build Book – We created this photo album for the Rapidago Project. This example is a small 8×6 inch wire bound book. We also create books up to tabloid size 17×11 inches!



imadgine-showboard3fShow Boards – For the frequent cruise night and car show participant. These boards gather attention and educate the viewer of particular elements of the car.




Video Spotlight – To share online and on your iPad/iPhone or i-anything. Here is an example of a video spotlight for Jack Petitt’s 1957 Pontiac Star Chief.



AND Featured Articles on our sister publication, Blacktop Magazine. Here is an article for a Cadillac from Skuza Motorsports.



For pricing and more details please call T-Bone at 949-584-5669 or Campaigns@BlacktopBranding.com, we look forward to creating a product which will match the AWESOMENESS of your car or bike!

The Blacktop Builder Program

The Blacktop Builder Program is designed to increase customer relations and promotions for the custom or restoration builder shop. We offer uniquely designed Build/Lobby Books, Showboard, Posters, and Calendars as a valuable marketing tool for your business.

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buildbook1Build Book:
The Build Book would incorporate your photos, diagrams and text in a professionally designed hard-cover or soft-cover book. We will edit and write the text as best for the project. Great as a promotional tool for your shop or as a gift to your customer.

Design and layout a photo-album with caption from progress photos of the customers build. Incorporate shop logo, sponsors, and other key partners credit. Save the last page as an “Advertorial” of your shop.
Design Fee: $750.00
Printing Fee: 11.25″x8.75″ Soft cover, wire binding: $1.25/page. Hard cover, perfect binding: $1.75/page.
Pricing does not include sales tax and shipping.

The Showboard is great at events to publicize the work and partners in the build. Your logo will be prominently displayed. Use this as a wall-hanger in your shop or as a gift to your customer.

Design and layout of unique showboard using design elements from the project. No template here. We custom design each board to compliment the vehicle’s features. Pricing includes one (1) 18″x24″ full color UV protected print laminate on an aluminum sheet with rounded corners.
Design Fee: $250.00
Additional Boards: $55.00/each
Pricing does not include sales tax and shipping.



Our posters have been well received at events and tradeshows such as The SEMA Show, LA Roadsters Show and the Easyriders Bike Show Tour. Our poster designs offer multiple uses such as a calendar, mini-catalog, with a call-to-action including contact information and even QR codes for direct measurement of traffic to your website. We will consult with you on your specific needs and create three different designs for you to choose direction then offer two rounds of revisions before the final print-ready design. You will also receive the image in several formats for your  marketing needs.

Design and layout of poster. With 3 concepts, 2 revisions, and one final design. Include contact info and call-to-action.
FEE: Design Fee: $450.00

Model fee and studio photography not included. We can use your photos, photos from our vast Blacktop Media Network library, or quote a photoshoot as requested. Printing fee not included in design and will be quoted as requested in quantity and size. 


We don’t build a calendar with a template. Your calendar design will be unique and center around your established brand identity. The design will feature your photos of customers’ cars, or photos from our vast Blacktop Media Network library.

Design and layout a 28 page saddle-stitched calendar with fun-facts on each page and contact info for your shop on each page. Reserve the back cover for thumbnail images of each calendar page and empty field for mailing if necessary. Reserve two pages at center spread for your poster image ad.

Design: $1,250.00

Printing fee not included in design and will be quoted as requested in desired quantity. Model fee and studio photography not included. We can use your photos, photos from our vast Blacktop Media Network library, or quote a photoshoot as requested.


A 50% deposit is required to start the job. You will have two rounds of revisions and final approval prior to printing.

What Makes a Great… E-mail Campaign

If you have an e-mail address, you have seen e-mail marketing at work, for good or bad. Think of how you react to e-mail marketing as the recipient. You signed up for the list for one reason or another and now are getting a barrage of e-mail newsletters, offers and information. Which ones do you open? After receiving them for a year or so, do you still open them?
[singlepic id=346 w=320 h=240 float=left]I get all kinds too. I receive daily e-mails from the likes of Seth Godin, which I open and read each day. I have learned through years of direct mail design that flashy doesn’t always equal results. Seth’s e-mail is strictly type on a white background rarely with photos.

The beauty of e-mail marketing is the metrics involved. We can measure how many and specifically who OPENS an e-mail. We can also see how many and specifically who CLICKS on overall and specific links within the e-mail.

For an Automotive Aftermarket manufacturing client we are getting an astounding 44.8% open rate with a 19.6% click rate. Constant Contact (CC) keeps a tally of average results in different business sectors. The CC Manufacturing/Distribution sector averages 18.6% opens, and 12.6% click rate. We are getting an astounding 44.8% open rate and a 19.6% click rate for one of our Automotive Aftermarket Manufacturing clients. We accredit these incredible rates with several factors. A clean double-opt-in contact list, strategic subject lines, quality content and offers, expected frequency and overall value.

In our 5+ years of e-mail marketing experience we have paid close attention to the trends in the audience, industry and the value proposition of e-mail marketing. We’d like to share those with you. If you are interested to learn more, we would like to share with you our white-paper on effective e-mail marketing specific to the motorsports industry. Simply e-mail your request to: Campaigns@BlacktopBranding.com.

What Makes A Great… Catalog Design

Those of you who know my background know I have had the opportunity to work with talented crews in developing some of the best catalogs in the Automotive Aftermarket. Creating a catalog with 1000 pages full of restoration/performance parts for the Chevrolet Camaro for instance, has taught me quite a bit about Catalog Design. I bring with that the experience and science I learned with Menu Design from my previous practice. I have also used many catalogs (as I am sure you have too) to build various projects. I look to these catalogs with a critical eye and find myself having to do MORE research because, not only did the catalog not answer the questions I have about a part, but actually created MORE questions. Uggh.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned and hopefully will help you and your company to build a better catalog.

Clarity and Consistency
It goes without saying; your catalog must be clear and concise. In order to take the risk quotient out of the purchase decision, the user has to feel confident in the description of the part. Be clear about what the part is and how it is used. Real estate on catalog pages are valuable and having the proper information, clearly stated and easily understood is paramount! Be consistent on how the information is presented, location with the photo of the part, consistency in the copy form; use, features, benefits, options, units and price. Each part description must be consistent to help in the communication about the part and actually becomes part of your brand ethic.

Does your catalog supply enough information on the parts to help the user make an informed purchase decision? Keep your marketing copy to a minimum (they already have your catalog in their hands) and give all the facts. Be sure to be truthful about your claims. Many garages have a computer on the workbench too now to help them search for tips, techniques and yes parts. They are able to spot a mis-truth at a moments notice.

I have my catalogs on my workbench. A catalog is just as valuable a tool for any project as a good box wrench. How many times have you struggled with a project when you aren’t using the right tool? Think of your catalog as a tool the DIY’er will be reaching for to find the right part to complete their project.

Think of how your catalog will be used. If someone is replacing the front clip of their Nova, ALL the parts needed for the replacement should be listed, and/or referenced. For example, in the copy for the front fender, have a reference for the location of associated parts such as bolts, emblems, tools needed in other parts of the catalog. This is easy to do online with exploded diagrams and hot-links over each part. How would you do it in a printed catalog? Same exploded diagram with part/page numbers of the associated parts listed.

Why would you take up valuable real estate turning your catalog into a repair manual? My answer is that you will save money on tech center calls, returns, build more loyal customer base and keep them from turning to other forms of research and purchasing.

Another no-brainer is availability. Are the parts in your catalog available? I have seen catalogs in the past that are complete in line, however some parts listed in the catalog are obsolete and no longer available, anywhere. It is important to take those products out. Sure there are always products that due to circumstances may not be available for the moment. Yes, keep those parts in. In-fact, state expected time for availability. Being honest up-front again will gain you respect and a more loyal customer base. However, if you know of products which won’t be available for quite some time be sure to take them out.

What about special order parts? Be sure to add that to the description, if parts are available on special order, then, add expected time of availability and order requirements.

Customer service is key to surviving in this NEW economy. Being there when the customer has a question, 800 numbers for tech/sales center support is key. A good website with a forum or blog quotient that is easily navigable with search fields for particular subject matters is helpful for those working after your tech center hours.

Be the expert in your field and the qualified customers will come back time and time again. Studies have shown that consumers will pay a bit extra if they have the confidence that there is support to help them with issues. The challenge is finding the fine line between cost and support. Today more than ever, everyone is looking for the best deal. Be sure to show the value-quotient of your support in their efforts on building their dreams with YOUR parts.

Data Technology
Here is something relatively new to the catalog market. There are programs out there, which help develop your catalog based on your sales and inventory data system. Yes, they can link your inventory/sales database with catalog development software so that every part number is consistent in message. Think of it as a bank of data for each part. All instances for that data are sent to various sources such as Purchasing, Shipping/Receiving, Website Content, Sales, Tech and Catalog Development. When the description or photo is changed or updated in one area it updates ALL areas. Pretty spectacular stuff. Also when developing the catalog, it may devote more real estate to the higher selling product, or you can adjust it to feature a product which you need to sell more of. Also, with some programming you can convert your print catalog files to web-ready pdf form with hot links on the part numbers to go directly to the shopping center of your site.


I trust this article got your attention enough to look at your next catalog project with a more critical eye. If you would like more information please don’t hesitate to call, I’d be happy to help. 949-584-5669 or E-mail: Campaigns@BlacktopBranding.com

Package Designs

[singlepic id=267 w=320 h=240 float=left]We have just added several package designs to our portfolio. Take a look at the Chop Cut Rebuild season 4 DVD package or the clamshell packages for DefenderWorx’s custom billet accessories.

Our package designs offer the consumer clear instructions and information necessary to make an informed purchase decision. The stunning designs also allow the retailer to proudly display the products in key areas of the store. From detailed ingredient and preparation instructions in food packaging to compelling supportive information on clear clamshell type packages, we look forward to contributing to your success with captivating designs. Visit the entire portfolio HERE.

The Great $750.00 Logo Design Event is on!

That’s right you can have a professionally designed UNIQUE logo for your business, event, product or merchandise for only $750.00!

You will get three different design concepts, two rounds of revision and one final design in .ai, .eps, .gif and .pdf formats to use however you please as much as you please.

Additional designs, versions or revisions may require additional fees. All preliminary designs remain the property of Blacktop Branding. Client receives full usage rights for the final design. Please note the standard terms of agreement as set-forth by the Graphic Arts Guild at the TERMS link above. Offer valid through 7/31/13. The above offer is usually priced around $2,250.00!

Click HERE to view logos from our vast portfolio.

To get started call 949-584-5669 or Campaigns@BlacktopBranding.com

BOXKARS Custom Cruiser Bicycles

We are pleased to announce that Blacktop Branding has developed a comprehensive marketing program for custom bicycle builder BOXKARS. We met client Jeff Meredith at the Good-guys Del Mar Nationals at his booth displaying these awesome custom bicycles. Our marketing program consists of new website home page design, press releases and PR, development of a social media program, event and experiential marketing and e-mail newsletters.

If you are looking to launch a new product, we would be interested to share our ideas with you. Call the direct line at 949-584-5669 or e-mail us: campaigns@blacktopbranding.com.