MTL Prospectus Redesign: A Graphic Design Journey

Written by Colt Peterson (Graphic Designer) and Mason Lindblad (Marketing Researcher)

Who?

My name is Colt Peterson, and I am the graphic designer for Premier Event Management. I came on in 2016 to replace our previous designer, who had been with the company for many, many years, and I instantly saw an opportunity to put my skills to the test. Premier’s materials had a design that I felt was stale, and I took hold of this chance to bring an established  company’s looks into the current decade.  Now with that in mind, let’s get on to the design in question today…

Why?

MTL (Midwest Technology Leaders) is an IT community ‘symposium’ geared toward CIOs in the Midwest. They develop content and gather speakers around the needs of IT leaders in that region. Our event management agency took the lead on marketing, sales, and branding MTL when their founders brought the event to us two years ago, looking for a way to grow. When the time came to plan for this year’s event, I was given a chance to update the look of the marketing materials, because my previous redesigns for Premier had gone over very well. The important thing was to make sure that MTL had a creative and attractive look that made it stand out from the competition.

The prime offender

What?

Their Sponsorship Prospectus. The Prospectus was a huge sore spot; not just aesthetically, but also functionally. There were twelve pricing levels listed, which I found to be both overlapping and irregular (i.e not easy to navigate or to compare), and each were no more than a title and a set of bullet points. I instantly thought of a lot of ways  I could update the aesthetic as well, and make the form and function both work together to create an eye-catching and informational piece.

A prospectus is like a prime color – so basic of a tool for sales and prospects, it never leaves your palette. If a website is your public face, a prospectus is your firm introductory handshake. It should be affirmative, concise, clear, and pleasant to interact with. Our team carefully looked at what existed and knew we could do better! From a graphic design perspective, I saw a lot of areas of improvement and was excited to get started…

Where Do We Start?

Content is king, in case you hadn’t heard, so I wanted to make sure the content was clearly visible within the design. The first thing I saw, of course, was the cover page. I couldn’t wait to break it apart, and I actually started scribbling notes on it the moment I was handed a copy. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t get there for a little while. We had to plan what we’d actually present in the final product and how it could positively affect our audience.

Interior example of old prospectus
Interior example of old prospectus

Inside, as mentioned above, were outlined twelve (yes, twelve) levels of sponsorship. From previous year of working together with MTL, we had  apparently predicted every possible variable and pre-priced it. It was a huge concern for me, so I immediately suggested cutting it down and simplifying it. This seems like it would be out of step for a graphic designer to affect pricing, but some user experience design is often associated with delivering the best possible product.

I began by going through the document, page by page, and made a spreadsheet of each and every ‘feature’ offered by each and every ‘level’. Then I began ticking boxes. DINNER SPONSOR (EXCLUSIVE) had a half page ad and a 75 word write up, and so did DINNER (EXCLUSIVE) and EXHIBITOR (EXCLUSIVE). Hmm. This got me thinking.

Each of these was limited to one, each was exclusive, each shared a sort of basic foundation, but the minor variations between them accounted for thousands of dollars difference. Some had more features for much lower prices, and some were almost identical. These sorts of problems are more common than you might think. Companies everywhere get used to the way things are, and sometimes an outsider is needed to tell them that their methods are over-complicated.

I can’t express enough how important this pre-planning was for me to create a successful redesign. Once I had all the features unpacked, I could shuffle them in a meaningful order that related to dollars and cents in a clear way. I made my recommendations to leadership, and we all agreed that we could easily cut three levels completely, redistribute the other features, and adjust pricing along a relative scale.

Besides the feature bloat, the method of detailing each level was not only unattractive to me, but unscannable. Any sales person will tell you that nobody reads every word in a proposal. Prospects look for prices, positives, and negatives. They balance it all, then make a decision. We needed to help buyers get to that decision faster. Much faster.

With the offerings simplified, I felt ready to design. I knew pricing alone would not make a compelling enough prospectus. I believe mission and personnel detail is crucial. If you can’t win on price, and superior products rarely do, a buying decision often comes down to “well… who do I LIKE more?”. It was important to me to create an piece that people could connect with on a personal level by seeing the people they would potentially be interacting with.

The Finished Product

Pricing guide spread, with one-sheet
Pricing guide one-sheet

This is a really proud moment for me. I managed to use a whole cadre of communication tools I’d been itching to exercise to condense and repackage MTL’s entire client-facing element into one helpful system. It’s got icons, it’s got color-coding, it’s got numbers, and – oh yeah baby – it’s got a grid.
I even took the time to shuffle the layout into a one-sheet version, printable on the client-side. This looks great as a PDF and gives you everything you need to make comparisons on-the-fly. This is something you can hand to your boss and say “take a look”.

The point of this is not to say “look how bad the old design was”. It’s that there is always room for improvement in both form and function on any marketing materials, and all it takes is a fresh set of eyes and a little graphic design know-how. It is always important to keep your sales and marketing designs up-to-date and relevant, otherwise you run the risk of your competitors looking better in the eyes of your audience. So break out those old marketing materials, and determine for yourself if you would buy your product or service.

Premier Connects’ altHR Conference to be Held at Pure Space Portland

The first annual altHR Forum will be on September 7, 2017. It will now officially be happening at Pure Space, a unique event space in the Pearl District of downtown Portland, Oregon.

Pure Space features 16,500 square feet and can host over 1500 guests in their main event space. Premier Connects is excited to be working with Pure Space and West Coast Event Productions to help altHR get off the ground and have a fantastic opening year.

altHR will be a gathering of people professionals interested in exploring radical new ideas in the field of human resources. This all-day event will provide innovative talent and business leaders with robust community building, creative problem solving opportunities, and engaging workshops. The forum will be open to those who want to discuss new and interesting ideas in this field.

While the agenda of topics is still being developed, any information related to this event can be found at http://althr.premierconnects.com/

Premier Event Management Makes the Shift to Premier Connects

Premier Event Management, based out of Portland, OR, is known for putting on the Premier CIO Forum in over 15 cities around the country every year. As such, all of Premier’s branding has been under the moniker of “Premier CIO”. Recently, Premier has adopted a number of other events other than the CIO Forum, and as such the company feels that a new brand and name is in order. From now on, Premier Connects will take the place of Premier CIO as the main name and branding on Premier Event Management.

In addition to the Premier CIO Forum, a gathering of regional IT leaders, Premier Connects also manages three other events at present: Emergency Preparedness Leadership Forum (EPLF), Midwest Technology Leaders (MTL), and AltHR. EPLF aims to engage business, government, and faith leaders to prepare, respond, and recover from any disaster. MTL is an exclusive gathering of the Midwest region’s top information executives, which supports the advancement of IT in the region. AltHR aims to provide an alternative and holistic approach to human resources, and provide new knowledge to those in HR.

As always, the CIO Forums will be the primary focus of Premier Connects. Premier Event Management have been running these forums for over 15 years and comes to over 15 cities around the US, including many locations on the east coast and the southeast, as well as in the Premier headquarters city of Portland, Oregon. However, Premier is excited to offer other services such as organizing corporate dinners, publishing white papers and case studies, webinars, and more.

Look forward to the future of Premier Event Management, as the company moves to Premier Connects, and offers a wide variety of services at a quality that Premier’s loyal customers have come to recognize and expect.

www.PremierConnects.com is our new hub for all of our events. Please join us there!

Should Your Event Be Open or Closed to the Public?

When it comes to an event or conference, there is one major choice that can determine the entire feel and theme of the whole thing. The choice between making the day open or closed to the public is an early decision in the process of creating your event and will define it going forward.

Advantages of Having an Open Event

Hosting an event that is open to the public has obvious advantages, that being that there is a potentially unlimited number of attendees (restricted only by the capacity of your event space). A plethora of people from a variety of walks of life and fields of work will attend, and your exhibitors can potentially come across a goldmine of potential customers with a variety of interests.

Disadvantages of Having an Open Event
An open event’s advantages are also its disadvantages. Having an unfiltered stream of attendees means that exhibitors have to do the filtering when the attendees approach their booths. There will be a higher percentage of attendees who are mostly apathetic about the vendors, and may only be there to observe and do not intend to actually spend any money.

Advantages of Having a Closed Event
When you host an event that is closed to the public, you have to filter through a lot the registrants so that only those that fit a certain profile can attend. For the Premier CIO Forums, we only allow people from non-vendor companies to attend for free, meaning that we can have only those looking for solutions, not trying to sell solutions, walking the show floor.

Disadvantages of Having a Closed Event
While having a closed event will give you high-quality, well-targeted attendees, it also means that you have to spend a lot of time and resources filtering out registrants to see if they meet your requirements. The easiest way to do this is to have certain qualifying questions on your registration form, but you could also individually research each registrant if they have professional profiles.

How to Choose Which Type of Event to Run?
Choosing how you want to run your event can be a difficult decision, and will deeply affect the mood and theme. Your choice will be influenced by whether you want your event to be large or small, professional or relaxed, and focused on networking or focused on selling. We hope that this guides you down the right path, but only you can decide what is the best fit for your company!

Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTF) to Speak at Premier CIO Forum

The Electronic Crimes Task Forces will be speaking at the Premier CIO Forums throughout the 2017 season of conferences. The ECTF is a network of tasks forces created by the US Secret Service in 1995 to fight cyber threats and internet fraud. With 39 total tasks forces, we are able to have different speakers in each of our cities, keeping the information and delivery diverse. We are looking forward to the ECTF speakers this year, and we hope you are too! Register for the CIO Forums here.

Premier Values Their Partnerships – A History of Giving Back

At the conclusion of every Forum, the SIM Chapter President is gratefully handed a check written by Premier Event Management. Since the first partnership in Philadelphia in 2002 Premier has believed in SIM’s mission to bring together IT leaders to share, network and give back to their communities. Programs like APC (Advanced Practices Council), RLF (Regional Leadership Forum), SIG (Special Interests Group) and STEM are what mold IT leaders to be the best version of themselves and allow others to follow in their footsteps. Just this year Premier has donated $78,250 to various SIM chapters across the globe. To learn more about Premier and our partners, visit the PremierCIO website.

SIMposium 2016: “20/20 Vision” – Uncasville, CT

This year SIMposium was located in Uncasville, CT taking place at the Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino and the Premier team had the pleasure of attending the 2016 SIMposium and experience the event as attendees. The theme for the event was “20/20 Vision: The Future is Now”, which was conveyed through unique tracks on the agenda including; Leadership in 2020, Risk Management, The Future of Work, and Inside SIM. Seven Chapters of SIM helped work with the National SIM Committee and Advisory Council to put together the event. This event is always a great way to connect all of the SIM Chapters, IT Executives, and Technology Solution Providers in one space to discuss today’s business environment, gain inspiration, sharpen leadership skills, and make new connections.

Premier CIO Forum – Kick Off Events

Every year Premier tries new ways to incorporate change, make connections, and liven things up.  At our Portland CIO Forum this past October we did just that!  We worked with our partner, the Portland SIM Chapter, to incorporate a Kick-Off event the night prior to the CIO Forum to encompass their monthly SIM Chapter meeting as a way to foster new relationships between the attending CIO Forum attendees and the SIM Chapter Members.  This turned out to be quite a hit, and created such a great buzz for the forum that we are going to try Kick-Off events at our other CIO Forums in 2017!

Premier Event Management Fall Recap

As we say goodbye to the fall months, we say hello to a few months off from CIO forums. With our Minnesota event on December 5th, we can breathe a sigh of relief until the forums start back up with The 2017 Boston CIO Forum, on March 21st. However, we aren’t going to sit idly by until March. We have some hard work to do in order to pack the place in March. Plus, we have a lot of top secret projects in the works that we are sure you’ll love!

On the first of November, we helped put on the first Emergency Preparedness Leadership Forum. You can check out the EPLF recap blog to read more, but suffice to say that the event went well for the first year. We realized there were too many vendors and not enough attendees, so we are already strategizing to improve the event for next year, so that all parties are satisfied! However, the forum was still an excellent showing of emergency preparedness solutions, and a wake-up call to be ready for anything!

South Florida, one of our first events this season, started off with quite the unusual turn of events. The Premier CIO Forum in South Florida (held near Miami) was right in the middle of Hurricane Matthew. As such, emergency preparedness was important, and understandably so. Even with the hurricane looming nearby, we had an intimate gathering leaving the attendees who were able to stay, very fulfilled.

Next up was our Portland forum, in our hometown. This event is always a lot of fun, because all Premier employees get a chance to help out, even those who don’t travel and set up normally. As usual the forum was fun, had a lot of engaging speakers, and we all got to go home afterwards, instead of to a hotel. We tried something new this year, with the CIO Forum & SIM Chapter Kick-Off event the night before the main forum, and it was very successful!

This was our first year in Louisville, the attendance was intimate, everyone who attended had good things to say about the event and the speakers. Those who did attend felt the value that we brought, and we believe in quality over quantity!

Outside of the events, there were a few other things that happened around the office. Firstly, ex-KGB agent Jack Barsky came by the office prior to his speaking at the New Jersey CIO Forum. He stuck around for an excellent and eye-opening interview about his spy days and how the lessons learned from those experiences helped him when he was in a CIO role.

Also, sadly, our CFO and co-founder Janet Hummel passed away. She lived from 1963 to 2016, and left us far too soon. She will be missed by all. Marc Di Francisco, president of Premier Event Management, remembers his dear friend Janet in the video below.

So, with all of that being said, we are looking forward to a couple months of no events to recharge, so we can come out swinging in March! We are looking forward to seeing you at an event coming soon. Be sure to check out our calendar of upcoming conferences, so you can see if there is one near you!

EPLF Recap – Emerging Emergency Preparedness Events

On November 1st and 2nd in the Portland Convention Center, hundreds of conference-goers and vendors gathered to share in the teaching and learning of emergency preparedness and emergency leadership skills. The Emergency Preparedness Leadership Forum is the project of Daniel Terry, a Premier Event Management partner. We were extremely happy to assist in the first ever EPLF.

EPLF is the most significant event of its kind in the northwest. In a region that has earthquakes and volcanoes to worry about, the northwest is the perfect area to have this event, even though other disasters such as floods and hurricanes were covered as well.

Conference-goers expressed that the speakers were top-notch and the lessons learned were extremely important and valuable. We had a variety of great vendors, selling wares ranging from survival/emergency food to heavy-duty vehicles.

Keep up to date with EPLF by following us on the official website and social media profiles. You can see photos from the event on our Facebook photo album.

Website: http://www.emergencypreparednessleadershipforums.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EplfUs
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EmergencyPreparednessleadershipForum