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As a studio manager I’ve been searching for quite a few years in order to get the perfect project- and studio management tool. I have literally tried dozens of different programs and although many of them have merit, not one offered solutions to all of our problems. I can’t even remember how we stumbled upon Wrike, but it has proved to be the best all-round performer in the area of project- and studio management. Here are a few of my favorite features:
- Folders: You can literally create and add as many folders as you like in Wrike. This can be used for projects, CRM, templates, business documentation – and best of all: tasks can reside in as many folders as you like. When you update it in one folder, it will dynamically update in the rest of the folders. Dragging and dropping is a breeze!
- Sorting and prioritising: Wrike offers numerous options for sorting (e.g. by due date, title etc), but my favourite is by Priority. This allows me to look at all the tasks for each employee in the studio, and manually override dates if a priority moves up. This way everybody knows what they need to do, and as a studio we are more productive.
- Dynamic Gantt Chart: This one is my favourite! After manually editing and moving Excel cells if a date changes, this is like candy. If there is a delay in a project timeline, for instance we have to wait longer for client content, I can easily drag the date forward and all the dependencies will stay in place and the entire project will adjust accordingly. Absolutely fantastic!
- Workload overviews: This takes out all the guesswork when a new project request comes in. No more taking risks and wondering if the studio has enough capacity to take on a new project – all the team members’ workloads can be seen in one space. If a team member is overloaded with tasks they can easily be dragged and reassigned accordingly. This ensures that all team members are engaged but not overworked and stressed out.
Now you know what goes on behind the scenes!
Everyone is a designer. Or so they think. Many startups have a logo designed professionally, but decide to ‘design’ their stationery themselves. The results are often disastrous. All the money spent on a finely crafted brand quickly becomes pointless when a stretched logo is placed on a Comic Sans bespeckled letterhead.
In order to distinguish your business from its competitors, you should build a strong brand through every possible touch point with your customers. Yes, that means spending a little more. But letting the professionals design the branding collateral will have you reap the benefits later. Your clients will only view you as truly trustworthy if you portray a consistent brand image across the board. Some branding touch points you might want to consider having designed professionally include:
A letterhead isn’t just a piece of paper with your logo on it. It is often the first impression someone gets of your business and should be an extension of your brand. Get a professional template with your logo and contact details which you can print out or email to your customers. This is a non-negotiable brand touchpoint. We provide our clients with Word templates which they can use to immediately start typing;
- Business cards:
Even in our digital age, business cards remain an effective way of sharing your details and creating a good first impression. If you are networking, you’ll need a business card. One that reflects the company persona without trying too hard;
- Email signatures:
A custom HTML signature with your details at the bottom of your emails are a necessity. Don’t make it difficult for your customers to contact you. Ensure that your text is selectable and available for copying and pasting. Nobody likes memorising phone numbers — selectable text can be clicked and dialed immediately.
It boggles the mind why we still use faxes, but we do. A conversion of your letterhead to a pure black and white document will ensure that no detail gets lost during the faxing process. Note that this is not just a greyscale version of your letterhead. A proper faxhead will make use of a monochrome logo, not a greyscale one. Talk to your designer — she’ll know the difference;
If your business doesn’t have an online presence, for many clients you don’t exist. Get a site up and running before you launch, even if it’s just a single page with your contact details and a temporary ‘under construction’ banner of some sort. And don’t use clipart or animated GIFs — have it designed by a qualified graphic designer! And don’t let it stay that way for longer than 3 months — expand the site while there is still time.