Jim Van Meer is Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Thinkpoint Creative, a marketing communications and design services firm. In this interview he explains the challenges B2B firms face when trying to enter new markets and the trends he sees coming for 2020.
What’s your role in the company and what does your firm do?
I’m Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Thinkpoint Creative. Our firm is at the intersection of design thinking and design doing. I’ve created what I call an uncommon collective of powerhouse talent. There’s nine of us involved with combined experience of over 100 years.
What products and services do you offer?
We’re a full-scale branding, marketing communications and design services firm. Our design services range from print to digital, including user experience (UX), user interface design (UI) and web design. We try to offer everything we can as far as a company’s branding, marketing and digital footprint go. We also offer social media marketing and social media content and development.
We aim to design campaigns that last anywhere from 18 to 24 months. So, we try to give our clients their money’s worth when they come to us. Not everything is going to be evergreen, but we try to make it as long lasting as we can.
Who do you help?
We’ve worked with companies of all kinds and all sizes. We’ve worked with small mom and pop shops all the way up to major international corporations. We cover the gamut as far as industries go because of the level of talent we have. Some of the major ones have been aerospace, communications and electronics companies. We know the energy market. We know the food and beverage market.
Being from Washington D.C., we know the government market and information technology. Plus, we’re branching out. Some of the clients we’re approaching now are into printing and publishing, which were once considered dead. It seems they’re making a resurgence. We also get involved with software companies and trade associations which are big in the Washington D.C. area.
What challenges do your customers typically have?
They are typically having a bit of difficulty trying to establish their brand. Or, they may be trying to go into new markets. We sit down with them and help them figure out exactly what the parameters are of the market they want to go into. Then we figure out a strategy and develop tactics around that strategy.
We’re finding that a lot of companies are set in what they currently offer. But they’re looking to enter new markets they’re not quite sure about. We may have to step in and explain how things have changed in that market space and suggest a new direction. So, we act almost as consultants in the beginning.
We use design thinking to approach their problem from a design standpoint. We don’t just design one project then move on. We design the entire gamut of materials and even the philosophies that go along with them.
Can you share a success story?
Yes, there was a client we worked with in the global safety space. They’re an offshoot of a trade association that came to us asking for help expanding their global reach through advertising.
We talked to them about where their safety products fit in and found a lot of them fit into the safety space for logistics. We talked about trucking companies, truck fleets and cargo ships. Just about anything that could transport hazardous materials. They were advisers in that space. So instead of focusing on safety concerns or advice on hazmat incidents, we looked at it in a different way.
We developed a campaign geared at locking in their name and brand with what they were providing. When they first came to us, they said they provide safety information and advice. We told them what they’re really selling is peace of mind. We developed a series of ads. One of the headlines for the ads was “Think of Us as Peace of Mind on 18 Wheels.” That was geared toward the trucking market.
We added some punch to a staid and stoic safety industry. We gave it some life with a brand persona that made a connection with their audience on a personal rather than corporate level. A year and a half later they’re still using the same ad campaign.
What are your thoughts on upcoming marketing trends for 2020?
As an adjunct professor at George Mason University where I teach marketing and design courses, the one technology I’m seeing at the forefront is artificial intelligence. Also, virtual reality. But they’ve been somewhat slow at getting off the ground. What I think is going to be a big trend in 2020 is more emphasis on data analysis and data interpretation.
I think you’re going to see more companies engaging with their customers and allowing them to tell their story. I had my eyes opened a couple of years ago when everybody was trying to make the connection with the customer. That will start making a push to the forefront, but also making a commitment to the customer.
People want brands that are committed to them, in some cases even more so than their philosophical outlook. But I think storytelling is going to be a big, big part of it. Because you’ve got all the data out there with everybody analyzing and interpreting it. Now I think they must interpret the data along the lines of how the story is going to be written. So, I think storytelling is going to be a big thing in 2020.