May 8, 2015

10-Minute Marketing: research a conference to attend

Filed under: 10-Minute Marketing — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 4:14 pm

1`0-minute marketing: research a conference to attendI just got back to my studio after spending the week attending the HOW Design Conference in Chicago. I’m feeling a combination of exhaustion and exhilaration. It was an amazing experience that allowed me to learn small business skills, network with like-minded people, get creative inspiration—and even brush up on my public speaking skills (I introduced a speaker’s session and hosted a breakfast roundtable).

I try to attend the HOW Design Conference whenever it’s in Chicago, as I never fail to return to my studio with a notebook filled with ideas, job leads, and lots of new friends.

There are two types of conference to attend: 1) one with like-minded individuals in your industry (as I did), or 2) one that your prospects will be attending. I believe both are valuable and should be included in your marketing budget.

This week’s 10-Minute Marketing task:

Research a conference to attend.

Need help preparing for your conference? Read my post How to Design Your Perfect Conference Experience.

And stay tuned for “what I learned” post about the HOW Design experience next week…

10-Minute Marketing is a weekly series featuring short, easy-to-accomplish marketing tasks. Follow along with past posts here.

July 16, 2013

Sometimes one card fits all.

Filed under: Featured Design Project — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 12:00 pm

Lidia Varesco Design blogher business card

Since I’ve been doing more blogging and it’s in my hometown, I decided to attend the BlogHer Conference this year. BlogHer attracts bloggers of all levels from across the country and features sessions on starting, growing and advancing your blog.

Knowing there would be opportunities for networking at the conference and I had multiple creative pursuits to share, I realized I needed a new business card. (Do I really want to hand out 3 different business cards?) I took advantage of’s special offer for BlogHer attendees and created my “one card fits all” design: a clean, simple layout that shares my design business, blog and baby & kids product line in one neat little package.

Do you have different business cards for different purposes?

July 21, 2011

Lessons learned: thoughts on the HOW Design Conference #HOWLive

Filed under: Creativity,Small Business — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 9:28 am

HOW Design Conference in Chicago

Last month, I attended my very first HOW Design Conference in Chicago. It seems crazy that I waited so long, seeing as I started my design business over ten years ago. But since it was in my hometown, I made the time and effort. Now, being seven months pregnant at the time, it was a bit of a challenge and I did have to make some concessions (going home early, no cocktails) but it was well worth it.

In addition to catching up with friends and colleagues and making new connections, I walked away with a wealth of knowledge—and a new outlook on my business.

Lessons learned at the HOW Design Conference

  1. Go to more design conferences: it wasn’t long before I realized the benefits of being around like-minded creatives and how that could inspire my own work.
  2. Read more books: many of the speakers mentioned useful books—and the onsite HOW Bookstore was a great source of inspiration. I walked away with books on photography (Photo Idea Index) and web design (Above the Fold)—and recently picked up a copy of a book I had been eyeing at the conference (Made to Stick).
  3. Incorporate what I love into my business: Peleg Top‘s session, The Creative Side of Running a Business, made me realize how personal interests can be used to enrich your business. Actually, several of the speakers mentioned this concept which really resonated with me. (see #4 and #5 below)
  4. Focus on a creative obsession: Armit Vit‘s session Turning Your Creative Obsessions into Opportunities was one of the most inspiring. As someone who always has several “creative obsessions,” I realized how focusing on one (or at least just a few) can lead to business opportunities.
    One of my current creative obsession: photographing automatic sprinklers in my neighborhood. See the flickr set in-progress here.
  5. Incorporate personal interests into my work: Stephen Doyle‘s session, Where Ideas Come from and Where They Go, was a great example of this. He has successfully integrated both his remarkable paper sculptures and other personal interests into client and professional projects.
  6. Ask for advice: after taking a fantastic workshop on making and selling products by Heather Lins of Heather Lins Home, I realized the importance of asking for advice. Having your questions answered by someone who has been through it successfully can boost your confidence and encourage new ways of thinking.
  7. Tell a story: whether it’s for a client or your own business, it’s important to tell a story and be authentic.

Did you attend the HOW Design Conference in Chicago? What were your top takeaways?

July 1, 2011

Thinking of going to a conference? Do it!

Filed under: Networking,Small Business — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

Scenes from the HOW Design Conference in Chicago

Have you been thinking of attending an industry conference?

What’s stopping you? The cost, travel details, taking time off work? It can all be overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there.

Well, I’m here now to tell you: do it!

Having attended my first HOW Design Conference in Chicago just one week ago, I’m now saying top myself: “what took you so long?”

Here are a few of the post-conference perks I’ve enjoyed:

  • Returning to the office more excited about work
  • Ideas and inspiration to apply to projects I’m currently working on
  • Sketchbook full of ideas—for client and in-house projects, as well as growing my business
  • New creative vendor resources (plus special discounts and perks!)
  • Network of creative people to brainstorm with—and keep me on track with my goals
  • Renewed feeling of how much I love my job

The benefits were well-worth the cost of the conference—and I realized what an important investment in my business it was. And now I’m hooked…I’m already planning for the next conference!

So if you’re on the fence about going to a conference, I urge you to do it. Of course, it’s important to find one that’s right for you. But after you do your research, take the plunge—even if it means saving up the cash or rearranging your schedule.

Read my tips on designing the perfect conference experience.

Have you attended a conference and experienced a “post-conference high”? Or did you have the opposite reaction? Leave a comment!

June 28, 2011

Designing the perfect conference experience

Filed under: Small Business,Tipsheet — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 12:26 pm

Going to an industry conference can be overwhelming. So many sessions to choose from, people to network with, resources to learn about—not to mention socializing with industry friends and colleagues. Whew.

After attending my very first HOW Design Conference in Chicago this weekend, I’ve decided to share a few ways I discovered to make attending a conference more manageable and rewarding.

How to design your conference experience

  1. Scenes from the HOW Design Conference in Chicago

    Create your schedule: decide in advance which sessions you want to attend (as well as vendor tables) and mark your calendar or onsite agenda—this way, you won’t miss out on anything. Unless you forget to look at your calendar, which I tend to do! (see question #3)

  2. Pack your supplies: bring lots of business cards, plus a notebook and pens. A small pouch to store collected business cards is handy (thanks to my friend Grace for that idea!) as well as a water bottle.
  3. Make a list of people to meet: amid the myriad attendees, you may forget who you wanted to catch up with. I like to make a list in Evernote so I can update on the fly.
  4. Refer to your agenda often: it’s easy to get off-track and miss sessions or other activities while you’re wandering or networking. Also a good idea is to set alarms on your mobile calendar.
  5. Get out of your comfort zone: introduce yourself to a person you’ve been wanting to meet: a speaker, someone you follow on twitter, etc.
  6. Collaborate with others: put yourself in situations where you can bounce ideas off others, i.e. speaker lunches, roundtable sessions. Often it’s easier for an outsider to give you a new perspective.
  7. Be open to new ideas: listen to other people’s opinions, take a session you may not ordinarily choose.
  8. Talk to as many people as possible: you never know where that next great idea (or resource) will come from.
  9. Take lots of notes: I like to create a margin in my notebook where I keep a running “to do list” or list of action items (which makes #13 much easier!)
  10. Don’t burn out: take frequent breaks, drink lots of water—and if necessary, duck out of a session (inconspicuously, of course) that is draining your energy.
  11. Keep a “follow-up” list: make a list of people to follow-up with post-conference—include notes to jog your memory (after several days, it’s easy to forget!) Again, I use Evernote for this task.
  12. Keep in touch: follow up with the valuable connections you make: email about something you spoke about, add them to your newsletter, or just say hi.
  13. Give yourself time to decompress: wait a bit before you dive into all the information you collected. It gives your body and mind time to relax—plus it firms up ideas swimming in your head.
  14. Make a post-conference “To Do list”: go through your notes and create a “To Do List”: a list of action items that you can focus on based on what you learned.

How do you make the most of a conference? Leave a comment!

April 27, 2011

Featured project: conference branding & collateral

Filed under: Featured Design Project — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 6:13 pm

For the second year, we worked with BAI to create branding and collateral for their conference, BAI Payments Connect.

The challenge was not only to convey a complicated concept, but to clearly market three distinct conference tracks—all while standing out from other banking events. It also had to be flexible enough to be adapted to multiple print and online uses.

Our design utilized a simple graphic accented with three distinct colors—one for each track. The colors, as well as track icons, were used throughout the conference materials and onsite signage to assist conference attendees in finding their desired sessions.

Above: website creative, web banners; below: conference logo and track icons, PowerPoint template, conference guide

February 3, 2010

Featured Project: Conference Identity & Collateral

Filed under: Featured Design Project — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:19 pm

Click for larger image

We worked with our longtime client BAI to create a graphic identity and printed collateral for their newly-updated conference, BAI Payments Connect.

The challenge was not only to convey a complicated concept (the evolution and transformation of the payments industry), but also to create a functional design that allowed them to clearly market three different events. We created a bold, high-tech design that was versatile enough to be adapted to different types of printed pieces, including the Brochure and Postcard shown at left.

The client was clearly happy with the result, commenting, “You always make the marketing team look good!” And that’s music to a designer’s ear.

Shown: Conference Brochure and Direct Mail Postcard. Printer: GH Printing (Lombard, IL)