About abc write/design
Amy Carroll is a great source of inspiration for both writers and designers. Located in North Potomac, Maryland, her company offers business solutions for the ever changing world of marketing. She is both a design and marketing expert, who helps businesses grow with the use of print, digital, and social media. With a diverse offering of services, abc write/design is the go-to firm!
What made you decide to start abc write/design?
I have owned and operated my own writing and design firm for 25 years. About a year ago, I started redesigning my website to reflect the changing landscape of marketing and social media, making clients aware of our broad capabilities. Everything with my business had such a fresh feel that I decided to re-brand the company, giving it a new name to go with its new look and attitude.
abc write/design is equally skilled and dedicated to both quality graphic design and effective writing. I am just as comfortable designing a new logo for your business, as I am creating and implementing a social media campaign for your company.
Can you describe the process of starting abc write/design?
Twenty-five years ago, I answered a classified ad in the Washington Post for a newsletter editor for an office park. Today, that company is still my client, only now I market for their real estate holdings throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
What do you like best about being a business owner?
I enjoy the close working relationships I have built with my clients and the confidence my clients have in my work. A client recently hired me to put together a binder to represent their company in an industry-wide competition. They told me that I make everything that I touch look and sound beautiful.
What do you like least?
Honestly, I wish I was more comfortable with the business development process; seeking out new business, particularly the fine art of cold calling. I wish there was an easier way to reach out to all the small and mid-sized business owners to say, “I know you need someone affordable and capable to help you with your advertising and marketing. Let’s work together.” It seems as though every time I start working with a new client, they say, “I wish I knew about you sooner.” I am very creative oriented and at times I need to remind myself that I am running a business.
The Business Side
What advice would you give designers about going into business for themselves?
Don’t undervalue your work. There are a lot of students and people overseas giving away designs. But if you want to work in the business of graphic design, position yourself as a full-service company, complete with writing, proofreading, printing and marketing consultation and take those services into account when pricing out your time and energies to clients.
Word of mouth has always been my main stream of new business. I am doing a lot of overflow work for advertisers at a regional magazine outside of Washington, DC. Many of those advertisers have then become clients when they realize I can also help them market their businesses in other media. I have also started using social media to reach out to potential new customers. Pinterest and the blog on my website have all been successful for me.
What is your business’ greatest strength? What is your greatest business challenge?
On the abc write/design logo, it says: “Polished. Effective. Affordable.” I create ideas that are memorable and clean, always keeping the target demographic in mind. I also have very limited overhead, which helps me keep my prices affordable. I am able to pass along that savings to my clients.
Like most businesses online and with a technological focus, this field changes at the speed of light. It’s been challenging but interesting to stay current. To insure I’m where I need to be, I take online and in-person workshops, I ask a lot of questions, and I check in with the teenagers in my house.
Who is your market?
My market is small and mid-size companies who can’t or don’t want to commit to a full-sized agency. While I don’t concentrate in a single niche, I do a lot of work in the real estate, retail and health care industries. I offer flexibility to clients in terms of being able to do single projects or whole marketing campaigns.
Insight Into abc write/design
What is your philosophy/mission?
I love what I do, and I love keeping it fresh and interesting. If I can meet my deadlines and stay within budget while making sure the work is crisp and on target, I am meeting my goals.
What are the main questions you ask to ensure your customers get the best final result?
I always ask my clients to search the Internet to find websites and images they like and e-mail them to me. If a client sends me 10 images, I can get a real sense of their style. Because many of my female clients are on Pinterest, I can look at what they’re pinning to understand their style. By visiting clients in their office, I also get an idea of what kind of design they will like. Of course, I have to make sure the client’s style meets their company’s needs from a marketing perspective as well. This “advance work” helps me get a true sense of what will be most effective for each client.
I follow several design blogs. Pinterest is a great inspirational tool. I browse the art and design section in bookstores and newsstands. I also peruse other designers’ websites, particularly in other regions of the country, to see what’s hot in design elsewhere. Graphic design has such regional flavors. I genuinely love what I do and find it easy to stay inspired. I recently did a 28-page marketing book for a company in Azerbaijan. I learned so much about the country and their culture while working on that project. It was great fun!
What is a tool that you wish you had, but don’t?
I wish I had an employee discount at both Apple and Adobe.
I’ve always been a small shop. There are days when, if I could wave a magic wand and become a bigger agency, I would do it. But, I have a stable of people who work for me as consultants, and, in truth, I like the size and functionality of my business just as it is. It fits perfectly into my life now.
How does social media play into your daily routine? Is there an average amount of time you spend on it daily?
abc write/design was born out of the surge in the use of social media by small businesses. I am now tweeting and posting on LinkedIn and Facebook for clients, and I am constantly working with clients to explore new ways to help them grow their business. I am using Pinterest, my own blog, LinkedIn and Facebook and other sites to draw people to my website. It’s remarkable how quickly the world has changed.
What books have you recently read? Which blogs do you read regularly?
I recently read “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes and Lauren Graham’s new book, “Someday, Someday Maybe,” which was quick and great fun. I also read “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.” I go back and forth between pure fiction and historical fiction. I follow a few design blogs such as youthedesigner.com, designrfix.com and inspirationfeed.com. I am also in the midst of writing a novel of my own.
Graphic design will always be necessary and vital. However, the role of design is shifting to an ever more digital presence. We designers we must stay current with technology, which is a little like staying atop a surfboard on the crest of the wave 24/7. It’s challenging to say the least but a challenge I happily meet head on.
Do you do any form of marketing for abc write/design? If so what type(s)?
I have been fortunate to sustain a steady stream of work since opening my business 25 years ago. However, I do think the promotional work I do through social media has brought in new business that I could not have imagined 10 years ago.
See more work from abc write/design and keep in touch:
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