Final Four Lessons, Prime Advertising & DesignWater cooler talk in offices around the country was at a fever pitch these last couple of weeks as the NCAA basketball tournament has seen a little bit of everything. From last-minute wins to bracket-busting losses, the March Madness games have provided plenty of entertainment to excite even the most casual basketball fans. They have also provided plenty of lessons that can be applied to everyday business. Here are four key takeaways from the Highway to Houston as we head into the Final Four weekend.

1.  Expect the Unexpected

There have been plenty of upsets in this tournament. Even Jim Boeheim, head coach of the #10 Syracuse team, said he never expected to be in the Final Four. This is a team that started 0-4 in their conference, entered the tournament on a 1-5 slide and trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half against #1 Virginia in the Elite Eight. This team busted plenty of brackets and more than enough dreams. Nobody expected them to be where they are. But through good fortune and hard work, here they are at the doorstep of the biggest event in college basketball. Boeheim said, “Where you’re at is not important, it’s where you get to.” How many successful people do you know with a similar story?

2.  Never Say Never

Teams throughout this tournament were behind, some by as many as 12 points with 44 second left. But they came back and won. No deal is dead, no problem can’t be solved. I used to work for someone in the publishing business who said, “Any change can be made, any sale can be closed right up until the plates are on the press.” Even then, we often heard “Stop the press!” for that last ad or final editorial change. And the company was better and more profitable as a result.

3.  Let Your Stars Shine and Let Your Leaders Be Leaders

Oklahoma made it to the Final Four with their star player leading the charge. The heart and soul of all of the Final Four teams are seniors. When you have leadership and successful people on hand, let the thoroughbreds run.

4.  Establish Your Own Standards and Play Up to Them

As the tournament favorite, #1 North Carolina has been playing like champions. It’s important for teams and individuals, regardless of the competition, to bring their A game. Customers don’t want to settle and they shouldn’t have to. If your employees bring their best each and every day and live up to the motto, mission statement or mantra of the company, your organization will be a winner.

Sports teach participants and fans plenty of life lessons. The 2016 Final Four is loaded with them. Enjoy the games this weekend!

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Easter is the only time when you can put all your eggs in one basket & get away with it!
Happy Easter from all your friends at Prime Advertising.


Happy Easter

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first impressions, Prime Advertising & DesignI recently started working out at a gym in Maple Grove after work. A couple weeks ago, I decided to burn a few calories at another location near my home in Eden Prairie. From the moment I swiped my card and opened the door, something seemed a little off. Was it the harsh industrial lighting? The messy restroom? The dated fitness equipment?

It wasn’t enough to deter me from jumping on the treadmill, but I couldn’t shake the slight feeling of unease. As I finished up my workout, it hit me like a 45-pound barbell dropped on an unprotected foot. No music. Instead of soft, upbeat tunes trickling in over the ceiling speakers, the silence at this location was only broken by the heavy breathing of workout warriors and the dull thud of weights hitting the ground.

First impressions cannot be overstated. For an on-the-fence client, a favorable experience at your office is a surefire way to tip the scales in your favor.

Here at Prime, you can expect pleasant music, a steaming cup of coffee and a warm smile from Suzanne, our receptionist. As you prepare for your meeting, check out our comfy leather chairs and our fun meeting room names–Aquarium, Cactus, Palms, Summit. Be sure to ask for a tour to meet our office dog, Tank!

What is the atmosphere like at your office? What are your clients’ first impressions? Are they excited to come back for follow-up meetings?

From the attitude and attire of your staff to the lighting and furniture in your conference room, every little detail adds to the overall tone of your company. Don’t settle for an office that reminds clients of a factory or a correctional facility. Warm and welcoming first impressions put clients at ease and lead to fruitful business partnerships!

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May you Pockets by heavy & your heart be Light… may Good Luck pursue you each morning & night. Happy St. Patrick’s Day from all of us at Prime Advertising.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day


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It’s starting to feel more like spring. Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday at 2:00 am. Don’t forget to change your clocks ahead one hour if you don’t plan on staying up for the time change.

Daylight Saving Time Begins Graphic

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2-minute_612x612In case you missed it, Monday was Leap Day!

The first Leap Day-related question that comes to mind is: “What did you do with your extra day?” Did you check a few more emails or schedule a meeting to start a new project? Maybe you took the day off to spend time with your family or go ice fishing before the ice on the lakes melt.

In the hectic business world, having more time can be a luxury. To help you get more time out of your day throughout the year (not just on a Leap Year), we found a method that can help you stop procrastinating and jumpstart your projects and goals. This method is called the Two-Minute Rule.

How the Two-Minute Rule works:

If a task takes two minutes or less to accomplish, do it now.

This could be any small task, from washing your dishes after a meal to sending that follow-up email when the thought pops into your head. Instead of having the idea floating around in your brain or sitting idly on your to-do list, getting it done allows you to focus your energy on a larger task or goal.

There is also a way to apply the rule to projects that take longer than two minutes.

If it takes longer than two minutes:

The method suggests breaking down the goal into two-minute-sized chunks. Work on doing more on social media by writing out a schedule of how often you want to post. Want to start reading more? Read for two minutes on your lunch break!

The best way to make the Two-Minute Rule work is to act on your thoughts. While I’m not really a science person, they say that whatever is in motion will stay in motion. Starting your task when you think of it will help you follow through on completing it.



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Nick Van Heest

trendsetting applesA few months ago, I attended a friend’s birthday party. Lots of people, lots of snacks, gorgeous apartment straight out of an IKEA catalog, the whole nine yards. Alongside the cookies, pretzels and popcorn, one snack stuck out like a dislocated thumb–a giant bowl of green apples. As you might expect, the apples spent the first half of the shindig completely untouched. No one goes to parties to eat healthy, right?

And then, on a whim, a friend and I decided to take a bite out of Granny Smith. Almost immediately, the idea spread like influenza throughout the room as partygoers chose fruit over snack food. Within minutes, the huge bowl of apples was as empty as the Moon.

Like the snack selection at a birthday party, why do some products get asked to dance while others are left in the dust? Beyond the traditional marketing mix (product, distribution, price, promotion) the trendsetting success of certain brands often seems random and mysterious. In this highly-competitive market, tiny advantages can spark a bonfire. Combine these four ingredients to stand out like a green apple in a pile of pretzels.


Get psyched about your brand. Don’t sell yourself short or worry about what other people will think. Have some fun with your website, blog and social media. Support your product like an overzealous soccer mom. Belief and passion are infectious, but so is self-doubt.


Word of mouth is more effective than a hundred Super Bowl ads; the recommendation of a close friend is more convincing than a thousand billboards. Get out there and hawk your product’s advantages like a Target Field beer vendor. Be enthusiastic, not obnoxious. Remember, cash cows are raised on a diet of grassroots.


Being out of place is not necessarily a weakness. Like apples at a party, being different can catch your audience off-guard and help you get noticed. With advertisements clamoring for our attention 24/7, the element of surprise is a great way to stand out from the crowd.


Trendsetting is high risk, high reward. The apples could have easily sat undisturbed for the entire party. Like Apple with the iPod, give your audience what they want before they know they want it. Does that sound risky and difficult? It’s the difference between a trendsetter and an also-ran.

You’ve got the right product; you just need to find the right people in the right place at the right time. Easier said than done, of course. But if a plus-sized bowl of green apples can trounce cookies and popcorn at a birthday party, your brand can take a big, juicy bite out of your industry’s market share.

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The Little Things Matter - snowy windshieldDuring a recent drive into work this winter, I noticed something interesting. There were a lot of people driving down the road with frost built up on their windows to the point where you couldn’t see the driver. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that if you can’t see into the vehicle through the frost, the person behind the wheel can’t see out?

This can’t be good for anyone.

The Credit Card Scrape

There was one car that I passed–traveling 10 mph under the speed limit with a line of traffic behind it akin to a funeral procession–where the driver decided to make a single scrape across the windshield rather than scrape the entire windshield. Think reverse blind fold.

We’ve all seen it, a strategically placed scrape across the windshield precisely at eye level. This is usually a desperation move resulting from the driver not having an ice scraper. They “MacGyver” it with a credit card or another little object that clears just enough area to provide limited vision of the road directly in front of them. Good luck seeing any low flying aircraft above or the pot holes below that have grown to the size of a small bay on Lake Minnetonka.

The NASCAR Scrape

Rather than scraping the entire windshield and side windows, these drivers only scrape the windshield and driver side, completely ignoring the passenger window. This half effort is perfectly sufficient–as long as the driver takes a NASCAR track into work and never has to make a right turn.

The Peep Hole

My personal favorite, however, is the slouched-over peep hole. This one is completely ridiculous. It begins with the decision not to scrape at all, relying instead on the defroster to do the work. Or not. This is the slow-moving car straddling two lanes of traffic while the driver is hunched over the dash like an overserved blackjack player. The only point of vision is through a half moon of partially defrosted windshield about the size of a half-eaten omelet. Laser-focused and deftly intent on navigating rush hour traffic through this tiny peep hole, this driver is part James Bond and part submarine captain, peering through his scope as he surfaces from the depths of the sea.

All of this left me thinking about these little things, so easy to do yet ignored by so many; ultimately leaving everyone on the road frustrated and in danger. There’s an old saying that goes “Anything worth doing, is worth doing well.” This is true regardless of how large or little the task, whether it’s scraping the windows of your car before work or the job you do once you arrive. People notice a job well done, and, just as importantly, they notice when things are left to chance.

Especially when you are stuck in rush hour.

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super-bowl-50-logoFrom beer and cars to candy bars, Super Bowl 50’s commercials were filled with celebrities, hashtags and special effects. With a captivated audience of 112 million viewers, a wide variety of companies coughed up nearly $5 million for 30 seconds of airtime. Here are our favorite four takeaways from the big game this year.

Disturbing = Memorable

Mountain Dew’s PuppyMonkeyBaby commercial proved that a creepy and bizarre take on advertising can be a great way to stand out. Probably the most polarizing ad of the 2016 Super Bowl, the commercial for Mountain Dew’s Kickstart energy drink is hard to forget. Hopefully the combination of dew, juice and caffeine is a tad less frightening. Many companies are afraid to get offbeat and weird, but playing it safe may not generate the buzz you are looking for.

Fight Stereotypes with Humor & Self-Awareness

With its bank robber police chase ads, Toyota made the interesting choice of focusing on the Prius’ weaknesses instead of its strengths. While previous Prius ads promoted the car’s great gas mileage and environmental benefits, Toyota’s Super Bowl ads playfully addressed the car’s wimpy and feminine reputation.

Deep down, I think most people know that Priuses are powerful and fast enough for the average driver, but perhaps this ad campaign will embolden a few more manly, wannabe bank robbers to pull the trigger.

Know Your Setting–And Your Audience

As millions of Super Bowl viewers chowed down on nachos, pizza and chicken wings, Xifaxan, Jublia and OIC Is Different jumped at the chance to bring attention to constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and toe fungus. While Xifaxan’s pink intestine sports fan was kind of cute, these three ads seemed out of place. People watch the Super Bowl to enjoy themselves and eat greasy snack food–not to contemplate their nagging health issues.

The Little Guys Can Still Win Big

With most of the Super Bowl ad space taken up by giant corporations with money to burn, the overall strategy was more about brand legacy than introducing new products. A sidesplitting Bud Light or Butterfingers commercial doesn’t affect my buying decisions any more than a painfully unfunny one does.

But for a little known company like Death Wish Coffee, the payoff is huge. The winner of Intuit’s small business contest, Death Wish’s entertaining Viking ad and attention-grabbing product guarantee a massive year for the company. Does our society really need more caffeine? Probably not. Would I like to try “the world’s strongest coffee?” Sign me up!

Although there were many memorable moments, these are our favorite four lasting memories. And of course these are in addition to a little heartburn the next day!

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Imagine that your company has just hired a new salesman. This guy never gets sick, never takes a day off, never goes on vacation. He is quite the social butterfly–wearing your company’s logo everywhere he goes and recommending your brand to everyone he meets. Sounds like the perfect salesman, right?

From posters and displays to dasher boards at ice arenas, signs are your 24/7 sales force. They communicate the best of your company to the public, promote your brand and aid in customer recall. But like any salesman, your signs need a little guidance to ensure maximum effectiveness. Here are a few tips for reducing clutter and ensuring a clear and effective message:

Business Signage

Business SignageThe signage at your business identifies your location, provides information your clients need (e.g. hours open) and sets a welcoming tone. It should not overwhelm or confuse potential customers with superfluous details. A pleasingly simple and elegant design shows a respect for your clients that they will appreciate and remember.

Ice Arena Dasher Boards

With ice arena dasher boards, simplicity is the best strategy. A simple tagline, a good logo and (at most) a website will be enough to brand your business with confidence. Signage: Dasher board As fans attend hockey games throughout the year, they will notice your dasher and associate your business with their team. Your dasher’s presence endears them to your company and can be the difference maker between you and your competition.

Posters and Displays

Signage: Posters and displaysPosters and display art typically require a little more creative juice than dashers, but the message must still be simple and clean to have an impact. While posters and displays allow for more text and photos than dashers, your designer must keep your message focused with attractive graphics and large, easy-to-read typography.

Resist the temptation to pack in as much information as possible, as this will overwhelm your audience and dilute your message. Even the wildest designs will have the biggest impact with a focused idea, consistency, balance and clarity.

At their best, signs are direct, simple and impactful. While they can brand your company to the public like no other medium, they require a disciplined approach and an understanding of your audience and their environment. With an uncluttered design, a powerful message and a great location, your team of signage salesmen will persuade new and repeat customers time and time again.

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