Ben Barnes Lenz Marketing

LENZ views leadership broadly and encourages leadership development among everyone on our team. In this series of interviews, several of our leaders reflect on their principles and practices, and on the lessons in leadership they’ve learned along the way.

Ben Barnes is the Creative Director at LENZ, where he manages the creative department and a network of freelancers and production vendors. He has been in the design industry for over 10 years and has developed successful campaigns for Coca-Cola, Allstate, P&G, and many others. Prior to joining LENZ in 2013, Ben worked in several roles in the agency environment. His personal work has been displayed in museums and published worldwide. Ben earned his BFA in graphic design from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2004.

Excluding colleagues at LENZ, who taught you the most important lesson that guides your leadership at LENZ today? What did you learn from them?

The first job I had out of school was at Momentum, where I worked for Ryan Mulqueen, their creative director at the time. He was a “get your hands dirty” kind of guy. He didn’t lead from afar; he was right down there with us.

Ryan put a high value on good ideas and good thinking. And he stressed the importance of pushing the client: selling them on the good ideas and the good thinking instead of giving them what they expected.

He was always passionate about the work. You could tell. And it helped everybody else bring their own passion to the job. He inspired us to give each project our all and do our very best.

His example did a lot to shape my ideas about leadership. I get down there in the trenches with the people I work with, and I try to inspire them with my own passion for the work.

What is an important lesson about leadership that you learned from a client?

I’ve learned from clients the value of relationships. Going back to that idea of pushing the client and selling them on your ideas: If you have a good relationship with the client, if they trust you, if they believe in you, then they’re going to allow you to do what you think is best because they know you have their best interest at heart.

Building that relationship takes time, but then the conversations become easier. It becomes less about selling the client on your work and more about them believing in your abilities and your expertise.

My own role at LENZ is not as client-facing. Here, clients know me more by my work than my face. The people in account services take my work and sell it on my behalf, and they’re very good at building those relationships.

That’s why I make sure to explain my thinking to the people who will explain it to the client: all the ideas that went into it, the best practices we used, why we put a button where we did. It’s a team effort. It’s the beauty again of relationships.

What is a belief or opinion you have in your field that most people in your field don’t share?

Design isn’t going to change the world.

You come out of college with this head full of ideas about how you’re going to design this poster and change the world. It doesn’t work like that.

The ideas behind design do have the potential to change the world. The design itself is just the medium to spread that message.

Early in my career, I designed a poster that was picked up for the Green Patriot Posters series, a climate change initiative of The Canary Project. The project was inspired by World War II posters, and I created a modern take on the victory gardens idea.

The posters went on a tour of all these design museums, far and wide. They were put into a calendar produced in Germany. They were collected in a book that was written up in Wired.com, which included my poster in the article.

But at the end of the day, what impact did it really have? Did the posters influence someone to ride their bike rather than drive their car? I don’t know.

It was aspirational. I like to think, yes, it did make a difference. It was relevant and important. But as a designer, I struggle with that question.

Design is problem-solving: finding ways to communicate a message. Ultimately, it’s the message that really matters.

Fast forward as many years as necessary. You’re leaving your present role, whether for a promotion or a job change or retirement. What advice would you give to the next person who fills your position?

Don’t take yourself or the position too seriously.

At LENZ we do mostly healthcare marketing. It’s a very serious industry, and sometimes people’s lives are at stake.

But at the end of the day, what you’re really trying to promote is the relationship between the doctor and the patient. You’re expressing this very human connection that people have with their doctors. It’s a very special and unique relationship of trust.

And it’s about people getting back to their lives, back to the best quality of life they can have. Back to playing with their kids, or taking their dogs to the park, or riding their bikes. It’s about these everyday moments of life.

If you could send a message back to yourself during your first year working at LENZ, what advice would you give?

BookletI was recently digging through some things in my in-laws’ attic. And I found this booklet , “A Message to Garcia.” Someone had given it to my father-in-law. It’s an essay written in 1899 by Elbert Hubbard.

Hubbard tells an [apocryphal] story from just before the Spanish-American War. President McKinley wanted to get a message to General Garcia, the head of the Cuban liberation movement. He wanted to tell Garcia that we were going to send in American troops and help him. But Garcia was in the middle of a war, deep in the jungle, with no satellites to locate him.

So McKinley gave a letter to an American soldier, Lieutenant Rowan, and told him to get it to Garcia. Rowan didn’t ask him where Garcia was or how he was supposed to find him. He took the letter and got behind enemy lines. He asked around, found Garcia, and delivered the letter.

The story was relevant 100 years ago and still is today.

If somebody asks you to do something, even if you don’t know how, take it upon yourself to figure it out. Take on the responsibility of getting it done.

In my younger days, I questioned everything. That’s not a bad approach to life, but I think I would have found success much more quickly if I had had Rowan’s mindset. I would have learned a lot about what I was working on, but also a lot about myself, about what I’m capable of. Can you figure it out? There’s confidence that comes with learning that you can.

Anna Laura LenzTeam Lenz is full of leading experts in healthcare marketing. We’re proud to provide high-quality services for all of our clients, which is why we are excited to showcase the unique strengths of our newest Team Lenz members.

Keep reading to learn all about Anna Laura, our latest media coordinator.

What Brought me to Lenz?

Prior to joining the team, I followed Lenz on Facebook and LinkedIn. As someone with a background in social media and marketing, I was interested in learning what local marketing agencies did to stay informed on the latest updates in social media trends. As the leading healthcare marketer in the Atlanta area, Lenz immediately caught my attention. I loved interacting with their informative content and admired how their company culture presented itself in all their posts.

Sometime later, I noticed that Lenz posted a job opening on LinkedIn. It was the perfect opportunity, as at that time I wanted to make a career change. When the Lenz team reached out on Facebook to provide information on the job opening after noticing my engagement with their page, it further encouraged me to make the leap and apply.

While I was already excited about the opportunity, it was Lenz’s CEO, Richard Lenz, that further cemented how incredible working at Lenz would be. During my interview process, it was inspiring to hear him discuss the level of care Lenz provides for all their clients and employees. I wanted to be a part of a company that gave such high-quality attention to such important causes.

My First Month at Lenz

The first couple days were dedicated to studying company policy, my clients, and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountable Act) legislation. One of the things that makes Lenz stand apart from other agencies is that all employees are required to pass a HIPAA certification course. As an agency that works with so many healthcare clients, being HIPAA compliant is proof that Lenz goes above and beyond for their clients.

After feeling warmly welcomed by my new co-workers, I got to focus my attention on using my past work experience to improve the content for my clients. My background is in small business and in-house marketing, so I’ve been working hard to apply these strengths to my clients’, as well as strategizing how to provide high-quality social and digital content for all of their channels. Lenz encourages collaboration, and this has spearheaded the incredible growth I have already witnessed my first month here. From discussing the necessary steps needed to create a social graphic and exploring new social management platforms, I have already acquired new skills that have made a huge difference in the quality of work I produce.

This first month is just the beginning, and I am thrilled to see how else I will grow while at Lenz.

The Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC) was formed by a group of community leaders committed to developing a stronger ecosystem around impact investing in Georgia, and Lenz had the pleasure of designing and launching their website.

The Lenz interactive team worked closely with GSIC’s innovation team to develop a site that would allow investors, enterprises, and intermediaries to be listed in a searchable database, while being easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing.

Check out GSIC’s site design by seeing below or visiting their website!

Georgia Social Impact

Interested in learning more about how Lenz could help elevate your brand and business? Contact us here or give us a call today at 404-373-2021.

John Lenz

LENZ views leadership broadly and encourages leadership development among everyone on our team. In this series of interviews, several of our leaders reflect on their principles and practices, and on the lessons in leadership they’ve learned along the way.

John Lenz is a vice president and managing partner at LENZ. He is also president of Georgia Smoke BBQ. Before joining Lenz, John attended Oglethorpe University, where he was a starting pitcher on the baseball team. He joined LENZ in 1992.

Excluding colleagues at LENZ, who taught you the most important lesson that guides your leadership at LENZ today? What did you learn from them?

Jerry McCollum, then CEO of the Georgia Wildlife Federation, once told me a version of that old story about a “post turtle.” When you see a turtle balanced on top of a fence post, you know he didn’t get up there by himself.

I think his version of the story was a little kinder than how it’s usually told. But I liked the way he told it. He was very successful and had done a lot of good for the Georgia environment. A man at the top of his field. But he always remembered the post turtle, and he told me, “People helped me get to where I am.”

That has always stuck with me. To get somewhere, yeah, you need your own initiative. But there are a lot of other people who have worked to get you to whatever position you’re in. I always remember that as a lesson to never forget that I’m not all by myself in this thing. There’s no way I could be where I am without the help of a lot of others.

What is an important lesson about leadership that you learned from a client?

The best leaders I’ve worked with aren’t kings or queens of their companies. They might have more experience than everybody else, but they surround themselves with smart people. They ask for feedback and listen to it for a diversity of thought before they make a call.

I’ve made many mistakes where I was handling something I’d seen before, so I thought I already knew exactly what to do. And often I made the wrong call because I wasn’t listening to something someone else was trying to tell me. Giving too much weight to my own experience and not enough to others.

As a leader, if you can open up enough to listen and really process other people’s perspectives, if you can meld it with your experience… that’s when you make your best decisions.

What impact that you’ve made on the world through your leadership at LENZ feels most meaningful to you?

I think it would have to be our impact on the people who have worked here and who work here now, and their families.

LENZ is a place where people can really grow in their careers and not have a ceiling. I’ve done so many different things here. We give people that flexibility. You can say, “I’m interested in photography.” Well, we’ll get you a camera and some classes.

We support people and help them support their families.

It’s the people… the people who have benefited from working here. And I’ve benefited from working with them.

What is a belief or opinion you have in your field that most people in your field don’t share?

A lot of people in our field fall in love with tools, with data and other statistics before considering the first thing that should be checked off the list: creativity.

They start thinking you need a Facebook campaign, you need a Snapchat whatever. They think you need a billboard, a TV campaign. All without first coming up with great creative that makes the client’s investment really pay off.

They waste clients’ money and produce some really bad creative.

Creative that makes sense for the client should come first.

Is all my creative like Garrison Keillor’s? All the kids are above average? No, there is a bell curve of what everybody produces. But you always have to strive for that appropriate creative idea before you start talking about anything tactical.

Oftentimes in this world, when there’s something bright and shiny and new, people go for that, just to do that without thinking. You always have to ask first, “Does this really make sense for the client?”

Fast forward as many years as necessary. You’re leaving your present role, whether for a promotion or a job change or retirement. What advice would you give to the next person who fills your position?

I would not have been able to retire if it weren’t for years and years of working with talented people, and smart clients who had the vision to hire us and trust what we were trying to achieve.

Make sure you surround yourself with the best people, and make sure they have the freedom to blossom into whatever it is they should blossom into. Help them in the best ways you can. Help them get to wherever they want to go.

DeKalb Surgical Associates, P.C. came to Lenz looking for a new logo and site design that would stay on-brand, but elevated; they wanted a site that was user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing for patients and a new logo that was more reflective of the group’s services.

With those goals in mind, see below for Lenz’s new site design for DeKalb Surgical along with what the site looked like before. Also pictured is the new logo compared to the old one.

New site design:

Old site design:

New logo:

Old logo:

Interested in learning more about how Lenz could help elevate your brand and business? Contact us here or give us a call today at 404-373-2021.

Lenz proudly sponsored the 2018 Top Doctors Reception, presented by Atlanta magazine. The reception was help June 21 at the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead, and celebrated the physicians in the “Top Doctors” issue. Lenz had an on-site presence at the reception, and had a great time celebrating the doctors being honored, including many of our clients.

Congratulations to all the top doctors. We’re already looking forward to next year!

Check out a few more snapshots of the night below.

Lenz was a proud sponsor of the Second Annual Georgia Smoke Mexican Crawfish Derby, which raised $4,100 for Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC), a non-profit committed to providing durable medical equipment at little or no cost to adults and children with injuries and disabilities.

On May 5, hundreds gathered at the Briarcliff Woods Beach Club and went through 350 pounds of authentic Cajun-cooked crawfish and Mexican food! The event proved to be a great success and Lenz is thrilled to have been a part of it.

John Lenz, Vice President of Lenz Marketing, is also the founder and co-owner of Georgia Smoke BBQ, the best BBQ catering in Atlanta.

Check out more pictures of the event below!

By Richard Lenz

A personal hero of mine, Jerry McCollum, had a plaque on his desk that no one could miss when you came into his office. It read DO MORE. The former President and CEO of the Georgia Wildlife Federation is a living example of how much you could get done if you just DID MORE.

At Lenz, we are always trying to DO MORE in a variety of areas. Do more for our clients, do more for our employees, and do more for our shareholders. Also, from Day 1, we’ve always tried to do more for our communities. It is central to our mission. Early on, I understood that the purpose of every business is to earn a customer, serve their needs, and make a profit for shareholders and employees.

But what if you did all that, and also worked to improve the world we live in? Why not?

Roughly eight years ago my business partner Mike Killeen wrote, recorded, and released an album titled “Poverty is Real,” featuring a song by the same name. His belief, which I agreed with, was that poverty was a singular driver of many human conditions and problems, whether you were discussing healthcare, crime, education, homelessness, or even the environment. We both also agreed that as a popular issue, poverty is about as unsexy as it comes.

After releasing his album, he decided to try to DO MORE about the issue and try his hand at activism. A non-profit was established, eventually branded as Amplify My Community. The basic concept was to use live music events to bring public interest and fundraising to the issue of poverty, i.e., try to make the issue sexier through music! You come to a great show and your money goes to fighting poverty.

I was appointed as chairman of the Advisory Board, and as a donation, myself and my business partner John Lenz decided to put the full weight of Lenz’s marketing resources, skills, and networks into the effort, because we thought this was a way Lenz could DO MORE for the community.

The organization, run by volunteers, produces great shows and fundraises through the business of ticket sales, sponsorships, merchandising, and food and beverage vending, all of which passes through to a handpicked charity in a particular community.

Over the years, we’ve “Amplified” Decatur, Nashville, Asheville, Charlottesville, Athens, Atlanta, and Suwannee, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, which has gone directly to effective, hands-on charities in those communities that work to alleviate the effects of poverty and homelessness.

On Saturday April 14, the Amplify Decatur Music Festival returns to the downtown square with arguably the best lineup we’ve ever had at any event, top to bottom, with The Lone Bellow, The Jayhawks, Amanda Shires, Parker Millsap, and Dwayne Shivers. Those who came last year to see Lucinda Williams will remember a magical night on the square.

Not content with just an outdoor festival, we are doing more with additional musical events over the same weekend at Eddie’s Attic, which has supported our efforts for the last seven years going back to the days of Eddie Owen, who helped us put on our very first Amplify show. New ownership has been generous as well, and the weekend’s shows are worth considering. Friday night’s show features the very talented Jared and Amber, Saturday night’s “Sirens of South Austin” show has Rebecca Loebe, Grace Pettis, and Betty Soo bringing their great songs and three-part harmonies. Sunday night, we have the Amplify Decatur capper with a Townes Van Zandt VS. Steve Earle tribute night, which will be a barn-burner.

We hope you can join us this year for what will be an awesome evening of beautiful music, delicious food from Decatur’s best restaurants, and outstanding craft beer. If so, you will be DOING MORE than entertaining yourself, but also helping our community.

Lenz recently helped Sundial Charter Tours develop a new visual identity and website.

Sundial Charters is a nature and charter boat company located on Tybee Island, Georgia. They offer daily and year-round trips that include dolphin watching, crabbing, cast netting, fossil hunting, birding, light tackle fishing, hiking the barrier islands, and salt marsh ecology.

Interested in working with Lenz for your design and branding needs? Contact us here today or give us a ring at 404-373-2021.

Lenz recently partnered with Avant Gynecology, formerly known as McDaniel and Durrett, to launch the practice’s new brand identity.

From creating the practice’s new name to developing its logo and website, Lenz aimed to ensure that the practice’s high quality and professional reputation was well represented.

Check out the new Avant Gynecology brand, business collateral, and website!

Interested in working with Lenz for your design and branding needs? Contact us here today or give us a ring at 404-373-2021.