I was recently in a meeting with a prospective client, and she asked me if Lenz was the best marketing company in Atlanta for her particular business. I told her that I believed we were, due to our many years of experience in her field, and then I gave her some advice as to what I would do if our roles were reversed.

If I were looking to hire a marketing firm, I would take a multi-pronged approach:

The first step would be to use Google to find out who claimed to be the “Best” in my area. And by going through their web site, I would quickly find out how good they are by evaluating their client list as well as the work that they have done. You can tell who is trying to game the search engines by just looking at the content of the sites you visit.

Secondly, I would ask my trusted business network about who they used, and if they had any recommendations.

Thirdly, I would contact a few companies that I was interested in, and see if I could talk to some of their current clients. Nothing beats a referral from a satisfied client.

Once identified, the final step for me would be to meet with the marketing firm and make sure we were compatible before going forward. I wouldn’t want to waste their time or mine.

After I gave her my honest advice, she felt like she could trust me and I closed the deal (she had been referred to me by a previously-satisfied client.)

I promised her that after we were done with the project, she would also have the impression that Lenz is the best marketing advertising company in Atlanta.

Lenz recently launched a major media campaign for Georgia Retina—the largest retina-only private practice in Georgia—with the theme Better Eyesight Is In Your Future.

The spring 2011 campaign on radio stations WSB 750AM and 95.5 FM focuses on the cutting-edge services the practice provides. The nine physicians of Georgia Retina are board certified ophthalmologists who specialize in treating conditions of the retina and vitreous. The practice, with eight locations in the metro Atlanta area, selected Lenz in 2010 to shape their communication efforts.

The campaign messaging stresses that for the past 15 years, Georgia Retina has built a solid reputation based on the belief that providing the best care starts with the minds behind the technology:

“Look into the future, and what do you see? Whatever it is, you probably didn’t include quality eyesight on the list. But for people facing chronic vision loss, their future is unclear. Thousands of Georgians are affected each year, and thousands of Georgians turn to the innovative offices of Georgia Retina for help.”

The radio spots direct listeners to a landing page on the Georgia Retina web site where they can learn more about the practice.

If you want to know how important marketing communications have been to the success of the Decatur Book Festival, just ask Executive Director Daren Wang.

“Without Lenz, the Decatur Book Festival as we know it wouldn’t exist,” he said. “From the festival’s inception, Lenz has been the driving force behind one of the most comprehensive and influential marketing efforts I have ever seen.”

As the festival enters its fifth year, excitement for the event continues to mount.

The annual Labor Day weekend bash on the Decatur Square has become the nation’s largest independent book festival and fourth largest overall. This Labor Day Weekend, more than 300 authors and tens of thousands of attendees from across the Southeast will converge in downtown Decatur for book signings, author readings, panel discussions, an interactive children’s area, live music, parades, cooking demonstrations, poetry slams, writing workshops, and more.

Lenz develops and manages every aspect of the festival’s marketing communications effort from strategy and brand development to implementation in key areas such as design, PR, web development, e-marketing, advertising, and signage.

Lenz was the first festival sponsor and has been a gold-level sponsor for every festival to-date. Lenz also hosts the author hospitality suite each year.

Lenz president and festival board member Richard Lenz said that promoting the book festival is at the heart of Lenz’s mission. “We are proud of our contributions to the festival,” he said. “But we are even prouder of our partnership with the team that puts on the event and our association with the Decatur community. Celebrating and promoting reading and literacy is the epitome of cause marketing.”

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta now presents a new face to the community thanks to a recently launched web site and brand campaign created in partnership with Lenz Marketing.

Making the transition to www.jewishatlanta.org, Federation selected a clean, contemporary look with a blue background that reflects the flag of Israel and the blue and white colors of the traditional prayer shawl (tallit). The new site is one component of a broader effort to strengthen the Federation brand and share the organization’s story with the Jewish community.

“The new site will connect us with our community in ways we didn’t dream possible just a few years ago,” Federation President Steve Rakitt said.

The site development involved a creative partnership between Michael Kogon, Federation volunteer and CEO of Definition6, Federation Marketing Manager Lani Preis, and the Lenz team. The site also features a series of “It’s You” brand ads conceived by Laurie Ann Goldman, Federation Marketing Chair and Spanx CEO, and designed by Lenz.

The new site incorporates content and coding from Federation’s web provider, United Jewish Communities(UJC). Lenz worked within the UJC framework while developing a look and feel for the site that is unique to the Atlanta Federation.

In addition to interactive and advertising services, Lenz also provides strategic planning for Federation’s multi-million-dollar annual fundraising campaign, ongoing Public Relations, and marketing materials as diverse as cooking videos and mascots.

“Federation is a great organization and we are proud to partner with them to further their mission,” said Lenz CEO Richard Lenz.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is Atlanta’s premier Jewish fundraising organization, offering community members the best opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of Jews everywhere. Founded in 1906, Federation creates and supports programs that transform Jewish values into tangible deeds, aiding the most vulnerable, ensuring that Jewish culture and traditions live on, and strengthening the critical link between our local community and Jews in Israel and overseas. Federation donors and volunteers enjoy the satisfaction of knowing they Live Generously, receive recognition for their involvement, and create a legacy of giving. Federation recently received four stars—the highest possible rating—from Charity Navigator, the nation’s premier independent charity evaluator.

Recently, the publicist for internationally best-selling author Michael Connelly came to Lenz for help with a small idea she hoped would have a big impact at this year’s Book Expo America conference.

Since a matchbook played a key role in the plot of “9 Dragons,” Connelly’s upcoming book, Shannon Byrne thought matches would be a perfect way to light a fire under advance book sales.

The challenge, according to Lenz Art Director Scott Sanders, was to incorporate a message about the book onto a 1½-inch-wide matchbook. His solution was to “keep it simple” and use color to provide extra impact. He used orange and white text on a black background to promote the author’s name, the book title, and the release date of the book — 10.13.09.

Sanders even included a quote inside the matchbook that was pivotal to the plot. “Happy Is The Man Who Finds Refuge In Himself,” said both the novel and the matchbook.

The matchbook text also included the author’s web site, www.michaelconnelly.com, as well as the name of the publisher, Hachette Book Group New York, NY 10017, a design task that was no small feat.

News of the “9 Dragons” matches, Byrne said, “spread like wildfire” and became the talk of the conference.

Georgia Cancer Specialists is getting a fresh new look just in time for spring.

Designed by Scott Sanders, Creative Director at Lenz, the new look is an evolution of the existing logo with fresh graphics, a new typeface, and bright colors that create a clean, contemporary look.

The leadership at Georgia Cancer Specialists was involved throughout the creative process, which lead to “an evolution, rather than a revolutionary change.” The logo will be phased in on signage and printed materials throughout the year, Sanders said.

Those intimately familiar with the former GCS logo, developed in 1999, may notice the removal of the practice tagline, “The Cancer Answer.”

“The Cancer Answer remains the practice tagline,” said Lenz CEO, Richard Lenz. “In fact, by separating the tagline from the mark, we will be able to feature it more prominently and more clearly communicate its meaning to the public.”

While logos reflect the brand they represent, most companies refresh and refine them every 10 to 15 years, Sanders said. Additional evolutions to the GCS brand identity will be rolled out throughout the year.

Lenz Music, a division of Lenz, Inc., recently raised $5,190 for two Atlanta non-profit cancer organizations—the Georgia Cancer Foundation and the Magic of Life Foundation—at a benefit concert held at Eddie’s Attic in downtown Decatur. Proceeds will be split equally between the two organizations.

The sellout show was headlined by Johnny Clash—a band comprised of Lenz president/CEO Richard Lenz, marketing director Michael Killeen, art director Scott Sanders, and honorary Lenz director of security, Shawn Vinson.

“It is so gratifying to me and our entire company that so many of our friends, family, clients, and contacts would lend their time and money to this important cause,” Lenz said. “In today’s economic climate, non-profit organizations need our support more than ever, and these two groups are quite deserving.”

Nathan Beaver, a marketing manager at Lenz, opened the show with an acoustic set, and Lenz marketing director Michael Killeen performed with his band, the Sweethearts.

The event featured a silent auction with items contributed by the AJC Decatur Book Festival, the City of Decatur, Georgia Shakespeare, Little Shop of Stories, Worthmore Jewelry, John Lenz of the Tall Rocker Company, Wade Medlock, Alice Murray, and Vinson Gallery.

Lenz would like to thank everyone who attended the event and participated in the silent auction; Bob Ephlan and Eddie Owen of Eddie’s Attic for hosting the event; and The Magic of Life Foundation Board of Directors and Rudy Morgan of the Georgia Cancer Foundation for their support through the years.

Georgia Cancer Foundation—based in Atlanta—provides education, early detection, and support for Georgia residents affected by all types of cancer. Through its innovative programs and extensive support group network, the Foundation caters to newly diagnosed patients, those currently undergoing care, and survivors—as well as those in need of low-cost early detection. GCF’s web site is www.gacancerfoundation.org.

The purpose of the Magic of Life Foundation is to educate, inform, and support individuals with cancer and those who care for them. The Foundation provides services aimed at improving cancer survivorship and quality of life from the time of diagnosis, throughout treatment, and in the years following completion of cancer care. MOLF’s web site is www.molfi.org.

This morning, my wife and I were getting ready to send out a birthday card, and we were having our children sign them as we usually do. My two-year-old daughter Ellie took her turn with the pen, and she scribble-scrabbled something on the card.

Afterwards, she dropped the pen on the table and said “I want french fries.”

Where did this come from?

My wife asked Ellie and she replied “McDonald’s has french fries and that’s McDonald’s” as she pointed to the card in which she had scribble-scrabbled a close facsimile to the logo of the ubiquitous American fast-food titan. I just had to take a picture and share, because it’s fascinating to me that McDonald’s has already imprinted their brand on my two-year-old’s brain.

There’s a common statistic thrown about in marketing that says the average American sees 3,000 advertising messages a day. So perhaps it’s no wonder that even very young children are able to identify with a brand such as McDonald’s so strongly.

In one study during the famous “Pepsi Challenge,” 67 people’s brains were scanned during a blind taste test comparing Pepsi and Coke. During the blind test, half the subjects chose Pepsi, and Pepsi generated a stronger response in the region of the brain thought to process feelings of reward.

But when the subjects were told which beverage was Coke, not only did three-fourths said that Coke tasted better, but the scans proved they were also using a different area of their brains—one thought to be tied to cognitive abilities and memory. This indicated that the consumers were thinking about Coke and relating it to memories and other impressions.

In other words, people overwhelmingly preferred Coke because of their positive associations with the brand, not the taste.

The quality of your product is important, sure, but is it as important as the strength of your brand?

Celebrating its fourth birthday this weekend, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical (DBF) is drawing praise from both authors and participants.

International best-selling thriller author Lee Child, appearing on Fox 5’s Good Day Atlanta Friday, September 4, said, “In its fourth year, Decatur is already one of the major book festivals in the U.S. You’ve got to go to the L.A. Times Festival and maybe Decatur. This is now a big deal. It’s all very exciting.”

DBF Executive Director Daren Wang agreed, calling the festival a “tremendous success” and citing the standing-room-only groups at the 900-seat First Baptist Church of Decatur and the 700-seat Decatur Presbyterian Church. The 400-seat Target Children’s Stage was also packed throughout the weekend with families and children lining up to hear popular children’s authors such as Judy Schachner, Jon Scieszka, and Elizabeth Dulemba.

Rob Jenkins, DBF board member and Director of the Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College said that in only its fourth year, the festival has “come of age.”

Jenkins, who has been involved with the festival since early in its history, joined scores of participants in observing the overwhelming success of the event that brought tens of thousands of book lovers to hear more than 300 authors at venues around the Decatur Square.

Jenkins commented that the event ran so smoothly because of the maturity and experience of the organizers and 500 volunteers who worked on the event.

While total crowd figures are not available, organizers estimate a 15 percent increase over last year’s event.

Starting with a packed 800-seat Presser Hall at Agnes Scott College Friday, September 4, for the keynote address on the future of print by Sir Harold Evans, and ending with a Sunday evening picnic by the Southern Foodways Alliance and Concert on the Square by bluegrass group Sweet AlizAbeth, the festival provided something for everyone.

With 12 additional venues, ranging in size from 75 seats at the Decatur Conference Center Stage to 300 seats at the Old Courthouse, back-to-back events all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon were at or beyond capacity.

On Saturday night, those lucky fans who bought tickets early to the only festival-sponsored paid event, a sold-out concert at Agnes Scott honoring the 100th anniversary of Eudora Welty’s birth, were thrilled to hear Kate Campbell, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Caroline Herring, and Claire Holley perform in honor of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning writer from Jackson, Mississippi.

Comments filled Twitter and Facebook over the weekend from excited book lovers and festival attendees.

From Karlene Barger of Sandy Springs, “I think this is the best book festival yet. I especially enjoyed being one of the 1,100 or so people who attended the ‘Vampire’ session with Charlaine Harris, and Michael Malone was also wonderful! A very well organized (and fun) event!”

Decatur’s Steve Vogel wrote: “Just got back from the Decatur Book Festival — what a great event! Props to all who made it happen and those who came and enjoyed.”

Melanie Wright of Lawrenceville posted on Sunday, “The Decatur Book Festival yesterday was wonderful! Excited for today’s line up! No better way for me to spend Labor Day Weekend!”

Rachel Moore Hawkins of Auburn, Alabama, wrote:  “back from Decatur! Had a BLAST! Got to spend time with The Mama, see old friends, make new friends, hang with some truly kick-a** writers, and meet awesome bloggers. Oh, and got Richelle Mead to sign a book. All in all, a fabulous weekend!”

Interviews available upon request.

“We had record sized crowds for the Vampires session and Charlaine Harris signed everything she could in the allotted time. We also had a lot of compliments from booklovers, saying thanks for putting on this event.  The authors were great, the crowds patient and the weather beautiful.  We will be contacting the publicity departments of Random House, Penguin, Simon and Schuster with photos of how well their authors drew crowds in hopes that they will continue sending us such well-known writers.”

–Doug Robinson, owner, Eagle Eye Book Shop.

We have been proud and excited to organize the programing for — as well as do book sales at — the kids’ stage for the last four years (and the teen stage for the last two), and the 2009 festival was no exception.

The illustrators and authors sent to us increase in their prestige every year, and it’s because the publishers know what an awesome festival this is. But they aren’t the only folks responding with tons of enthusiasm — we had fantastic crowds and sales in the store and at both stages this year, and we’re particularly proud of how packed The Escape teen stage was. We are raring to go for 2010!

–Terra McVoy, Co-Director, Youth Programming, AJC-Decatur Book Festival, & Bookseller Extraordinaire at Little Shop of Stories

Bookzilla SketchOnce upon a summer’s day, Daren and Tom, the masterminds that run the Decatur Book Festival, asked Lenz to create the identity for the 2009 festival. They wanted the imagery to be a departure from the previous year, which was a serene, fertile literary garden of Eden. This year’s festival is going to be filled with surprises, twists and turns, and unexpected events. Obviously, this was not going to be your run-of-the-mill book festival.

Daren and Tom told me that the 2009 festival was going to rock Decatur like a book hurricane and attack the downtown area like an H. G. Well’s story.

What would this festival look like? Apocalyptic imagery started racing through my mind. Attack of the 50-foot Woman, the marshmallow man that almost killed Bill Murray, King Kong clinging to the Empire State building, the 80’s video game Rampage, and of course the long-legged Martian machines that emerged from the ground.

You know who else emerges from below? Godzilla!

I could see a hipster poetry-slamming Godzilla emerging from his slumber in Lake Avondale blazing a path down College Avenue to destroy Decatur with a hail of firey adverbs. Sounds great, right, but how would I take the Godzilla imagery and apply it to a literary event? Easy. I’ll just give ol’ Godzilla a book for a head with razor-sharp pages for teeth, the kind that would give you one heck of a paper cut. I added the wayfarer style glasses for a nice scholastic, yet hip flavor. The menacing bookmark tongue was the perfect way to finish off his noggin. Of course, he ended up with book spines and a fountain-pen tail.

My monstrosity needed a name, and Bookzilla was it.

Since I created a monster, Bookzilla needed something constructive to do, or rather destructive. Bookzilla decided to go directly down to the Decatur Square and mow down some of Decatur’s most beloved landmarks. The Old Couthouse, the Gazebo, a drinking establishment, etc. Total Decatur Demonic Destruction from above!

I quickly sketched the idea in my trusty sketchbook—handcrafted by Daren Wang himself—and showed Daren, Tom, and Mary Flad the grisly scene. It was complete with soccer moms running for their lives. Since they all have a unique sense of humor, they really seemed to like it. Bookzilla was born!