Hello, m5!

While looking at your website, I found you are looking for a Creative Director in Moncton. I think I would be a good – albeit unconventional – fit, and I hope you agree.

Why Me?

I’m a bit over 10 years into my graphic design / marketing career (you can see my LinkedIn profile here). I’m currently Marketing & Communications Manager at McInnes Cooper’s Moncton location, a stone’s throw from your office. It’s a great job with a great team but I need to spread my creative wings – and m5 has a rich history of doing just that.

In-House, Outside the Box

Most of my career has been in-house rather than doing agency work. Some may consider that a downside, but I don’t believe in downsides.

Being in-house means immersing oneself in a client’s culture – understanding every facet of their business, every product and service, every competitor. Otherwise, how can you market what you don’t understand?

I’ve consistently applied that mindset to my freelance work, often to my clients’ surprise – perhaps they have grown too accustomed to cookie-cutter solutions.

My Client’s Clients

Our client is not really the client – their clients are. Our job is to be the bridge between our client and their clients, and to do that we need to understand what makes their clients tick. What problems do they want to solve? How can our client help them? These are the questions we need to answer before we put pen to paper.

Function First, Form Second

Despite my graphic design background, I consider design secondary to “purpose”. There is far too much creative out there that does the opposite – shoehorning a client’s content into a great, but irrelevant, design. Our clients need creative that works, not creative that sits there and looks pretty. You call it “Resultology”; I’ve never put a label on it, but I think we’re on the same page.

Broader Context

Keeping up-to-date on news and politics is essential in our line of work. We are businesspeople helping businesspeople – knowing what makes the economy tick not only allows us to better serve our clients’ needs, but can also allow us to spot needs they didn’t know they had. Our job is to help clients succeed, and that works best if we understand their world inside and out.

Lifelong Learning

I have to keep learning. Stagnation is not only bad for our clients but it’s also bad for us. I am obsessive about learning as much as I can in as many fields as possible – broad knowledge helps me make more informed creative decisions, but I think it also makes me a better-rounded person and one more adaptable to change. I take the “nerd” label as a great compliment! I have been told on more than one occasion that I have a childlike curiosity and enthusiasm, which I believe is high praise indeed.

I also strive to not take anything for granted. For example, many in the ad industry have been saying for years that TV is dying, but the hard numbers say otherwise. We must always be careful to avoid preconceptions, even (especially?) when they are industry dogma.

Educating

I worked in the education field for several years, and that has coloured my work and way of seeing things. Marketing can be seen as education interwoven with strategy and art. We explain and inform, especially with the rise of content marketing. I have found my experience in education – and working with lawyers – has refined my ability to make the complicated simple.

<technical skills>

I learned to code for fun (yes, I really am that much of a nerd). This site runs on a custom WordPress child theme; I set it up specifically for this purpose on an unused domain name, because it’s more fun and interesting than another Word document. I’m quite good with HTML and CSS, and have a rough understanding of PHP. That’s incredibly helpful in being a true team player – in my current position I’m the only person who can speak to our web development company in their own language. At home, I built a server and learned the basics of UNIX, just because.

That goes back to understanding every facet of our work. The more you know about the big picture, the clearer it becomes.

Caveat Emptor

With the overwhelming majority of my career having been in-house, I don’t have much to show by way of a portfolio, due either to the nature of the work or to confidentiality.

I can perhaps provide an example that would illustrate this, and also highlight why I have been keeping an eye on more creative job opportunities. BDC’s Small Business Week was a few weeks ago; McInnes Cooper does quite a bit of work in that space but existing marketing materials felt a bit too corporate.

I decided to rope in two of our most personable lawyers and set up a pop-up lemonade stand on Main Street in Moncton. It made sense in the context of Small Business Week but it also provided a venue to get lawyers out into the public eye. I bought lemons and a gingham tablecloth that conveniently matches the brand’s colours, storyboarded a roughly one-minute video, shot it with a DSLR we had in the office, and edited it on my personal computer in the evenings (we are not set up for that at work). You can see the (admittedly amateurish) result here.

This was a big hit internally, despite others’ initial misgivings. The people we met on the street enjoyed it quite a bit as well, with several commenting on how unusual this was for a law firm. The project cost practically nothing. Most of the work was done on my own time not because I had to do it, but because I enjoyed it.

In another example, I wrote several e-books for my previous employer, doing all of the writing and laying it out in a simple, easily printable design. This is perhaps outside the realm of what is normally considered “creative” work but the e-books proved to be tremendously useful marketing tools, with several (substantial) clients pointing directly to them as one of their main reasons for selecting that law firm. Much like my earlier point of “function first, form second”, they may not be flashy but they were very effective. Money in my client’s pocket is more important than design awards on my mantel.

The Nitty-Gritty

  • I am fluently bilingual (English is my second language). While not mentioned in the job posting, I believe this is extremely valuable, particularly in New Brunswick. With a third of the population being francophone and several large Quebec companies setting up shop here, the ability to make a pitch in French could be very helpful indeed. I also speak some Italian, although I don’t get much practice.
  • My current position includes management of our Marketing Coordinators, providing guidance and direction. I’m not big on hierarchy – I do whatever work needs to be done, telling people where we need to go but not mapping out or micromanaging their every step.
  • My formal training is in print media, but the bulk of my experience is in digital. As mentioned I can code; I also have a lot of experience in analytics, SEO, PPC campaigns, etc. Digital advertising is undergoing dramatic changes, with big brands like Kraft dropping out of display advertising. We need to be aware of those changes and understand their implications.
  • I have considerable experience in the “management” side of the business – planning (and spending) large budgets, human resources, etc.
  • I’ve done quite a bit of video work, mostly at my previous position with Cantini Law Group. That spanned the entire production process, from storyboarding to shooting to editing. I should also note that they launched a new website since my departure – please don’t judge me on their current one.
  • Having spent time in the corporate world, I am quite familiar with that mindset and the issues corporate clients – including very large ones like McCain or Irving Oil – face. That includes extensive experience in responding to RFPs.
  • I’m used to working with multiple clients and stakeholders. McInnes Cooper has over 200 lawyers and thousands of clients; there’s a lot going on at any given time.
  • I have good soft skills – I get along well with anyone and I’m a great team player. I’m also a very good listener, which I think is the single most important skill in our line of work.
  • I’ve been told I’m a pretty good writer, in both French and English.
  • I’ve done quite a bit of technical illustration, primarily vector-based.
  • My current position involves regular travel to our other offices – I have no qualms about travelling to meet clients.
  • I have a full breakdown of software skills on my LinkedIn profile; the most common applications are covered, from Adobe CS to MS Office. I’m also comfortable with Quark (which you likely don’t use anymore) and all major operating systems, including Linux, Android, and iOS.
  • I would be happy to provide however many references you may wish to contact.

That covers the basics, but I would love the opportunity to meet the team at m5 Moncton in person to discuss our potential collaboration in more detail. I can be reached either by email or on my cell at (506) 875-1293. I hope to hear from you soon.

Kind regards,

Alessandro