Create a Crowd—Advertising that is Worth the Wait

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

This is a follow-up to my previous blog, Harness the Power of Word of Mouth, posted on September 10, 2013. Actually I am amending that post where I wrote that the most powerful form of advertising is word-of mouth. Yes, I still believe it still is, but I would like to add “creating a crowd” as a great form of advertising.

Waiting in LineNow this may seem obvious, but many people miss the fact that a line is actual advertising. In fact this is a phenomenal way to advertise a business. When people are waiting for food, more people will want it. It’s almost as if it were contagious.  GENERALLY THE ASSUMPTION IS THAT IF PEOPLE WILL WAIT FOR IT, IT MUST BE GOOD. Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t include food at the ballgame. It just pertains to food in regular restaurants, cupcakes or other short-order items. It might also apply to retail items such as a run on a new style of blue jeans, tennis shoes or a particular “must-have” toy for the holiday season, or tickets for a rock concert, pop star or latest movie phenomenon. When people see a line they are curious and want to find out more. We all want a piece of the action. A line is in your face and it gets noticed.  It’s peaks our curiosity.

Making people “wait” fosters anticipation and strengthens the desire to possess something that we can’t yet have. All of this is part of the psychology behind marketing decisions and our basic desiresmacha green tea sweet donut on white background inherent in the purchasing of non-essential items.  In short, “producing a line” often translates into “positive buzz” and often increased sales.

After I wrote this blog, I actually happened to see a wonderful movie this weekend, called Chef, which illustrates this very point.

Is it not true that sometimes the longer we wait for something and the harder it is to get, the more we desire it? In other words, sometimes, a good marketing strategy can consist of playing “hard to get.”  It’s basically a the law of supply and demand.  If you tighten the supply channel for a product or service already in demand, in many but not all cases, the demand for a product will rise and so can the price.

DonutHaving a new recipe for a specialty item such as donuts, ice cream, or cupcakes can get people to wait in long lines for an item that is normally considered ordinary or commonplace.  We see these lines and wonder what is all the fuss?  We ask ourselves, “Maybe I need to try it to see what everyone is ‘buzzing’ about.”  In other words, I don’t the want to be left out, kind of like jumping on board with a politician who has momentum behind their campaign. No one wants to be associated with a loser but everyone wants to be part of a “winner.”

So the next time you see people in a long line (and not at the bank or DMV), ask yourself, “What is the merchant doing different to generate this type of demand?” More importantly, ask, “What are the unique selling points of their product or service and how does that differentiate and/or make it better than that of the competition?”

Make your customers line up at a visible place and you are sure to generate a following. The big issue is how do you create increased demand and hopefully create a crowd?

Some tips:

  1. Create a completely “new” and never before heard of recipe or formula for a product or service.  It may also be a new process or way of doing business.
  2. Limit supply.  It might be good to run out.  Then you can take orders for the next day.
  3. Create an event around the release of a new product.  This may involve a costly advertising campaign that promotes “anticipation” as well as excitement
  4. Create excitement around the line.  Give people something to talk about.  Generate press releases. Hand out samples and coupons to people waiting in line and hold contests. You might even try providing music and hiring a band to promote the experience. Make it a community experience.
  5. Tie it in with a benefit for a local charity.  Maybe 2% -5 of profits could go to help a local non-profit foundation to give back to the community.  People will feel good about patronizing your establishment.
  6. Maintain consistent quality and value and try to keep it “new” for as long as possible.
  7. Use social media to develop events around a product and excitement.  Sending out Tweets and developing an active Facebook and Instagram following along with a blog will help to get people wondering and may even drive them to your business.

Create a line.  You will create “buzz” and more people may line-up to get your product or service.  It  will be a “crowd-pleaser.”


If your company or organization needs an innovative or unique solution for a promotion or a marketing campaign, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more, please visit

Harlan West is the author of and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

50 Reasons to Follow the Successful Corporate Communications Blog

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

I am proud to commemorate the publication of 50 blog posts! Celebrate with us by continuing to read our blog and encouraging your friends and colleagues to subscribe as well.


Since we just completed our 50th blog post, here’s 50 fabulous reasons to keep reading and rereading:

  1. Take advantage of valuable design tips for your newsletter.
  2. Use color to make a more effective publication.
  3. Learn how to create effective mastheads.
  4. Escape the pitfalls of staff meetings.
  5. Learn ways to deal more effectively with your clients.
  6. Discover how to create more effective bilingual publications.
  7. Find valuable tips on advertising.
  8. Learn about effective branding.
  9. Gain valuable information about e-publications.
  10. Increase your knowledge of printing techniques.
  11. Increase your appreciation of elegant paper stocks.
  12. Learn how to create effective event promotions.
  13. Discover ways to include effective infographics, charts and diagrams in your publications.
  14. Learn about ways to find employment as a skilled graphic designer.
  15. Unearth new ways to promote healthcare events.
  16. Invent new ways to illustrate your newsletter with the use of graphical icons.
  17. Find ways to develop an effective logo for your company.
  18. Learn about ways to add a mascot or cartoon character to your newsletter or publication.
  19. Differentiate your company’s product and service from the competition.
  20. Produce beautiful maps that provide more than just directions.
  21. Explore new ways to be more responsive to your clients.
  22. Recognize how to find a quality print vendor.
  23. Realize the beauty that nature can add to a publication.
  24. Originate the use of iMags for your company’s publications.
  25. Learn how to save $1,000’s on publication costs.
  26. Conceive of new ways to use patterns in your publications.
  27. Innovate the use of online publications in your company’s publication requirements.
  28. Discover ways to add navigational elements to a newsletter.
  29. Lean how to use photos for maximum impact.
  30. Make the best use of typestyles to increase the legibility of a publication.
  31. Find new ways to maintain quality control.
  32. Learn how outsourcing the design of your publications can save the company money and can increase the return on investment (ROI).
  33. Find out why it is important to use a marketing firm that specializes in your industry sector.
  34. Learn what makes your client “tick.”
  35. Discover the importance of having a corporate newsletter.
  36. Explore new reasons why corporations should outsource their marketing efforts.
  37. Unearth the ultimate checklist for developing successful marketing materials.
  38. Invent new ways to harness the power of the word of mouth.
  39. Explore how color defines your brand and shapes your newsletter.
  40. Find out how silhouetted graphics can shape your newsletter.
  41. Invent beautiful patterns and graphics through the use of shadows.
  42. Learn how metallic pins can make great promotional items or giveaways to honor anniversaries, celebrations, or facility openings.
  43. Discover how to use fruits and vegetable shapes to craft an unusual masthead or headline.
  44. Learn how to create healthy designs for healthcare marketing.
  45. Pioneer new ways to include graphical portraiture in your publication.
  46. Benefit from testimonials and how they can create great “buzz.”
  47. Discover how to make your newsletter soar to new heights by adding architectural elements.
  48. Find out how to add edgy border treatments that will make your articles jump off the page.
  49. Recognize the importance of type and how it impacts the look, feel and legibility of the publication.
  50. Discover ways to “tune-up” your marketing without ever getting your hands dirty.

These topics and more can be found on our blog.

Happy reading!  But remember to ask yourself the following question: “Why just be a reader when you could also be a leader?”


If your company needs an innovative newsletter, e-publication, meeting presentation or  advice on communicating, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit

Harlan West is the author of and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundreds of publications for both print and online purposes.

Harness the Power of Word of Mouth

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

What is the most powerful  form of advertising?  It is most certainly word of mouth.  It is not only FREE but it can produce lots of priceless goodwill.

According to an article, Word of Mouth is the Best Ad, in Bloomberg’s Business Week, traditional and electronic media advertising still lack the power of the word of mouth.

For word-of-mouth advertising to generate results it must be positive.  Make sure that the “buzz”is positive, since negative comments often tend to travel twice as fast and have a life of their own. Be careful!  Negative comments can sink a ship very quickly.

Here’s some great tips of my own for taking advantage of positive word-of-mouth advertising:

Shouting1) Make your front line employees into brand ambassadors. By their vast daily knowledge of the product or service, they are the best messengers for spreading the corporate message and for selling the product or service.

2) Ask your clients to provide testimonials.  Record videos of your clients speaking your praises. If they won’t easily commit to a taped video, try offering them an incentive such as a free service or a discount. Written testimonials can also be added to the company website. These add credibility and accentuate your company’s positive image.

Continue reading

Find Your Corporate GPS

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Maps are a great way to promote a business, municipality, shopping district or an event. At HWDS we have created specialty maps for bike lanes, bus routes, park and ride lots, medical center campuses and municipal shopping districts. With a new map, your company or organization will be moving in the right direction.

GPS navigation, travel and tourism conceptA well-designed map should have

  • easy to read routes (if you still need to ask directions or someone’s help in deciphering the map then something’s obviously not working.
  • color-coded routes, streets or subsections indicated by various color swatches.
  • a legend with symbols for important landmarks, train and bus stations. Continue reading

Try Pinning It

You may think that “pinning” is only for Pinterest. Well, think again.

“Pins” make great promotional items or give-aways to honor anniversaries, celebrations, or facility openings. Pins can also be created to commemorate the start of a new program, to celebrate the opening rail or bus line or to recognize employees for years of service.  Pins are also great morale boosters.

People love pins. Pins come in all sizes and can be made from cloisonné hard enamel, die struck gold enamel, die struck soft enamel or etched metal pins. The most interesting pins have an unusual shape and graphical treatment. Indeed, some pins are very elegant and can be worn as jewelry.


Pins can help kick-off a successful promotional campaign.  Over the years, our clients have hired us to create some unusual pins which have are often distributed when invitees arrive at an event. These clients include Metrolink, Kaiser Permanente, Norwalk Transit and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), to name a few.

Pins can have custom cut-out shapes.  For example, several of the pins that we produced for the Norwalk Transit Bus Roadeo have shapes which follow the curvature of a whimsical illustration. In this post you will find samples of these pins.

A pin emblem can also be used as a graphic marque for a newsletter.  The art can be placed in a masthead or in a footer as a special commemorative emblem such as the 10th anniversary of the actual newsletter, or the 25th anniversary of a medical center.


To find out more about how we can help create an interesting pin,promotional item or custom give-away item for your company’s anniversary or special event, contact HWDS at

So next time you next a great promotion, try pinning it with a custom pin design.  Pins make great event promotions—just don’t pop any balloons on the way.