Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Graphics. Different Ways to Communicate.

My goal with Billion Dollar Graphics is to educate people on the importance of visuals, make graphics more accessible, and teach others what I have learned in my over 20+ years as an artist and designer.

Our Get My Graphic product is an extension of that goal—to offer editable visuals that are well-designed and unique to help business professionals, students, teachers, and anyone else who uses graphics to communicate their ideas. In fact, we encourage people to visually communicate their concepts because using graphics is proven to be make your presentations more memorable and easy to understand. Of course, this is true when graphics are done right.

We've recently launched a Get My Graphic Facebook page where several times a week we'll highlight a different graphic from our Get My Graphic collection and explain how you can use this image to communicate your ideas. Below is a sampling of our new graphics and suggestions for how to use them. Even if you don't need to download graphics, we hope that our site and Facebook page will spark your creativity.

Remember these graphics are fully editable in PowerPoint 2007 or higher. Plus, if you have any suggestions for new graphics, please email We're always looking for new graphic types to help make presentations and marketing materials communicate better.


A GMG user contacted us because they needed a megaphone image for their presentation. We thought that was a great idea and created a new series of icons featuring the megaphone. But we went one step further and used the megaphone as a metaphor to show the funneling of information. How else could you use this image to communicate your ideas?


I love using Peg graphics as an alternative to puzzle graphics to show synergy or how elements relate/interconnect to one another.


License plate graphics. Fully editable in PowerPoint. Change letters and numbers for what you want to say. Will make a visually interesting opening or ending slide especially if using a travel or driving metaphor in your presentation.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mike Parkinson Nominated For 2013 Small Business Influencer Awards

For Immediate Release

Cleveland, OH, August 12, 2013 - Mike Parkinson has been nominated for a 2013 Small Business Influencer Award in the category of Experts. The Small Business Influencer Awards honor those who are influential to small businesses in North America, through the products, services, knowledge, information or support they provide to the small business market.

The Awards are designed to recognize the unsung heroes of small businesses—those who support and encourage entrepreneurs and small business owners, and help them achieve success and stay successful.

Says Anita Campbell, CEO of Small Business Trends and one of the co-founders of the Awards along with Ramon Ray of, "Influencers are those who play crucial roles in the small business ecosystem, but who often are in the background. Many of the nominees are themselves small business owners, entrepreneurs or small businesses. The impact of the Awards goes well beyond nominees; however, the awards also encourage and excite the nominees' employees. The Awards are intended to provide that added little boost in motivation and morale that can make a big difference in results. Being nominated also distinguishes the nominee from competitors, and in that sense can lead to competitive advantage."

About the Small Business Influencer Awards 

The Small Business Influencer Awards, now in their third year, enable the small business community to nominate and show their support for those that influence and support them. The Awards have an open nomination period, with community voting, and then a judging period by a group of industry-knowledgeable judges.

The Small Business Influencer Awards initiative is produced by Small Business Trends, an award-winning online publication, serving over6,000,000 small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually, and, a media company that produces online content and live events educating small and mid-sized companies on how to strategically use technology as a tool to grow their businesses. The Awards can be found on the Web at:

CONTACT: Anita Campbell, Co-Founder Small Business Influencer Awards Twitter hashtag: #SMBInfluencer

Friday, August 9, 2013

Make Marketing Matter: BD Marketing Secrets Revealed in Two Essential Steps

Good marketing relies on good design. However, there are two steps to take before you create your visual communication strategy—which should constantly be reviewed just like your marketing plan.

Step 1: Understand How People Buy 
Based on my research and experience, all buyers must go through two decision gates before they enter the buyers’ inner circle and purchase your solution.

Gate One: The Catalyst 
The first gate determines if the buyer will buy. The following are the only three reasons a person will decide that it is time to make a purchase:
  1. Pain. The buyer is in pain. Pain can range from mild (emotional or physical) discomfort to excruciating pain. If the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, the buyer will decide to buy. 
  2. Gain. The buyer desires a benefit. Gain can come from altruistic behavior like donating to a charity or driven by the pleasure eating a favorite cake or be motivated by greed such as investing in a pyramid scheme. If the price to achieve the benefit is lower than the perceived value of the benefit, the buyer will decide to buy. 
  3. Fear. The buyer is afraid of loss. Fear is instigated by many variables such as guilt, scarcity, compulsion, and safety. Fear of loss is 2.5 times more motivational than gain. 
Gate Two: The Choice 
The second gate determines what the buyer will buy. The following are the only three reasons a person will decide to buy a particular solution:
  1. Trust. The buyer must trust the solution and solution provider to buy. Think of all the places from which you buy your groceries, clothes, technology, books, and so on. Do you trust them? Of course, you trust them to deliver on their promise (or at least enough of their promise of good services, quality products, fair prices, timeliness, etc.) to feel you are not being taken advantage of. Unless there is no other option, trust is required to buy. 
  2. Ego. The buyer is relying more on emotions when making a purchase. Why do people pay more for designer clothes, cars, computers, and phones? Ego buyers are influenced by their emotions then justify the choice. For example, many consumers stay with specific brands partly because of the strong emotions and defined image associated with that brand (e.g., Jeep, Apple, Disney). Familiarity and visibility are required in all ego buys. 
  3. Value. The buyer needs their problem solved. The questions the buyer asks are things like“Does it do what I need, when I need it, how I need it, at the price I can pay?” Features and functionality, convenience, cost, and price help buyers determine value. In order to decide if the derived value is favorable, the buyer must have a point of comparison—and anchor. If there is no obvious anchor, a buyer will make up an anchor even if it isn’t a fair comparison. If your solution is so innovative that there is nothing on the market that is like it, the buyer will have a difficult time determining value. In this case, give the buyer an anchor so that they can decide if your solution offers greater value. 
Step 2: Make a Marketing Plan 
Make a marketing plan that clearly defines you, your solution, your target audience, and why people buy your solution and not your competition’s. The following six elements should be found within your plan:
  1. Know Your Brand. What do you want to be known for? Decide the first thing that should pop into your prospect’s mind—emotions, concepts, ideas? What is your brand promise? Focus on emotions as much as your solution. All buying decisions must go through an emotional filter. Use pictures, graphics, and stories to tap into emotions. Familiarity breeds trust so consider leveraging well-known solutions, products, songs, stories, designs, sounds, and (perhaps) smells. For example, if your target audience prefers Microsoft products you may want to have your product endorsed by Microsoft and include the MS logo in your branding (with permission). 
  2. Know Your Solution. What problem are you solving? What are you selling that solves this problem? Make it very easy for your target audience to understand your solution. Ask your existing clients. I thought our clients bought our design services because we were great designers. My clients said otherwise. They explained that although good design was a factor, what set us apart was our experience and expertise with business development and proposals (e.g., speak the language, understand schedule needs, etc.), our speed, and our ability to “turn technical information and data into winning graphics and messages.” Most clients said we gave them “peace of mind.” (What an emotional answer to the question!) 
  3. Know Your TARGET Audience. Define your target audience. Be specific. Get into their heads. Empathize with them. What keeps them up at night? How will your solution make them feel? Will they be afraid to pay the price for your product or service? I recommend using the following acronym key as a guide to define and understand your target audience:

    A   =   attitude
    U   =   understanding (of the content)
    D   =   demographics
    I    =   interest and interests (habits)
    E   =   environment
    N  =    needs (stated and not stated)
    C  =    cares
    E  =    economics (budget)
  4. Market Analysis. Conduct a market SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. Why will people buy you/your solution and not your competitor’s? Be sure the reasons are unique. (“Me too” is the number one sin I see in proposals and it seeps into marketing.) Avoid things like, “People buy us because we are a trusted healthcare solution provider.” It is too generic. Many others can say the same. Also, determine why people won’t buy your solution. 
  5. Budget. What is your marketing budget? What is your budget for each part of your marketing plan (e.g., television ads, whitepapers, trade shows, etc.)? Unless you have an aggressive marketing strategy, I recommend allocating 10% of your annual gross revenue to marketing. 
  6. Media. Determine how best to get in front of your target audience. What are their habits? Where do they go to find your solution? Consider all media such as the following:
    • Ads (Radio, Web, TV, Magazines, Newsletters)
    • Training
    • Webinars
    • Websites
    • Social Media (blogs rock!)
    • Industry events
    • Partnerships
    • Books, white papers, tools 
Modify Your Marketing Plan 
Your marketing plan should be a “living document.” Evolve the plan as you gain insight into what works and what doesn’t. In 2012, I launched a new product and website called Get My Graphic—downloadable infographics you edit in PowerPoint. I thought I knew how my target audience would use the website and the graphics. I was wrong. I learned through tracking and feedback that I had a much broader audience so my marketing plan changed to accommodate the new insights. (I thought I knew who my target audience was. I was wrong.) Instead of relying on a word-of-mouth marketing approach one might apply selling into a single vertical, I now focus on marketing techniques like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that exposes the solution to a broader audience. I uncovered a little more information about my users each month and tweaked my plan marketing accordingly.

You now have the foundation needed to improve your success rates using effective marketing. The secret is to have a marketing plan and measure the results before making changes. Give your plans enough time to track the results so that your choices are objectively defensible. Over time, this data will paint the picture of your success.