Crux Creative is proud to welcome Matt Harmon to the company as Managing Principal! With over 20 years in experiential marketing and exhibits, Matt significantly expands the scope of Crux’s creative services, both in the types and number of projects we can take on.
To introduce Matt to our clients, I had the opportunity to interview him about his extensive experience, his proudest achievements, and why he chose to work at Crux Creative. Here’s the interview – uncensored and uncut. We’re sure you’ll be as impressed by Matt as we are.
Jordan: Why did you decide to work in the field that you do?
Matt: When I was in school for Product Design our senior class was approached by the Kansas City Science Center to design, fabricate and install a children’s traveling exhibit celebrating the 20th year anniversary of the “Man on the Moon Mission” for our thesis. Working in teams, we were given various requirements including a budget and a deadline for the opening. Our assignment covered determining how traffic flowed through the space, how the story would be told and the design of interactive displays based on fun facts that would engage children as they worked their way through the exhibit.
This project left a deep impact on me. It incorporated many of the different applications of design that I was most interested in such as furniture and lighting. It also introduced me to the big picture of environmental design. Figuring out how a space could be laid out to effectively engage the attendees, telling a story in three dimensions and evoking emotion by using different design components was very exciting. And, to my great good fortune, I’ve been able to spend the last 22 years doing just that.
Jordan: How did you start creating exhibits?
Matt: Upon graduation I moved to Chicago and was hired at an exhibit company as a detailer. I took the exhibit designs from the designers and produced the drawings needed to fabricate the structure and bring it to life. This was a great introduction to the trade show industry. I quickly moved into design (where I wanted to be) and began to develop exhibit designs of my own. Over the course of my career in this field, I have held numerous positions in design, design direction and project management. All of these positions contributed to the creation of many exciting exhibits.
Jordan: What are your favorite type of projects? Museums? Trade shows? Corporate interiors? All of the above?
Matt: All of the above! Each type of project has a unique function and can tell a story in its own way. All of these projects have a process that you work through creatively to share that story and give visitors, attendees and even employees, new knowledge and connectivity to their environment. They each provide a different type of experience. But whatever the exhibit, the goal is the same: to offer attendees such a positive experience they’ll want to share it with others by encouraging them to attend, too.
Jordan: You also have extensive web experience, can you tell us about that?
Matt: For over 20 years I have been building sites. I started designing sites with Dreamweaver and Flash many years ago but now use WordPress and other Content Management Systems. I like doing web design, websites are like interactive graphics with personality. They too, have their own creative process. They need to be intuitive and easy to navigate so users can get the information they are looking for without getting frustrated and going elsewhere to find it. A business website is always an embodiment of the brand and an important element of any marketing strategy. These days, the internet is almost always the first place people go to find information about something they are interested in. A company’s website is a powerful marketing and sales tool. It has to look great, be user-friendl and, just as important, be built to draw as much traffic as possible and deliver a great user experience and have a strong call to action. If these things are done properly, a website’s ROI can be tremendous.
Jordan: What achievements are you proudest of?
Matt: I am proudest when the work we do leads directly to a client’s success. Ideally, a client will trust and rely on us to formulate a message for their audience that conveys who they are, what they offer and why customers should use them. When our clients get more business because of these efforts, that’s a tremendous source of pride for everyone on the Crux team.
Jordan: Why did you choose to work for Crux?
Matt: I chose to work with Crux after spending the majority of my career in large successful corporations. Many of these businesses were much smaller when I started with them and I made a significant contribution to their growth and success. I have found that while a more corporate structure has its benefits, I prefer to be a part of a smaller, more focused business. Crux has an amazing core team that I am thrilled to now be a part of. I know that we will continue to grow and succeed as we help our clients meet their own goals of growth and success. I love being able to be part of that process.
Jordan: What will you be doing for Crux?
Matt: My contribution to Crux is on many levels. First and foremost, I’ll be working with the Crux team to fulfill our company’s mission by implementing our corporate strategy of providing immediate customer satisfaction and exploring new and better communications options for the future. I will be very “hands on” throughout this process in other aspects of company business as well – from website design, to graphic design and layout. And, most exciting to me, my experience in the trade show industry will help Crux incorporate more of the 3D and architectural aspects of marketing into our overall client offerings.
Jordan: What does Crux offer clients that other agencies don’t?
Matt: We have a strong core team with more than 60 years of cumulative experience in many different areas of marketing. This high level of expertise means we can immediately identify the different components and content needed for a successful marketing campaign specific to our clients’ needs. We understand how the parts work together for the whole and how to apply the right solution for the desired results. Of course, first you have to know your clients and their needs. We start by building a 360-degree overview of each client. This lets us zero in on the crucial difference between our client and its competitors.
Another difference between us and other agencies – often our competitors tout their work by listing brands they’ve worked with, rather than showing the work itself. We not only show our work, we also boost our clients’ products and achievements in our own social media pages. It’s our way of supporting their business in every way we can.
Jordan: What is something prospective clients should keep in mind when they are looking for an agency to do work for them?
Matt: While it’s important to know an agency’s process and view their portfolio, it’s even more vital to make sure they are the right fit for your needs. What do they know about you, your industry or related industries? How well do they understand the needs of your target market? How familiar are they with the challenges you face from your competitors? And are they willing and able to measure the results of their efforts on your business?
Jordan: What do you think is the most important aspect of a marketing campaign?
Matt: Understanding your target audience. You can have the best story and the coolest graphics, but if they don’t convey the right message to the right people, your campaign will not be effective and may even be counterproductive if it confuses your audience.
About the Author
Jordan, a Communications graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, spent much of his young adult life studying, working, and traveling across 26 countries (and counting!). He plans on taking what he’s learned in his experiences abroad and applying it towards a career in Marketing. Outside of travel, Jordan’s hobbies include fitness, reading, and home restoration projects.