The Power of Vehicle Wraps: How to (Literally) Drive ROI in 6 Months or Less (Marketing & Advertising)

About the project:

The goal of this ebook was to give prospective buyers of mobile graphic advertising a simple, yet comprehensive look at the easy process of ordering a vehicle wrap, the relatively low cost and the expected return on investment. Presented on the client’s website as a downloadable PDF with email capture.

(Designed by Farmhouse Creative)

LINK TO PDF: The Power of Vehicle Wraps

When the Stock Market Dips, Who Should Be Nervous? (Financial)

Image Copyright: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

(Lifeguard Wealth, August 2015)

I’ll answer the above question right away so you don’t have to bite your fingernails all the way through this post. The only people who should be nervous are those who (A) don’t know much about the stock market, and (B) don’t work with anyone who understands it better than they do.

You may have read that U.S. stocks recently had the biggest one-week dip in almost four years. That may seem like cause for concern at first glance, but those of us who work in wealth management are more apt to shrug our shoulders than bite our fingernails.

Why? Because, as we consistently remind our clients, sound investments are those that minimize risk and maximize return over the long term. It’s when novice investors strike out without this basic principle in mind that the August dip appears to be a crisis rather than a relatively minor bump in the road.

Financial Wisdom Fact of the Day: Fear is a short-term phenomenon; confidence is long-term.

There are a host of factors that caused the August dip, according to financial analysts. ABC News summed them up nicely: a slow-down in Chinese manufacturing, the inflexibility of the FED’s sustained 0% interest rate, continued uncertainty in the Greek economy, devaluation of currency in China and Kazakhstan, and lows in U.S. crude oil.

Though none of these factors is a surprise to investment professionals – all have been reported regularly in the news – when market reports reveal short-term changes, those who were depending upon short-term rewards react. Fear happens fast, and it’s not a sustainable emotion. To deal with it, novice investors will either raise the stakes on another risky portfolio or cut their losses and walk out with whatever cash they have left. That’s one way to live.

There is another option in response to fear. We can remember that financial markets level out and thrive because of the confidence they have earned from performance over decades. Financial advisors understand that when the headline reads “Worst Day in 4 Years”, investors can take solace in the confidence inspired by a review of long-term portfolio health.

Investing should never feel like rolling dice in the casino. If you have questions or concerns about recent financial news and would like to better understand how active financial management can protect your wealth over the long term, feel free to contact us. Taking the fear out of financial planning is our passion, one relationship at a time.

The Micro-consulting Revolution: Knowledge Delivery at the Speed of Tech (2016) (Technology)

About the project:

The goal of this whitepaper was to demonstrate the game-changing nature of the client’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) product, a web-based, customizable platform for delivering consultant services. While the primary target was the software industry, the challenge was to give readers a sense of the broader potential for all types of consultancies.

LINK TO PDF: Micro-consulting Revolution

Shafer Leadership Academy Annual Report 2014 (Not-for-Profit)

About the project:

I interviewed graduates of SLA’s Emergence program who are now in positions of leadership in the Muncie area. Their stories are of overcoming obstacles, responding to vocational calling and exemplifying leadership and leader-making.

LINK TO PDF: Shafer Leadership Academy Annual Report 2014

Youth Opportunity Center Newsletter Fall 2015 (Not-for-Profit)

About the project:

For this publication I interviewed several staff members and a former client with a success story to give donors and the public at large a strong impression of the YOC’s recent accomplishments.

LINK TO PDF: YOC Newsletter Fall 2015

Wear Your Brand (Marketing & Advertising)

There are lots of advantages to sporting branded apparel. It unites your team, communicates your corporate culture and gives your customers opportunities to become walking billboards for you. Most importantly, 87 percent of people you meet will remember you and your company because they meet you wearing your logo.

Not bad. In a comprehensive, top-to-bottom, wall-wraps-to-business-cards marketing strategy, wearing your brand is a must.

We offer several options for how to do this, which we break down into two general categories – screen printing and embroidery.

We have a detailed process for printing high-quality artwork onto fabric. Ink is applied with the use of a stencil one color at a time, layer by layer. What’s most important for you to know is that printing works well for rich, vibrant designs. The screen printing process will really bring your brand to life.

The greatest strengths of screen printing are vibrancy, intricacy and versatility. We can print just about anything you throw at us.

Incorporating your logo into finely-stitched thread gives your shirts, hats, bags, etc. a classic, professional look. Although stitching isn’t quite as versatile as printing, it tends to last longer, likely as along as the medium itself. The embroidered look is very well-suited to some corporate cultures.

The strengths of embroidery are durability, traditional look, and sometimes lower cost (though this depends on a number of factors including the type of apparel, size of the embroidery and quantity).

Please don’t make any ordering decisions with us or your promotional supplier based on this article alone. The decision on how best to wear your brand should be based on a thorough consultative process.

We’re happy to answer any questions you have about how that process works here

Indiana Planting Guide (Service Industries)

Spring is here! If you have hearty perennials that survived the winter, start nurturing them right away with water, weeding and fertilizer. If some of them didn’t make it, or you planted annuals last year, it’s time to think about what you’re going to plant this season.

Many people plant shrubs and flowers based only on appearance. That’s fine if you don’t mind rolling the dice on your plants’ chances of surviving a frost. If you want to better ensure your plants will thrive you have to know your growing zone.

Planting by Zone
The USDA designates nine growing zones and here in East Central Indiana we’re in Zone 5. This means plants must be able to survive an extreme low temperature of -20 F. (A close look at the map shows that some parts of Central Indiana are in Zone 6, but it’s best to take the lower number when in doubt.)

Lots of beautiful flowers, fruits and vegetables do well in Zone 5, from asters to zinnias, and from asparagus to watermelon. A great resource for suggestions is the Old Farmer’s Almanac. There’s a lot of information on the website and even more in the book.

Planting by Locality
Some Hoosiers prefer plants that are native to Indiana. They point out that native plants are best for the environment as native plants promote healthy wildlife populations and help prevent the spread of invasive, exotic species. The Indiana Wildlife Federation lists (and sells) native trees and shrubs such as American Highbush Cranberry, Silky Dogwood and Spicebush.

Why not plant species that are attractive, hearty and promote a healthy environment all at once? Feel free to contact us with questions about plant selection. We’re here to help!

Mobile-Friendly is the Wave of the Present (Marketing & Advertising)

Look around you. Heads are bowed at the grocery store. Drivers are taking longer to react to green lights. People strolling through neighborhoods are snapping photos.

They want the coupon, the directions, the realtor’s specs – right now. Not back at home on their desktop computers, not anymore. It’s a hassle even just to fire up a laptop.

Although it’s getting late in the mobile revolution (we’re already a few years deep), it is not too late to optimize your website for visitors on mobile devices. This is a pretty good time. Google has recently changed the way their search engine works so that mobile-friendly websites show up higher than mobile-unfriendly ones.

You know a website that fails the mobile friendliness test right away when you look at it on a smartphone:

  •  You have to zoom in and scroll around to be able to see anything.
  •  It’s tough to tap on the link you want.
  • Pictures get in the way, shoving text off to the side, making it hard to read.

Is this what your site is like on a mobile device? Think how your visitors, who use their smartphones to do everythingelse online, feel when they find you. They may or may not consciously judge you for the inconvenience, but you better believe they will likely put off exploring your site and may not remember to return.

So talk to your website developer about making it mobile-friendly not only because Google said to, but because it will keep visitors on your site long enough to take the action you want them to.

Want to know if Google considers your site mobile-friendly? Follow this link, enter your web address, and don’t panic if you don’t like what you see. We’re here to help.


Hope is Never Lost – The Beiers Family Story (Not-for-Profit)


“We were just going through the motions, like this is just something we do now. We had lost all hope. This is how our life is, but there will be no baby in the end.”

This was how Jen Beiers and her husband Bob felt about their adoption journey in the spring of 2014. They had every reason to feel this way. Years of disappointment, hurt and what seemed like rejection had brought them here.

And yet, this is a story with a happy ending.

Jen and Bob always wanted to adopt after having children biologically. They talked about it when they were dating.

When they were unable to get pregnant, their infertility treatments brought then to the point of having to decide.

Would they pursue in vitro fertilization?

No. They had always thought they would adopt, so for them it felt okay to move right into pursuing adoption. They had a friend who adopted internationally and thought that’s what they would do. About two years into saving money, however, they decided the cost was too high for them. Instead, they became foster parents.

They told DCS (the Indiana Department of Child Services) they were interested in a young child, under age four. What they discovered was that it was far more common for there to be placement opportunities with older children through the foster care system.

“We got a call in the middle of the night,” Jen says. “They said, ‘We have a four-year-old, but they have a 16-year-old brother.’ Maybe in the future, we thought, but right now to build our family it didn’t feel like that was the path we wanted to go through.”

That was when Jen and Bob connected with a friend from college who had adopted a child through Adoption Connections. They met with Executive Director Rebecca Bruce and felt like the agency was the right fit for them.

“If we were going to adopt, we didn’t want to put ourselves into a financial situation where we couldn’t provide the life we wanted to for that child. Adoption Connections was a godsend,” Jen says.

Jen and Bob entered into a new chapter on their journey toward parenthood when they became a waiting family with Adoption Connections. They had come from infertility to international adoption, to foster care, and now domestic adoption. For the first time, they felt they had a chance to be matched with a baby they could call their own.

That is just what happened. Jen and Bob were soon chosen by a birth mother. It was thrilling for Jen as she began to connect with this woman. Jen would go to all her doctor appointments, where the birth mom would introduce Jen as the baby’s mother. They planned a baby shower at the birth mom’s encouragement.

“The day we had the baby shower – that night – she sent me a Facebook message saying she had changed her mind,” Jen said. “I just stopped breathing.”

Jen struggled with thoughts that, looking back on it now, she knows were not rooted in truth. She thought the birth mother had changed her mind because Jen wasn’t good enough. A teacher, she was thankful this happened over the summer so she could grieve during the break.

“Bob was amazing through the whole thing,” Jen says. “He was my rock.”

A year later, the same birth mother contacted Adoption Connections to indicate that she had changed her mind and would like to consider Jen and Bob again to adopt her now one-year-old child. The agency dutifully contacted Jen and Bob, with cautious optimism.

They tried to go into the situation with eyes open. Jen was apprehensive, but Bob couldn’t help but be hopeful. He took it harder than Jen when the birth mother changed her mind three days later, on the day they were to pick up the child.

“The first time, my heart was open. The second time, his heart was open,” Jen says. “He was a mess.”

They joined Facebook groups about adoption struggles and found a community there of others who understood what they were going through. They understood that the decision to place a child for adoption belonged to the birth mother alone, but that didn’t stop them from having feelings of anger they didn’t know what to do with.

“The support groups could only go so far,” Bob says. “The experiences other people had were never quite the same. Some were suggesting that we should accept that it wasn’t going to happen. That was frustrating.”

Jen is thankful for the support she received from Adoption Connections in this difficult time. She recalls receiving waiting family emails just when she was feeling the most depressed.

“It seemed like it came at the perfect time. It was so uplifting – ‘We’re thinking of you.’ With some larger agencies you’re just a number. No one knows who you are.”

Jen and Bob tried to not to think or talk about adoption too much throughout the following fall and winter. When spring came around it was time to renew their home study – their eligibility to adopt – and that’s when it really felt like just going through the motions.

On July 4th, 2014, Adoption Connections contacted Jen about a new situation. The message she got acknowledged that it was a holiday, but did she want to talk?

“I called first thing in the morning!” Jen says.

Two weeks later, with guarded hearts, Jen and Bob met a new birth mother. It felt right. It felt like it was going to happen … but it was their third summer believing they were about to become parents. To protect the hearts of their friends and family along with their own, they told no one but Jen’s parents, her sister and her boss. None of Bob’s family had any idea what was happening, right up to the night the birth mom was to be induced.

Jen recalls that being at the hospital waiting for the baby to be born was a very odd feeling. She wanted to be happy but when she looked at the birth mom, she understood that there was sadness in the decision this young woman was making, a trial shared by her mother and cousin, there at the birth mother’s side.

“She gave me a big hug and said, ‘It’s okay to be happy,’” Jen says. “She was so thankful to us. That was something we never saw coming. Her mother just held onto me and said, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’”

Jen and Bob brought Tytus home in August of 2014 and finalized the adoption in November. At that moment, their journey to adopting their son ended. The journey of parenthood has finally begun.

The couple does not want their story to be a cautionary tale. Rather, they want it to be a source of hope for those who are waiting for their child.

“Everything is worthwhile,” Bob says. “The pain evaporates, like it never happened. I’m glad we saw it through and didn’t give up.”

“Your story is going to be different from everyone else’s,” Jen says. “Don’t compare notes. Don’t obsess over your profile book. Don’t get discouraged.”

Bob urges those still waiting to try to keep the wait in perspective.

“We waited just a few years, but we’ve got Tytus for the rest of our lives. What’s a few years of pain to have that?”

All In God’s Plan – The Tader Family Story (Not-for-Profit)


Sherry had wanted to adopt a child since she was 11. Her mind was made up after she saw a documentary on Chinese orphanages. It touched her to see so many children in need who might not ever be connected with a loving adoptive parent. The looks on those children’s faces left an imprint on her heart that would never go away.

Matt says Sherry told him about her plans to adopt “about 25 seconds after we met.” It was actually about six months into their dating relationship when she spilled the beans, just about the first time they spoke seriously about their future together. Matt accepted that this plan came with the territory, and the couple was married in April of 2004.

The Taders had their first child biologically, a girl they named Camryn in 2006. When she was about two years old they began to pray and talk seriously about adopting a little brother or sister for Camryn. Their church, Grace Community Church in Noblesville had a program called Grace Hands of Hope for the purpose of helping people through the adoption process. Their friends in that group referred them to Rebecca Bruce, adoption attorney (now Executive Director of Adoption Connections).

Matt and Sherry were excited to be connected with a birth mother through a mutual friend of the birth mother’s attorney in late 2009. They got to know the birth mother and grew attached to the girl inside her, whom they already thought of as their second daughter. But while the Taders were adjusting to becoming the parents of two, the birth mother’s boyfriend was threatening to leave her if she gave up the baby. She ultimately cancelled the adoption process. Matt and Sherry had an up close and personal look at what can happen in any adoption: birth mothers can change their minds any time before the baby is born. In addition, as the birth mom they were working with chose not to pursue adoption counseling, they were front row witnesses to a birth mom trying to navigate the emotional waters of an adoption plan without emotional support from adoption professionals.

Matt and Sherry were devastated. The failed adoption caused them to reconsider everything. They researched foster-toadoption to get a better idea of their options, which all seemed full of major obstacles, especially cost. Rebecca told them that she was starting an adoption agency, to be licensed in March 2010. Rebecca shared her vision that the birth mothers working with Adoption Connections would have one-on-one emotional support from an experienced social worker. They thought about it and decided to become one of Adoption Connections’ waiting families, having no idea how long they would have to wait.

About six months passed. It was August and Matt was away on business. She called Matt on a Tuesday, frustrated and defeated. Matt said, “I’ll tell you what. We’ll spend time this weekend and talk about what we really want to do.” They were considering just giving up.

On Thursday that week, Adoption Connections called to notify the Taders that a Ball State University student had showed up in labor at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie and had decided that she was not ready to parent; she wanted to place the child for adoption with a loving husband and wife. Somehow she had kept her pregnancy secret from her parents and she didn’t want them to know even now, such that she did not want the hospital to issue a claim to her father’s health insurance carrier. That meant that by agreeing to adopt the child, the Taders would be responsible for all related medical bills, including the cost of labor and delivery.

Though the circumstances made them anxious, Matt and Sherry felt like this was an opportunity God was handing to them. They called the agency back to say they had decided to go for it!

There was still some doubt because the birth mother was considering another family. Sherry went to bed that night not knowing whether they would be chosen.

“Matt woke her up at 11 pm on Thursday night and told her, “We have a son.”

The Taders rushed to the hospital to meet Liam, who was now one day old. His new parents spent the day with him, and though Sherry was obligated to sing in a friend’s wedding on Saturday she rushed back to be with her new son for the remainder of the weekend. Once Liam was released from the ICU with a clean bill of health, the Taders were allowed to take their baby boy home.

As it turned out, Liam’s birth mother found out she was not covered on her father’s insurance plan after all such that she actually qualified for Medicaid. Between insurance and tax credits the adoption had actually cost them nothing, given the Medicaid qualification and given Adoption Connections’ very affordable fees which are set on a sliding scale based on income of adopting parents.

Sherry is a stay-at-home mom. She says she loves teaching her children to serve others, to “see them grow and develop and become awesome little people.”

Matt says he loves watching his children grow, seeing their little personalities develop. “I love coming home at night to hear the kids yell ‘Daddy!’ and they give you a big hug. It warms your heart.”

The Taders want people who are planning to adopt to be prepared for ups and downs. “It’s part of life,” Sherry says. “It will happen when it’s meant to happen, and when it does it is the most rewarding thing in your life. All your fears about loving the child as much as you would a biological child are not an issue. God is placing that child in your life.”

They wish they had known before adopting that you can get through a failed adoption. They believe it was not part of God’s plan for them to adopt that baby girl in 2009, but that it was His desire for Sherry to be a part of that birth mother’s life. She later reached out to Sherry and asked her about her faith. Sherry has since been a part of bringing the young woman to Christ, and they are good friends today.

Sherry wishes she could be more a part of Liam’s mother’s life. Liam has a picture of her so as he grows up he’ll at least know what she looks like. Sherry says that if Liam’s mother ever wants to meet him she would love that. Though it is difficult to accept, Sherry understands it is not in her control. It is up to the birth mother to decide how involved she wants to be.

Matt and Sherry say they felt that Adoption Connections had the knowledge and experience required to guide them confidently through the process, and that they would recommend the agency to anyone who wants to adopt.

“It’s not a transaction,” Matt says. “They do it for all the right reasons.”