Debt Crisis IS a Teachable Moment

What has the Debt Crisis taught us about our own Busines
Debt Crisis is truly a Teachable Moment for our own Business

      One of my previous posts http://bit.ly/ghKtW2 discusses how we in Marketing have to monitor various communications with our clients in particular to determine if they are in fact teachable moments.  The Chart to the left here is purposely left blank so how about we start to fill in the blanks.

Let’s for example fill in the red circle as our business and for fun put (Debt Crisis) in the same circle.  So what have WE learned this past month that we would never want to happen to our business integrity, branding and ethics.

How about we fill in the rectangles with standards that would never be acceptable to us or our clients.

1.   Employee total disfunction.  Imagine having your employees only engaged in not getting along.

2.   Spending out of control.  Doesn’t matter whether you have the money or not….you WILL spend.

3.   Your employees don’t answer any questions you ask….they keep repeating one sentence over and over again.

4.   None of your employees lose their job, nor do they care.

5.   Your clients can take it or leave it.

6.   No one is interested in what they were hired to do….they just wanted the job.

So what have we learned?  Certainly no way to run a business….in fact, we would be run out of business.  But then you know all this.    So is it really a teachable moment?

Marketing Is In The Packaging Too

Packaging Leaves a Lasting Impression

Packaging Leaves a Lasting Impression

Is your first impression a positive Lasting Impression?

While we seem to get lots of guidance regarding our “personal” first impression, what seems to be lacking is our first impression regarding presentation opportunities, delivery of special client gifts, sponsorship packages and presentations,  new Board Member guideline packaging, and much more. 

Let’s take a marketing strategy presentation you are putting together for a potential new client.  You and your partners are professionally attired, the conference room is neat and ready, your PowerPoint is flawless….but what differentiates you from your competitor.  Sure, the difference is hopefully within the presentation itself, however, what has captured their attention right at the START. 

You probably spent a whole lot of time, getting yourself presentable and groomed perfectly just prior to the meeting.  Why not treat the presentation itself to a “makeover”.   If you just stapled a few pieces of paper together and have them follow along with your PowerPoint presentation, you have done nothing to capture their immediate attention.  As soon as they walk into that room, your potential customers have to be drawn in by some sort of creativity.  Perhaps those same papers spiral bound in a journal with your company name on it.  How about laminated and held together at the top lefthand corner by a metal ring.  If prefer a binder….make it a full color binder with your company name welcoming the potential client.  Have notepads at each seat that are personalized for each attendee.

When creativity like this is shown, it becomes immediately evident to them that you will go the extra mile for any project they ask you to work on.  As they walk into the conference room, they will be remarking how great the table looks set up to greet them. If they don’t say it, believe me they are thinking it.

Same with sponsorship packages.  Don’t be like everyone else.  Make your package so interesting it will stand out on the potential sponsor’s desk.  You know they get numerous requests and everyone’s multi-tasking these days.  The individuality of your “ask” will put you on top of the pile.  Easiest way to get creative with your sponsorship packages is to come up with a theme.  If it is a get healthy initiative by moving more….tie your sponsorship package with sneaker shoelaces with your name repeating on the laces.  If it is a beautification project, put all your sponsorship materials in a “collapsible” foldable vase that can be brought to a potential sponsor or mailed.   Golf events specifically appeal to sponsors but why choose yours?  Capture their attention by mentioning 18 reasons they should sponsor your golf outing…..BUT printed on a velour Golf Towel.

When you bring anything to a client or potential client, DON’T FORGET THE PACKAGING!!  It’s powerful.

 

 

E-Mail Overload

Email Overload
E-mail Overload

E-Mail overload is why many in the business community are resisting Social Media….True or False?

Well, I can start with my own email box and tell you that I receive on average about 200 emails per day.  I can also tell you that about 75% of them border on spam because most are advertisements or newsletters that I do not have time to read.  In some industries, there are businesses that want to develop an awareness of a particularly new product or special pricing.  Problem is they are duplicating their efforts and this information can be gathered through other programs.  Perhaps they were told by an email marketing expert that this was a valuable tool, but when you have thousands of other businesses doing the same thing, everyone suffers.

The key email time guzzler is in-house email.  There seems to be a “cover yourself” philosophy adopted by many  in that when some are sending an email, they just copy whoever they feel may, potentially, possibly, hopefully be important to copy.  AND THEN there are the “Reply to All” people.

So I am going to take a stab here to give some tips on ways we all can free up our email box which in turn should reap many extra minutes of every day.  Let’s tackle in-house first.

  1. Develop a formal in-house policy for email lists; i.e. who can email to whom.  If you are emailing your immediate Supervisor, it could be up to the immediate Supervisor who may need to get a copy of that email.

  2. No “Reply to All” is allowed in-house.

  3. If you ask to be taken off an email list, get a formal reply back that it will be done.

  4. No streaming emails .

  5. No “got it”, “yes”, “Thanks”, one word emails.  We know you got it and we know you are thankful.

  6. Policy must be strictly enforced.

  7. Emails that require ACTION should state that upfront.

  8. Follow up to whether you received an email should not be done for 24 hours.  No explanation points please!!!!!!!!

  9. Remembering that your email is most likely being viewed on a mobile phone…try to be as brief as possible.  If that is not possible because of content, send a brief email first about subject and then advise the recipient to expect a content driven email.  This allows the recipient to get quick info and then it prepares them for the more indepth email.

  10. If you have any options at all, get off email lists that you are not interested in receiving.

We all have our email address on our business cards, on our websites, just about everywhere we can think of.  Here are some tips to control emails coming from the outside community.

  1. When attending an event or meeting, we give out our business card so that potential clients will have our contact info.  This in itself will generate emails.  Take the time to really digest who contacts you by email.  Is it someone you wish to do business with, have lunch, etc.  If not at the present time or near future, do not respond to it yourself but forward it to a receptionist, intern, temp to respond for you with a standard reply.  Your staff person should then establish a follow up system to ask you at some future date, if you wish to contact this person again.

  2. If you start to get newsletters from acquaintenances that you have met at meetings and they are not of interest to you, you are more than likely given the opporutnity to “unsubscribe”.

  3. Remember the same courtesies apply to you when sending emails.  If you are exchanging a lot of emails with a particular person, make them aware of your preferences.

  4. Communicate what is important for you to know and what isn’t.

  5. Make a phone call when the emails go back and forth more than 3 times.  This will be a time-saver and it is more courteous.

There is so much to be gained here and if you are bogged down with emails you are going to be extremely resistent to growth, change, and (you had to know it was coming) Social Media.  Don’t get left behind and more importantly, missing opportunities that are available to you for FREE that will lead you to further successes.  Emails have a place in our businesses but that are not to consume us.

Social Media Overwhelming to Execs

Marketing by DM QR Code

Get it? Share it!

 

This past Saturday evening was super-great get together with friends that took the occasion of the  “SuperMoon” to have a nice relaxing evening together….maybe even a little March Madness as well.  We got the importance of the super moon, so we shared it.  These pictures shown here depict a more impressive picture than what we saw in Lancaster, PA, however, the affect was real….just to some more than others. 

I am going to take this opportunity to compare Social Media affect on the business community with what happened the other evening.  Comments regarding the SuperMoon were that it was not all that it was hyped up to be, I’ll wait another 18 years, perhaps it was brighter but not larger, etc.  Unless it was positively “super” to our eye right where we stood, it really wasn’t “super”. 

So now we get to Social Media affect or impact on business and where I am going with this.  First I must tell you that this was a gathering of varied professionals; a prominent Lawyer, V. P. of Finance, Teacher, Controller, Doctor, School Principal, Purchasing Manager, Engineer, Judge plus a 17, 16, and 11 year old.  NOTE:  The 11 year old was the only one that knew what a QR Code was!    Not only that but he had an iPad2 and scanned a QR Code to show the adults how it was done.  They all had Smart Phones but no QR Reader….nor were they interested to go to www.scanlife.com and get the app.   

For a couple years these friends have heard me enthusiastically touting the positive results I have experienced in my Marketing business through Social Media.  They have politely asked me and others come into their business to give a presentation to some of their employees.  Some of the presenters have been what most would believe are the “experts” in the community.  WE GET IT, SO WE SHARE IT!!  My point is that there is not enough of us getting out in the business community and sharing it.  We share it between ourselves because we are thirsty to learn more and more.  We are living in our own little Social Media world which, personally, I happen to love but we are missing a communication method that works.  Similar to the “SuperMoon” not being so SUPER where we were viewing it, the same holds true for Social Media expectations.  We are telling them how huge SM is, but they are not impressed.

Finally, these friends really opened up to me and what I got from them was that they truly cannot deal with the amount of emails they get.  Most are getting about 200 per day.  Many are complaining that half of these emails are in-house and there is a tendency for staff to send out an email to everyone and anyone so that they are covered.  It was generally said that they are begging to get off email lists but to no avail.  Reply to all is a huge issue.  Email newsletters are a greater issue….they can’t read them….no time.  They do not want to add anything else that will cause them to communicate or reply!!  Therefore….NO SM. 

How are they to move on to Social Media platforms that may propel their business to great success when they have lost control of email?  If we get it and want to share it, we have to help them solve this problem.  Until we have solutions and ones other than “file the emails” we are not going to get the business community engaged in SM.  We should all care because the more sucessful all businesses are, the better it is for our economy and for our own businesses.   

If you have meetups or tweetups or attending a SM meeting, bring with you a business colleague that may be interested in learning more.  We do plenty of sharing with each other and that is great so we stay up to speed but we need to devote more energies to educating the skeptics….they outnumber us. 

What are your email solutions?  How have you shared your SM knowledge?

Expert’s Expertise Must Equal Your Needs

 
Experts Are Many But What Are Your Needs
Choose Your Expert Wisely
   
There are many, many experts out there and friends among us that are experts, but what are their specific strengths.  I often think of something I heard years ago, that being humble isn’t denying what your are really good at but sincerely uncomfortable about praises in areas where your expertise is lacking.  Many times when we are seeking information we want through a “one person shop” discussion and tend to ask directives from Experts….yes but perhaps not in the area that you need the best possible guidance toward a successful outcome.
 
We are so fortunate in the 21st Century to have access to numerous CEO’s, CMO’s, CFO’s, Marketing Directors, PR Leaders, etc. but there is no need to assume that let’s say the “expert” CFO will naturally also be able to lead you in the right direction when it comes to Advertising, Marketing or PR.  A successful leader, yes, but why would you not even attempt to get the best advice when it is so available today.  Connecting on varied Social Media platforms offers that opportunity and it goes without saying that you should be well aware of who you would go to based on the results you seek. 
 
Most times it is not that the Expert is purposefully sharing guidance advice beyond their expertise.  They may truly believe they know, however, if they don’t monitor, attend forums, meet with peers within the parameters of your question, you more than likely are not going to get the best advice.  As an example, lots of discussions have occurred recently about PR vs Marketing  connection.  Because of Marketing Mix decisions companies are making in 2011 and probably from now on, PR and Marketing have become more intertwined than ever.  If you are advising your clients regarding Marketing decisions, you had better be Social Media savvy as well.  Personally, I still see separate experts except if you are an  @AnneDGallaher  or a @HowellMarketing …..  true talent and expertise here.    There are many others as well #BA75.  
 
 When seeking experts, the same is true in my industry, Promotional Products.  Unless the expert you are consulting with deals with vendors day in and day out, you  are not making the wisest, time-saving decision.   There are so many variables in all professions, that you are doing yourself a disservice by not going directly to the person who understands the missteps, results oriented procedures, etc.  Another for instance would be if you were having some plumbing work done and that expert also knows quite a bit about electrical work and you have a desire to rewire your entire home.  Maybe, just maybe, you should consult with the electrical expert.
 
Striving for excellence in everything we do that affects our business is a goal we all work to achieve.  Excellent job  is preceded  by your choice of expert consulting. Don’t waste your time or the experts!
 
Excellence isn't such a puzzle
 
Is it getting more confusing?
 

Marketing Professionals Always Alert to Teachable Moments

 
Marketing Teachable Moments
When to Teach and When Not to Teach

Do we know when to take a step back? 

 

It is very easy for us marketing professionals to observe every and any opportunity to teach those that have come to us for guidance and direction.  After all, most of us have been asked to speak at organization sales meetings, Chamber events, business conferences and other events to help attendees understand Marketing, Advertising, Social Media and how a well thoughtout Marketing Strategy could have a positive impact in the success of their business.

OK….so we are the experts.  Most marketing professionals I know are positive, enthusiastic, passionate, we-can-do kind of leaders.  Everyone must want to hear what we have to say if they want to propel their business way ahead of everyone else.  They wouldn’t have hired us if they weren’t going to listen to us, so all we have to do is keep insisting, making them feel inadequate and discounting any objections because we know better… right?   WRONG!

These days most of the smaller companies and some large corporations still do not have marketing personnels in place and have assigned a VP of Finance, Purchasing Manager, top Sales Person or Executive Assistant to handle marketing responsiblities.  Be mindful that all those in business at any level believe they understand marketing and what works and what does not.  There is a danger here of viewing our being hired as a Consultant as an open invitation to treat every question, objection, and misconcepton as a Teachable Moment. 

Understand that if you are talking to a financial executive about their Marketing Mix, he or she sees dollar signs regarding every wonderful suggestion you believe you have made.  Remember…..they just cut their entire marketing, advertising, PR and social media staff.  They’ll listen but they don’t hear exactly what you are saying.  All that positive talk just seems to them like you are not being realistic.  Tailoring your ideas and strategy in accordance to the background and personality of the person you are meeting with, will have a better chance of being heard than believing that we know what we are talking about so listen to what I have to say.

Respect for Marketing, Advertising, PR and now Social Media has always been an uphill challenge but thank goodness for the optimistic type of personality, in most cases, that is attracted to the profession.  I can recall years back when the VP of Finance where I was employed didn’t understand why we needed a Marketing Department because all we had to do was open the doors and people would come.  We smiled and did our job.  People came but our efforts brought in thousands more. 

Social Media is such an important addition to the Marketing Mix BUT it is just another opportunity for us to think that it is a Teachable Moment and everyone wants to hear us.  Oh they are listening to us all right, but they are not hearing what we have to say. 

Teachable Moment ~ Is there really one?

Is there really a question here?

Don’t want this blog to come off as my moment of teaching but more as a reminder to myself as well as others that many questions asked aren’t questions at all.  Maybe no one asked us anything at all but we are assuming that there are all these teachable moments out there.  Energy and positive approach is a great way to live your life.  If others can’t be convinced of a best strategy, at least what you believe to be best, know when to take a step back.

Love to know your thoughts.

 

The Greed Generation

Branded as Greedy

A Lesson in Branding that really hits home!

Recently on an evening Cable News program, former Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming, offered some suggestions as to how to correct the deficit.  When he ended his commentary he said we were a Generation of Greed.  So have we gone from The Greatest Generation to The Greed Generation.  Well we can have a different opinion, we can debate it, or we can be horrified at being branded as Greedy.  We could go on, but the negative Branding has taken place.  He is not wrong or right, he spoke rendering his perspective as he sees this generation, his perception reflects exactly what he (himself) has observed. 

For the past few days I have tossed these comments around in my mind and realized that this is the most impactful Branding example I could use to show how it can take only a few or a minority to negatively ruin a Brand.  Sen. Simpson didn’t harm our Brand….a certain few in our Nation did and he stated how he sees it.  This is exactly what can happen to YOUR company brand or personal brand. 

This branding of The Greed Generation was inevitable don’t you think?  We must have seen it coming.  BUT if you were like me, I was thinking “Well that is all those other people who are living above their means….doesn’t effect me.”  Well as you can see, it only takes a few to cause others to negatively Brand all of us.  Same holds true in your organization.

As an example, let’s look at our Nation as your Company.  We really only had a small percentage of people that caused some of the financial issues because of their Greed but look who takes the blame…..we all do.  That will work the same in your Company.  If you do not set a policy that is reviewed frequently, I say quarterly, with all staff that sets forth the Company’s Branding initiatives, you risk your competition stating what your Brand is. 

As I mentioned in my Quarterly Newsletter, The Hot Iron, there has to be a total buy-in by your staff as to how you wish your clients and the business community to view you.  Branding for some only means the logo and the colors of the logo.  It is so much more than that and the way one person speaks to another at any level, how issues are handled, effective communication, presentation of product and self, consistency and so much more than logo. 

When you identify an issue….address it immediately.  Negative branding can be turned around.  I say we can change that concept of The Greed Generation by addressing, realistically, what caused us to get to this point….but it takes courage.  Maybe we could then be branded The Realistic Generation.  With all these reality shows, I’m surprised that hasn’t been written somewhere.   

Taking some courageous steps toward protecting your Brand is imperative.  Tough to turn around once it is damaged.  Protect your business with kindness, consideration, caring, fairness, professionalism, honesty, integrity and give and take.  When you hear an alarm….pay attention!!  Don’t let your business be Branded by anyone else but YOU!!

I would be very interested in your thoughts. 

What’s New?!!

After 10 or 20 years, how is the best way to answer the question ~” What’s new?”
What's New! What's the Answer!!

What's New! What is the Answer!!

 As I am sure many of you have experienced the “What’s new” question, it is particularly apparent during the Holidays.  Visiting for our holidays, were many cousins, aunts and uncles that we haven’t seen for many years. 

Now because I believe in A Plan and Strategy, not to mention my personal BRAND, I was fully aware that these questions would come on Thanksgiving weekend.  This took many hours to prepare myself for the inevitable. 

 
 
Plan ~ Be courteous and respond poliltely; be brief but good content; get them talking about themselves
Strategy ~ If I talked about my 5 years in Marketing/Promotional Product business and my love for Twitter and Social Media, my plan to get them talking about themselves would fall into place….because who doesn’t want to talk about themselves.
Brand ~ Being a good listener, interested in what others have to say and getting enthusiastic about others’ accomplishments is a part of my Brand that I enjoy to hear being communicated about me. 
 
RESULTS:  I know so much more about my cousins, aunts and uncles that we haven’t seen for awhile and they are all lovely and wonderful people that have interesting lives. 
“What’s New?” really means I would love to talk to you but I am not sure what to ask.  Telling a little about yourself is fine but by engaging them and listening well, will forever BRAND you as a loving and caring relative and friend…..AND you just may have a cousin in Minnesota who is an Executive in a large corporation, who is organizing a Golf Outing in May, and who needs golf shirts, hats and other items. 
Listening is a powerful communication tool that rewards.  I was listening but so was the Executive….a win/win!!
How did you answer,  “What’s new?”

How Can Promotions Make You Stand Out

Wise Decision-making Helps You Stand-out from the Rest

Spending marketing dollars wisely gets you company recognition and client loyalty.

It is that time of year again where you may be asked to come up with a gift of appreciation for your employees and/or a gratitude gift for some key clients or just an overall gift of appreciation for all your customers.

We all know about budgets, however, a note of caution here….decision-making would best be made on quality NOT price.  Quality CANNOT be sacrificed.  Both of these can be achieved as long as you have engaged the services of a Marketing/Promotions expert that exhibits the following:

  1. Understands each level of client and/or employee you are recognizing
  2. Searches for product that will convey a uniqueness thereby exhibiting a caring thought process
  3. Vendor loyalty by a Promotions specialist will not give you the best chance at highest quality choices
  4. Choices from highest rated vendors.  Vendors are rated from A+ – F. 
  5. Listens to you, communicates directly and doesn’t always say “I can beat anyone’s price!”
  6. Builds a relationship not just sells
  7. Evident that YOU will always come first.  It is always about YOU. 
  8. Follow up after you receive product….is it what you expected?

After you are clearly comfortable with whom you are working, now you can discuss price because it doesn’t matter how little or how much you spend for a promotion or ad specialty.  If it is worthless and poor quality it is your hard earned dollar that was wasted.  A true promotions professional will guide you in the right direction.

If you follow the guidelines above, I am sure your Promotions Budget will be well spent.  You will stand-out among the rest and your client loyalty will be evident.

If I “Get” Social Media, Why Don’t I “Get”…..

Why do that to an Ice Cream Cone?

"I thought I asked for an ice cream cone!"

 

 

Every once in awhile it is good to take stock in what we believe we understand or as we say today “GET” and what still puzzles us.

I thought since I seem to GET Social Media, I must now have developed my mind so much so that I am no longer puzzled by the following.  Well I am here to tell you that I still DO NOT GET…

 

 

  1. Why don’t they raise the basketball hoop?
  2. What happened to the jump rope?
  3. What came first…the chicken or the egg?
  4. Why are snowplow drivers so mean?
  5. Ball and Jacks….is that gone too?
  6. Children not outside on a beautiful day?
  7. Where are the honey bees?
  8. Why families are not sitting down together at dinner?
  9.  You never forget how to ride a bike?

Others that I am perplexed about are:

  • Employee health reward…parking spot closest to the door!
  • Someone advising that “You are taking it personally!”
  • Silver Christmas Trees?
  • Speeding up to a red light!
  • Why aren’t there any predators for stink bugs?
  • Cutting back on Marketing/PR/Advertising during economic downturn?
  •  

    As you can see, I have a lot of questions that perhaps some of you can help me GET and if I in turn can help you get Social Media, I definitely would like to try and also introduce you to my friends at Harrisburg Social Media Club.