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Archive for the ‘Business Branding Advertising Marketing’ Category

One of the things that makes me the person that I am and aspire to be is the fluidity of what constitutes “business” vs. “busyness” in my world. There are a lot of people who are “busy” but not necessarily doing business. While maintaining your business is of utmost importance, feeding your soul is equally important – it allows you balance.

I am one of those people who looks for things that can keep me busy, as I am not a happy person when I am bored. That and being in the trenches with community is one of the reasons that I volunteer. Volunteering can put you on the front lines of something that will bring you satisfaction and feed your passion. In this world of fast-fast-fast you can really make a difference and be more production when you slow down. It can be something as simple as walking puppies at a shelter, or visiting a nursing home, or even, as I do, teach art to inner city kids. Now, THAT is where life happens, not on a spreadsheet, or in a conference room. Giving of yourself is a win win, it allows you to feed your soul, and puts things in perspective.

So, today, lets look around and find some magic.2511411-magic_hand

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I know that you know what that means. It is EXACTLY how I feel today. WTF. As in WTF am I doing? Those of us who are brave enough to start our own businesses feel this on a regular basis. That sinking feeling like you haven’t done enough, reached out enough, applied yourself enough. What exactly is ENOUGH?

Enough currently for me is an account or two that help “keep bologna on the table” as an old boss of mine once said. I am not blowing the doors off anything, nor am I giving Doner or JWT a run for their money, but that is okay…its by design. So, why then, do I hit these spots of insecurity? I am trying to build a life OUTSIDE of my previous profession. As one who (in my mind) was so closely defined by that role, its hard to shake.

It manifests itself in unhealthy ways. Today I snarked at a friend who posted something online about small agencies. Its the second time in a couple weeks she has done that and left me out of the discussion. I replied with a ummm.ok…then she replied with a tag and said, “better”? I felt childish, because my response WAS childish. Either way, it was only my ego getting in the way. And, as a media professional, that was completely natural. 😉

ego

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With the news last week that P & G (Proctor and Gamble) was looking at its media buying and subsequent agency spending, it reminds me of the shifting sands that people in advertising work upon.

This statement can send a chain reaction down the hierarchy of any business quicker than high speed internet…in fact – it is most likely through the emails and digital files that most people will get this information. Spreadsheets are flying, you can bet on it.  Makes me shudder just to think of the poor sap at the end of that chain, the person who is performing the media buy as instructed by the layers upon layers of middle management.  That hard worker bee will most likely be the first one to go if the account drops its spending or leaves altogether.

The exact wording from Ad Age was: “The move to review comes as the packaged-goods giant aims to cut $500 million in agency fees and reduce the number of agencies it works with, according to comments from P&G Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller on the company’s recent earnings call. Though P&G doesn’t disclose its total spending on agency fees, executives close to the company have estimated them at around $1 billion.”

I worked closely with some people who bought and sold ads for P & G…they are not extravagant media spenders, truly they were downright penny pinchers.  Looking at that revenue they are cutting just shows me the bottom line margin is shrinking and they – like most big business – are looking at ways to keep the top echelon earning their ridiculous bonuses while afore mentioned media buyer makes 35K and is lucky to leave work at 1pm on Fridays during the summer.  Just for the record, Bloomberg reports that Jon Moeller (the guys looking for the cuts) made $7,017,862 in total compensation. Of this total $850,000 was received as a salary, $897,600 was received as a bonus, $1,295,683 was received in stock options, $3,908,749 was awarded as stock and $65,830 came from other types of compensation.  7 MILLION dollars…really? That’s not a salary, that is the GNP for some small country, and he is only the CFO.

This revenue is shrinking because of the internet, the same exact way poor media buyer found out it was REVIEW time and cancel your summer vacation because Jon Moelller is ready to lose his bonus. Broadcast and other mediums are gasping for air trying to compete with free content and relatively low costs on social media.  The moral of the story here is that nothing, but nothing is worth any more that someone is willing to pay for it…and with all of the ridiculous TV programming and sensationalistic radio (yes, Rush – I am talking to YOU), this is why things like the net neutrality (internet equality) are important.  Internet CONTENT and drop down ads are just the tip of the iceberg…think back to dial up…THAT is how slow your favorite small site will take to load if they draw lanes in the digital highway.  Before the media can figure out a way to gouge you for surfing, pay attention.  Your vacation depends on it.

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I think in the business world, we become driven to succeed – or perform, always risking being trampled.  We have come of age in the world of many options, much information, and the innate desire to make a difference.  It starts out with the idea of being good at something, then – in my world, the competitive nature kicks in and you plunge forward. Over the last couple years of my business life, I have cycled through those feelings more than once.or twice…

When 2015 rolled around, I vowed (once again) to apply my skills and be the best version of myself I could be at the time. I know what I do like the back of my hand, but I felt the desire to create something new and different. I wanted to start a non profit. No small undertaking, and in paperwork alone can be a daunting task. If you are anything like me, I can make myself take the eye off the ball very easily by distracting myself with other “jobs”. I have continuously pulled my mind back to the focus – much like my meditation focus – back to the breath. As a result, there was a strong possibility I would lose a couple clients I currently work with and enjoy helping.  It was a risk, but I trusted if I just put one foot in front of the other and not lose focus, it would all work out.  THIS is a very unnatural state for me, and I had to work hard to maintain it.  I did not force, cajole, argue, debate, negotiate – I just let it unfold.  I was rewarded with renewals, and for that I am grateful.

All of this is great – for today, I just keep moving forward and TRUST that I am on the right path.trust word in letterpress type

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“I can juggle but I can’t spin plates”, This is a saying I use OFTEN…particularly with clients in mind.  Most of my recent posts have been on expectations, something that is extraordinarily difficult to manage when it comes to clients.  This point is even harder in the environment in which we are working and living, more and more people want more than they can afford.

Recently I had a large project that required many different components, something that would require a whole team of people.  In discussions with this group, that fact was brought up on several different occasions in order to clarify and manage expectations.  With the client being reluctant to negotiate a higher fee, it became even more paramount that we discuss a couple of the components that would take a back seat to some that were a higher priority, like location (?!), people involved, itinerary and a whole list of “to do’s”.  Everyone was on board, nodding their heads and moving forward with our partnership.  This was particularly important because the person who brought me in was a friend in a pinch, someone I did not want to let down, so ignoring my red flags, I proceeded to sign and move forward.

The project came and went with a few minor snags which were not within my scope – ex. pertinent information withheld by one individual who was a part of the board, and a very low level of participation by the very board that hired me to do the job.  Unfortunately that became the benchmark for the event, ignoring the success of the project in the top three areas of discussion.  While my main client was happy with the results, in the wrap up meeting some of these low priority projects were focused on as an area where I had “failed”.  While I had hit the mark on so many other facets, this one fact was the one that was highlighted in the meeting.  I never like to leave a project that I left everything on the field for, but the moral of the story in this situation is an unfortunate reality: I should have never agreed to the project, because I can juggle but I can’t spin plates”.Spinning-Plates

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One of the hardest things to do with any client – no matter what profession you are in – is managing expectations.  That sentiment holds true in other parts of our lives, but that is another blog.  Working with a group or board it becomes even harder due to the fact there are many different sets of expectations as to outcome of project or goals.

A great example of this is a current project I am working on that has many different components attached.  The initial stages of this project my role was that of administrator and organizer.  As usually happens, with my background in sales, a few weeks later some separate duties involving sponsorship were added.  Fast forward to one month out from this event and there is some squawking on the part of one of the group wondering why I hadn’t been more successful with participants.  Through this process I have been seeking participants along with sponsorship but had not focused on this one component because it was not an original part of the discussion.  At this point I am failing someones expectations simply due to the fact it was assumed I would be taking care of that component.  Never-mind all of the successful things I have accomplished for this group – because I did not manage this particular individuals expectations.  My expectations were not met as well as I had assumed they would be gathering their own attendees.  All due to a lack of communication like working a maze of large boulders.

Image.aspx2It always comes back to that, doesn’t it?  Even when you spell it all out, something inevitably will drop through the cracks.  I suppose an expectation should be something will fall through the cracks, as perfection is elusive.

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Part of owning a business is the insecurities that pop up when you transition clients. That is a nice way of saying “your contract is up”. I am currently in transition and it has me in a funk. Writing a business blog must include ALL of the warts, and as uncomfortable as this is, it is important and unavoidable.

I have just finished a contract with a non profit that I found great joy in working with simply because I BELIEVED in their company. The executive director and I hit it off, and the department managers were all good workers. As we moved through the contract I became increasingly uncomfortable with the systems in place. Suffice to say, I was confused when some of the things I was hired to do, went left and the tasks asked of me to do went right. Couple that with disgruntled employees who are feeling used and abused and share that with me and you have a mess. Needless to say that aside from some loose ends I feel strongly about tying up, the end was a mutual decision.

Which brings me to today. I am organizing my office, filing things that have been put off, emptying outdated files, generally some spring cleaning. Along with that comes the internal spring cleaning. I know what it is I am supposed to move forward doing, but approach it with trepidation due to small feelings of inadequacies based on the “transition”. Moving slowly, deliberately through the process and making no sudden moves. This too shall pass.Maze

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