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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

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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In the advertising and marketing business we constantly try to keep up with the trends and interests of the population so we can best serve our clients.  These days, its a little bit like catching mercury on a desk..just when you think you have it…it slips away.  It is especially difficult to catch the female viewer/listener/reader/follower.  I think women’s interests and triggers are as varied as their lipstick options, or as the flowers they plant, or jobs they juggle.  It seems as though, like women, we need to be all things to all women.

The ads we see on television are still focused on either the “average mom” in khakis with a mop in her hand, or the harried career woman trying to have it all.  There is no happy medium, which in my opinion, is what women are starting to achieve.  We see more women taking time to network – with EACH OTHER..or new “fluffy” social websites, like Pinterest.  No disrespect to Pinterest, but it is clearly a women’s social network.  Try as they might, you will catch the occasional male interest attempt amongst all the great recipes or patterns for pillows, but the dominate theme is women.  And that is okay, I don’t know about you, but I feel a little bit of a shift.  A shift not to a subservient role for women, but a mutual respect and partnership between women and men.

Now, I realize there are a LOT of exceptions, women still rank lower on the pay scale overall, but we are making progress.  It is important that we continue to remember that it is progress not perfection.  Today’s woman doesn’t kid herself into thinking she can have it all, she just wants what is good for her, and if it applies, her family.  She is willing to pay the extra money for a good hair product, if it what it says it is.  She is more discerning and pays closer attention to how you position your brand.  Don’t kid yourself by underestimating the female consumer.  She still makes the decisions for a household, sometimes with, sometimes without her partner.  She isn’t willing to compromise her integrity for the sake of brand loyalty, she wants to believe that the products she buys are as loyal to her as she is to them.

In the world of advertising and marketing it is always paramount to know your client, and in this day and age, you have to keep up with the changing landscape to find them.  Once you have them, don’t take for granted they will stick around by treating them like a number.  One great example of that is the CitiBank Women – they send out occasional (read closely – not obnoxiously regular) emails with great tips about finances.  Their newsletters are timely, thoughtful and succinct.  No three page dissertations, they understand how much time we have, how much time we are willing to devote to a newsletter, ( approx 15 secs – or ten words) and capture the reader with a bold topic, brief strategy and then sign off.  Follow their lead and the lead of other companies that successfully market to women.  By knowing them and their interests, their hopes, and their lifestyle you will not bore them, patronize them or lose them.

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In the ever changing world of business, how you promote your services or merchandise is paramount. Who you choose to do business with becomes a direct reflection on who you are as a business. Why else do you suppose major corporations seldom donate or support one particular politician or party? The exception to that is the union, or business who has major stakes in current Capitol Hill agendas or lobbyists. Much like any sport, you “play up” to the company you keep.

Having partners in your marketing endeavors is a great way to expand your dollars and maximize your exposure. Utilizing each others resources or personnel opens up a whole new window of potential clients/customers you might not have otherwise been able to target. Additionally, two heads are always better than one! There can be terrific ideas and concepts you can share and initiate together that will make you more than effective, it will expand your business peer group, which is always a plus.

Another rule I use with my clients is, “if we are doing business with you, you should be doing business with us”. What I mean by that statement is anyone, and I mean anyone…from the water cooler company to your top vendor should be supporting your business in your efforts whether it is community projects or advertising campaigns. And, in turn, you should support them as well. It’s unfortunate, but I have seen many clients who constantly go to the same well over and over again, yet leave their contributors high and dry when it comes to contributing or including their partners in events or functions without a fee. This just leaves bad feelings and erodes the partnership. Your business is a direct reflection of you as a person, make sure the image is the one you want to convey.

Granted, there are many necessary partnerships that don’t always offer the same benefits of being involved in a high marketing or image making level. Some are the lower, occasional golf outing, or a bottle of wine at the holidays type. Every partner is a crucial cog in your business wheel, it is important they all feel necessary and relevant, it will benefit you in the end with better service, better product and better partners.

At the end of the day, your actions as a company will either make or break you. If you develop and maintain great partnerships it will only make both of you better business owners.

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It is that time of year again. With the sending of my July invoices to clients, I spend time reflecting on the first half of the year and what we have accomplished.

Has our campaign been effective? If not, what part of the project wasn’t up to par? How can we modify it for the second half of the year to boost visibility, revenue and branding?

A good example of this is a radio sponsorship we purchased. It was bought by the marketing manager in an effort to boost sales to a certain slice of the demographics-in this case, union workers. He listened to a morning show with two male personalities that straddled the border between Howard Stern and your 12 year old nephew. Highly rated in the weekly cum, it was worth a try. We made the effort to get these guys to embrace our product, medical supplies, but to no avail. Ideas like basket of “interesting” items, like adult diapers, ED devices, and such still didn’t crack these guys into embracing us and giving us any more than the standard, “this traffic update is brought to you by….”. Needless to say, it is time to cut bait.

When an advertiser has limited funds, it is imperative that you maximize spending with convergence marketing. In other words, don’t just throw money into commercials, get additional perks with your spending. Whether it is the form of “live reads” or appearances, anything to add texture to a straight advertising buy will give you more depth of budget. Don’t be afraid to ask for extras, remember; you can always go down, but rarely can you go back up.

Lesson #2, just because you listen, read or watch, doesn’t mean your potential or existing client does. Listen to your rep, read the trades, understand what you are buying. It all goes back to understanding who you are and what you do. Self evaluation is a necessary and key component of running a successful business.

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