Month: October 2014

Respect the process

Although strategic marketing requires a high level of creativity, it also requires a certain level of discipline. It is easy to jump out of your seat and start slapping people on the back when a good idea bursts onto the scene, bringing fresh energy and endless possibilities along with it.

One thing I’ve learned is that you need to let ideas run around a little, stretching their legs and shaking their sillies out. You need to play with them and acknowledge their greatness.

At this point, many people gather up the good idea in a giant bear hug of excitement and run around telling everybody what they’re going to do with it. In effect, they’re racing to the altar without getting to know the bride.

I agree that good ideas need a period of basking in their own pure energy. You have to let them bounce off the walls and trip over a few things. And then you need to help them settle down. You need to lead them to a quiet place and examine them from all sides.

You need to think before you act.

And this is where we learn to respect the power of processes. Methods and processes may seem like the devil to some creative types. But the right processes, proven with time and applied consistently, are the foundation of good marketing. Rather than inhibit a project, they support its growth. Strong processes guide creativity through the steps and considerations that promote its success.

Grandma was right. Haste makes waste. Make sure your marketing firm has the energy and creativity to bring a spark to your business. Then make sure they use methods and processes that will neither snuff the creative spark nor let it burn out of control.

Your Personal Balance Sheet

Once a contract is signed and it’s time to get down to business with a new client, I ask a whole bunch of questions.  We have a meeting that I call “The Biggie.”  Sometimes it goes quickly. Sometimes it takes a couple of hours. We explore, we discover, we review, we plan.

We make it pleasant. There are snacks and beverages, good music and fresh air. Some clients come in with a tidy binder with a business plan. Some come in with sketches. All come in with dreams.

We discuss past, present and future activities. We review goals, methods, competition, past successes and failures. We explore all kinds of things. Asking a lot of questions helps me form a mental picture of the brand. It also helps me identify the strengths and challenges of the business and its key players.

One thing I always inventory is personal assets. No, I don’t mean finances. I mean special talents, knowledge and experience.

If I went six months without knowing my client is an exceptional public speaker, I’d be missing opportunities.  If my client spent 20 years in another industry, there could be a tie-in. If my client has won an award, yodels or races stock cars, I’d like to know.

Likewise, I’d like to know about any liabilities that exist right up front. If a client had difficulties in a past business, I’d like those difficulties identified. If there was a public relations crisis due to product liability, customer service or employee issues, I need to know.

My job isn’t just about making ads and brochures. It takes much more than writing copy and making things pretty to get results.  My job is to understand my client’s business, understand my client’s market, and identify assets and opportunities. Then we get to do the fun, pretty, exciting creative stuff. And we rock it pretty hard.

Strong marketing requires strong strategy built on information, experience and inspiration.

In case you’re wondering…

When people meet us, the second question they usually ask is, “What kind of businesses do you work with?” (The first question, of course, is about the ears.)

We work with all kinds of businesses. Local, national, corporate and grass-roots. Big business, small business. Big budget, small budget.

A quick peek at our client list would reveal:

  • Other advertising and marketing agencies
  • Government agencies
  • Artists
  • Manufacturers
  • Web-based service providers
  • Technology companies
  • Non-profits
  • Real estate  and housing professionals
  • Food and beverage/hospitality/tourism clients
  • Senior services companies
  • Builders/Contractors
  • Various professional service providers and consultants

The work we do at Big Ears Strategic Marketing isn’t limited to a few industries because our methods can be applied effectively to so many.

We don’t take every offer that comes our way, though. All of our clients have a few things in common.

  • We think they’re ready for what we offer.
  • They have a good feel for where they’re headed, what their goals are and who their clients are.
  • They take their businesses as seriously as we do.
  • They are willing to commit to deadlines.
  • We think they will truly benefit from what we do.

If  you have a business (or know of a business) that hasn’t quite hit its stride or is ready to kick things up a notch, we’d love to share our experience with you.

Give us a call and we’ll lend you our ears.