Category: Ear on the Industry (Page 1 of 3)

Listen in on what’s happening in the marketing world

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.

More proof…

I always say, “Customer service IS marketing.” And I sometimes get uncertain looks in response. There will always be the client who wants to buy a billboard or a whole bunch of airtime, but is unwilling to step back with me and take a look at the BIG PICTURE and see the things I see.

This story from Peter Shankman illustrates how a (not so) simple act of extraordinary customer service can become a (better than money can buy) marketing opportunity. Enjoy!


Do you know @NordstromDave?

It’s not just Tweeters (users of Twitter) talking about him. Nordstrom Dave is getting his fair share of attention in the blogosphere, too. Do you want to know why? Check out his innovative way of increasing sales and providing exemplary customer service using social media tools.

Let us know if you’d like help coming up with creative ways you can use social media to boost the ways you connect with and serve your customers.


Naysayers, recant.

In case anybody still doubts the power of a well-written ad, we present the Wicked Sick project. Will merely changing the copy of an ad result in an increase in perceived value?

Let’s take a look at the max wicked sick power of words.

Mid-Day Mingle in SLO Today!

The monthly Mid-Day Mingle is a fun, casual way to meet local business people. We eat, we talk, we laugh, we connect. We hope you’ll join us.

Tuesday, July 14th at the Graduate in SLO from 11:45 until 1 or so. (2nd Tuesday of each month)

We will stop the action and do an “official” round-table introduction at 12:03, so if you want to meet all the people you’re dining, laughing and schmoozing with, make sure you don’t miss that portion of our mingle.

Please invite your friends, colleagues, coworkers and contacts. No RSVP needed.

Be there or be square. And you’re way too hip to be square… aren’t you?


P.S. This event has been organized on You don’t need to be a CCT member to mingle monthly, but you might consider joining. It’s a fun way to keep your finger on the pulse of SLO County (and it’s absolutely FREE!)


Singin’ to the Choir

This illustrates yet another reason why I love the field of marketing. Even if you don’t speak Geek, you’ll love this guy’s combination of great info and creative talent.

Kick back and enjoy a lesson on web site design.

Great Advice (and you’ll love the price!)

If you’re running a new business or contemplating it, I recommend that you read “10 Things I Hate About Your Business Plan”. Be sure to read the suggestions made by readers in the Comments section, too.

The article is one of many found on the American Express OPEN Forum site, which bills itself as “A wealth of resources for savvy business owners.” The site is easy to use and full of useful articles, videos and discussions. I make it a regular stop on my daily “continuing education” web rounds.

Do you take time to communicate with other business owners, discuss current trends and challenges, and stay educated on the latest topics? If your schedule doesn’t allow regular chats by the water cooler or at the local coffee house, try one of the free and reliable online resources. They’re definitely worth the investment!

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