The Cart Before the Horse?

10/09/2009

So I’m sure you have heard of the phrase, putting the cart before the horse. Well, in the business I’m in, you see if quite often. So many organizations put massive amounts of effort toward developing a new product or service, but forget on of the most critical elements – market strategy/planning. I think that this is often overlooked because people do not understand the value of a comprehensive plan.

A solid marketing plan will include a view of your market (understanding who they are, what their pains are, and how you can address those pains with your product/service), competitive landscape (what other offerings are available that are like or similar to ours, why choose us?), tactics (now that I know who we are targeting, what mix of materials should I use to reach that target market?), and last but not least financials/budget (gotta love the numbers).

If you do not include this exercise in your overall product/service rollout planning, you are setting you organization up for disappointment. Be sure and take the time to put your horse where he belongs – leading the way.

Great Meeting at AMA Healthcare SIG Event

09/22/2009

Went to a great meeting tonight hosted by AMA. It was their Healthcare SIG’s first meeting and there was a panel discussion called The Transformation of Healthcare Marketing: Get Ahead of the Curve. The panel included folks from UnitedHealthcare, Ameriscource Bergen Specialty Group; MedSynergies Inc.

They were all very knowledgeable and it was good to hear how these organizations were approaching the incorporation of social media into their marketing programs – bottom line, cautiously.

I also had the pleasure of meeting various people while I was there from some very large organizations. This was a great networking opportunity and I highly recommend the group. Check it out – http://www.dfwama.com/en/cev/mon/

Advertising Should Reflect Culture, Not Lead It

07/22/2009

When working to create successful advertising campaigns, it is critical to understand of distinct patterns of communication in the various cultures that you are trying to reach – it is one of the many elements you need to know about your target market.

This is especially true when you have to adapt a product for different cultures – different cultures have different tastes, acceptable social guidelines, etc. Even if you have a product that is the same regardless of the country you are marketing it to, the way you advertise that product in the various markets is critical. For example, colors, numbers, symbols, and images do not all translate well across cultures. In some cultures there are lucky colors, such as red in China and unlucky colors, such as black in Japan.

Consider cultural values as well. In some cultures teamwork is most valuable – so using messages that focus on the “you can do it” or have references to “I”, “independent success”, etc. would not be viewed favorably.

Like there aren’t already enough components to consider when analyzing your target audience – cultural background it one that should not be missed!

Sell Your Strengths – It Is The Only Sale That Sticks

06/16/2009

You know, as a small business owner, I think there are those folks who really try to be everything to everyone. I think this is tempting for a couple of reasons:

1. Desperation - especially in these tough economic times, you want to make a sale. You have an opportunity that comes along and you (or your company) are “sortof” a good fit. But the truth of the matter is that they would be much better served by someone else vs. getting a mediocre delivery from you.

2. Undefined Mission – it is very common for a small company not to have a clearly defined mission statement. I think that mission statements are under-appreciated. I think they are extremely valuable – they ensure that your entire organization is rowing in the same direction. And in this case, they validate whether an opportunity is a good fit for you. If the opportunity is not directly aligned with the mission of your organization, then you should be directing that business somewhere else. Yes – that’s what I said! :)

Trust me on this one! If you are upfront with your clients/potential clients on what types of projects are good fits for you, it will come back to you three-fold! I promise! Because what you are doing is building a relationship – not just selling the next deal. When you become the trusted advisor/partner of a client, you can’t beat it! It is invaluable to you because not only will they be a long-term client for you, they will love you and trust that you can take care of all their friends/colleagues (it’s called building your referral base).

So next time you may be tempted, just think beyond the sale! You’ve just made the best deal – a trusted relationship with your client/prospect!

A New Home for Ignite It Group

06/05/2009

Well, it’s official! Ignite It Group just moved into our new offices in Dallas, right off LBJ Freeway (635 to some) just east of the Galleria. Our website has been updated with our new contact info (www.igniteitgroup.com) so check it out.

So every time I move, office or home, I always say, “I’m never doing that again!” I can guarantee now that the office won’t be moving for the next 6 years if I can help it!

OK – well, I’m back to empty my final boxes! Of course, I’m the last one to get unloaded! We welcome any visitors!

“Know It Alls” – Don’t Believe Them!

05/25/2009

Technorati Profile

In preparation for my social media training tomorrow, I’ve been brushing up to ensure that I’m providing the most current and helpful information to my audience of small to medium-sized business owners.  In my research, it reminded me how quickly things change, how new technologies continue to push the envelope, and how it is critical to constantly keep up with the latest!

There is no such thing as a “know it all” – there are only those who continually work to stay ahead of the curve! :)

Remembering the Brave on Memorial Day

05/25/2009

As we get ready to grill our burgers and enjoy a day off of work with our family and friends, lets remember to pay our respects to those men and women who have so bravely served (and continue to serve) our country both here and abroad.

Regardless of your political position as to whether our troops should have a presence overseas, we should honor them and their sacrifice that they make every day.  Not only do they physically put their lives on the line, they also make major sacrifices by being away from their family and friends for extended periods of time.

This is a subject that hits very close to home for me as I lost someone very close back in 2004 in Iraq and the ripple effect of that tragedy continues to make itself heard – especially in times of reflection such as Memorial Day.

Please say a prayer today for our brave protectors and their families.  For those not sure how you can pay respects, here is a link with some suggestions:  http://www.thememorialdaytribute.com/observe-memorial-day.html.

Soldier, rest! Thy warfare o’er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Dream of battled fields no more.
Days of danger, nights of waking.

- Sir Walter Scott

Non-profits Back to Grassroots Marketing Efforts

05/20/2009

I sit on a non-profit board called Bea’s Kids (www.beaskids.org).  We had our board meeting today and had a pretty in-depth discussion about event marketing no longer being an effective way of raising funds in these tough economic times.  Donors are much more willing to donate $$$ to specific programs vs. leaving their donations to the discretion of the organization these days.  And these same donors want to feel a connection to the organization, not just someone coming with a hand out.

It is more important than ever for non-profits to connect with the past/current donor base to make sure that know what outcomes are happening as a result of their past/current donations.  Get real with them about what it is going to take to keep the organization on its feet.  Non-profits have to get back to real grassroots marketing efforts – get out and meet people and develop relationships with them!

If you are looking for a great organization that helps low-income children, check out Bea’s Kids – we could use donors of time and $$$!

Christmas Cheer

12/15/2008

Can you believe that Christmas is already around the corner?  It sure has creeped up on us this year, hasn’t it?  With crazy gas prices, presidential elections, economic turmoil, etc., etc., there are a lot of folks caught off guard by the approaching holiday.  I’m one of those!

So I woke up this a.m. thinking, what should I do to get myself into the holiday spirit?  Well, I think the most appropriate thing is to remember all the things that I’m so very thankful for in my life:

  • My Boys (Quinton and Ethan) – they are certainly a challenge, but hey, I’m always up for a good challenge.  And can’t think of anything more worth it!
  • My Business – Clear Message Communications (www.clear-message.com) is really something that I’m tremondously proud and thankful for.  We have a wonderful team of great marketing and learning (training) professional that have truly made a difference in the lives of many of our clients throughout 2008.
  • My Home – four years ago, in the midst of many life changes, I added another one by moving to Frisco, Texas.  After living in Flower Mound for about 10 years, it seemed like a foreign country.  I have to say, that I am so happy with that choice today – great schools, great sports, great entertainment, and much more – right in my backyard.  Love it!
  • Friends and Family – I am so very blessed by wonderful friends and family – and friends who have become family.  A recent visit from my sister from Piggott, AR (yes, P-I-G-G-O-T-T, famous for the home where Ernest Hemingway wrote portions of A Farewell to Arms, can you believe it?), reminded me of how much I miss her!

Those are my top 4!  God has blessed me and I am now ready to celebrate all my 2008 blessing and look forward to what 2009 has to hold!

Who Cares?

11/10/2008

We recently worked with a client on their corporate messaging which would serve as the launch pad for their organization’s marketing efforts.  As we listened to the client tells us about all their service offerings, we asked clarifying questions to make sure we had a full understanding of these offerings.  Our next line of questioning took us down the path of…  “Who Cares?”.

That’s the real question, isn’t it?

In this fast-paced world, when you only have 5-10 seconds to grab someone’s attention and your lucky if they give you 30 seconds to get out your pitch, you better make sure you answer that question.

When working on messaging and your company’s unique value proposition, be sure that you are focused on your customer and what they care about.  Many organizations are so focused on themselves – what they do and what they have to offer, they often forget that they have created these valuable offerings because they are trying to solve their customers’ issues.

It is always great if you can paint an image in the mind of your potential customer with the problem your organization solves.  You want them to envision themselves in the problem and then clearly explain how your company’s offering resolves their problem – be their Knight in Shining Armour!

To sum it up, when you are writing for your company’s website, brochure, sales script (you get the idea!), make sure that you do a litmus test and that you don’t leave your audience asking, “Who Cares?”.


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