Happy 4th of July!

Ah… the Muppets! Happy July 4th, America!

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Are your marketing efforts integrated?

Integrated /ˈɪntɪˌgreɪtɪd/ [in-ti-grey-tid](from dictionary.com) –adjective
combining or coordinating separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole

Everything you say, do, write, or think about your company has the potential to promote your company. Every piece of mail, every email, every letter you send can reinforce your brand, your message, and your product or service. Don’t think about each marketing strategy, each email, each advertisement as one unique opportunity – think about these things as pieces in a puzzle that add up to a total picture. When you think about the whole picture, the opportunity exists for each piece of your strategic puzzle to support the other pieces, allowing you to get the most leverage out of your marketing and business development investments.

Make sure when you’re developing your marketing plan, you’re thinking about each aspect of your business, and how the tactics support your business plan.

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Bret Michaels is Yummy

On the Celebrity Apprentice, Bret Michaels got it. During the final challenge of this season of the show, Holly Robinson Peete certainly looked like a sure thing. Even so, I had a feeling though that Bret Michaels was going to win.

My hubby disagreed with me – he felt Holly was the more polished of the two contestants. Even the Snapple executives complemented her poise and skill, going so far as to suggest she could sit on their Board of Directors. The praise was deserved – Holly was dressed in professional business attire during the final presentation (in contrast to Bret’s Ed Hardy shirt, jeans, and bandanna). Her informational packet didn’t look like the typical Apprentice offering – it really did look like a professionally produced info packet. Holly also focused on the Snapple brand, creating an ad spot that could be part of Snapple’s current ad campaign. Something was missing though, even though Holly’s total package was probably more in line with Snapple’s current product line. The missing ingredient was celebrity – by treating this task like a real world assignment, Holly didn’t integrate her own celebrity as well as Bret, which in my opinion was the ultimate point of a celebrity endorsement and of this task.

Bret’s entire concept put him at the center, not Snapple. Additionally, Bret had an advantage in that one of his drink’s ingredients (cinnamon) and the fact that it was a diet product (less sugar) reinforced Bret’s charity (the American Diabetes Association) and his own battle with diabetes. The entire marketing concept used Bret and his celebrity to promote the product, not the charity or the product alone.

Ultimately, it was Bret selling himself as a rock star and celebrity that won the task. If the show had just been “The Apprentice” I’d have agreed with my husband that Holly should have won; since this is The Celebrity Apprentice, it was no surprise to me Bret Michaels was named this season’s winner.

And after drinking both flavors, I can say that Bret Michaels tasted yummy.

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I am a marketing manager

This is Nikki BennerI’m not the creative guy, but if you give me a good idea I can help make it better. I’m not the graphic designer, although I know how to manipulate a good template. I’m not the copy writer, yet I can write copy that gets the job done. So who am I, and why do you want me on your team?

I’m the guy that makes sure the job gets done. I break the job down into its component tasks, put them on the “to do” list, manage the timeline, and keep everyone on schedule. I understand the importance of day-to-day maintenance –filing, database management and segmenting, labeling, organizing, archiving. Because I keep records up-to-date, we don’t waste time reinventing the wheel, and the task gets done faster.

I’m like TiVo – I take in feedback and assimilate that into my work-product, providing individualized results that become more intuitive over time. I learn what you prefer, and translate your vision to the creative team. This reduces turnover time by reducing the number of edits and revisions. I’m like the mortar that holds the bricks together – sure, you can build a building without it, but I won’t guarantee how long it will stay up…

I help identify your target audiences. I develop a marketing plan that incorporates the media that will reach those targets. I assign a reasonable budget to that plan. We work together to create the appropriate marketing messages for each audience. I oversee the creative people that realize your message. I make sure we don’t overspend.

I’m Nikki Benner. I’m your marketing manager – I wear a lot of hats.

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MackCollier.com – Blog Yourself Out of Business

A common objection to sharing ideas in a blog is the fear of losing business as people use the advice you offer for free. My position is that sharing your expertise positions you as a leader in the field and will, in the long run, win you more business than it may potentially cost you. People hire experts for a reason – lack of time, lack of resources, the preference for an expert… MackCollier.com recently blogged about this, and offers what I think is a great answer to that objection:

Seems completely counter-intuitive on the surface, but the content helps businesses learn how to better use social media AND that makes them more likely to want to hire me to help them with their efforts.  So by empowering potential customers, I am actually growing my business.

I also liked the first comment:

Excellent piece, Mack. I try to do the same thing and tell all my clients to do this: use your blog to give out free content, advice, etc. This really helps to build trust among your constituency. If a mechanic teaches you how to change your oil, you will be appreciative as a consumer. And there will be times when people need car repairs that transcend their abilities. Where will they go? To the person they know and trust.

Read the full article, “Try to Blog Yourself Out of Business” here: http://bit.ly/b6vk7G

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Place and Promotion – The Girl Scouts are Doing it Wrong…

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From 4/24′s Saturday Night Live, a commentary on how Girl Scout cookies are only available once a year, and only for sale by an actual Girl Scout.

When developing a marketing plan, where you’re going to sell your product and how it will get there (the Place) is part of your marketing strategy, as are the promotional tactics you’re going to use to build awareness and sell your products. The Girl Scouts have other considerations besides earning money from the sale of the cookies, which is part of the reason the cookies are not available online or in retail outlets. It’s just funny to consider the Girl Scout cookie business model and compare it to traditional business plans.

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Tools To Track Twitter Topics

Social media platform logos

image borrowed from Search Engine Journal

My newest “boyfriend” is social media. We’ve been dating for a while now. We’ve started slowly, with more obvious sites like this blog on WordPress, Twitter, Linked In and Facebook. If you’re looking to start a relationship with social media as well, I recommend starting slowly, with one or two sites at a time. I also recommend listening and contributing to existing conversations as well as starting your own. I recently read a great article on Social Media Today called “50+ Ways to Search Twitter” that lists a variety of tools that can help you find conversations on topics you’re interested in. I’m enjoying “TweeTag” because it’s easy to use… Are you using a tool like this to search Twitter? Which one(s) are you using, and why?

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Make Old Special Offers New Again

Aggregated list of Franklin Covey's recent special offersI love making lists and organizing my day. There are lots of services you can use, and even just an old fashioned pen and paper, but I’m a big fan of Franklin Covey‘s planning products. I receive their email newsletters, which always contain a special offer. On their website, they also have a page that aggregates all of the recent special offers. If your business has a similar program, I recommend this idea. If your current offer isn’t what someone’s looking for, this offers them the chance to revisit other deals, and you can track how popular offers are over time, instead of just having one month’s worth of data (or however frequently you create a new special offer).

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Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel

To Be Continued...I highly recommend you click here to read this article from My Venture Pad about using “cliffhanger” marketing strategies. This sort of idea, when executed with consistency, gets your readers used to expecting content at a specific time on a specific topic, allowing you to better understand your prospect’s interests to better segment and market to your prospects. This strategy also creates content with lasting value.

In particular, I like the idea of  “Next Steps” :

Let’s say you have a 10-step process your prospects find value in. Post an article discussing step 1 and then tell your audience that the next steps will be posted each Tuesday (or whenever) for the next 9 weeks. If possible, invite them to opt in for notification about the  the next installment.

As the article suggests, cliffhanger marketing just requires some creative thought and creating (and following) an editorial calendar.

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Consumer Experience Reveals your Brand

Regardless of your business, you should consider the experience your customer will have throughout the entire sales process. This includes any online portals, brick-and-mortar stores, conversations with your receptionist, your waiting room, conference room… you get the picture. Even employees walking through the office discussing whatever it is they discuss needs to be considered, because these things tell a person about your company.

Brand is more than a logo – it’s your company’s attitude, font, phone voice, furniture… these things communicate something to your clients and prospects. Consider the experience of your firm, be it a phone call, online shopping experience, or in-office visit from the perspective of a stranger. Take notes. Ask yourself if the experience matches your brand.

These thoughts came about during a recent shopping trip – read about the experience below, and weigh in on your thoughts regarding your experiences where a brand revealed itself through the sales experience…

Read the rest of this entry »

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