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Posts tagged ‘marketing’

THE HAZARDS OF THINKING TOO SMALL FOR SUSTAINABILITY

THE HAZARDS OF THINKING TOO SMALL FOR SUSTAINABILITY

(aka: the selfish monologue in business = short term)

Philosophically, our only true ability in life is to generalize from oneself. The only true perception we will ever have is our own, even when we empathize or “see through another lens” it’s still our interpretation of it. So, self is always in play no matter how hard we may try to remove ourselves. That’s not a bad thing, but it can get complicated when you’re establishing a company.

Portrait of smiling businesswomanYou need to know your *WHY* but whether you consider that to be personal or universal will greatly affect the scale and ultimate sustainability of your business.

At first a company is but a seed, a beautiful idea. Then, we nurture it into existence. We feed it, water it, love it, even struggle with it, then it blooms! Still, we think of it as our own, but is that the best view for the long-term health of pure creation?

Maybe you grew an orchid — a boutique hybrid that is gorgeous and exclusive and very personal. That’s wonderful! But it’s not very SUSTAINABLE. It has a targeted quick lifespan that will be enjoyed by a very limited number of people who will get to experience it. Which is great if that’s the goal.

Perhaps, on the other hand, you’re growing a magestic cherry tree. Ahhh, that’s very different. Many entities have contributed to this successful incarnation and will soon come to rely on its existence. Sure, you planted the seed, maybe even started it in a small pot to keep it safe in its formative time, but soon it will be a critical part of a living ecosystem on the planet. Earthworms, bugs, microorganisms, squirrels, birds, owls, bats, raccoons, snakes, etc. will one day rely on its shelter, stature, fruit and other forms of its biology. Decay, sunlight, rain and dew will all contribute to it’s growth, though you may still contribute, keep it printed and healthy, it’s grown much larger than you. Frankly, it can even live without you, and that’s good. That was the point!

Using the analogy of growing these “plants” from seeds into maturity are similar in business. If you intend to stay small, as a rare flowing plant, enjoyed by an elite few, you’re allowed to be selfish with its mission — you’ll do no harm to it, and long-term sustainability that benefits many isn’t it’s goal. You’ll likely achieve success, then you’ll move on to your *next*

But, if you intend to build an empire or at least a mid-sized corporation that will be able to thrive, maybe as your legacy, long after you’re gone, you need a mission that isn’t about you but is all about the culture and ecosystem your establishing and sustaining. This is your *WHY* and it’s far bigger than *you*

You also need to ensure that this large sustainable *WHY* is something embraced by everyone and everything in your culture, from your workforce and investors to your customers and fans. The moment you think your *WHY* in this larger game is anything about you, you know you’re playing too small and threatening sustainability. Because if you think this majestic cherry tree is here to give you joy and shade, you’re not addressing the more important needs of the many contributing to it and relying on it. You’ll strangle it’s growth and prevent it from fulfilling its fullest potential for the greater good.

A small business can afford a selfish monologue for its *WHY* because its goal isn’t long-term sustainability for the masses. A larger company, intended for long-term sustainability, needs a more universal, cultural, ecosystem-oriented *WHY* to thrive and grow at the scale that is most suited to it.

#branding #scale #sustainability #corporation #mission #yourwhystatement #brandstory #startup

7 Tips for networking

7 tips for networking and building collaborative partners

1) Listen–spend less time pitching and more time asking meaningful questions and collecting answers
2) Remain open–even those whom may seem at first to be the most unlikely partners are the exact right person for your circle of influence. Try not to pre-judge.
3) Feel free to disagree–don’t shy away from people who may disagree with you…. While you don’t want to cultivate adversarial relationships, and manners and professionalism count for a lot, having opposing views in your circle can be brilliant to help challenge you and refine your practices
4) Come prepared with interesting questions–ask about mentors and role models, or who had the greatest influence on them as a child; ask about challenges overcome; ask about adventures they dream about or places they like to travel; ask if they have any great interest in arts, sciences or social causes…
5) Collect contact info–remember that your business card has one primary use, which is to serve as a conduit to collect the business cards of others. Take a moment to write a quick note on the backs of cards from people you find interesting to help you remember them and why you found them so interesting
6) Rod, reel and HOOK–if you’d like to cultivate a particular connection, have a reason to follow-up with them prepared so that they look forward to connecting with you in the future… information on an upcoming event, a project that may be of interest to them, an opportunity you are working to put together… anything
7) Smile–don’t forget that the most attractive thing about a person is confidence and personality. Of course showing up looking your best, well-groomed, polished and dressed appropriately helps considerably, too. However, even in an Armani suit, if you come across as being grumpy, shy or nervous… that behavior is loud and very, very difficult for others to overlook.
aliens

The Truth About Networking — How It’s Done

Just a quick word on networking, and I truly don’t mean to slam networking groups, but the most effective networking is done when you surround yourself with people who are passionate about similar causes, who are actively doing something in the community that matters to you, who are rocking a business or better still an industry that matters to you –these are your people. Find them. Also, the warm introduction of friends and colleagues who think you and this other massively awesome guy or woman might have a lot in common. Go hunt down your passion, get involved and interdependently cultivate a network that is meaningful to you and circle of influence… That’s networking!

networking-event

What Poker, WoW and Chess mean to marketing… (AKA: Game theory and cultivating market research)

Games–the word brings different meanings to different people, from cards and gambling to board games on rainy days or smart phone apps  with angry birds attacking defenseless pigs to massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) such as World of Warcraft. Games capture the attention of people across the globe, hooking them into an experience that requires skill, attention to detail, concentration and often strategy and high levels of thinking. People young and old and everything in between love games, and savvy marketers have learned how to apply game theory to gathering intelligence about target markets.

There are specific traits of games that entice people to play them:

  1. It’s interactive–players do something and engage in a game.
  2. There is often an imaginary element to a game–players can transport themselves into another world, environment, character, space and time.
  3. It’s competitive–even if players only compete with themselves to get to another level or to receive a response that they want, there’s an element of achievement.
  4. Visual–using pictures, graphics and even animation to tell a story or further engage players–games are often highly visual.
  5. Rewards–games have an element of reward, and this can include anything from unveiling more information a player may want to receive to just attaining high scores and potentially comparing scores with friends and other players.
  6. Brain power–games require thought, whether they engage strategy, skill, knowledge or a complex combination of these elements, the brain is activated, and players get hooked.

What does this have to do with marketing? I’m glad you asked. Innovative marketers have learned that they can develop games, including all of the elements above, to collect valuable information about players–otherwise known as respondents in marketing lingo. In other words, market research in the form of a game, versus a bland survey, can be used to collect complex, valuable information about target markets. Research has demonstrated that players are far more likely to engage higher levels of thought and consider more complex elements to provide information collected if they are engaged in a game versus answering questions in traditional market research surveys. They are also more likely to return to the game and spending far longer periods of time providing enhanced information depending on the game’s structure and interactivity between multiple players.

Think about it. How can you use game theory to amplify your communications and marketing strategies? Hint: It can go far beyond market research and include customer service, e-commerce and multiple other systems in business. Get creative, and the applications are nearly limitless. It’s all bout engaging your target market more completely and collecting valuable information. Collective intelligence is the real name of the game.

 

 

 

 

Cause Marketing–transformative communicating

As a long-time professional in the nonprofit industry, specifically focusing on substance abuse and mental illness issues, this is a subject I know well–cause marketing. While it is a subject I know well, it’s interesting that I am witness to the fact that few grassroots organizations participate in cause marketing at all. In fact, most of the experience I have acquired in this particular realm of nonprofits was due in great part to my instance that perhaps the organization just try it out. Just consider that it might possibly be helpful to market and that no harm could come of it. Strange, you may think, as all businesses know that marketing is critical to building and sustaining a brand and loyal followers/customers, right? Well, nonprofits are a rare breed of business.

Many nonprofits have become so accustomed to receiving direct referrals from institutions such as courts, jails, prisons, shelters and hospitals that marketing only consisted of maintaining those long-term relationships with a select few funding entities and referral sources. Keeping staff salaries and program expenses covered was a job for grant writers and development and managed care officers. Well, if anyone has been paying attention, there’s not so much money going around in grant land these days, and philanthropy is a dark, dry, empty place. That’s not to say that these resources don’t still exist, but the landscape and substance is changing, making these funding options less lucrative and far more restrictive when the money does arrive. For instance, you might have luck getting your program funded, but good luck repairing that leaky roof or paying for all of the unfunded mandates the grant requires such as tracking and reporting complex outcomes and participant statistics, etc.

Enter the solution of cause marketing! Here’s what marketers for centuries have known:

  1. Develop a quality product and/or service
  2. Wrap around solid and reliable development and delivery methods–make sure your customers can get what they want within reasonable time frames consistently
  3. Make certain there is a method of quality customer service provided to address customer needs and concerns
  4. Ensure that the products and/or services available are of high quality and competitively priced
  5. …and we the marketers will make sure that specific target audiences know the product and/or service is here, that it is valuable to the market and that it solves or changes something for the better–marketers help solidify the branding among target markets and build a culture for customers to walk in the door and keep walking in the door.This str

This formula is no different for nonprofits. Go ahead and market. Pay attention to the unique needs of your target markets and develop services to answer those needs. They will pay for it. That’s how supply and demand works. Go out on a limb and be daring, and go all the way. Don’t hold back, because reservation is the house of failure. It’s okay that you’ve never done it this way before–dream big and charter new grounds. Be the innovators and leaders in your field. Let the public and your target markets know you are here, listening to them,  responsive to them and are committed to answering their needs.

If you’re a nonprofit who serves populations experiencing poverty, then give your philanthropic pleas a face-lift. Remember Twain’s story of  “Tom Sawyer and the White Washed Fence.” Make giving to your cause something special, an honor for philanthropists to be a part of. Stop begging and instead be exactly what they want to support. Find out what your target philanthropists value most, and ensure that you organization mirrors those values. And all the while seek out cues from for-profit businesses to assist in generating income. Create jobs and help develop skills within your service population by developing a business venture. Market the whole package to venture capitalists and to the community, soliciting cash contributions for seed money. Do NOT think outside of the box, whatever that means. Throw the box away and create a real solution, and market that.

Cause marketing should be the new development trend within nonprofits to help them reinvent themselves and transform their services to better meet the needs and changes of the culture here and now.

Communication: Hospitality has one rule

Hospitality

Rule 1: Welcome, be welcoming and make an effort to put your guests’ needs and comfort a top priority.

This requires listening and paying attention to social and behavioral cues and body language. Prioritizing the needs and comfort of others is the grand basis of hospitality. Everything else is a variation and details surrounding the same theme. Obviously you cannot please everyone all of the time. What you can do is make an effort to care. I believe that hospitality is a value often forgotten or put aside to make room for other priorities, and I just wanted to provide a gentle reminder of its importance. Hospitality and graciousness is a trait that helps others measure your character–it is a direct reflection of who you are as a person. In relation to communications, remember to be welcoming and to have messages that prioritize the needs and comfort of others at the forefront. You will find that your public will take you up on your welcoming statements and sentiments and will want to be associated with your brand.

Having said this, this does not mean that being edgy, abrupt, snarky, sarcastic, etc. is not valid in good communication messaging. In fact, to several audiences, this is comfort and welcoming. The point is to know your public, know what they value and know what makes them comfortable. If you care about this, genuinely care, you will have your messaging on-point.

Happy communicating!

Thought of the day: Remain Open

Communication: Remain open. Open to receive new messages in new ways and to be openly responsive to the messages of others. Remain open to new ideas, especially if you find them challenging. Your first job is to actively listen. You can communicate back with far greater effectiveness when you first grasp then respond to the needs and messages of your audience. They will know you are communicating with them versus at them.

Communicate Vision: 7 Steps

If you want to stay ahead of the game, let your public know that your eye is on innovation and change. What is your vision? No, I am not speaking of a vision statement here–what you or your company would like the world to look like in some utopia. I’m talking about what you or your company is doing today to create change by being innovative. What do you and your public want? Make them understand that you not only both want the same things, but that you and your company are 100% committed to getting what you want, together. Here are some strategies to make that happen:

  1. Ask your public what they want. No, really. Ask them. Conduct focus groups, send out surveys, conduct social networking polls and discussions, get a buzz started and engage in conversations. Know your public well, develop relationships with them and find out exactly what they want. Hint: It may not be exactly what they say they want, but by knowing them you’ll learn things about them that will reveal a lot about their true vision to you. The purpose here is not just to get people to say what’s on their mind but to get them to say the things they don’t want to say, to tell you things they don’t know they know and to help you and your business reveal trends and needs that isn’t the most obvious. This can help you change a product or service in just the right way that you’re called genius, an innovator and intuitive. In fact, you will be,
  2. Listen. Yes, do listen to your public and also listen to your competitors, partners, colleagues, employees/staff, etc. Listen with a critical ear. Weed out the insults and compliments and hear solutions and opportunities for change. If you’ve always done things a certain way, don’t hesitate to examine if “that way” is really the best effective way now, today, responsive to current needs and goals. Listen to the people around you and welcome suggestions and resolutions. Discourage negativity that isn’t overwhelmingly overshadowed with solutions and forward-thinking.
  3. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Make those changes happen. Begin aligning your products and services to be responsive to what your public wants and needs. Make your vision and their vision not only a shared vision but a shared reality. Develop strategic plans, product plans and service delivery plans that answer the new vision you’ve discovered. Document how each change is responsive to the new vision and determine how you will measure this effectiveness.
  4. Pilot. If possible, try a pilot release, and measure its effectiveness against a control group of the old way of doing things. Use diverse demographics or contain it among a specific target market, but keep it manageable so that you can examine the modifications and determine if they truly are effective or if aspects can still be tweaked to increase effectiveness. If changes are needed, make them and measure again. The quicker you roll through this process, the stronger your business will be. Learning to be flexible is key here and will benefit any business in the long-run.
  5. Wide release. Let it go. Send your vision out to your public, and let them know that it is of them and for them. That while these changes are based on their feedback and ideas, you are still open to continued innovation and want to know more about their wants, needs and vision. That you are committed to being responsive to them for as long as you are in business.
  6. Communicate. Not market. Use platforms that will allow you to engage in two-way conversations. You can buy ads and organize publicity, but most important is customer service and interaction. Make certain that every human representing your company is on the same page, communicating the same messages and collecting information towards progressive change. Bring your clients and customers into your communications strategy, demonstrating that your method of communication is one-on-one. No matter how small or large your business is, you not only make time for your customers and clients, you are in business for your customers and clients and they know it.
  7. Do it. Communicate by doing. Make sure your messages and actions are mirror images of one another. Your public will pay more attention to what you do than what you say, but if you can avoid contradictions between the two, ultimately you will arrive at trust. Trust that your business and your public share the same vision. Trust is priceless.

eBooks: An Exciting Emerging Communications Tool & Profitable

iPad, Nook, Kindle and several other formats of eBooks are taking the publishing industry by storm and turning the tables for self-publishers. As most business people know, developing and sustaining profitable intellectual property/passive income is the single most important investment, I recommend creating eBooks. Here are some industries that can benefit off the top:

  1. Restaurants: develop and publish cook books to promote your restaurant and help brand its cuisine. Include historical notations of the restaurant or amusing/entertaining stories about its staff and guests. It can have lots of graphics or just a few to highlight the best your publication has to offer. Selling this will not only remind people to be excited about your food, but it will also broaden your market reach, helping to target tourists and media.
  2. Artists: Do you paint, sculpt, work with metal, wood, glass, beads or t-shirts… no matter your medium or how high-quality or grassroots, creating an eBook will greatly increase your exposure in your community and to new markets. From your brainstorming and creative process to the beginning stages and mistakes and mishaps to the grand creations, you can document whatever story you find compelling to tell your audiences. Lure them into the tale of your creations.
  3. Performing Arts: Do you dance, sing, act, perform spoken word? This medium is for you. Collect a photographic profile to portray your experiences and the process of creation. Tell a story about you and your art. If you don’t write, hire a ghost writer (like me)–many won’t charge as much as you might fear (like me), though some will. Use this to gain exposure and increase your brand for audiences and prospective patrons and directors.
  4. Nonprofits: Your role as a visionary professional is critical to your community. You change the landscape of your community by the services, advocacy and philanthropy you offer. Tell your story. Let your public know that you are often a silent and overlooked thread in the fiber holding their community together. Use this to help educate the community on your importance and to assist in cultivating donors and underwriters that see your value, perhaps from a very different perspective, perhaps for the very first time.
  5. Small Businesses: You are our community’s heroes! You are symbols of overcoming odds and surviving through tough times and succeeding through determination, creativity and hope. Your story is an inspiration! Tell it. Share it. Remind your public that you are here, serving them and need their patronage to stay alive.
  6. Bigger Businesses: Often you began as a small business or a great idea or invention that rose to the top. You dared to dream big and made that dream come true. You employ hundreds, even thousands of people and provide goods and services that consumers and other businesses or even our government counts on to live and thrive. Your story is about strength and dedication and growth. Remind your public that the seed of where you began has only made you larger not heartless. Tell your tale.
  7. Museums: You are of and for your community. Remind them. Remind your community about your history, what you have to offer, where you are headed. Remind your community that your doors are open wide to welcome them and their families. That there are no barriers regarding race, gender, creed, socio-economic status–you are here for all. Your story is critical to the prosperity and preservation of your community’s history, arts, dreams and innovations. What you truly curate is culture, and you are open to everyone.

You don’t need to do it alone. Hire a freelance writer, photographer, graphic artist and/or a consultant to assist. A consultant (like me) can coordinate all the talent and expertise you need to get your eBook developed, converted to the various digital formats needed and digital checkout through your website and on the purchasing lists of Kindle, Nook and iPad. Most often the full development and publishing process will cost between $900 – $3,000 from beginning to end. Are you interested? Feel free to contact me at Street Media: dts.streetmedia@gmail.com

Most Effective Communications Tools–List of 7

Below is a list of 7 of the most effective communications tools. If used in unison–together they will complement one another and bring value to your brand.

  1. Website: Store current information on your website. Websites are a static, usually non-interactive, resource for people seeking information. Therefore, it is critical to maintain useful, robust and up-to-date information on your website. The better and more useful the content, the more valuable your website.
  2. Blog: A blog does three important things: 1) It can help you build credibility in your field. Whether you are blogging on your own expertise, guest-blogging on another reputable site or inviting respected guest bloggers on your site, you are establishing yourself and your brand as leaders–experts on your topic.; 2) Search engine optimization (SEO)–drive traffic to your website and raise your website in search engine rankings by posting many links to your website throughout the Web. Whenever you blog on your blog site or guest blog somewhere, or encourage others to repost your blog, links to your website spread throughout the web increasing your SEO; 3) Serve as a platform for citizen journalism. Citizen journalism is an increasingly credible media source, when you/the public, formerly known as the media consumer, use the media-making tools at your disposal (such as blogs) to report news, that’s citizen journalism. Traditional media (print, broadcast, radio) is suffering with fewer staff and resources, making it more difficult to solicit news coverage. Citizens can help fill this gap by reporting on news themselves, providing coverage on critical topics the public needs to know to stay informed.
  3. Facebook: It’s where the eyeballs are. Engage, engage, engage! On Facebook you have a captive audience bundled with useful tools such as advertisements, “like” pages, groups, etc. The most powerful feature of Facebook is its ability to actively engage target audiences. Ask questions. Respond to answers. Develop contests and on-line activities. As for feedback. Respond to feedback. Show audiences exactly how their feedback was put to use and helped foster change. Also, reciprocate–like, friend, visit and comment on and participate on others’ Facebook pages. Spread the link to your website and blog around as a resource for people to help answer their questions and meet their needs.
  4. Media Relations: Build relationships with key media professionals. Get exposure to their work, know the topics they cover, their style and what they like. Contact them with leads that benefit your brand or your field or just leads that could benefit the media professional. Don’t be selfish. Submit press releases that are written in accordance with journalistic style (AP) to reduce editing time needed for print media. Submit polished video press releases to broadcast media professionals. Always be available to be a valuable resource to media pros. This will benefit both of you.
  5. Sales: Yes, the time-honored motto of “always be closing” is as true today as it has always been. Pitch and close. The craft of sales closes deals and takes proposals and ideas to the next level towards commitment, action and profits. Without proper sales, everything is just an idea or a creation. You need sales to translate this into profits.
  6. Visual & Multi-meda Materials: Let me SEE what you mean. Develop compelling, clean, impactful visual and multi-media materials. Keep words to a minimum (save that for blogs, reports and white papers). Keep visuals direct and simple. Use targeted focus groups to decide upon the most effective visuals or enhance/improve materials. Post this stuff everywhere: Slideshare, YouTube, Facebook, your blog, website, etc. Get it out through traditional means–traditional media, fliers, brochures, posters, etc. Show me!
  7. Public Speaking: So, data indicates that many people fear speaking in public more than death! If you are fortunate enough to NOT be one of those people, and even better if you have a particular flair in front of an audience with organized thoughts and a confident presence, rock on! You are already ahead of the wolfpack. Turn that into a communication strategy. develop trainings and presentations. Give away your magic tricks and gather a following, energize a tribe. You’ll close deals and build value for your brand. Also consider recording these presentations and developing webinars and video trainings, which you can post to your multi-media sites and host on-line trainings expanding your reach and reducing barriers to the content you offer.

One last tip: ALWAYS  use spellcheck and have your work proofread by someone who knows grammar and marketing-speak. This leads to credibility and how much trust and respect you will be able to build in your target markets.

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