Friday, October 22, 2010

New Idiom

Kill 2 zombies with one shotgun shell

Monday, August 30, 2010

New Advantages of Local Manufacturers

"A lot of businesses are trapped in the allure of offshoring, but my experience has been that there are more to the costs than what you are quoted," said Kevin Bailey, one of Bailey International's owners. "I think so often we are quoted cheap prices overseas and we don't realize there are hidden costs." The cost savings in countries like India and China have been shrinking because labor and transportation expenses there are on the increase. But there are other costs as well... Read on in The Seattle Times.

Seattle: Theo Chocolate Factory Tour
Originally uploaded by elisfanclub

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Your Website Has To Work On Smart Phones

If you browse the internet on a smart phone you already know the value of a mobile website or app. It is essential to make your site work on mobiles.  Check out the great research Neville Hobson put together on his post: Compelling Reasons To Mobilize Your Website.

You just can’t expect anyone with a screen this small to have any kind of pleasurable time on your website if what they get is a minute version of a standard web page with text looking so small that you can’t read it even with a magnifying glass. I bet a lot of people do what I do in such situations: leave... Read on at

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Your Customer Has a Burning Question -- Are You Answering It?

Your potential customer has a burning question about your product and service.   A question that only you -- or your competitor -- can answer.  Depending on how you answer it, you will either drive them to your business or away from it.

Here are the first steps to take to find out what the question is and how to answer it in such a way that customers are drawn into your business.

1. Find Out What The Question Is

Most businesses have the answers they want to give, or what they think the customer should ask.  But, you need to know what questions your customers are asking about your product and service.

  • What are the first three questions callers ask your representatives?
  • What are the top 20 questions potential customers ask?
  • What are the main objections to your product or service?

2. Find Out Why They Don't Ask the "Right" Question

When you talk to frontline staff -- whether they are sales representatives, receptionists, business developers, engineers, or principals -- about what frustrates them about their customers' questions, they will tell you:

  • "They just don't get it." 
  • "They aren't asking the right questions."
  • "They always ask the same stupid question."
  • "They aren't making the competition answer the right questions."

Those are exactly the areas that your customer needs attention and education.  If you can help them understand why they don't get it, and educate them on how to get it, you will be doing them a great service that leads to a great business relationship.

3. Answer the Question When They are Asking It

Although you have the information they need, are you giving it to them when they need it?  Or, or are you holding onto the answer until you are ready?  Many companies don't want to give any answer until they go through their process -- getting the customer's information, assigning a representative, meeting and evaluating the person, etc.

Remember, you are trying to answer their burning question -- it has to be a timely answer or the fire will be out.

Although getting accurate information from a customer is important before you give a detailed, technical, legal, or financial answer; you will not get to that point with them unless you give them something when they are ask their question.  They will either give up and move on -- or ask a competitor -- or they will continue with you but without a sense of trust -- and that is something you have to have.

  • Reconsider what information you can give freely without compromising good judgment or ethics.
  • The thing to focus on isn't what you can't tell them -- it's what you can tell them.
  • What are the questions I can answer without knowing their details?
  • What is the question I can answer now that will help them move to the next level of disclosure?

4. Be Where They Are When They Ask Their Burning Question

  • What might appear to you as someone playing with their laptop or smart phone during an important business meeting, just might be a potential customer trying to get their burning question answered -- so they can share it with their team and make a decision.  They are searching the internet to get an answer.  Do they find your answer?
  •  When a customer asks your office manager the same question she hears 20 times a day, is she giving the answer that educates and engages the customer, drawing them into going further with your company?
  • When a production engineer has a problem and digs out the brochure your representative gave her, does it answer her burning question or lead directly to the answer?
 The question has to be answered whenever and wherever it pops up.

Most companies I talk with are not only very good at what they do, they are also a wealth of information about their products, service, and industry.  Many love to talk about their business.  Why not share your information in a way that answers your customers questions and leads to more and better customers for you?

Just Like That
Originally uploaded by nateOne

Monday, July 26, 2010

What You Can Do Now For Startup Weekend Olympia

Startup Weekend Olympia is a sure thing.  Saint Martin's University in Lacey, Washington is the location.  Get on board, the train is moving.

Here's what you can do now:

 1. More info on Startup Weekend here.

2. Sign up to attend here.

3. Info on being a sponsor here.

4. Join Olympia Startup Weekend Google group

Friday, July 23, 2010

Five Marketing Changes You Have To Make Before the End of 2010 - To Get Ahead in 2011

If you keep doing what you've been doing, your competitors and customers will leave you behind in 2011.

In the last two years, you made the changes needed to ride out the downturn -- but so did your customers -- and many of your competitors.  Now, a new race is starting.

With the change comes new growth potential for the companies that quickly identify new opportunities and pounce on them.

Here are five new business realities and the questions to ask yourself about your marketing strategy to make sure you gain and retain customers -- and move ahead of your competitors in 2011.

1. Your Market Changed

Cash flow, labor availability, operations cost, and hundreds of other things have changed because of the transformation in the economy.  But, each change creates an opportunity.

For example, financing is tighter than in the past. And that opens a new marketing door for a company that, based on the current availability of financing for themselves and their customers, finds a way to meet their customers' needs.

Although there are some things you can't do anymore, conditions are now better than ever for some of your products and services.

"Based on the new economy, what new opportunities, customers, and markets are open to me?"

2. Your Competitors Changed

In the same way that the National Football League changes each season due to the trading decisions each team makes, the relative position of each of your competitors has changed.

Your competition has changed strategies, targets, sources, goals, territories, structure, financing, and personnel. 

"Because of what my competitors have done and not done --- what new opportunities have emerged that I didn't have before?"

3. Your Customers Changed

The last two years have changed the buying techniques of your customers.  They research more,  want feedback from other buyers, and expect personalized attention.  They want quick, direct, easily-available, accurate answers to their questions in order to determine the quality of your product or service.

In return, they can be more loyal than ever before and will even help you sell your product or service.  This is true for both consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) marketing.

"How can I help my customers to understand my business, products, and service in a way that helps them make a decision that benefits them (and my business)?"

4. Your Customers Wonder If You Changed

If your organization maintained marketing and advertising efforts over the last two years, you are perceived as being financially and strategically solid.  On the other hand, if your target customers have not seen you as much lately, you are perceived as questionable ("Are they still pursuing my business?"  Or even, "Are they still in business?")  And it's not just a question of perception.

Every organization benefits from the sense of familiarity, stability, connection, dependability, trustworthiness, community involvement, and long-term investment, whether from their target market or the public.

"What am I doing to help customers have confidence in my company and in what I can do for them?"

5. Your Company Really Has Changed

Your company reacted to the shifting economy and made changes that worked -- otherwise you wouldn't be reading this.

What did you change to get to this point?  Who is on your team now?  What new technology are you using that you did not have two years ago?  What new sources or resources did you switch to?  What new efficiencies and processes? 

With the new products, services, departments, people, or ideas you have, you can bring products or services to market that would not have been workable in the past.

"How can I develop and communicate my company's new potential?"


For example, consider a customer who, in the past, always bought from your competitor.  But, in the last two years, the competitor had to make some changes.  The competitor closed their local facility and route their calls to a regional office.  They are active online. Their new website makes interaction easy. Maybe they are not at the tradeshows like they used to be.  They offer the same things as before, but they changed sources so the quality is different.  They dropped some of their lines, targets, and representatives to be more efficient. When other businesses pushed into the market, they focused on the new competitors -- or maybe they ignored the new businesses and are focused on you.

Your competitor is not sure what you are going to do next.

Either way, your customer will research their options and make a decision based on what they know about you.

By acting now, 2011 will be your year of growth.

What new opportunities does my company have and what am I doing to pounce on them?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Five Internet Marketing Tools Every Attorney Must Use

If you set up these five internet tools, you will have completed the essentials of a social media presence on the internet.  

But without them, you are invisible to a large and growing population that will not pick up a phone directory or call a referral service to find you.

Here is why you have to be on the five.  They're...
  • Free (You don't need to pay or upgrade for them to work.)
  • Effective (They make your practice available to those who need legal services.)
  • Easy (All you need to get started is a photo of yourself -- the rest of the information you already know by heart or have it on your business card.)
  • Ethical (You can comply with bar advertising ethics just like you do in the rest of your practice.)
  • Personal (Each attorney in your firm can have their own profile.)
Here are the essential five with tips on setting them up.

LinkedIn Example for an Attorney
Time needed to set up profile: 30 minutes.
Maintain: Check and update every three months, or make it the hub of your online social world and spend 15 minutes a day on it.

This is the new standard business directory.  Simply open an account and set up your profile.

Notice that one of the categories in the example screenshot is  Specialties.  The lawyer did not label this, it is an unchangeable profile category in LinkedIn. To comply with ethics rules, you have to put in a note that says something such as,

Practice Areas (lawyers can't legally call them "specialties"): real estate, property, landlord/tenant, business... 

You can see this in the example screen shot.

Go to and begin.

2. Google Local Search
Time needed to set up profile: 30 minutes
Maintain: Check every couple months.

Google Local Example for Law Firm

If you haven't done this yet, do it right away -- it is the single best way to help those in need of legal services in your local area find you.

Go to Google maps and search for your firm or attorneys in your city (such as "attorney Tacoma")  Click on your business.  Click on edit.  You will see a question, "Is this your business?"  Click on it and claim your business by following the directions then fill in your profile.

As on the other sites, remember to list your "Areas of Practice," not "Specialties."

Go to Google Maps


Time needed to set up profile: 30 to 60 minutes.
Time to figure it out: a few days of playing with it.
Maintain: Daily to weekly depending on the involvement you want to have.

Facebook example for Law Office
Facebook is different from the other sites I have described -- it is not simply a listing or directory -- it is meant to be interactive and therefore will give back in proportion to what you put into it.

Will interacting on Facebook accidentally put you in an attorney-client relationship?  Attorneys tell me that they treat it the same way they treat any other conversation, phone call, email, or question from a neighbor -- they control what happens next, and either end the conversation or pursue it in person according to standard ethical guidelines.

If you are not already on Facebook, I recommend that you begin using it on a personal level.  Just set up an account, look for your friends and family already on it, and begin connecting with them with photos and comments.  I found that if you just get started, then your kids, friends, grandparents, and everyone else will find you and draw you in.

When you feel comfortable with it on a personal level, you have two choices on how to include your practice.

One way is keep using your main page.  You can set up categories (groups is the Facebook word for it) to separate the information you share with professional contacts from your family and friends.  Once you do this, you can add more professional information.  You will find that this alone will result in referrals from other professionals, schoolmates, etc.

The other choice is to set up an additional, separate page for your practice or firm (a fanpage.)  Although this sounds like a better way to keep things separate, it might not be right for you if you don't intend to maintain and interact on it.  If you don't use it regularly (and enjoy it) you will lose the public interaction that makes Facebook so useful.

In the example, Fox, Bowman, Duarte has a great mixture of friends, family, and professional people.  This is the direction you want to go in.  Being active on Facebook will help the public see you as a person while making yourself available in case they need your legal services.

Is it worth your time?  Facebook has over 500 million users.

Begin on

Example of lawyer search on Avvo
Time needed to set up profile: 20 minutes.
Maintain: Check twice a year.

One of the main online lawyer referral sites.  Just go to the site and click on the button in the top right corner "for lawyers."  Follow the directions, add your info and photo and you're done.

Set up your profile at

Example of lawyer search on Justia
Time needed to set up profile: 20 minutes.
Maintain: Check twice a year.
Another main online lawyer referral site.  Go to the top right and click on the button "get listed."

Get listed at

Done with the essentials?  Now you are ready to really get things going by creating your own blog.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogging Solution to "Post Was Not Saved Due To Form Errors"

Error message when trying to publish post or save post in Blogger:

In compose mode:
"Post was not saved due to form errors"

Or, if in Edit HTML mode:
"Your posting cannot be accepted: Tag is not allowed: META"

If you copied and pasted from an email or the web, the problem is the formatting built into it from a word processor that Blogger is not designed to handle.  Here is an easy solution that usually works.

An easy way to remove the special formatting is to copy and paste into Notepad first.  Then copy and paste from Notepad into your blog post.  Notepad creates a text that Blogger can easily deal with.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Startup Weekend Olympia


October 15 - 17
@ Saint Martin's University, Lacey, Washington

Have you ever thought, “Man, someone should … ?”  You know, those crazy brainstorms you have about starting a company that produces some sort of widget or a green and sustainable product, or maybe some cool idea popped in and you need a developer to program a website or iphone app.

Well, now’s your chance to bring all those wacky concepts to life! Startup Weekend Olympia’s theme is:  “Bring Your Ideas!”

It’s called Startup Weekend and it’s coming to the Olympia area October 15-17 at Saint Martin’s University.

Imagine something like 100 people coming together on Friday afternoon and out of those 100 people, 30 of them have an intriguing thought that won’t leave them alone... (Get the info and sign up as a participant or  a sponsor)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blue Collar Social Marketing

At the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce meeting this morning, I gave the example of a pool guy who does a phenomenal job with his social marketing.   Several people asked for more details.

Watch this video interview with the pool guy himself.

It's 28 minutes and  I guarantee you will be both ready and inspired to do it yourself after you watch it.

If you just want to see his blog, here it is: 

Stick Your Tongue Out
Originally uploaded by Adam NFK Smith

Friday, July 9, 2010

What's the Word for Wishing You Hadn't Asked a Store Clerk for Help?

Want to invent a new word?

I need a word to describe that feeling of  regret you get when you go into a store looking for something, ask the clerk for help, then realize, not only are they not going to help you find it, they are going to slow you down or try to prevent you from finding it yourself.  Got a noun or adjective for that?

Retail regret?   Storensnarement?  _____________

You have one?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Transparent Window Marketing

AG orders Tacoma window seller to be transparent in its marketing

The Washington Attorney General's Office continued its efforts to clear up alleged deceptive marketing practices among window sellers by reaching a settlement this week with Energy Exteriors of Tacoma.

The office has reached similar settlements with West Coast Vinyl, Harley Exteriors, Penguin Windows and Evans Glass in recent months.
The latest case accuses Energy Exteriors of ... Read on in the Business Examiner

Monday, July 5, 2010

Olympia Brewery's Future Is Up To You

Brewery may hit auction again

By: CHRISTIAN HILL; Staff writer

The former Olympia Brewery property might be put on the auction block for a second time.
The uncertainty surrounding the historic property’s ownership occurs as the city prepares to ask residents to help shape the future use of the property through a $90,000 “visioning” project.

Read more:

Pricing Your Monthly Service

$10 is the 'magic' digital-media figure

The digital-media business has a new mascot: Alexander Hamilton, the treasury secretary on the $10 bill.
Hamilton sorted out the nation's financial policies during its chaotic early days.

Entertainment companies are doing the same thing now that the digital revolution has happened — they're finding their footing and figuring out standard ways to make money. Their solution appears to be charging $10 a month for access to the most desirable content.

This crystallized last week when Hulu announced a $10 per month premium service. Hulu Plus offers full collections of current TV shows in high definition, making them available through some phones, game consoles and TVs with Internet connections... Read on in the Seattle Times

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Creative Logo Design Samples

Web Urbanist put together a collection of interesting logos that you have to see.  Check it out at  Hidden Logos: 12 Creative Designs with Secret Symbols.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Real Twilight Wallpaper For iPad and iPhone

A friend, and Twilight fan, from California asked me for "a real photo"  iPad screen saver of La Push on the Washington Coast.  This is as real as it gets.

La Push Twilight iPad Wallpaper

La Push Twilight iPhone Wallpaper

Countdown to First Day of Washington Summer

This has been right so often that I decided to stop being irritated and just go with it:  Our summer doesn't start in June -- it starts in early to mid July.

July 4th weekend can be clear and hot, or cloudy and cold.  But just wait another couple weeks and your chances for real summer weather go up higher than a cirrostratus making a jump shot.  So why not make it official?

This is the official countdown to the First Day of Washington Summer - July 12th.

The best part is our summer doesn't end in August.  It goes into September.

Planning an outdoor wedding, party, family reunion, trip to the ocean?  Before you do check the chart.  Check it out along with great explanations on why and how our northwest weather works at Cliff Mass's Weather Blog.  See his article on our summer weather. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cafe Dei Opening Tomorrow

Cafe Dei opens in Tacoma tomorrow and just in time.  This town needed a place near 6th and  Fife to get micro roasted coffee and Mighty-O donuts.

For more info on Cafe Dei see their facebook page.

Grow Your Business With the Help of Pierce County Library System

Want free help in growing your business, starting a business, or finding a job?  Pierce County Library System's Job + Business Center is available now.  Six locations open seven days a week are there for you.

Go to the Job + Business Center site.

See the press release.

Two Five Three Video Captures Tacoma

If you live or work in Tacoma, you have to see the video.  Fice captured the city.

You might not agree with the presentation, but this is a great example of taking what you believe in and making your case in a bold, passionate, creative way.  Although the Chamber of Commerce would have done it differently, I think it represents the city well and touches people on a personal level that is hard to do.

It's Fice's music. Erik Soderquist directed the video.

See more on Fice

Friday, June 25, 2010

Food cart drive gets rolling; will folks dine downtown? - Business - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington

Food cart drive gets rolling; will folks dine downtown? - Business - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington


For some Washingtonians, there is a perception that a 425r is living a different life than the rest of the state.  I heard someone in Olympia say, "Why can't a 425r just put on a hoody like everyone else when it rains?  Do you really need a 'waterproof yet breathable' $200 soft shell to go to the store?"

425r refers to someone from the 425 area code of Washington, an area code covering North and East of Seattle; stretching from Everett, through Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, and Maple Valley.

There is a marked income difference.  For example, the median household income for Tacoma is about $38,000, Shelton $32,000, Centralia $30,000.

Bellevue, a 425 city, is about $76,000.

For the breakdown, see the Washington State Office of Financial Management's summary of income by counties.

Flickr photo

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Should I Follow Everyone Who Follows Me On Twitter?

When you get that message that a new person is following you on Twitter, should you follow them (known as follow back) out of politeness or good protocol?  Why wouldn't someone follow back?   To answer the question, Meryl Evans did something really smart - she asked experienced Twitterers.

Wondering why people don’t follow you back? I asked some Twitterers their reasons. Perhaps you’re breaking one of these Twitter commandments.

Thou Hast a Bad Profile
avidwriter: I don’t follow back people who are following 300+ people with no bio, URL or haven’t bothered to post a tweet.
debworks: No face picture, no real name, not following anyone.
overthinker: I won’t follow people without bios.
adenin: I tend not to follow people with a lopsided following/followers/updates ratio.

 Read on at Web Worker Daily for another 20 reasons.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Free Youth

Ad for free lunch program outreach in Washington (on website and Twitter):

"Youth free lunch program."

Which is it?

"Youth free" means there are no youth at lunch (common in senior centers but not school lunchrooms.)

"Free youth lunch program" means free lunches for youth.

See my NW Word Hub for more on words.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Green Marketing Idea

Looking for more ways to buy locally? Being green just got a little bit easier, thanks to Sound Trading Co., Seattle's first online eco-store and gift registry. Every item and service sold on their website is locally made, locally transported and created using the "best practices for a healthy world.

Co-founders Lilah Steece and Harrison Neel got the idea for Sound Trading Co. during one very wedding-heavy summer when they realized that friends had few alternatives to registering with chain stores for mass-produced items that were usually shipped from far away. Sound Trading Co. was conceived as a way to give residents of the Puget Sound area easy access to locally made, environmentally conscious products and services from area artists, businesses and nonprofits.

Customers can set up wedding and baby registries through the Sound Trading Co. website, or simply buy individual gifts and services for specific occasions.  Read on in NWsource.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Advertising To End Exploitation

Three groups of Catholic sisters in Tacoma are launching an ad campaign this week to raise local awareness about the global problem of human trafficking.

The ads start appearing on Pierce Transit buses today in Pierce County. They offer help through a website and a national hot line.

With the campaign, sisters from three religious communities are speaking out against forced sexual exploitation of women, children and men through prostitution, said Sister Sharon Casey, president of the Dominican Sisters of Tacoma.

“It’s another form of human slavery,” she said.

The $3,850 ad campaign is just one local effort to counter human trafficking...
Read more:

Appeal to Your Customer's Desires

You might not be in retail, but this is a great visual example of simple, effective selling.

1. Make  your appeal.
2. Answer objections.
3. Make it easy to complete the transaction.

Besides all that, it answers a question for people using an EBT card (a card issued by the state to buy food items.)

By the way, candy is now taxed in Washington State. Read up on what is and what isn't taxed in the Kitsap Sun.

Friday, June 18, 2010

How To Pronounce Puyallup

 There are hundreds of ways to say it wrong and there are Washington residents who avoid using it in a sentence. But you can pronounce Puyallup like a native. Here's the way to get it right and remember it forever.

Just say allup

(as in GALLOP)

but before you do,

Say Puy (as in FEW.)

Dia del nino at the Puyallup Public Library
Originally uploaded by quinn.anya

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tacoma Photography

Taking great photos of your own backyard is a real gift.  Chris Anderson is more than an amazing photographer -- she has a way of capturing our region in her photos. This one of Tacoma's Glass Museum is beautiful.

See her other photos on flickr.

Make Yourself Useful On LinkedIn

Want to help other business people and increase your reputation at the same time?  Use your expertise, experience, and judgment to answer questions on LinkedIn.  If you are marketing to businesses (b2b) this is an excellent way to connect with your customers and potential customers.  Here is a great article by Jason Falls on how to do it.  (It also has a cool phrase I hadn't heard before: "it's not rocket surgery.")

Step One
Find a category of LinkedIn Answers you have a degree of expertise in. A screen shot of the Answers page for Internet Marketing is below. At the bottom of the right column of the page you should see the orange RSS feed button. Click that to subscribe to the feed via email or  your favorite feed reader. Repeat the process for any number of other topics that make sense for your business.  Read On  at Social Media Explorer: How To Make LinkedIn Answers Part Of Your Routine.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Startup Weekend in Olympia

Olympia, Washington is an underground center for green, responsible, CREATIVE, technology. It's time to bring it above ground.  Are you interested in attending a startup weekend in Olympia?

On the couch, a tiny dog buries his head into a blanket and shuts its eyes.
"Spanky's the only one who got to sleep," Martin says.

This group of nine entrepreneur hopefuls started less than two days ago with just an idea: an online planning and finance tool for small businesses called ProphetMargin. Now they have the website design, a business plan and a working database. And by the end of the evening, they'll have a formal mentor and a meeting planned with investors.  Read on in The Olympian.

Guerrilla Marketing or Ambush Marketing?

Great guerrilla marketing idea with just one problem -- FIFA and South Africa have rules against this marketing strategy.

They consider it ambush marketing.  The reason is that they don't want companies that have not payed for sponsorships to get free advertising.  The Olympics and other sporting events have similar rules.  In this case, South African law applies:  " the Contravention of Merchandise Marks Act."
FIFA ejected 36 female Netherlands fans from their World Cup match with Denmark for wearing an orange mini-dress designed by a beer company.
The dresses were made by Bavaria beer and despite the outfits containing no branding, the organizers said it was against their rules on "ambush marketing".  Read on at Yahoo! World of Sport.

Tacoma Filmmaking

We love to see Tacoma creating films from scratch.

Local filmmakers Isaac Olsen and Kurt Kendall will roll out their independent feature noir film “Quiet Shoes” at the Rialto this Saturday. Filmed on a shoestring budget in and around T-town, “Quiet Shoes” features local talent including members of Tacoma band Girl Trouble, and combines noir with wacky comedy.

Read on in the Tacoma News Tribune.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Are Clients Rationally Irrational?

Are your customers' decisions based on rational or irrational thinking? Hear some surprising answers in NPR's interview with Dan Ariely.

Hear it now on NPR site (7 minutes)
Robert Siegel talks to behavioral economist Dan Ariely about his new book, The Upside of Irrationality. The book is a follow-up to his New York Times best-seller, Predictably Irrational, in which Ariely examined a number of biases that lead all of us to make unwise decisions. This time, Ariely explores the flipside to irrationality and how it helps us achieve great things...
Photo:by Wonderlane
See info

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Branding Your Business Videos

Tight branding is not just a good thing to do or a theoretical marketing concept -- branding is at the core of every good business and business idea.

To challenge your thinking on branding a new product, start with this short show.  With a panel of consultants (an advertising agency, a PR representative, two marketing managers, and Taser's founder) Donny Deutsch of The Big Idea will give you plenty to consider.

It was recorded a couple years ago,  but is now available online.

Watch segments on CNBC's blog (1-3 minutes) or for you Comcast customers, watch the whole show on your Fancast TV (45 minutes.)

Already saw the show? See how the featured business, Bug Labs, is doing since the show was recorded at their blog.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Find a Way to Make Your Product Good to Make Your Marketing Easy

Klee will be trying to capture the genes in fruit like 
red currants.To make your marketing effective, you have to answer this question about your product: Does it appear to be good or is it really good?  Here is an inspiring example from the growers world.
The pressure for high-yield plants is responsible for the dismal taste of the supermarket tomato. Harry Klee, a plant biologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, says it's a simple matter of economics. 
"The grower is paid for size and yield — and flavor is irrelevant, unfortunately," Klee says.
In fact, the yield is so great for some tomato varieties that the plant can't keep up. Because the plants have been bred to produce so many fruits, they can't produce enough sugars and other nutrients.
"And so what happens is you start to dilute out all of the good flavor compounds, and you get a fruit that you bite into it and it largely tastes like water," Klee says. "Because that's mostly what it is."
Satisfying Growers And Aficionados

But Klee thinks there's a way to improve the taste, without sacrificing yield ... (Read or listen to the story on NPR's Morning News site.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why a Marketing Manager Uses an Outside Marketing Firm

 Most of the marketing managers I call on say they don't know if they need a marketing firm's help, after all, their job description says they should do it themselves.

They are surprised to learn that most of my clients are marketing managers.

So, why does a good, professional, experienced marketing manager use an outside marketing firm? Here is what they say.

1. Strategizing

 A solid marketing strategy is at the core of every good company, and yet many companies, do not have an up-to-date, comprehensive, written strategy.

And for good reason; finding the time to work on the big picture, overcoming internal resistance, and getting agreement throughout the organization are common roadblocks. But it has to be created and maintained.

The first thing a good marketing firm will do is help you develop a strategy. Not only will a good strategy guarantee your marketing success, it will also get your company working with you.

2. Time management

By definition the company's marketing director is a manager, meaning they manage people and resources to get things done. Yet, many marketing directors try to do everything themselves. It doesn't work any better in marketing than other fields.

For example, when a company hires a maintenance manager who began her career as an electrician, they expect her to know how to manage the technology, trades, vendor relations, budgeting, and personnel issues; but they don't want her spending time pulling wires or changing light bulbs. Marketing managers turn to marketing firms to get things done.

3. The perspective of an outsider

Sometimes, a company's marketing manager knows their company, market, and industry too well. It is easy to assume that the public understands your company as well as you do. A lot of companies don't base their marketing efforts on the latest information and techniques, but on the company's history; or what its owner, executives, or sales department believe.

I see companies that have huge potential and don't realize it; or they don't know how to act on it. They need someone from the outside to help them see and tell their story.

4. Launching
Making a lot of things happen in a short time is the secret to launching a new product. A big, intense, time-consuming push is needed for product launches, service introductions, new outreaches, and events. By nature, an in-house marketing department is staffed to be consistently productive all year-round, not for big pushes.

The expandable resources of a marketing firm can support the marketing manager through these critical times.

5. Expertise

No one can have the latest training, sharpened skills, recent experience, constant practice, leading software, and best equipment needed to cover every area. Companies place advertising, marketing, public relations, trade shows, literature, coordinating with sales and production, websites, SEO, brochures, social, media relations, and communications on the shoulders of a marketing director.

The best marketing managers don't do it all themselves. Instead, a good marketing manager does what every good manager does -- they get things done through the best people available.

6. Outsource management

 There is a limit to how many people and projects a good manager can effectively manage. Yet many marketing managers try to direct-manage more than their limit. Each web developer, writer, researcher, photographer, printer, and graphic artist needs to be managed.

A marketing firm can take the responsibility for managing a project, including supervising people, solving problems, meeting deadlines, and fulfilling expectations. This allows the marketing manager to actually do their job of managing marketing.

7. Market exposure

It is easy to assume that a manager of a company has the best understanding of the business and industry they are in. But it is not a complete understanding. Being on the outside gives a marketing company access to information and experience with competitors, vendors, related and unrelated industries, that completes the picture.

For example, my banker has given me insights into my business that surprised me. Not confidential information, just a perspective and experience that I didn't have access to in my position. A marketing firm, with its broad experience and contacts, can help guide you into the top position in your market.

8. The expert advantage

Getting a company to act on the marketing manager's plans sometimes takes an outside expert making the case to owners or executives. The greater the change required and the investment costs, the greater the need for outside involvement.

In several situations, my contact asked me to present to their company because they needed that outside push to get approval and buy-in.

9. Teamwork

Combining the expertise of an in-house marketing manager with an outside marketing firm can accomplish more than either could do on their own. Marketing works best as a collaboration -- a team effort produces amazing results.

Clients often say that our strategizing sessions with them were the most productive, helpful, and motivating time they have spent on their marketing plans.

10. Researching

Finding and analyzing information can produce new insights, reveal market opportunities, and keep you ahead of the competition -- but it takes time -- which most marketing managers don't have.

Marketing managers use the resources of a marketing firm to find, analyze, and apply information for them.

11. Results

A marketing manager responsible for their budget does not usually have the luxury of experimenting with their company's time and money. They need the latest techniques that work.

A marketing firm applies its experience gathered from working with other companies and projects to create success.

12. Budget

Although costs are often thought of first in making a decision on whether to use in-house or outside marketing resources, true costs are actually dependent on the other factors I have mentioned.

What the marketing manager decides to do makes the difference in whether a company just continues as is, or takes the opportunity to differentiate itself, create demand, drive leads, pull away from the competition, and fulfill its potential.

Do Amazing Things

As a marketing manager, you can do unique and amazing things for your company. You could generate more leads than the company thought possible. Or, turn a product into a household word. Or, make a service so valuable that your customers will pay whatever you charge to have it.

Whether your title is marketing manager, marketing director, vice president of marketing, marketing coordinator, business development manager, regional manager, sales and marketing manager, or owner; if you are the point person in your organization for marketing, it is worth considering these factors before making a decision on your marketing plans.  

A marketing manager and marketing firm working as a team to develop a solid marketing strategy can make you and your company successful.

Photo:by Turoczy
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