Pain Points: Where Does Your Customer’s Customer/Client Hurt?

A classic in marketing is to identify your customer’s pain points and then recommend solutions.  You ask them what is keeping them up at night.

For example, you supply antique dolls to your customer’s upscale gift store.  During the last two quarters, doll sales have been down about 35%.  Ouch, that hurts, both the customer and you.  One solution is for the customer to begin an ecommerce doll business.  You provide all the vendor information needed to make that happen.  Within two more quarters, sales could surge, thanks to the online sales.

But you can also take that classic approach one step further.  You can help your customers identify the pain points for their own customers/clients.  That can even be done if the customer’s business is doing well.  The insight could increase sales futher, generate new lines of business, and deepen their relationship with customers/clients.

For example, you help your gift-shop customer shift from simply selling to developing a digital community with customers/clients. Incentives such as discounts, contests, background information, and entertainment can encourage them to join in.  From their conversations with the owner as well as among themselves pain points could become obvious.   Another means of diagnosis would be hosting a special event such as a doll show or a lecture by a doll expert.  Those attending would be rewarded for revealing their wish list, disappointments with getting and giving gifts, and what price points go beyond their budgets.

Often your customers are so preoccupied with the painful matter of declines in their own revenues or the current surge in business that they don’t focus on how their own customers/clients may be hurting.  When you help them do that you can significantly help your own business.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation for marketing, public relations, partnerships, special events, and social media, 203-404-4868.

Crisis Means Opportunity for Public Service, Advises Image Marketing Consultants

A crisis such as Sandy provides the unique opportunity to serve others.  For example, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL has made its digital edition WSJ.COM free for the day.  That allows those who do not have or cannot afford a subscription to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL to have access to the information and perspective they need to take the next steps in operating their organizations post-Sandy.

Public service or outreach to the community is expected when our fellow human beings are suffering.  That we were able to help and how we did that become embedded in the collective community consciousness.  But more importantly we feel a sense of belonging among the men, women, and children with who we do business.

As the conventional wisdom goes, it’s an ill wind which blows no good.  Human beings come together in crisis.

Here at Image Marketing Consultants, our thoughts are with all those whose lives have been disrupted by Sandy.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on marketing, partnerships, public relations, special events, and social media, 203-404-4868.

The Nanny: When an Issue Impacts Your Organization

The horrific news of a nanny who allegedly murdered two children has gripped the nation.  Organizations associated with parenting now have a new issue parked on their doorstep.  That issue is this:  Should parents entrust the rearing of their children to The Nanny?   Parent bulletin boards are buzzing about this controversy.

The good news for you is that, unlike the media, you do not have to come up with an instant response – or any at all.  When clients or customers approach you about the matter, you have a number of options.  You can turn the question back to them and ask what they think.  In many cases people want just that: An invitation to air their views.  You can also indicate that you need more time to consider the issue.

After you have reflected, you could create and publish an opinion-editorial in the local newspaper and post your point of view on your blog, Facebook, and twitter account.  You would invite the community to join in the conversation.

In addition, you can leverage this as an opportunity for a special event and sponsor a panel to discuss it. That could be a public service. The media are likely to cover it.  You could also conduct a survey of public opinion.  For that you might establish a partnership with a School of Social Work or a Sociology Department at a University.

Controversy, especially one such as this which involves children, can seem scary.  However, it does present the forum to participate in an issue which counts a great deal to your customers and clients.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on Marketing, Partnerships, Public Relations, Special Events, and Social Media, 203-404-4868.


Your Marketing Didn’t Work – Now What?

Organizations often come to Image Marketing Consultants after their marketing program didn’t work.  They have lost money and time.  Also their confidence has taken a hit.  We understand their pain and confusion. However, that failure just as often can become the platform for building big success.

Author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” Robert T. Kiyosaki emphasizes the power of making mistakes to open people up to fresh ways of thinking and doing.  His “Rich Dad” would continually tell him, “The reason so many smart and well-educated people do not achieve great wealth is because in school they were taught that mistakes were bad.”  In real life, though, mistakes are necessary to learning.

The trick is to be able to not run from the mistake but do an “autopsy” on it about what went wrong and why.  The usual factors underlying failure include bad timing, complexity, not understanding the customer, inadequate resources, targeting inappropriate segments, attempting too much, stale idea, and/or lack of attractive incentives.

The good news is that kind of mistake is usually never made again.  Back in the 1980s, Coca-Cola launched New Coke.  There has never been another New Coke.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation for your marketing, partnerships, public relations, special events, and social media, 203-404-4868.

Celebrity Spokespeople: Insight from Image Marketing Consultants

Celebrity spokespeople such as Lance Armstrong can lose their hero status.  Advertisers such as Nike then race to drop them.   However, that does not mean that the marketing mix will no longer include a celebrity presence.

Sure, there is a risk that the sports icon or film star will become involved in a scandal.  However, their instant ability to draw attention to a brand, product, service, or cause is too powerful to overlook.

It was artist Andy Warhol who connected the dots. Warhol saw that society had come to frame experience in terms of familiar images such as Jackie Kennedy.  Marketers took it from there. They recognized that even hinting at one of those familiar images in their promotions would get the right kinds of attention.

No, celebrity spokespeople are not going away.  Instead marketers likely will construct campaigns in which there are also other props such as fictional characters, contests, special events, and partnerships.  That “hedges” their promotional investments in case the celebrity falls from grace.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you for a complimentary consultation for Marketing, Partnerships, Public Relations, Special Events, and Social Media, 203-404-4868.

Getting Lucky: 3 tips from Image Marketing Consultants

 Opportunity is in the air as the economy moves from The Great Recession to recovery.  You can feel it, smell it, and practically taste it.

So, how can you ensure you will be able to maximize this potential for your business?  We at Image Marketing Consultants call that “Making your own luck.”  Here are 3 tips on making yourself very successful as you shift from hard times to post recession.

Amateurs copy, geniuses steal.  The late Steve Jobs saw the potential in Xerox’s graphical interface operating system.  Xerox did not, at least not to the point of scaling it up for widespread distribution.  Jobs, very legally, took the best of those features and incorporated them in the Mac.  The rest is history.  Survey what’s out there that you can make part of your own enterprise.  The number-one mistake in leadership is priding oneself on total innovation.

Timing is everything. Your business can’t be ahead of the times.  And it can’t lag trends.  Put your finger on the pulse of the marketplace, then make your moves.  All the world is watching new head of Yahoo Marissa Mayer to see if she is in tune with consumer demand.

Failure is a teacher, not a setback. Companies not failing are not taking enough risks.  The trick is to reverse engineer what doesn’t work for the lessons it contains.  Remember most things don’t pan out.

Luck comes to those who are alert to what’s going down in the external world and who know their businesses well enough to align them with developments.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to complimentary consultations for marketing, public relations, partnerships, special events, and social media, 203-404-4868.

Recovery: 3 Tips on Transition Marketing from Image Marketing Consultants

It’s not exactly morning in America when it comes to the economy.  But there are clear signs of recovery.

Today, for instance, the Labor Department reports a 30,000 drop last week in filings for unemployment.  The challenge for organizations in marketing and fundraising is to pace their initiatives during this period of transition.  Here are 3 tips from Image Marketing Consultants.

Listen to the marketplace. There are no set formulas any more about price points, how to add value, and when to phase out of an unprofitable account.  Therefore, this is the time to become re-acquainted with the dynamics of the market segments you focus on.  Tools for that range from simply getting conversations going to having a brief low-cost survey.

Take inventory of your successes and failures. Most of you learned a lot and quickly during hard times.  Now it’s time to analyze the lessons and figure out how to apply them to your changing situation.  The sad reality is that too many of you choose to close the door on mistakes made and waste what can be derived from that brutal experience.

Experiment.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  There’s plenty of wisdom in that convential thinking.  Unless you try out fresh strategies and tactics you will never know which could be game-changers in your organization.  Figure out the level of risk you are comfortable with and then make the commmitment to experiment with a few ideas.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation about your marketing, partnerships, public relations, special events, and social media, 203-404-4868,

Op-Eds: Yours Can Mean Business, Explains Image Marketing Consultants

Opinion-editorials (op-eds) are a standard way organizations, private sector and nonprofits,  inform the public about issues.  That’s done as a service to society.

For example, a family restaurant presents research about what kinds of dinner conversations develop children’s confidence and public speaking skills.  However, this exposure in the media can simultaneously enhance the restaurant’s brandname, bring in new business, and confirm in the minds of the regulars that they have selected the right place to dine.

At one time, op-eds, which are really commentaries, were only published in mainstream media.  Those include local and national newspapers and magazines, public service announcements on radio and television, and trade publications.  To get that placement, back then you had to pitch to the editor or producer that the topic and point of view are something the public needs to know about.  The same thing applies now, only that there is more competition to be heard.

That means that your pitch must be custom-made to stand out from all the others approaching particular editors and producers.  And that must be done on an exclusive basis.  Ask that media property to get back to you in 10 days so that you can then try somewhere else.  If rejected, then finetune the pitch for another member of the media.  Some media outlets want to see the completed op-ed, not the pitch.  Find that out.  Often the media provides submission guidelines or contact them about preferences.

The good news today is this: Because of social media, you can also publish them on your own blogs, online videos for YouTube, and as a guest commentary on others’ blogs.  Yes, you can do both.  You can have your point of view on safe driving for teenagers published in THE HARTFORD COURANT and on your own and others’ sites.  But each has to have a different angle.

The challenge is to attract readers or viewers and have them share the op-eds with others.  Here are 5  tips from Image Marketing Consultants on how to make your commentary “sticky”

Be topical.  Tie in your op-ed on safe streets with a holiday like Halloween.

Have a provocative headline, first sentence, and first paragraph.  This provides incentive to busy readers and viewers to check out the commentary.

Present in the public interest.   Frame everything to be useful to the public, not to promote your organization.

Include enough information.  From all your data and arguments select out the most persuasive.  Too much will overwhelm.

Create new value.  This might take the form of a survey you have done that has surprising results.  To do that survey you might partner with a business school or professional services firm which would welcome publicity.

Once your op-ed is published or is broadcasted, repurpose or recycle it for pitching to other media for interviews, emailing to prospects and clients/customers, embedding in your media center on your website, posting on your Facebook page, and creating a shortened URL for tweets.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on Media Relations, Marketing, Partnerships, Special Events, and Social Media, 203-404-4868.


Inspired! – That’s the only way your communications can be, hammers Image Marketing Consultants

As the presidential debate referee Jim Lehrer, reports influential NEW YORK Magazine, delivered a performance which was not “inspired.”  In this media era, with so much brilliant content competing for attention, no one can afford to put themselves out there as “uninspired.”  That lack of an investment of thought, energy, and emotion has become a crime against the human attention span.

So, how can you ensure your communications will be inspired?  Here are 3 tips from Image Marketing Consultants.

Slow down. In 2009, executive coach Marc Lesser wrote a breakthrough book “Less:  Accomplishing More by Doing Less.”  He presented compelling evidence that when people and organizations stop trying to be so speedy they produce higher quality work that gets superior results.   Focus on just a few things you know you can do well.

Listen. If you open yourself up to what’s happening in your business and outside in the marketplace, you will get an earful.  The world is constantly telling you what you need to hear.  The challenge is being willing to take in that data, negative as well as positive.

Edit.  The most effective communications, such as from Apple, result from continually tossing material which doesn’t seem on the money.  What turns out to be final will probably contain very little of the first few drafts.

Inspired communications start with you.  You have to let the organization know that you will not tolerate anything less.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you for a complimentary consultation in Marketing, including Advertising, Partnerships, Public Relations, Special Events, and Social Media, 203-404-4868.

Measuring Success: Look beyond internal metrics, hammers Image Marketing Consultants

In a disruptive era we have to be measuring how our organizations are doing in a lot of different ways.  The traditional “vital signs” about sales and profits are no longer enough.  We have to develop fresh metrics derived from what the other players are up to, right now.

Even established companies like Kraft, which Blooomberg Business Week reports, had a 4% boost in sales, has to look beyond itself.  Today after its North America Grocery split off from its snack division it is listed as a separate company.  In that space it has to anticipate the myriad moves which the competition will make.  The fundamental of game theory is not to make decisions in isolation but only in reference to what other players are doing or might do.  The resilient chief executive officer of News Corp Rupert Murdoch studied game theory when he was at Oxford.

Here are 3 tips from Image Marketing Consultants on how to review your performance:

Listen.  The marketplace will  let you know in detail what’s okay and not okay.  Use your special events, social networking sites, and surveys to be your ear-extenders.

Form partnerships.  Together you have  more insight on what metrics count and which have become irrelevant.

Hire employees and consultants who aren’t a hand-and-glove fit with your organizational culture.  Then ask them daily how they rate your strategies and tactics.

In his management classic “How The Mighty Fall,” Jim Collins cites smugness born of success as the reason why an enterprise begins to decline.  Prevent that by developing multiple perspectives for tracking success.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for marketing, partnerships, public relations, special events, and social media, 203-404-4868.