Holiday Marketing: Thinking Outside the Usual Box

Black Friday is a week from today.  That means businesses will be competing aggressively for sales.

One of them – Toys R Us – has come up with an outside the usual box tactic for getting shoppers’ attention.  That’s having children anchor its TRU News Network to describe the hot toys of the season.  That simulated news is being run on television as commercials as well as through social media such as Facebook.  The target audience is anyone who needs to know what kids really want as that special gift.  They will get that information straight from the kids themselves.

The genius of the tactic is that it turns expectations upside down.  The good news is that it doesn’t take rocket science to come up with your own out of the box approach.

That can be as simple as playing with traditional colors.  Instead of green holiday trees for your business, you have black ones decorated with white ornaments.  Another could be a public interest message not to overspend.  The Federal Reserve reports that the average credit card debt for households is $7,150.  That could attract more than just shoppers.  The media could show up.  There are endless possibilities for special events such as Santa Claus or Mrs. Claus working out with a personal trainer at your spa.  In addition, you can always run a contest for the worst kind of promotion for the holiday season.

Marketing need not be expensive.  A good contrarian idea well executed could cost you pennies per acquisition of new customers or more purchased by current ones.

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

 

Email: No, No Need To Bury Your Personality, Advises Image Marketing Consultants

Many leaders in organizations, both nonprofit and private sector, are staring at the emails on their laptops and wondering what tone they should use to respond.  Yes, they are fearful.

The electronic paper trails retrieved by the government powers that be from various computers associated with the military have alerted professionals to how easy it is for emails to be misinterpreted.  Even the amount of them, such as the 20,000 to 30,000 pages from Commander John Allen to unpaid military liaison Jill Kelley, can be viewed in a negative light.  The public reading about this in the media wonder why a leader was spending so much time digitally chatting instead of fighting a war.

The reality is that in 2012 digital communications are the preferred way of conducting our transactions.  All generations, not only Millennials, are choosing typing over talking on the phone.  It’s a must-do to have those emails differentiate each nonprofit and each business from all the rest of the entities seeking attention out there.  That means that they have to contain the organization’s unique personality or brand.  No, they cannot be devoid of a clear identity.  The Red Cross has a distinct image which differs from that of the Salvation Army and Goodwill.  Facebook will never be mistaken for Google or Microsoft.

Yes, caution is always needed in professional communications.  But trying to play it “too safe” is likely to alienate donors, prospects, customers and clients.  They need to know who you are as a professional entity.  That is the beginning of trust.

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

Partnership: You may have more to offer than you think, says Image Marketing Consultants

“Our new restaurant would be able to get a nice bounce in publicity and foot traffic if we were able to partner with the wildly popular arts theatre down the block.  But at this point I don’t think we have enough of anything to attract them to even consider an alliance with us.”

Not so fast.  That’s what Image Marketing Consultants advises small businesses and nonprofits which rule themselves out for partnerships.  Most organizations can find within themselves or create what could be incentives for others to join with them in promotion, adding resources, providing distribution channels, bringing celebrity power, and/or fundraising.  The trick is to figure out what you have or what you can make available that others may find useful.

For example, the new restaurant can distribute promotions for what’s playing through the menus, provide a small space for coffee when patrons are trying to kill time before the movie, name the special of the week associated with what’s showing,  mount an arty poster advertising the theatre on the wall, and give discounts with the ticket stub for after-movie dining.

As the economic recovery gets traction, organizations can dig for ways that they can accomplish their goals through the right partnerships.

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

 

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 kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 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 kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 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 kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 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 kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 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 kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 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 kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 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 kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868,