“Downton Abbey” – Image Marketing Consultants Advises on Marketing/PR Opportunity

“Downton Abbey” returns to PBS on January 6th.  Americans have fallen in love with this idealized version of the past, ranging from formal dining every evening to cooperative arrangements between the employer and employees.

Clients and prospects ask us at Image Marketing Consultants how they can leverage this amazing bit of pop culture for marketing and public relations.  Well, there are infinite possibilities to capture the good spirit and style of the series and use those to bond with customers and prospects, get the attention of media, and produce engaging material for your own social media.

For example, eating establishments can christen a certain dish or snack after a character in “Downton Abbey.”  A fine chocolate or elegant dessert could be listed as “Mary’s delight.”  In addition, there can be an evening a week designated for serving all the courses the family at the Abbey traditionally eats.  Formal attire required. Invite the media to sample the sweet fare and settle in to an old-fashioned dining experience.  Owners can also promote this special event through their social media.  Have members of staff live blog and tweet, video tape, and take photos. Some of those can be takeaways for guests.

Another approach is to partner with one or more other businesses and nonprofits for a contest to depict in print, digital, video or audio the specialness of “Downton Abbey.”  Through this kind of alliance the prizes can be significant and the media could be attracted to the story. There are also fun ways to play with this meme on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Google+.

A third suggestion is to declare a “Downton Abbey” day or retreat in the workplace in which management and labor try fresh ways of becoming an authentic team.  That could include guest speakers, panels, and role playing.  Your communications department can generate plenty of internal coverage on this experiment.

Every so often, a bit of pop culture embeds itself into the national consciousness.  That won’t be forever.  Yes, it’s a use it or lose it.

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.

 

 

Holidays 2012: Use the pause to think, advises Image Marketing Consultants

A client told us at Image Marketing Consultants, “Things slow down during the holidays.”  He said it, with an undertow of apology.

After all, the American brand of capitalism is to be always doing, always on the go.  Because of that, too many leaders of organizations don’t approach so-called “slow times” as opportunities to think about emerging opportunities and threats and how to deal with them.

There is an often-repeated anecdote about Bill Gates, current global philanthropist and founder of Microsoft. His mother called down to him when he was in the basement and asked him what he was doing.  He answered, “Thinking.”  She didn’t understand why he would be doing that.  He and his mother had a difficult relationship.

Thinking is not a trait encouraged when we are young, at least not in America.  Yet, it’s frequently exactly what successful people do and a lot of it.  The late Steve Jobs was always connecting the dots in his head, in new ways.  Hillary and Bill Clinton have been able to “think” their way out of crisis.  When he was studying at Oxford, News Corp head Rupert Murdoch learned game theory, that is to plan his moves in context of what he thought his opponents would do.  President Barack Obama, TIME Person of the Year, is sometimes criticized for being in his head so much but, despite the economic problems of his first term, he won a second one.

We at Image Marketing Consultants hope that you will take the time during the next few weeks to reflect on how you could make your organizations more successful.

We invite you to a complimentary consultation about your marketing, partnerships, public relations, special events, and social media.  Please contact Kate Sirignano kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Small Business Can Thrive Amidst Big Boxes, Reassures Image Marketing Consultants

Small businesses tend to tremble when they hear the rumor that a big box is moving into their neighborhood. They fear that big box will crush them.

Image Marketing Consultants is not the only one reassuring you that you can survive.  In THE HAMDEN JOURNAL, Christopher LaTorraca wrote the cover story “Local Retailers Compete Against the Box Stores.”

In it LaTorraca explains that the little guy has been thriving by making business personal.  That is, they go the distance in customer service.  That includes knowing their customers so well that they have in their inventory exactly what will be purchased.  There is no need to wait.

Other initiatives which have been effective for clients of Image Marketing Consultants is hosting special events.  Online fatigue has set in and people are again eager to go out, especially if the event is free.  The cheese shop can put on a cooking demonstration of how to make a cheese soup and the clothes retailer can stage a fashion show for one demographic such as women over-50.  In addition, small businesses can partner with each other as well as larger companies to sell products and services they couldn’t manage to do alone.

According to American Express, 100 million will shop at locally owned business.  The challenge is to ensure that your shop will be among them.

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

Numbers: They Can Provide Tipping Point, Advises Image Marketing Consultants

Anyone who has made a presentation to a board of directors at a corporation, a group of venture capitalists, or security analysts on an earnings conference call knows the importance of numbers.  Although sophisticated professionals understand that numbers can be manipulated, they still demand them – lots of them.

Because of the so-called “creativity” involved in marketing and public relations those heading organizations might have held back on including numbers in messaging.  Mistake.  Numbers seduce.  They are entities which prospects and current customers and clients can put their arms around.  Also, digging them up and putting them out there show you care.

One set of numbers which get more than the average share of attention is this: results from a survey.  For example, an expert on employment law includes in her communications the numbers from ManpowerGroup which found that 86 percent of employees in America plan to look for a job in 2013.  In higher education, Quinnipiac University developed a powerful brandname through its Polling Institute.  And you can also harness this power of the survey.

How to conduct a survey?  You can Do It Yourself (DIY) through a free mechanism such as Survey Monkey.  Or, you can seek out a partner to share the cost and enhance the opportunities for promotion.  You can also use a professional agency such as Image Marketing Consultants.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, can help you with collecting and presenting the numbers which could be the tipping point in your marketing, public relations, and partnerships.  Contact Kate for a complimentary consultation Kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 860-863-5861.

Generational Divides: Image Marketing Consultants Looks at Market Segments

Is your residential real estate agency targeted toward the professionally established Generation X house hunters or the under-30 struggling to find property they can afford?  If you don’t know that, neither will your potential customers.  With such severe competition in just about every industry it is key to be clear about what your business is as a brand and what segments it can most profitably focus on.

That applies whether your business is residential real estate, dining, driver education, or affordable housing.  The most common mistake businesses make is attempting to be all things to all possible buyers.  That confuses the shopper.  It also dilutes the brand message.

For the new year, please go back to the drawing board and determine which are the most profitable market segments or single segment.  Then develop your strategic plan and tactics for reaching them effectively and cost efficiently.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on your marketing, public relations, partnerships, special events, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.  This holiday season give yourself the gift of a more successful business.

Why “No” Leads to “Yes” in Sales, Explains Image Marketing Consultants

Experienced successful salespeople frequently reassure those just starting out in selling of this: “No” frequently leads to “yes.”  This may seem to make no sense.

After all, a no is a no.  That no means that the couple didn’t buy the car, the man injured in a car accident didn’t sign up with that particular lawyer, and the 12-year-old  decided not to spend summer at Camp X.

However, for those open to analysis of what they might have done differently and willing and able to change, the no provides important information.  Many whose living depends on selling or promoting know this.  That’s why they ask the prospects who didn’t buy from them the reason why.  Usually the prospects are touched by the seller’s humility and eagerness to learn and they will candidly explain why they made the decision they did.

Even without the prospects’ input, ambitious salespeople have plenty to reflect on.  They might ask themselves:

  • Are we in the right market segment?
  • Was there a powerful enough incentive?
  • Did we not spend enough time assessing the buyer’s needs?
  • Is our service/product no longer perceived as top-of-the-line?
  • What about our price point?  Should we be willing to match competitive pricing?
  • Should we have found ways to keep the prospect on the phone longer?

Salespeople and promoters who are aggressive about mining a no for all the information they can are on their way to receiving the yes on a regular basis.

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.

2013: Be careful about too much new and improved, warns Image Marketing Consultants

 The curtain will be going up on 2013.

There’s optimism in the air.  Retail sales, especially online, are strong.  The housing sector is picking up.  And the aftermath of Sandy will be generating plenty of work.  Therefore, you are asking Image Marketing Consultants how you can capture this momentum for 2013?

We have been warning you about not rushing to introduce too much “new and improved” too quickly.  WordPress learned from Facebook’s stumbles to move slowly and carefully in providing users with change.  Too much change can overwhelm customers.

But, of course, too little change can send the wrong signals.  Among them are:

  • The organization doesn’t care and isn’t digging around for what customers want.
  • The organization is set in its ways, feeling entitled to the business it has.
  • The organization is out of touch with shifting realities.

A useful exercise is monitoring the competition.  How much change have they put in play and how does that seem to be working out?  If it’s retail, you can observe the traffic.  If it’s professional services, you can follow the trade media about new accounts and analyze the tone of its communications.  Does the organization sound desperate?

That context provides you insight about what you might change and what to put on hold, for now.  Change always represents risk.  But not changing, of course, is equally risky.

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. 

Template v Custom-made: Small business and digital technology

A new year, at least the calender one, is coming.  Also, your business may be planning to shift from a recessionary strategy to a growth one.  So, the team is brainstorming about what your priorities should be and how to accomplish them.  At the top of the list could be your digital communications.

Many businesses ask us at Image Marketing Consultants if they should go with a standard template for their website or custom-make their own.  For example, WordPress now provides those kinds of templates for the wedding and, more recently, the restaurant verticals.  Here Toni Schneider, Chief Executive Officer of Automattic, parent of WordPress, talks to TechCrunch about the entrance into the restaurant niche.

The advantages of going with a template include that businesses don’t have to start from scratch in setting up or re-doing their website.  They can devote their resources to focusing on the specifics for each category, such as capturing what’s unique about the ambiance or the menu.  The disadvantage is the the competition might pull away current customers and prospects by having a very non-standard website.  The media might cover it.  Overnight that restaurant could become hot.

We at Image Marketing Consultants have found that there are no easy or absolute right or wrong answers about digital communications.  That’s why we invite you to a complimentary consultation to discuss your unique situation with Kate Sirignano, Managing Partner of Image Marketing Consultants.  You can reach Kate at kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868 for your  questions about social media, marketing, public relations, special events, and partnerships.  

Those Connecting Questions: Tips from Image Marketing Consultants on Engaging Prospects

The beauty of posing those connecting questions to prospects is that we marketers send the clear message: We are here to listen to you.  Those questions which trigger that immediate connection can be asked in person, on the home page of your website, in the subject head of an email blast or blog post, or as part of a tweet.

Here are some examples of connecting questions which have converted browsers to buyers:

Do you want your family to be happier?

Can your child be doing better in school?

Would owning a house make you feel secure, finally?

How long has it been since you had a sit-down meal in a restaurant?

Why are you afraid to ask a decorating question?

Do you need to stop overspending on the holidays?

After the connecting question, there are many ways of listening.  One is simply to provide the “white space” of a pause.  After that, you can offer brief snippets of information, a complimentary consultation, a no-pressure demonstration, or a free sample.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, asks you:  Could you be selling more?  Could you be raising more funds for your cause?  Could you be spending less on marketing? Please contact her for a free consultation kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

 

Humor: Image Marketing Consultants Explains Risks v Rewards

Even Shakespeare’s tragedies had humor or what has been called “comic relief.”  Being able to laugh, including during crisis, seems to be a basic human need.  However, in contemporary marketing the jury is out on whether humor is appropriate for a brand, especially when times are hard.

Most recently, that issue has come up in regard to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s appearance on the late night comedy show “SNL.” He made fun of himself, including his blue fleece top.  That sure did get headlines in the media.  But not all were positive.  For instance, in FrontPageMag.com, Daniel Greenfield argued that Christie showed poor judgment taking on such a light-hearted role when thousands in his state are still without power and many had lost their homes to Sandy.

When deciding whether to incorporate humor in your marketing campaign, it is necessary to weigh the risks and rewards.

Risks:

Humor is a subjective entity.  Not everyone agrees that something is funny.

Timing is everything.  A humorous television commercial which was made about insurance before Sandy might seem in bad taste after the storm.

America’s Puritan background still prevails.  Those settling the New World believed in all work and no play.  That attitude has not gone away.

Rewards:

Humor provides entertainment.  Some contend that entertainment is a must in all messaging.  (However, that entertainment does not have to take the form of humor).

What people laugh at becomes memorable.

People tend to bond with what distracts them from their cares.  GEICO’s funny creatures helped turn an unknown insurance company into a brandname.

When it comes to most tactics used in marketing, there are no absolute right or wrong answers.  Each decision must take into account what segments are being pitched to, their values including their collective memory bank, and the most recent events which are shaping or reshaping their consciousness.

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.