Your Marketing Campaign: Learn from politicians, hammers Image Marketing Consultants

There are many reasons why we pay so much attention to political campaigns.  One, of course, is that our future is at stake.  But for those of us in business, what politicians do and don’t do presents in-the-trenches marketing lessons for us.  Campaign after campaign, here are the best practices of the winners:

They are in it all the way. There’s no faking it.  Voters can smell that a mile away.  In THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, Edith Zimmerman reports that a observer of Joe Kennedy III’s campaign for Congress says that the candidate doesn’t seem to be having fun.  If that’s true, that his heart isn’t in it, even the Kennedy msytique won’t pull in the votes.

In our own businesses, whether it’s baking gourmet cupcakes or teaching teenagers to drive, the law of consumer attraction demands passion.  Anything less intense pushes consumers away.

They listen. Usually they start up the conversation with a question.  In Manhattan, the former mayor Ed Koch used to ask, “How am I doing?”

We are always seeking feedback.  That’s what social media, special events, and giving interviews to the HARTFORD COURANT are all about.  More than promoting ourselves, we are inviting people in.

They are ready to move onto a Plan B, all the way to Z. Planning is just that: Planning.  When we get out on the field and play the game there are plenty of surprises.  All they know is what they’re doing isn’t working.  So they experiment to find what might work.  It could be Plan B, Plan C, or Plan D.

A client hired us to showcase the new model car in a Boston Hotel.  The car didn’t fit into the elevator.  It was Plan E which finally worked.

Until election day, we should all be taking advantage of the lessons the next winners and losers are teaching us.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for Marketing, Partnerships, Public Relations, Special Events, and Social Media,, 203-404-4868.



Networking in 2012: Dynamics have changed, warns Image Marketing Consultants

Opportunities come through people.  So, who hasn’t been networking since the economy caved in 2008?

However, more and more of those networking have been telling us at Image Marketing Consultants that their efforts haven’t been converting to outcomes such as more sales, media mentions, offers to partner, and attendance at special events.  A major reason for that is that the dynamics of networking have been changing.

To begin with, there’s a glut. The influx of businesspeople eager to network has weighed down social media systems, trade association memberships, and even the lists of volunteers at prestigious organizations.  That means that you now have to do your homework before you invest in outreach.  Figure out how much the group could be helpful to you and what you have to do to be noticed by them as equally useful. Since you have to put more in, you will likely be approaching fewer in number.

Secondly, more professionals are hungry. That could be for more business, more media coverage, and/or more good ideas.  The burden is on you to demonstrate to them what you have to trade to help them get what they need.  Don’t enter until you have something to trade.  There is now only one way in.  That’s from a position of strength.

Third, just about everyone is connection-weary.  Social media networks foist people on us who will drain us if we allow that.  Therefore, caution is the new response to overtures of networking.  High emotional intelligence (EI) dictates what we think before we reach out and when we do we are brief, that is too the point, and offer something the other party needs in return for their attention.  The something has to be the right something.  Therefore, research what could be useful

In short, networking has become all business.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for Marketing, Partnering, Special Events, Public Relations, and Social Media, 203-404-4868.

No “Next Oprah” – Create unique branding, hammers Image Marketing Consulting

The quickest way to stumbling and falling for a small business is to set out to be the “next” whatever.  That might range from the next Panera to the next LinkedIn.

In the tough world of afternoon television we see that dangerous tactic being played out in shows which position themselves to be the “next Oprah.”  Katie Couric’s debut of “Katie” yesterday might have fallen into that trap. The reviews aren’t good.

The reality is that those great brands like “Oprah” took years to build.  That happened through continual experimentation.  It wasn’t born one day.  It was through trying and failing, trying again and failing and learning from the experimentation that it developed its uniqueness and became stronger and stronger.

Effective marketing, whether you’re a bakery in West Hartford, Connecticut or Apple Computer in California, has always been about developing that special connection between your business and all your constituencies out there, be they customers/clients, employees, the media, and vendors.  That’s where the focus is, not imitating models.

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

Your “Special Events” – Tweet Them, Says Image Marketing Consultants

Your special event might be as simple as a meatloaf dinner to raise funds for your church or your nonprofit which provides tutoring to at-risk children.  The odds are that you can enhance the outcomes of that event by tweeting the activity.  Those tweets would chronicle what goes on from the time folks are parking their cars to when volunteers are cleaning up in the kitchen.  Regarding the latter, there are few bonding experiences more central to sharing and healing than being in the kitchen together.  Call that “sink therapy.”

At the Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama’s speech was judged as a homerun, partly on the basis of how many tweets-per-minute.  Because there were way more tweets for her address than for Ann Romney’s the media and political watchers gave her the higher grade.

The beauty of tweeting is that it can be done right from a smartphone.  Simultaneously, of course, you can also live-blog the event.  Because blogging is long form versus the short form of tweets, you probably want to do that from a laptop or tablet.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for Social Media, Marketing including Advertising, Partnerships, Public Relations, and Special Events, 203-404-4868.


TV & Online Video – Where to put your marketing dollars, advises Image Marketing Consultants

“Kate, I read that when Mitt Romney made his speech in prime time, there were 23 percent fewer television viewers than four years ago when John McCain spoke.  Am I wasting my money advertising on television here in Connecticut?”

With so much change in media and so many more choices, Image Marketing Consultants is receiving an increasing number of questions like this one about how to spend marketing dollars.  The answer to this business owner is: It depends.  That means that for every promotional campaign, B2C enterprises have to start from square one in investigating options, their costs, the probability of success, and how to test out tactics before making a significant commitment.

Television advertising, for example, may seem to some B2C enterprises to be too much to risk in terms of dollars and possible conversions.  They have a hunch that it would be cheaper and more effective to create their own online videos to distribute on YouTube and through their own digital platforms such as their website, blog, Facebook fan page, and twitter account.  Not so fast, at least not in isolation.

For example, personal injury law firms have to dig around for how their most successful competitors are navigating the marketing mix.  A major personal injury lawyer who started out in Connecticut and now dominates New England emphasizes television and ads on public transportation and billboards.  His web presence is just developing.  Therefore, a competing firm could view digital as the space to pounce, not attempt to compete toe-to-toe with him through other mediums.

Image Marketing Consultants recommends: Slow down, study the terrain, experiment.  Monitor results.  Approach marketing as the work in progress it has become.

Kate Sirignano, Millennial founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations in Marketing including Advertising, Partnerships, Public Relations, Social Media, and Special Events, 203-404-4868


You Are The Media, Explains Image Marketing Consultants

Many press experts, including Dan Gillmor who published “We The Media,” told small businesses, large businesses, and even lone entrepreneurs that they could be the media.   Thanks to digital technology, you could have the reach of a multi-national corporation with a promotional budget of billions.

For some of you who have been early adopters of websites, webinars, blogs, podcasts, videos for YouTube, photo-sharing, setting up a Facebook fanpage, and tweeting, that has worked out well.  Your outreach converted into actions such as more guests at your restaurant and more emails to your state senator to lobby for or against such and such a regulation.  In addition, since attention gets attention, the external media started coming to you, particularly your special events.

For those of you who haven’t taken that digital leap into being the media, there’s urgency.  More constitutencies, ranging from prospects and current customers/clients to elected officials and local and regional media, are coming to your website.  There they now expect you to have a “Media Center.”  For some that is their first stop instead of “About Us.” In addition, if there is a crisis, your own Media Center provides one of the platforms from which you will handle it.

What should be in your Media Center?  Everything which tells your story.  That includes videos you put on YouTube, external coverage by the press, press releases, announcements, case studies, clips of ads, white papers, podcasts, webinars, speeches, earnings reports, blog posts which have gone viral, live-tweeting, and photos.  The beauty of the Media Center is that you tell your story in your own voice, on your schedule.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultants on Public Relations, Social Media, Marketing, Partnerships, Advertising, and Special Events, 203-404-4868. 

Your Organization’s Anniversary: 3 Marketing Tips From Image Marketing Consultants

Every week some organization, both private sector and non-profit, is celebrating an anniversary.  They do that because years in business or serving the needs of the homeless is a platform for marketing, fundraising, getting media attention, attracting partners, and hosting special events.  More importantly, you have the opportunity to reach out to your current constituencies and thank them for being there all those years.

So, yes, if this is your second or 34th year in buiness or being a helping hand in the commmunity, consider positioning and packaging that for reinforcing your branding, increasing sales, gaining access to new funding, and staging an activity which the media can’t miss.

Here are 3 tips from Image Marketing Consultants:

Highlight theme of gratitude, show it.  You wouldn’t have made it to yet another year without the customers/clients, employees, vendors, contributors, public services, elected officials, and the media.  Show how grateful you are through a special event such as a complimentary ice cream social, a steep discount, or free training in your expertise such as decorating cakes.

Tell the world.  Few will know that it is your anniversary unless you spread the good news.  That in itself can be leveraged as a brand enhancer if you create a special symbol and/or graphics for the announcement.  That can be communicated through all your digital sites such as Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and Google+ as well as your newsletters, store/office windows, and tags employees wear.  If the community permits, members of your organization can dress up  in thematic costumers and distribute flyers and maybe some goodies in target areas.

Introduce New Whatevers.   Attention gets attention.  Since you have that attention, use it to feature new products, services, funding objectives, kinds of community outreach, expansion of territory, and celebrity support.

In addition, participating in other organizations’ anniversaries provides you with what could be a productive networking activity.  From it could come partnerships, incremental sales, and a fresh source of funding.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for Marketing, Partnerships, Advertising, Public Relations, Social Media and Special Events, 203-404-4868. 

Profanity & Other Unnecessary Risks – 3 Tips from Image Marketing Consultants

“What a dumb thing I did and it was a risk I didn’t have to take.” 

That’s a regret we at Image Marketing Consultants are hearing more often.  That’s because just about everything, ranging from the economy to social norms, is in flux.  That means that much of what involves public interaction involves some degree of risk.   Of course, it’s not possible to avoid all risk.  Play it “too safe” and you can come across as inauthentic.

Yesterday, we at Image Marketing Consulting listened to a webinar that proved puzzling.  The expert who presented material about media, from the get-go, used industrial-strength profanity.  The audience numbered over a 1000.  Therefore, we have to assume some of them might have been quite turned off.  One of our staffe noted that the presenter’s credibilty was deep-sixed by that incredible lack of sensitivity about who might be in the audience.

Here are 3 tips from Image Marketing Consultants on how to approach risk in smart ways:

Know the audience.  It might consist of one, the job interviewer, or a 1000 as with the webinar.  Research their values, especially social norms and the organizational culture.  Then align what you say and write with those.  The best salespeople do exactly that.  They call it “mirroring” the prospects.

Trial-run everything.  In marketing, even small businesses test out several kinds of email communications before they launch a major campaign.  In your head or on a piece of paper a certain approach may seem great.  In reality it could fail to resonate or offend those you can’t afford to irritate.  Find trusted allies you can run material by and role play for.

Everything changes.  Just because a tactic worked last month or in a robust economy doesn’t mean it will be effective today.   That’s why it’s shrewd to investigate the mood of the audience.  If the company just lost a major defense contract and you are trying to sell your products to it, you will have to frame your sales pitch accordingly.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultants for Marketing, Partnerships, Advertising, Public Relations, Social Media, and Special Events, 203-404-4868.

Garbage Goes High Tech, Can Save World, Says Elena Cahill in MOTLEY FOOL

Elena Cahill is an attorney, Certified Energy Manager (CEM), owner of Globele Energy, and convinced planet earth doesn’t have to worry any more about energy.

Today, she published a think piece about the technology and business of trash-to-energy on the syndicated site of financial information company Motley Fool.  Here you can read it.  Since there is plenty of garbage – in the U.S. each person produces more than four pounds a day – there will be plenty of energy.

Elena is a client of Image Marketing Consultants.  We are mighty proud of this publishing accomplishment.  She is also a columnist for the syndicated legal blog Law and More, which is housed in the Library of Congress.

As the Globele Energy website says:

“Our mission is to teach and implement strategies for our clients throughout the world that will conserve energy, create energy, purchase cost-effective energy, and then save money.”

You can reach Elena at

Freebies: That strategy may be killing your business, advises Image Marketing Consultants

Those freebies used to be called “samples.”  In the specialty cheese store there was a tray of them.  If customers liked the taste, they could buy a pound of gouda and a half pound of chedder.  Today that kind of incentive to buy is called the “freemium.” And, as THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reports, it could push a business into bankruptcy.

We at Image Marketing Consultants are advising our clients, both in B2C and B2B, to think long and hard about the kinds of incentives they are using.  Yes, the marketplace has become very competitive.  However, leveraging free might not result in attracting new business.  The possible disappointing results are analogous to how small businesses quickly found out that discounting through Groupon didn’t bring in longer-term customers.

On a very limited basis, like the tiny pieces of cheese, freebies might pan out.  However, research and experience are showing that many businesses will have to return to the drawing board and come up with other ways to get prospects to pay attention to what they are selling.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations on Marketing, Advertising, Partnerships, Public Relations, Social Media, and Special Events.F

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