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 kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 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 elena@globeleenergy.com.

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

E-Books: How service companies can get the edge, advises Image Marketing Consultants

Books still are, as they say, “the price of entry” for service providers to be taken seriously.

Books showcase the author’s expertise in a way which is directly useful to the target markets.  In that sense, the book is a public service since it passes on knowledge.  Grateful readers, who can do their work better, become the author’s fans. Give a person a fish and that human being eats for a day.  Teach that person how to fish and that human being eats for lifetime.

Through book publishing, authors also gain a new edge getting the attention of media, booking agents for the speaking circuit, and influentials.

The good news is that the heads of service firms don’t have to spend a year or more of their professional lives writing the book.  Also they don’t have to wait for the tedious print publishing process to produce the book.  Given that usual time lag, the content may be out of date by time the book is distributed to clients, prospects, and the others on the firm’s network.

E-books, which can be a short as 25 or 35 pages, can be written or ghostwritten in days, designed and published on a computer, and copyrighted for a small fee through the Library of  Congress.  They can be free or a price assigned. One mode of distribution can be through downloads on the author’s website, blog, Facebook fan page, Google+, and Twitter account.  When delivering talks and participating in panels, the author can mention the URL or have print copies on hand.

Promotion can be done in just the same ways print books are.  In addition, reviewers no longer differentiate between print and e-books.  A fast way out of the gate is to produce video trailers and video interviews which can be posted on YouTube, sent to media, and attached on digital communications.

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

Facebook: Avoid this mistake, says Image Marketing Consultants

One reason major religions endure for centuries is that they are slow to introduce change.  Human life has always been uncertain.  Religion provides comfort and inspiration precisely because it provides a setting in which followers know what what to expect.

So, when we at Image Marketing Consultants noticed that Facebook was systematically making so much change in its features we viewed that as possibly a red flag in both its business model and operations. Human beings can handle just so much change.

That’s why we advise you to do whatever you need, ranging from branding to policies and procedures, “right the first time.”  Once you put it out there, your prospects, customers, and clients are likely not to welcome change.  Therefore, please take the time to think through and test out what seems to be the best practices for your business.

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

Your Mission Statement: The 3 Ps, from Image Marketing Consultants

 Mission statements for your organization are important.  You may be running a business or operating a non-profit.

What’s in the mission statement captures why you exist, your goal and objectives, how you plan to achieve them, and why all this matters.  Through your mission statement you attract customers or clients, good workers, investment capital, media attention, and strategic alliances or partnerships.

That’s a lot riding on the mission statement.  However, it must be short.  That was always the situation.  It’s more so now in this era of Twitter or short form.  The average attention span keeps shrinking.

Here are the 3Ps, from Image Marketing Consultants:

Passion.  You reach into your heart.  You search for why you and many others should put their trust, time, and money into your organization.

Pragmatism.  Lofty ideals aren’t enough.  You must provide evidence that you can get from an abstraction to something which works.

Public Interest.  In what ways are you contributing to your little piece of the universe?  Are you making it easier for the disabled to navigate their residences?  Are you generating jobs?  Are you creating wealth for shareholders?

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for Mission Statements, Marketing, Advertising, Partnerships, Public Relations, Special Events, and Social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Presidential Election Year: Piggybacking on Momentum, 4 Tips from Image Marketing Consultants

Every 4 years, we Americans get to decide what direction we want our country to embrace.   That means there is a lot of attention focused on values.   We participate in this debate at rallies for candidates, sending our comments to media articles, stating our point of view on our blogs, Facebook pages, and tweets, and chewing the fat with friends and family.  But it might not occur to us to leverage this momentum for our own businesses.  Please don’t waste that opportunity.

Here are 4 tips from Image Marketing Consultants:

* This period of flux provides just the right timing to ask customers and prospects what they want, what’s on their minds, and how your business can fit better with all that.  Contests are popular.  You might offer dining for 4 at your restaurant as the prize for the person who makes the most useful suggestion on how you can make the restaurant their favorite place.

* Bundle messages on values into all your promotional materials.  For example, on your Facebook fan page, you can post daily inspirational profiles of American leaders who built a political movement, nonprofit organization, or enterprise on certain values.

* Be creative in naming or renaming certain products or services according to election themes.  For example, the promotional special at your gym could be “Getting America in Shape 4 the next 4 years.”

* Enhance your network by volunteering in the campaigns for local and state candidates.  In addition to getting to know the movers and shakers, you will learn fresh skills in marketing, public relations, and partnerships.

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

Social Media Bubble Burst: The Marketing Mix

Now what do we do?  That’s what both small businesses and larger organizations are asking Image Marketing Consultants.  They have concluded, along with FORTUNE, that the social media bubble has burst.

It’s not like they are going to shut down their Facebook page, stop blogging, and forget tweeting.  After all, social media is embedded in best promotional practices. However, in order to nurture their enterprises they have “got it” that they must look beyond social media.

Image Marketing Consultants agrees: Social media is not enough.  Our recent track record proves that out.  It was through old-fashioned hustling our stories to mainstream media that we got the publicity this summer Save a Suit needs to keep attracting sponsors and donors.  It also helped that we were able to attract celebrity star power.  In addition, the activities of donating and receiving the suits happened in person in real time as special events. People, being the social animals they are, were thrilled to be back with other people.

No question, business as well as nonprofits are returning to the very traditional notion of a marketing mix.  Along with social media there has to be:

* Pitching innovative angles to media so that they become interested enough to focus on what your business is about.

* Sponsoring special events which are compelling enough to get warm bodies in and media to also swing by.

* Developing partnerships.  More businesses recognize that they need to extend their reach beyond the web – and, more importantly, beyond their own sphere of influence.   The partnership may be with retail to feature their new product or a highway to be adopted by a law firm.

* Rebranding.  Everything changes.  Your brand might have gotten stale.  Nations like Nigeria are rebranding.  It’s been suggested that the trucking industry rebrand itself to attract Millennials and women.  Maybe it’s time you rebrand.

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

Credibility: Devil is in the details, says Image Marketing Consultants

You spent a lot of time and money creating a brochure, flyer, website, or blogging initiative.  Yet, you are not not getting a good rate of conversions, that is, the action you want the target markets or constituencies to take.  That might be calling you for a complimentary consultation, ordering your product, redeeming a 15% off coupon for dinner at your restaurant, or contacting their elected officials about a bill proposed in the legislature.

There could be a number of reasons for disappointing results.  One overlooked one is that the tone, organization, and content of the marketing materials undercut your credibility.  Let’s cut to the chase.  Your credibility consists of two entities.  One is evidence that you are competent in your field. The other is that you are to be trusted.

So, how might you be presenting yourself in your marketing communications as less-than-credible?  Here are some practices that could be working against your message and you:

* Bad timing.  Folks are enjoying the last of the lazy days of summer and you are pitching snow removal.  They roll their eyes and resent that you’re intruding on their relaxation.  Get into the head, heart, and mood of the recipient before you create a campaign, including the timing.

* Not citing sources.  If you state that X number of people are obese along the Northeast Corridor and don’t provide the source – for example, the American Medical Association – you come across as sloppy in providing information and/or an amateur.  Always back up your information with a source.  Better yet, provide the link (and check if the link works before pressing “publish.”)

* Too much or too little information.  This is the era of Twitter or short form. Too much makes you appear out of touch.  Since this is also the age of mistrust, too little can position you as not respecting the recipient enough to take the time to tell the whole story.

* Typos, grammatical mistakes, missing words.  Proofreading copy and doing that twice or even three times are prerequisites to maintaining the right image.  If you can’t afford a full-time or contract proofreader on staff, barter for this service.  For instance, the work-at-home proofreader in your condo complex might trade off services for a membership at your gym or discount food-purchasing club.

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

 

Age of Twitter: Downsizing Your Messages

Short = Sweet Spot in Communications

You are your message.  If your message is wordy, Millennials and Generation X, who are your prospective customers or clients, are bound to roll their eyes. All too quickly they could decide to go somewhere else to buy.  That’s because this is the era of Twitter or short form.  Millennials and Gen Xers are wary of organizations which take too long to get their message out there.  We live in Fast Time.

Here are 3 tips on how to downsize your messages:

Think More.  Too many words usually reflect hurried thinking.  Not enough time was invested into boiling down the core message to a phrase or one sentence.  LinkedIn’s core message is helping careers. Long form just doesn’t “stick.”

Wait.  Since messages aren’t changed easily, do it right the first time.  That means playing with the ideas until they can be transmitted in a concise manner.  THE NEW YORK TIMES’ message is short: All the news that’s fit to print.  That message has endured through decades, unchanged.

Observe.  Please read and listen to others’ communications.  You will understand why customers flee verbosity.  It might be said that the late Steve Jobs invented short form at Apple.  His message to the world, ranging from customers to employees, was to be different.  Differentiation is the core of branding.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for Marketing, Partnering, Advertising, Public Relations, Social Media, and Special events, 203-404-4068, Kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com