Nemo: What Business Did Smart, Explains Image Marketing Consultants

Nemo, the storm which hit the Northeast Corridor hard, was a crisis.  And it’s before, during, and after a crisis that businesses can have breakthroughs in revenue, profits, branding, and relationships with employees, customers, the community, law enforcement, and more.  We at Image Marketing Consultants noticed some best practices.

Having crisis plan/communications in place.  All constituencies, be they customers or employees, knew what to expect and do, no matter what could go down in the weather event.  The multi-dimensional message sent through comprehensive crisis planning was we care and we manage well.

Giving customers easy access to what they need.  Right in the front of the store, a CVS along the shoreline had not only shovels but a variety of choices, clearly marked with affordable prices.  This is one-stop shopping for whoever would have to dig out.  No one had to go off to other stores to find an appropriate shovel and compare prices.

Figuring out the right incentives.  One 24-hour call center had to be staffed, of course.  If it wasn’t fully manned, customers would likely not contact it again.  It provided attractive incentives, ranging from monetary to ritzy overnight accommodations, for employees to show up and stay as long as needed.   One manager had suggested simply providing lots of free food.  Fortunately she was ignored.

Thanking everyone in the loop. By time the storm ended early Saturday, businesses were using their social media networks, phones, and homemade signs expressing gratitude to those who had pitched in.  A plumber who had braved the snow to fix the employee restroom in a 24-hour facility was celebrated as the Hero of Nemo 2013 on the intranet.

Crisis seems the new normal in 21st century.  Those businesses which become skilled in navigating it will develop a unique kind of competitive edge.

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

 

Sweet Spot – That depends, reminds Image Marketing Consultants

Valentine’s Day reminds us of the power of the “sweet spot.”  In romance when human beings aim for that sweet spot and hit it, there can be breakthroughs in relationships, ranging from healing to engagements to marry.  However, those who operate businesses often find that what they aimed at in their promotions doesn’t turn out to be the sweet spot.  The results of the campaign are disappointing.

Why does this happen?  We at Image Marketing Consultants find there are three major reasons why promotions fail.  Here they are:

Not enough research into customer needs. The cardinal rule of sales is to invest the most time in finding out what the customer needs.  At a car dealership it might be high gas mileage because of a long commute, not so much price.  The salesperson who keeps pitching price will not get that sale.

Not enough choice. If you read those credit cards offers coming in snail mail you will notice the proliferation of choices.  You can choose a shorter period for a balance transfer at no interest rate or a longer period for a low interest rate.  Reward points can be “spent” in a growing number of ways, including applying them back to pay off part of the monthly balance.  Without these choices, prospects might just toss the sales literature in the trash.

Wrong tone.  As lovers know, how something is said is everything.  The tone of business communications keeps shifting, sometimes in subtle ways.  After the wild west days of the rhetoric used in social media, communications have become more subdued.  Morever, there has to be a different tone for diverse target markets.  That’s why some companies have separate Facebook brand pages for diverse products and demographics.

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

When Your “Superdome” Goes Dark – 6 Crisis Communications Tips by Image Marketing Consultants

As all the world knowns, part of the Superdome went dark during the Superbowl.  And the leaders and managers at organizations like yours began wondering what would happen if their own version of a “Superdome shut-down” took place.  The first step in managing that kind of crisis – and it is a crisis – is to have your Crisis Communications Guide completed and continually up-t0-date.

In itself that plan restores a sense of order when bad things happen because everyone in the organization knows what to do, how, and when.   Here are 6 tips from Image Marketing Consultants on putting that Guide together:

Define “crisis.”  The freezer going off in a food establishment is a crisis.  So is a choking guest.  Another form of crisis is an unexpected snow storm which starts to roar outside as patrons are starting to eat.  Listing examples of crisis reassures everyone in the organizaton that leadership is in control.  Therefore there is trust in the process.

Indicate who’s in charge of what. In emergencies, human beings need leadership.  Specify who’s accountable for what, in what order should they be notified, and the contact information.

Establish one spokesperson.  All information should be given to that representative who is the only point for release of information.  No one else should comment to anyone else.

Release information as soon as it is available and has been verified. Constituencies, ranging from the media to investors, will view you as credible if you ensure they receive accurate informaton as soon as you have it.  Use all mediums for this real-time disclosure.

Be generous.  When the electronic cash registers went down in a supermarket, that event had been provided for in the crisis plan.  Check-out clerks had hand calculators and provided a percentage discount for the inconvenience.

Thank all constituencies. Acknowleging the role of others in resolving the crisis is a key public relations initiative.  It creates the platform for cooperation during the next unexpected incident.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations on all your communications and marketing needs, including public relations, partnerships, special events, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Teasers – 3 Tips from Image Marketing Consultants

By time SuperBowl Sunday actually happens most of us will have already viewed the commercials.  Some of us will catch them on traditional television, some on YouTube, and some on media properties like BUSINESS INSIDER.  And, studies as well as expert opinion show that these “teasers,” if well done, can enhance the results advertisers get.

Using “teaser” ads and “teaser” promotions in your organization before actual campaigns can also be effective for you.  For example, you may be opening a new upscale dessert shop. Before that, you can arrange partnerships with elite retailers to distribute small samples of a gourmet cookie.  With the consumers’ permission you can video that moment of high pleasure when the indulgence meets the taste buds. Those can be shown on YouTube and your on Media Center.  In addition, local media might find them fun to cover.

Here are 3 tips from Image Marketing Consultants on how to get the biggest bang from your teasers.

Do Them Right.  Every detail about the teaser is even more important than what goes on in the actual roll-out.  That’s because, as the conventional wisdom goes, less is more.  This small amount of information or mini experience has to deliver.  Therefore, invest all the resources needed.

Get Maximum Exposure. The best-made promotion won’t help your organization unless enough people enjoy it.  That’s where partnership comes in.  You have to identify the most useful venues for the teaser.  Those with a huge budget could have the introduction of the 2014 model electric car shown in movie houses before the film.  The rest of you probably have to be focused about figuring out what organizations would partner with you because they are also getting something out of this.  For example, the gourmet cheese shop might want to be associated with a gourmet dessert startup.

Build. Both the teaser and the relationships you build provide a platform for your future marketing, partnerships, public relations, special events, and social media.  From then on, consider what you do as an outgrowth of this early effort.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultantion on all your communications needs kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com 203-404-4868.

Collaboration – 4 Questions Image Marketing Consultants Says to Ask

Collaboration or partnership has many benefits, ranging from lower costs to greater reach. The restaurant which structures joint promotions with local playhouses and movie theatres could attract lots of long term customers, with its partners also experiencing sustainable increases in business. However, alliances or joint ventures can also directly or indirectly produce unique problems, as the world is seeing with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  That venture has 50 partners in more than 100 locations around the world and it has encountered serious setbacks such as batteries which catch fire.

In 2010, reports the SUPPLY CHAIN QUARTERLY, McKinsey & Company, Nielsen, and the Grocery Manufactureres Association conducted its annual Customer and Channel Management Survey (CCM).  What it found was this: About 80 percent of the companies interviewed used collaboration but only twenty percent indicated that they generated results worth the effort.

In our experience, we at Image Marketing Consultants found that not every professional or organization can successfully partner.  Here are 4 questions to ask before deciding to collaborate.

Do you have the necessary expertise? Partnering increases the complexity of any initiative exponentially.  No one can enter the situation blind.  If you don’t know what you’re doing hire a consultant or an employee who does know the field. Partnerships allow you to enter new territory, but you still need guidance.

Can you identify a partner or partners which can gain as much as you from the venture?  You may be interested in increasing sales and your partner in enhancing its brandname.  The project must be structured so both can accomplish that without undermining the success potential of the other.  When the outcomes aren’t mutually satisfying, trouble starts.  That usually takes the form of delays.

Do you and the potential partners have resources for as long as the project might take?  Typically, organizations underestimate the time it takes to reach a goal.  Therefore, you must have access to more resources than you initially need.  Those could range from borrowing power to the ability to keep recruiting volunteers.

How will you measure “success?” You and your partners have to be realistic about, for example, when the venture will be expected to reach “breakeven,” that is, enough revenue coming in to equal or exceed the revenue going out. The metrics have to account for what setbacks can be tolerated.  Those might include 20 percent returns on online orders.

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