“How could we have ‘bet the ranch’ on a marketing campaign we didn’t test enough?”
That kind of regret is typical of businesspeople who find that they have made a major mistake. They are shocked that it happened. Their confidence has taken a hit. And they want some bulletproof guidance on how they can avoid such errors in the future.
The reality is that businesses always made mistakes, sometimes big ones like when Coca-Cola introduced “New Coke” and Ford manufacturerd the Edsel. What is different now is that businesses have less of a margin for error so the resources that mistake consumed are highly visible on the balance sheet. Also, competition is more fierce, eager to take advantage of a stumble. In addition, there is the fear of not being able to bounce back.
Because of the severe consequences of mistakes for businesses, hands-on managment experts such as Reid Hoffman, cofounder of social network for professionals LinkedIn, recommend placing small bets, not investing too much in any one initiative. In his new book “The Start-up of You,” Hoffman confirms the uncertainty of the marketplace of the 21st century. There are more unknowns than knowns out there. Businesses, at best, are handed lots of pieces of the puzzle. It will take time, a lot of false starts, and a lot of course correction to put the pieces together. Therefore, it is downright reckless to assume that any one venture will pan out.
Smart businesspeople, shows Hoffman, currently test out their hunches in launching a new company, determining pricing, configuring marketing approaches, and training the sales force in relatively small steps. Frequently, they simultaneously have several of those small initiatives, for example in marketing, going at once. They will select the ones which work and toss the rest. The expense can be peanuts.
Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation for your marketing, public relations, partnerships, special events, and social media needs firstname.lastname@example.org 203-404-4868.
Marissa Mayer, Chief Executive Officer at Yahoo, has created a global controversy by her ban on telecommuting. She contends that innovation mandates people collaborate in person, eyeball to eyeball, not via digital devices. Research backs up that, yes, working alone in one’s home office does boost productivity but it is a constraint on the bubbling up of new ideas. We at Image Marketing Consultants agree in the power of human beings joining together in person. One of our special areas of expertise is special events.
What we find, special event after special event, is that human beings need to get together, in the flesh, where they can interact with each other, cell by cell. The power of that kind of interaction has been confirmed by researchers in the field of mirror neurons. We influence each other directly. The professional who’s a type of Idea Factory will set in play the creative thinking of all the others there. The professional who’s known as The Implementer will start the ball rolling on how to test out the ideas. The professional who’s The Connector will get members of the group to sign up for tasks.
Mayer’s decree will continue to be controversial. But there’s no question that there is a surge in demand of people finding ways to get together. Here at Image Marketing Consultants we are receiving increasing requests to plan and oversee special events.
Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation for your special events, marketing, public relations, partnerships, and social media email@example.com, 203-404-4868.
There was a business which positioned itself as the best friend of the frugal. Its mission statement described how it pulled out all stops to supply the budget-conscious with the best quality at the best price. The enterprise did well.
Then a relative who had studied design introduced into the chain upscale merchandise ranging from Coach-like pocketbooks to hand-crafted earrings. Those sold like hotcakes at premium prices. Yet, the business considered stopping the line because it conflicted with the mission statement. In short, what the business said about itself or its narrative was getting in the way of more revenue and profit, with not a lot of heavy lifting.
As the economy keeps changing and organizations find themselves with new challenges and opportunities, their narratives can be holding them back. They might have adopted a risk-averse stance, for example, in hard times. Now that times are better for them those narratives about staying the course are constraints on growth. A bakery whose story is about total indulgence is hesitating in introducing heathy desserts. A writing firm which has been serving small business and promotes that in all its marketing material feels it cannot bid on larger accounts.
In short, your organization’s story about itself or its narrative can have more negative impacts than any competitor might. Here are four tips on how to break the hold of the past on your present:
Identify your narrative and determine if it still is accurate. Remember that everything changes. You organization is continually reconfiguring itself and you might not have realigned your marketing materials, including the mission statement, to what is really happening now.
Calculate the risk of adding or deleting elements from your story. You might be considering adding “luxury you can afford” to your identity as an ecommerce company providing the best bargains of the web. The risk could be reduced if you phase in the phrase, along with the merchandise, “Including some luxury items you can afford.” Consumers are more apt to accept change that is introduced in small bites. Ask for feedback on the addition or deletion. Consumers love to express their opinion.
Conduct small experiements. Even a mom-and-pop business can do test marketing. All that takes is to conduct small experiments which do not disrupt the rest of the business. For instance, the bakery can restrict one shelf to healthy desserts and promote them in a muted way. If that turns out to be too quiet a launch, then the counter person can offer complimentary samples to customers and an employee dressed like a vegetable or fruit can distribute flyers about the introduction in the neighborhood.
Host a special event, all the better with partners. Stage celebrations to include consumers in what’s new which stays. Special events are becoming increasingly in demand because Americans, after so many tragedies and disappointments in the 21st century, want to come together and enjoy being with each other. Also, they are weary of digital connecting. The bakery which is grossing one-third of revenues through healthy desserts can orchestrate a celebration in the neighborhood. The theme can be taking care of ourselves. That can be done in partnership with other healthy players such as the yoga studio, gym, farmers’ market, and chain drug store.
Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on your positioning, marketing, public relations, partnerships, special events, and social media firstname.lastname@example.org, 203-404-4868.
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 email@example.com, 203-404-4868.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 203-404-4868.
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 email@example.com, 203-404-4868.