Friday, December 5, 2014

Swiss Army Knife Marketing for Small Business

To stand out, engage, make customers, close sales and command loyalty, every business wants a full arsenal of marketing strategies and tactics. Direct marketing. Event marketing. PR-Marketing. Internet marketing. Channel marketing. Promotion marketing. Marketing sets and subsets all come into play. Ads. Mail. Email. Brochures. Websites. Conferences. Trade shows. Webinars. News releases. Press kits.Blogs. Vlogs. YouTube. Vimeo. Tactics on top of tactics.And in the best of all worlds, they all interplay from the solid position of a distinctive, memorable and extendible message.

OMG.How does a small business afford it all?

Strategic creativity.

It's how small companies get large and a very handy gadget to have around. 

Here's wishing you the happiest of holidays and a joyful, healthy, prosperous 2015. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Engaging Customers. Making Sales.

Sales line trending down? You can come up with 20 ways to get it moving up or one sure-fire remedy - engage your customers.

Strike up a conversation. Hit a responsive chord. Light a fire in their minds. Ask questions of them. Then listen. An engaged customer will tell you everything you need to know to satisfy their needs, wants and desires. The explicit ones. The tacit ones, i.e. subconscious ones. Especially the tacit ones.

Ways to engage?

1. Customer survey
2. Focus group
3. Interactive display
4. Quiz
5. Special events
6. Follow up phone calls
7. Mail in coupons
8. Greet and meet
9. Don't sell. Share.
10. Show your appreciation

In short, engage your customer with any interaction in person, on the phone or by mail that creates value and requires a direct response. Ask questions. Then listen.

WANTED: Small Business. Big Ideas.

I want to work for a small business that intends to make a big impact in its competitive field. Strategic - market analysis, competitive analysis, SWOT analysis, targeting audience, planning, budgeting. Creativity - image, message, seamless mix of traditional and new media. I crunch numbers and conceptualize a message to make a difference at the bottom line. Advertising. Publicity. Marcom. Events. Internet. Social media.The effect? Synergy - the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Financial services. Professional services. Education and training. High tech. High touch. Main Street to manufacturing, I come from a rich field of experience that I'm eager to put to work for you. Give me your goals, your budget and the latitude to meet them. Contract. Retainer. Telecommuting preferred.

Strategic Creativity. Pamela Picard.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Learning from Trial and Error

Did you know that 10 percent of all businesses fail each year? How do you ensure that yours is not among them? Make better mistakes.

Economics writer Tim Harford studies complex systems -- and finds a surprising link among the successful ones: they were built through trial and error. In this sparkling talk from TEDGlobal 2011, he asks us to embrace our randomness and start making better mistakes.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Make More Mistakes

Is your small business culture ruled by fear? Fear of loss. Fear of looking bad. Fear of being wrong. Fear of making mistakes. Instead being focused on customer satisfaction, is it oriented toward pleasing one perfectionist, righteous, controlling owner?.

How's that working for you?

In an off-site meeting with a small business owner in Austin, Texas, I asked  to what she attributed the downturn of her Internet business?

"Customer service" was the immediate reply.

How so?

"We had some people who messed up some orders."

Frankly, I would be shocked if a few mishandled orders were sufficient to kill spring sales across the board. I was more concerned that she wanted to assign blame to people she hired who were no longer there.

One of the first standards I set with a new marketing team in a small software business heading for an IPO was to demonstrate a constructive attitude toward making mistakes.

I brought a harmless nerf ball into a staff meeting. .

"We are a small group of people charged with a lot of responsibility and on a short timeline. It's imperative that we work together. We're going to make mistakes. What do we do about this?"

Then I playfully tossed the ball at one of my staff: "Here's the ball. Who needs it next?"

She tossed it to another co-worker, who tossed it to another, everyone laughing and enjoying the play, the ball lofting across the conference table one side to the other. As the pace picked up, somebody dropped the ball.

A gasp and dead silence.

"What happened?" I said.

"She dropped the ball." Eyes turned to the embarrassed teammate.

"Well pick it up!"

The point was pretty clear. No blame. No shame. No harm. No foul. No matter whether the error was forced or unforced. We can waste a lot of time pointing fingers and pushing each other into defensive postures or we can correct the damned mistake.

Every business screws up orders once in a while. How a business corrects a mistake is far more important than running scared of making one. When a  company's culture prizes accountability more than it assigns blame, deficiencies are much easier to identify and correct. And all employees will feel safe and motivated to contribute to success.

As for declining sales? Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Leave no stone unturned. Above all, make more mistakes. You can correct mistakes. You can never account for - or recover - the lost opportunity of doing nothing for fear of making them.

Friday, February 15, 2013

No Such Thing As Bad Publicity? Oh Yes There Is

My first two lessons in effective publicity: 1) the guy who tells the story first is perceived as telling the truth; 2) no such thing as bad publicity. Today, let me add number 3) you can share Too Much Information.

Most people at the top echelons of business are circumspect - buttoned down, professional. They are good listeners as well as good story-tellers. They are passionate and humble, i.e., teachable. They have a way of making every person in their employ, no matter the rank, feel good about themselves. They inspire allegiance.

You want to do a good job for them even when the job you're doing is at a low level.

Having worked with executives of this caliber, I suspect that they all had a few colorful stories to tell about their youthful indiscretions. Having a few youthful indiscretions makes a well-rounded person. It may even add points to your "cool factor."

You know, like Bill Clinton smoked dope but didn't inhale. Barack Obama smoked dope and liked it. Indeed, experimenting with sex and drugs and rock 'n roll was a rite of passage. Then they put it behind them and became Leaders of the Free World.

Being transparent about one's past connotes strength of character. Over-sharing is another thing all together.

With the advent and ubiquity of the Internet, never has it been easier to develop a personal or professional brand. And never has it been easier to tarnish it.

Enjoy your escapades, drink expensive champagne and brag about your conquests in the locker room with the boys. For God's sake, don't post this information on the Internet.

Is it already out there?

If you want people to perceive you as a repugnant cad, so be it. Leave it. If you want to attract talented, healthy professionals, here's how to clean it up.

Request removal of a cached page

Before your request can be processed, the site owner (whether it's you or somebody else) must have updated the site and made any required changes. (If you’re the site owner, follow these instructions.)
If not, this process won't work. How to contact a webmaster.

If the page has been updated by the site owner, but the out-of-date version is still visible in Google, you can request removal of the cached version from Google's search results. The process can be a little tricky, so make sure you read these instructions closely. (Important: This process applies only to HTML pages. Other files, like .doc files or PDFs, must be completely removed from the website.)

Remove the cached version of a page from Google's search results:
  1. Go to the Google public URL removal tool.
  2. Click New removal request.
  3. Type the URL of the webpage that's been changed (not the Google search results URL or cached page URL). The URL is case-sensitive—use exactly the same characters and capitalization that the site uses. How to find the right URL.
  4. Click Continue.
  5. Type a word that appears on the out-of-date cached version of the page, but not anywhere on the live version. This is to help Google understand that the page has changed. It’s often more effective to type a single word rather than a phrase. Don’t describe the removed content or the changes made; instead, explicitly provide a word that was in the old version but is missing from the new. For example, the cached page might contain your name, which has since been removed from the live version. In this case, don’t tell us that "my name has been removed'; instead, type your actual name ("Sylvia") as it appears in the cached version.
  6. Click Remove cache.