Year: 2008

24 Dec 2008

The Big 3

All the media is reporting what is happening with the recession, Obama’s pending inauguration and the bailout of just about every big business in the world. Those are very important issues, don’t get me wrong, but from a marketing perspective I want to speak on what the strategy of the Big 3 automakers is missing.

Decades ago, GM was the biggest and baddest company on the planet. They had enormous assets, loads of employees (and lines of people lining up to hope to be an employee) and clout like no other at that time. Now they are on the brink of bankruptcy even with the government loans. They, along with Ford and Chrysler, have a huge hurtle in front of them and loads of issues.

The last one they are probably thinking about is their marketing and how they are reaching potential customers. Faith in these companies is nil. Worry that they still will collapse is prevalent. So, why would they keep the same marketing strategy of using mass media and standard discounting and promotion to entice customers to come purchase their cars?


Every car company uses a similar tactic: 0% interest, $2000 cash back, free upgrades and services. The Big 3 should be thinking about what is the fundamental barrier of consumers purchasing their cars? (the recession notwithstanding)


Faith. Lack of faith in those brands.

I don’t want to purchase a car or truck from a company that I am not sure will be around in the next 3 years to still provide a warranty. An automobile is an immense purchase and liability. Why not reassure consumers that they are going to do everything in their power to come out of this financial crisis as strong as ever? Restore faith in your brand and company.


Engage your potential customers in dialogue. Provide them what they want, not what you think they want. Use some of that $14 billion in loans to research your potential target market. Through that dialogue, make sure they know you truly want their business and will make the sacrifices necessary to do that. Be real. Be genuine.


The consumer doesn’t take kindly to smoke and mirrors and half-truths.

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08 Dec 2008

$1 Salary for Ford and GM CEO’s???

In what I think is a brilliant move, the CEO’s of Ford and GM announced they would take a $1/ year salary if the government approves the automakers’ bailout.
When I say brilliant, I am not talking about the fact they are attempting to persuade the lawmakers to approve the loan. Although that is part of the strategy. Seems to be a feeble one, however. The Senators overseeing this process aren’t stupid and may see this gesture as hollow.

I say this is brilliant in the fact that the public will see the announcement as a sincere attempt by them to get their companies and the American auto industry back on track. By making this gesture, they are showing that they aren’t immune to the recession and they, too, will be taking a hit. Being empathetic to the public creates a favorable impression that they truly want to rectify the situation, and not just make themselves a profit. Whether it is true or not, remains to be seen.

The other positive impression they are making relates to their employees. CEO’s of large corporations are not seen as the “common man” and do not relate well to their factory line workers and employees. This token could increase morale and confidence in the company and it’s leadership. Perception is reality and could really help them in the long run.

Little do people know that there are several CEO’s and upper management that take minimal salaries such as Yahoo, Google and Apple. That doesn’t mean that they people aren’t making a fortune. Most of their compensation comes in forms of bonuses, stock options and perks.
Still, it is a nice gesture even if it is meaningless.

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06 Dec 2008

What kind of relationship do you have with your clients?

Do your clients trust you? Would they refer  you to others? Do they take your calls every time?

Think about the best relationships you have had in your life. Those friends you grew up with. The group you shared the experience of college with. Those are the most solid relationships I have in my life. Any one of those people, I would do anything for. The camaraderie between us is solid, shared and significant.

Create that kind of relationship with everyone in your professional life. Three points to keep in mind to do that.

1. Be authentic- people aren’t stupid. Well, some are, but most people can tell if you are trying to pull a fast one on them.

2. Find shared interests- most everyone can find some common ground with anyone. Find those interests. Kids, hobbies, sports, movies, books, etc

3. Communicate often- every call doesn’t have to be a sales call. A quick email sharing a news article about your shared interests keeps your name in front of the prospect. Make sure you are keeping points 1 and 2 in mind when you are doing this. If you are off point, you could harm the relationship.

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29 Nov 2008

Vendors Vs Clients

I write this blog about topics that I am knowledgeable about.  Why would I write about something I couldn’t speak intelligently about? So, I write about my experiences and from time to time, my pet peeves.
The reason I write anything is to encourage discussion and educate people who aren’t involved in marketing circles.
The topic I want to write about today is entitled, “Vendors Vs Clients”. I hope everyone treats these two different business relationships with the exact same respect, value and consideration. Unfortunately, I am positive that doesn’t happen every time.

Clients are the most important relationship a company has. They provide the sales, revenue and profit to keep your firm in the black. If treated and utilized correctly, they provide invaluable insight into your product and how to improve it to increase market share, sales and growth.
My question to you is: why would you not extend that thought process to your vendors as well?
Your vendors are an integral part of your company and provide an essential element to any business. They provide parts, service and the numerous components that keep your product on shelves or your service viable.
So, communicate with your vendors and be open and honest. They understand how business works and that circumstances change frequently. Most of us do not like confronting unpleasant subjects especially when the other party will  potentially react negatively.
However, the situation is only made worse with no contact. In cases such as these, no news is NOT good news.

Talk. Build trusting relationships. Your company will be better for it.

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23 Nov 2008

Linked In Groups

Let me first start by saying Linked In is a great networking resource and can really assist people expand their associations, facilitate great discussions and help small businesses in a variety of ways.

The issue that I have with some of the groups I have joined is some people are using it as a advertising channel. That is not why I joined the website or any of the groups. In fact, it really makes me think poorly of people that are placing their own advertisements in the group discussion forums. LinkedIn was created to help people “link” to other like minded business professionals. People are making the experience cheap by following this strategy.

I see this over and over in all aspects of life. People do not want to work for anything. They want to take the easy way out and hope to get results from it. All they are doing is hurting their reputation and, in some small business cases, their brand.

I do not trust a LinkedIn advertiser who is using a medium not mean for that purpose. This also goes along with other social networking etiquette such as a blog. In both instances, you must be upfront and truthful about what you are attempting to do. A blog (like LinkedIn) should not be a veiled sales pitch. Be open and start providing real and useful content to your network. This will place you and your brand as the authority on your subject and instill confidence and reliability, which will earn you a reputation as someone to count on. All that will help you get and retain clients, increase sales and boost profit. That is a good thing!

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19 Nov 2008

To Design or Not Design

During the creative process of creating any kind of marketing piece, people become very possessive of their ideas, design and copy. Although that is a positive thing, there are limitations to it.
You want to make sure the piece, whether it be collateral, ads, blogs, speeches, etc, follows your brand guide and represents your brand image consistently. You also obviously must ensure all your statements, claims and product/service offerings are completely accurate. In addition, make sure your copy is proof read. I don’t know how many times I have seen typos in a wide variety of pieces. (If irony is consistent, I am sure there is a typo somewhere in here) Make sure there is an action item, as well. There are a several other things you must confirm in there, so go through your list.

After a thorough process, at some point you must ask yourself one question. Is this going to achieve my goals? I have seen so many design processes get bogged down by indecision and assumptions. Is this color right? This photo won’t be appealing to the bottom 1% of our market…..that graphic is too wavy…. You can try to be everything to everyone with all your marketing, but, guess what? That is impossible. Make sure your piece is geared toward your target market, isn’t completely offensive (unless it is meant to be) and looks professional. Get it done. Get it out the door and move on. We all have a million things to do and the opportunity costs of not getting other projects done is outrageously high.

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12 Nov 2008

Donkey Marketing

During the course of working with small/medium sized businesses, I come across a common occurrence when the topic of Marketing comes up. I understand that cash flow and capital in small businesses are more of a luxury than a commodity. Most of these companies are just trying to make payroll and pay vendors to keep their heads above water. The last thing they believe is important is their marketing strategy; if they even have one!

As a small business, I can understand where they are coming from. However, I know that a half-hearted attempt at a marketing plan is no plan at all. I don’t know how companies think they are going to attract new customers, retain current ones, establish/gain market share or build a brand without a viable, solid and integrated marketing plan. I guess they think clients will fall out of the sky if they just register a trade name and make some business cards. I know firms that are having a hard time growing their business, yet they do not have the tools in place to attract customers. In certain cases, they have no marketing collateral, web presence or strategic plan and they wonder why they have no sales/revenue/customers.

Firms HAVE to put an integrated marketing plan into place. Even if you are a one man shop, you must show your target market that you are trustworthy, truthful and reliable. I understand that this may take some back to high school since this is a little superficial, yet everyone wants to feel they made the correct decision when buying a product or service. This goes beyond the actual purchase, but extends to post purchase behavior and cognitive dissonance. Marketing does not only help sell a product, it assists companies to retain or attract repeat customers. The marketing that consumers see after their purchase helps them re-affirm their decision. They feel they were right in buying your product. 

So devise a marketing strategy, implement it and stick to it. Don’t dismiss marketing by saying it doesn’t work when you reluctantly execute it.

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04 Nov 2008

Clients Choosing You

When do potential clients choose to use you?
Do you sell them on your product or service during that first sales call?
Is your sales pitch that good?

Odds are the decision has been made long before you even speak with them.
Where have they heard about you? What is your marketing campaigns doing for you?

Laying the ground work by building a brand identity is a MAJOR reason why companies decide on whether they do business with you. Do they trust you? Are you providing a true solution to their need area?

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24 Oct 2008

Biggest Way to Ruin Your Brand

I can’t believe I have to write about this, but I run across it more and more in my daily life. Now, I have a full time job at a software company, I work in my spare time with my own clients and am involved in a non-profit organization as well. In all three of these endevours, I come across indivduals who break a fundamental rule of, not only marketing or business, but common sense.

Do not OVERPROMISE AND UNDER DELIVER!!!(sorry, certain writing rules say not to ever write in caps, but oh well)

In the business world, I understand how some people feel they need to do this since they think they will not be awarded the sale, will look foolish in front of their peers or feel like they aren’t as vital to the company as they think. However, they look even more foolish, unreliable and idiotic when they don’t do what they say they are going to do.

Not only is this kind of behavior detremental to your company’s brand, it is detremental to your personal brand. You represent the company you work for and everything you do, affects their brand. This holds true to your personal brand, as well. If you command a reputation for unreliability, this severely limits you and lets people know if they can count on you or not. This is an enormous hurdle to overcome to gain back someone’s  trust especially if you never had that trust in the first place.

So, in your personal and professional life, please be transparent with your friends, collegues and clients. This will sometimes be tough in the short term, but in the long run they will know what you tell them is always correct. Example: if you cannot meet a deadline, let them know. If you say you are going to complete a task, do it. (no matter how menial. If you say you are going to call someone on a Friday, call them on Friday. If you say you will email them that artwork in a few minutes, do it!)

It comes down to an easy rule, (which I know is hard in the business world): Tell the truth. Everyone at least will respect you for it.

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23 Oct 2008

First Post

Well, as a new blogger, I first want to give some credit to who really inspired me to start this. As a marketing professional I am pretty consistent in reading books on the subject. The most inspiring author being Seth Godin and his series of marketing books. Purple Cow and All Marketers Are Liars have really got me and my career back on track. If you haven’t read these books, you really need to immediately. His blog also has some very insightful topics as well. You can read that here.

The other inspiring author is David Meerman Scott and his book, “The New Rules of Marketing and PR”. If this book doesn’t get you going, nothing will.

So, I just wanted to say how I started and I look forward to posting relevent topics to get people thinking about new ways to market their business, achieve their goals and maybe even learn something about life.

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