Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Archive for September 2008

It’s never easy being an Agent of Change

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You would be hard pressed to find a good manager that doesn’t believe in the importance of remaining nimble and implementing change to remain current with the ever-evolving business landscape.

But, if that’s true, then why is it so hard getting others to follow you as you act as an Agent of Change?

It’s been my experience that often people oppose change for a variety of reasons and not all of them are a conscious decision.  But all of them act as impediments toward positive change much to the organization’s detriment.

Perhaps the most sinister explanation revolves around having a vested interest in the status quo.  Human beings, by nature, like to be comfortable.  After we’ve been in a position for any period of time, we tend to get comfortable.  We know what we can get away with.  We know how to execute what is expected of us and how to deliver just enough to look good enough to not get fired.  Start creating change and you may create an environment where good enough isn’t good enough anymore.  You might start having employee’s weaknesses exposed.  A situation exists where people might have to accomplish more, accomplish differently, and maybe even take on responsibilities where they aren’t as proficient, interested, or accomplished.  You are threatening to take people into the unknown and that can be scary.

Oh man!  First you try to do what’s right for the company and then you have to do battle with your co-workers.  Is it worth it?

Let’s see.  Implement positive change and the company grows.  You prosper.  Those that battled you prosper.  Absolutely it’s worth it.  But you have to ask yourself these question first.

1.  Will I have the proper support of those above me?

2.  Will I be given enough authority to enact change?

3.  Is the change I want to do really a positive thing for the company or am I just doing this to look good and put it on my resume?  You have to be very honest here with yourself.

4.  Am I really married to the concepts I’m proposing or am I open to input from a variety of sources that might improve my original plan?

What have you done that’s created positive change within your organization?  During the development of the initative, did you encounter resistance?  If so, how did you counter that and turn adversaries into allies?

How much are you worth?

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This weekend, I spent some time painting and staining my front porch before the Northeast Winter starts to roll in.  As I was standing on the ladder dabbing the wood with my paint brush, my mind started to wander to all the things I could be doing with my time that are billable.  For the entire 4 hours I spent on that front porch and subsequently mowing my lawn, I didn’t generate any income for my family.  This led me to think even more…what is my time on this ladder worth?

Let’s start with what I could have been doing.  I could have been prospecting.  In my line of work, there are a number of people that watch TV with a pad and pen.  They write down the names of businesses that are already on the air and they contact them.  Or I could have been writing some proposals.  There have been some ideas that I’ve been kicking around in my head that I think are very economically viable.  Once I start putting those ideas to paper, they tend to start to become real concepts that can be begun.  I could have been working on tutorials or some other way of learning something new.  And this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Some time between shifting from paint to stain, I got the idea that I was wasting money.

Let’s talk about the economics for a minute.  Let’s say I’m able to hire someone to paint & stain my porch for $200 including materials.  I spent $50 in materials myself today.  So, by doing it myself, I saved $150, right?  Moving on, I could have hired a neighborhood kid to mow my small lawn for $10.  I did it myself saving a grand total of $160.

Was this a good idea?  Ignoring the health benefits (of which, I need to take advantage of as many of those as possible), I would have to say no.  The amount that I “saved” my family amounts to $40/hour.  I could have earned more by one of the other tasks that I listed.

Have you ever thought about your time in this way?  Most people haven’t.  Each hour you have is the same hour that the richest people in the world have.  What’s the difference?  In most cases, those people have figured out how to maximize the one thing they can’t get more of: time.

I hope you think about this the next time you go on vacation and feel guilt about it.  Do you know what vacation is?  A chance to recharge your batteries.  And that activity makes you more productive when you get back.  And more productivity means you make more money.  So take that vacation guilt free.  Tell them I said so.

Written by Jeff York

September 21, 2008 at 4:22 am

Is where you are working for you?

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This week, instead of tossing you my thoughts on a topic, I wanted to open a conversation about workspaces.

I’m currently working as VP of Creative Services for a small start-up marketing firm.  My workspace is very small and cramped.  The room itself generates more traffic and less ambiance than I would prefer, especially when I am trying to be creative.  I find myself grabbing my laptop and seeking nice environments when I really need to deliver.

What do you do to create a space that works for you?  Is there a particular location or ambience that works best for you?  Do you seek a particular type of place depending on the task at hand?  Have you created an office that excells at delivering the space you need, and if so, what is it like?

Written by Jeff York

September 14, 2008 at 1:59 am

Now I’m an advertiser. What does that mean?

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This past week, I was talking with a friend whom also happens to own her own business.  Recently, she’s been thinking about putting spots on TV which she’s never done before.  One of the questions she asked me was how will that make her look.  Does being on TV make a business look “desperate?”

This is actually a very viable question and one I’ve never really considered before.  Within her business peers and competitors, she was concerned that this would impact how they would view her.  In her line of business, how she appears among her peers is important.

If she has a commercial created and puts it on the air, what does that say about her business?  What does that say about her?

Advertising means telling as large an audience as possible about you and your business.  It’s a very effective way to establish your brand and to create points of differentiation in the minds of potential customers.  Advertising means that you believe in your business enough to put marketing dollars behind it.  Since no business has 100% market share in their segment, every business can increase sales with smart marketing.

All of that said, the key has to be smart marketing.  It starts with the message.  Is it right for the medium you plan to use?  Does it exactly match the image of your business you want to portray?  If not, then you can actually damage your business by releasing that message into the public.

Let’s say you now have a perfectly crafted mass media message that will cut through the clutter.  The job is only half done.  Next is finding the right medium for delivering the message.  As I stated in my series of posts on the various mediums, there are a wide range of media to use for delivering your message:  television, radio, newspapers, Internet, direct mail, and outdoor.  Deciding which to use requires thought as to what type of audience you want to reach, the message you want to convey, and budget.  Then you have to make sure that your placement within that media works for you as well.  Is your print ad buried in the paper or did you get a good placement?  Did the TV station sell you ROS (run of schedule) and then put your spot in Jerry Springer?  Did the radio station give you first spot in break or bury you in the middle of the break?

It’s vital that you talk with a good media buyer before committing to a media plan.  Speaking with a rep from a media company will only give you the perspective of why you should advertise only on their station.  Once you’ve purchased a plan from them and started to establish yourself as an advertiser, then good reps will start to have an eye out for you on other media…and you better still be buying time/space with them.  Media buying firms have the whole picture in mind and generally can secure better rates than you can on your own.  They make their money from ad agency commissions that media companies give for placing buys with them.  If you place the buy directly, the media company keeps that commission for themselves.

The bottom line is advertising is good for your business.  If your competition is already advertising, then by not doing so you will start to lose market share.  If they are not, then you immediately place yourself above them in the public’s mind and will start to reap the benefits shortly.  You should know that by putting yourself out there as an advertiser, you should expect that other media reps will start to call on you.  It’s wise to find a good media partner (buyer or ad agency) that you are comfortable with and are confident that they have your best intentions in mind.