Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Archive for November 2008

Fixing a broken belief system

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“I tried that before and it didn’t work.”confused_man1

Think about that statement for a moment. How many times and how many ways have you heard that statement expressed. Since this is a blog about marketing and business, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but let’s take it out of context and examine it.

Ever pick up a remote and try to change the channel on your TV, but the batteries were dead? Did you resign yourself to manually changing the channels from then on or did you examine the problem and find a solution? New batteries means you fixed the situation. The problem wasn’t with the remote.

What about hiring a bad employee? Unfortunately, many of us have been in that situation before. It’s a difficult solution for all concerned, but once the remedy was executed, the situation was fixed. Does that mean hiring employees is a bad idea or did I mean that you just had to examine the problem?

The same ideas apply to marketing. Time and time again, I’ve encountered people whom might have “tried TV” or “did marketing” before and whatever they did had failed. Therefore, they jump to the incorrect conclusion that marketing doesn’t work (for them). Instead of spending the effort of finding out why it didn’t work or determining something else that might work for them, they walk away from marketing their business and handicap their business’s growth.

I highly respect the business owner that I work with who calls me up to tell me that their current spot or ad isn’t working. That gives us (both the marketing firm and the client) the chance to reexamine the messaging. Is the wording strong enough? Are we appealing to the right audience? Are we even reaching the right audience or are we using the wrong medium? This is a far better path than simply pulling the plug on a campaign and walking away from marketing altogether. Sure it harms the marketing firm some. But the biggest damage is done to the business itself. The owner no longer believes in marketing and therefore limits that business’s growth potential.

Take a look at the list of Fortune 100 companies. One of the things that they have in common (with the possible exception of Berkshire Hathaway) is an expansive marketing effort. They know and understand that growth comes from reaching new customers, announcing new offerings in the most effecient way, and branding themseleves against their competition. Even at the small business level, growth must come from telling people that you exist.

Do you have a story you can share in which your marketing efforts were falling short and you did something to turn it around? What can we all learn from examples that you can share about your business’s marketing successes?

Find a cheering section

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Yea you!p1_auburncheer

Let’s be honest, everyone has an ego. And that ego likes to be stroked from time to time. That ego also gets bruised from time to time as well. What do you do when these times present themselves?

Your spouse can only do so much. After all, it’s possible but unlikely that they are in your field. They probably don’t know all the nuances of your stories. As much as I tell people that my wife knows more about the business of television than any other banker in history, she still only gets my stories so far. But when I’m facing certain decisions, she can only help so far. Where else can one turn?

You’ve probably heard that it’s wise to be cultivating your business and career relationships all the time, not just when you’re in the job market. This is true, but it also has other positive consequences. By maintaining a solid Rolodex of contacts and keeping in contact, you have a first level of business peers that have a genuine interest in you and your success. They have likely to have a perspective that you can tap into when needed. It’s also a great two-way street. They will look for your help and guidance when they are challenged. You can celebrate their victories with them. And at the same time, they will genuinely went to celebrate your victories.

Are you keeping in touch with the good people you like and respect from your business past? Have you lost touch with people that you miss? Why wait to make a New Year’s Resolution to be better about it? It’s likely they want to hear from you…today. Do it.

It’s sink or swim time

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cmswim_article_wideweb__470x3910The election’s finally over and the economy is still the topic at the top of the news. Besides business issues which I have talked about previously, individual families are also continuing to feel the pressures. After all, a family is like a business with incomes and outflows, profit and loss.

During these difficult times, people are turning to the Internet for information on how to deal with their particular problems. I was thinking that this week would be the perfect opportunity to share with others what you are doing to keep your family’s proverbial head above water. Are you currently in the market for another position? Are you thinking of picking up a part-time job? How secure do you feel in your current position and what are you doing to make yourself invaluable?

I hope that you share. During these trying times, we all need to stick together.

Written by Jeff York

November 8, 2008 at 3:18 pm

The 49 hour weekend

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It’s daylight savings time once again. Before going to bed tonight or as soon as you wake up tomorrow morning, remember to set your clocks back an hour.

And this concludes the public service part of our program.

Guess what. You have an extra hour this weekend. What are you going to do with it? You weren’t planning on getting an extra hour of sleep, were you? I have some suggestions:

Learn something new: an hour of professional development time worked frequently into your schedule can really pay dividends. Now that you have an extra hour to play with this weekend, it’s a bonus lesson. Go for it!

Extra family time: all work and no play makes Jack a burned out man, a crappy husband, and an absent father.

Do something crazy: start a blog, visit someplace new, call an old friend you haven’t talked to in years. You know how you’ve been saying you wish there were 25 hours in the day? Tomorrow, there is.

I’d love to hear about how you spent your extra hour. Post a comment and let us know what you did.

Written by Jeff York

November 1, 2008 at 12:16 pm