Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Archive for March 2009

New opportunities

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cheese2hqThis week, a completely new opportunity opened itself to me. It scares me. It comes at a time when the economy has everyone on edge.

It’s an opportunity that I’m going to grasp with both hands.

If you have not read Spencer Johnson‘s book Who Moved My Cheese, but plan to, then I apologize. This week’s blog post is going to be a spoiler for you. If you don’t plan on ever reading the book, then I apologize again. This is going to be one long ad for the book.

The book itself is short and easy to understand. It’s one of the few books (along with Jane Bryant Quinn’s excellent Making the Most of Your Money) that I kept after reading and refer back to time and time again.

There are different times when we are given opportunities to move beyond our comfort zone. The safety of our current position and situation makes looking at change a little daunting and downright scary. However, moving beyond our comfort zone is often an excellent way to blast through professional barriers that we sometimes find ourselves behind. Taking advantage of new opportunities is also an excellent path to new experiences that will allow you to grow as both a professional and as a person. Sometimes we get too comfortable and starting thinking of cheese as Cheese.

While I don’t advocate hopping from one situation to another and instead hope you would practive careful deliberation before making decisions, I submit (while borrowing heavily from Johnson’s book) that you continue to make yourself open to the “cheese” being moved, adapt to the change quickly, and enjoy the change!

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Written by Jeff York

March 28, 2009 at 9:09 pm

I want to believe you

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001clemens2Credibility. As a marketing professional, there are few things that are more valuable to me than the concept of credibility. Certainly, clients look to me for experience, skill, and ability to execute, but if they don’t believe I will behave in an honest, responsible way, then they would never hire me.

Conversely, they want to demonstrate credibility to their customers and clients. They want to position themselves as a company that you can believe in, trust, and want to do business with. If they don’t think that I have those qualities myself, then how can I effectively do the job for them?

If you’re just starting out in business, you don’t have a name for yourself. Once you start conducting business and building a track record, you start to become defined by your past actions.

How do you want to be perceived? Do you want people to question your judgement and actions? Or do you want people to trust and respect you?

A great deal is learned about an individual when you study their behavior when they think no one is watching them. How do they conduct themselves? If you have the opportunity to generate additional revenue through an underhanded tactic, would you even if you knew no one would catch you?

Last year, I had a shoot in which I needed to hire an actress. She was wonderful to work with and did a great job. Recently, I had an occasion where I needed the same actress again. From the first shoot, I had all of the actress’s contact information. I could have hired her directly at a lower rate by bypassing her manager. That would have netted us more profit, but it would have been the wrong thing to do. While it’s unlikely the manager would have discovered the situation, it doesn’t matter to me. If not for that manager originally, I would never have found the actress to begin with.

Do the right thing at all times. You’ll be surprised at how that will come back to reward you.

Written by Jeff York

March 21, 2009 at 9:20 am

Moving the needle

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mathteacherAnybody here love math when they were in school?

How about you marketing types? How much do you love math?

I know someone that loves math. Your boss. If you’re charged with marketing tasks, you had better know this is more than just being creative and clever. Your CEO (and your CFO) wants to know what have you done for the bottom line? Did the latest marketing campaign generate more sales? Did the most recent branding effort generate more recognition? If you spent money, you better have made money. Did you move the needle?

When I was Creative Services Director for a couple of television stations, my actions and initatives were constantly questioned (by myself and others) if they satisfied at least one of the three ‘R’s: ratings, recognition, and revenue. If my activity wasn’t geared toward moving the needle in one of those areas, then it wasn’t worth doing. And let’s face it, focusing on ratings and/or recognition is simply an indirect way to build revenue.

If you’re not being held directly accountable for your metrics, then your company is being done a disservice. If that’s the case, you would be wise to start building your own tracking systems. Or else, how are you going to know if new efforts are moving your company in a postive direction?

Breaking the rules

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the_thinkerIf you’re in marketing, you probably have a good sense of what you think works well for your clients. In college, I had a professor tell me that the client’s name should be mentioned a minimum of 3 times in a TV spot. David Ogilvy once professed that we should be selling in frame one and don’t stop until the message is done.

These “hard and fast” rules may not apply for every spot or every situation. How often do you see a TV spot on air that doesn’t let you know the client or product being pitched until into the spot?

Today, the fad seems to be to tell the viewer that you can relate to their predicament, spend time talking about how they’ve been around forever and will continue to be, and only at the end do we know who “they” are. One of the best examples of this type of advertising concept might be from Allstate Insurance. If you’ve seen their recent ads, then you know the actor Dennis Haysbert is their spokesman. If you can get past thinking he’s either Jonas Blane (“The Unit”) or David Palmer (“24”), then once he’s on your screen, you know you’re watching an Allstate ad. What if you don’t? As you’re watching the spot, he’s not talking about insurance products or coverage. He’s talking about you and your family. He’s talking about the economy. Only well into the spot does he start to tie the company to the conversation.

Clever and masterful. But yet, if the copywriters at the agency were in my copywriting class in college, they would have gotten an ‘F’. This isn’t so much an indictment on my school as it is illustrative of how school is the time to learn the rules. The real world is the time to learn how to break them properly.

What are your “hard and fast” rules when developing your marketing messages? When is it appropriate to break them?

Written by Jeff York

March 8, 2009 at 11:31 pm

Where did you see that?

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blog_tv3If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I have a certain affinity for technology. I have a few iPods (one for the car, one by the bed for trying to sleep, one with a dead battery that I use when taking a shower, just sold my wife’s on eBay, my son has one for getting to sleep). I have a couple of TiVos (had 3, gave one away). I have slightly more than the normal number of computers kicking around the house.

And I have an AppleTV.

Kicking back on the couch after a long hard day in the salt mines, I’m finding the current state of broadcast TV to be quite lacking. Thanks to my wife’s “Thumbs Up-ing” of nearly every cooking show on the Food Network, the TiVo suggestion list allows me a diverse selection of content such as what to make for an appetizer, what to make for main course, and what to make for dessert.

Enter AppleTV.

With the wealth of content on the web, there’s just not enough hours in the day to sit and watch even a fraction of it. If you’re like me, you like to learn. It might be history, a new skill, or something completely foreign to me, I’m open for the new experience.

But who wants to chain themselves to their computer screen at the end of the day? I just spent about 8 daytime hours in front of one. Besides, in front of my very comfy couch is a nice Sony LCD TV. I’d rather be there.

Lately, I’ve been tapping my AppleTV. There are a large number of video podcast producers out there (some even in HD) just waiting to serve episodes up to your nice big TV.

TiVo now has capacities beyond stopping live TV and recording content for a later viewing. You can get TiVo exclusive content pushed to your TiVo through a free subscription. You can connect to your unlimited Netflix account. You can even watch YouTube videos.

Another downtime that I’ve been beefing up productivity with is what I like to call “windshield time.” Any time I’m behind the wheel, I’m a captive audience. There’s really nothing I can do beyond drive and maybe listen to the radio, right? Wrong! As I Twittered this past week, probably the coolest thing you’re not participating in is iTunesU. Through the iTunes Store, major educations institutions are offering free content. Just download, push to your iPod, and drive to work. Learn while you drive. Whoda thunk it?

Start thinking beyond traditional media for your content delivery. You’ll be surprised and just what’s out there waiting for you to discover it.

Note: I have not received any compensation from Apple, TiVo, or anyone else. But I’d like to…

Written by Jeff York

March 1, 2009 at 12:19 am