Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘success

Say that again…and again

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shouting1Having an on-target message is only part of the formula you need for a successful marketing campaign. What good is a solid, well-crafted message if no one hears it? Putting it into the right channels (tv, radio, etc.) to reach the right demographic is crucial. But if you ever have the chance to talk shop with a media buyer, you will hear them talk about reach and frequency.

Reach is putting the right message into the right channel to reach the desired people. If you’re a mom-and-pop business with a small local hardware store, do you really need to spend the money reaching across the entire state or will a local campaign be more effective?

What I wanted to talk about this week is the importance of frequency. It is often the most neglected part of the media buy. Failure in mass media marketing often comes at the hands of well-intentioned, but inexperienced media reps that overestimate an advertiser’s goals or budget.

The narrative often starts with a sales rep that makes a living from selling one form of media and one single channel (one group of radio stations, one newspaper, one tv channel, etc.) and a neophyte business owner. They have been trained and know the power of their particular offering. They have a meeting with a business owner who is looking to grow their business. They may not need to buy the entire coverage area that the sales reps offers, but that’s all the rep can offer. The campaign starts, it’s more expensive than the business owner needs (the business owner is paying a premium for reach without any benefit from it) and pulls the plug on the whole program early, thereby ending all frequency. Even in the areas where the message would have had effect, the ending of the campaign early ends all chance of success.

In today’s ultra-saturated media world, you have to reach your desired audience over and over again just to start to penetrate the clutter. It’s not enough to state your message and disappear. You have to repeat it over and over again. Say it enough times, and people start to recall your message on their own. Say it enough times in a respectable medium and it will have legitimacy.

Say it enough times and it will be effective.

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Try it, you’ll like it

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364543785_9f2275ebc5At the risk of sounding like a Successories poster, it’s against man’s nature to be complacent. There is an explorer’s spirit in all of us. Whether it’s sailing new routes and discovering America or devising a strategy for sending a person to Mars, we have a long history of trying and discovering new things.

So, how does that impact us personally?

I can’t argue that while being pressed to deliver more constantly in our professional lives, it’s easy to just keep our head down and to remain within our comfort zone by pumping out what we know has worked in the past. It’s easy to justify in your head that you just don’t have the time right now to be inventive. Just get through the project in front of you now and you’ll do something different when there’s more time.

Ever notice that there’s never more time?

Try this: when you’re starting your next project, put your foot down and say to yourself, “This is going to be the project where we try something new.” Find a boundary and push it. Set a new limit. Turn the project around in your head to look at it from a different angle.

You might think this is easier said than done, but consider this…how much off time do you have in your life? Morning and evening commutes? Time in the shower? There are good stretches of time when you can be devoting time to coming up with new angles on a project.

Written by Jeff York

May 21, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Invest in your people

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41T9YVNKTNLIn a past post, I suggested that it it always a good idea to invest in education and training for yourself. The best way to stay on top of new technologies, new processes, or just learning new tricks is from education.

The same also holds true if you are an employer. You’ve heard it time and time again. Your employees are your biggest asset. It’s true. They are committed to your organization and want to do anything they can to help it succeed. In fact, their success is dependent on your success. One of the best things you can do to help your employees to help you is to get them training.

Many sales professionals are given a formal training curriculum before they hit the streets. If they are new to the sales profession, then this training will help them develop their techniques. If they are experienced, then at a minimum the training will help with learn the company’s product/service and how to be effective quickly.

Why would you not offer the same to the rest of your staff? From support staff to senior management, everyone has something new they can learn.

Do you have a formal education or training program in place in your company? If so, what have you found to be effective for your people? If not, are you planning to develop one?

Written by Jeff York

May 10, 2009 at 1:03 am

Let’s talk about me

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wordofmouthLet’s say I’m your ad agency. You hire to me to create compelling messages that talk about how great you are, how you deliver more (service, value, expertise, whatever) than your competition. And then we channel that message into all the right places for you to reach new customers. Finally, we repeat that message enough to cut through the clutter and reach into the consciousness of the audience.

Success? Likely, yes. But then what? It’s one thing to toot your own horn. It’s quite another to have someone do that for you. When interviewing for a job, you get the chance to talk all about how great you are. If you’re then a serious candidate, then the employer’s going to want to talk to others that know you.

If you’re bidding on new work, your prospect will likely want to know what you’ve done in the past. Then they’re going to want to talk to people you’ve done work for.

Third party information about you carries a lot of weight and credibility. When conducting B2C business, why not put that power to work as well?

How? Testimonials. Get others to talk about you.

I’ve done it successfully in TV commercials, in radio spots, in print collateral, and even in my own personal online bio (check out my LinkedIn page).

In the past, you’ve heard me suggest that you should talk to your customers. It’s vital to know what they think of you. If you’re doing your job well, then it’s likely you will have no shortage of people wanting to sing your praises. Get them to write something. Ask them if they’d be willing to be on camera or in front of a microphone.

It’s the closest thing you can get to buying word-of-mouth advertising.

Written by Jeff York

April 25, 2009 at 10:17 am

Failure as an opportunity

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defeat“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

“If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” – Thomas Edison

Every been beaten down emotionally or professionally? I think every has. It’s not a pleasant experience. When in the throws of the aftermath, it can be difficult to find the silver lining in such a situation. However, to paraphrase the adage, it didn’t kill you, therefore you must be stronger.

So, what did you learn? Did you make a huge mistake? In the grand scheme of things, how big was it?  Did you or your company lose money? As a past manager, I’ve made my share of mistakes as has my staff. Each and every time, we’ve learned from the experience and used it to know what not to do next time. My staff might have cost us some money, but I write that off as the cost of education. As long as we don’t make that mistake again and truely learn from it, it was worth the negative.

Let’s take what I think is an excellent way to turn lemons and make some outstanding lemonade in a group setting.

The best run organizations run in an environment where members can feel free to make mistakes, admit to them in a group, and not feel like there will be dire consequences (within reason). It’s not easy to admit to a mistake. It’s far easier to try to sweep things under the carpet and pretend they don’t exists. However, think of all the damage done when members feel like it’s in their best interest to either deny or, worse yet, displace blame.

Embrace the mistake. “Yep, I screwed up. Here’s what I did. Here’s what I/we learned. Here’s what we’re going to do.”

In this current technological age, it’s pretty easy to set up an internal or restricted access Wiki. Put the information there for people to reference and learn from. There’s no need to make it personal. The information can be added such that no names are involved at all. Just the facts, ma’am. Now the organization that suffered from the mistake can now benefit from that cost.

What about personal failures? Even been fired? Ever file for bankrupcy? Opportunities! Both of them.

What did you do that got you into that situation? Are you going to do it again? Maybe it wasn’t anything you felt you did wrong, but went out on a limb to try something new and it “failed.” If that organization isn’t strong enough or savvy enough to try new things to grow, then maybe the lesson learned is to not associate with that type of organization again.

The key thing I’ll hope you remember, sometimes the biggest failures result in the biggest successes.

Stories you’d like to share? I think we could all benefit from hearing about how you turned a difficult situation around and learned from the experience.

Written by Jeff York

February 15, 2009 at 5:04 pm

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.

Marketing in a difficult economy

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As a business owner, current economic times provide you with endless challenges and possibly sleepless nights. When you’re worried about dwindling sales and if your bank is going to pull your credit line, it’s hard to think about growth. Ever wonder what the smart business owners are thinking about during these turbulant times?

How do I grow market share?

There it is. The smart businesses around us are thinking about turning these challenges into an opportunity. They are getting the message out there about their goods and services. They are developing top-of-mind awareness in the public at a time when their competitors are pulling marketing dollars off the table. Why? Exactly for that reason. The best time to build market share is when there’s no opposition.

In the past, I’ve written about cutting through the clutter and getting your message heard. Times like these make that task much easier. Fewer messages mean it’s easier to remember yours. Put your message out there. Repeat it over and over. If you do that, what do you think will happen?

In a recovery situation, you will be miles ahead of your competition. You will have built tremendous value in your brand and increased your opportunity to gain market share.

I know it’s hard to think along these lines when it seems like the sky is falling and money is tightest. But this truly is an opportunistic time. If you’re thinking about cutting back on your marketing budget, I would caution you to perhaps examine your strategies and concentrate your efforts to maximize success. If you’re thinking about cutting your marketing budget altogether, I have a message for you from your competitors:

Thank you.