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Archive for the Marketing Category

Design for Design Sake: Fail

Design for Design Sake: Fail

Grafik BS Design

Design is a critical component of all <visual> marketing.  It can make or break logos, brands, websites, packaging, presentations  and … almost everything.  But when design goes overboard, who does it serve?  Possibly no one.

Use professional designers in your business whenever possible.  But, be sure follow these rules:

  1. Describe your brand (attitude, target customer)
  2. Desribe the message you want the designer to help you deliver
  3. Reject ideas that don’t support (1) or (2)

A designer’s perspective can bring  new, fresh look to your business.   It can clarify your brand image better than most other tools.  But,  don’t fall prey to falling love with a design that doesn’t work for your business, your brand or for you.

But design can go bad.

PSFK reports that “Graphic Designer Amy West has created a brilliantly refreshing new project titled Grafik BSThe work sees a completely made-up design studio with its own fake Behance page aimed at an audience with a shallow understanding of design….The studio’s ‘page’ displays posters with meaningless messages giving users the ability to comment on her phony designs thus portraying our modern obsession with trends and style whether they be good, or bad.”

Check out the article here. 

4 Easy Steps to Unlock Marketing Success

4 Easy Steps to Unlock Marketing Success

Winning marketingDoes your website really work for you?  Or is your site buried like an undiscovered treasure at the bottom of the Long Island Sound?   Or is it a tangled mess of seaweed and garbage that’s floating aimlessly in Jones Beach?  Let’s face it.  Websites are easy.  After all, you can create a (free) website in mere minutes.  But, if you haven’t figured out how to make your website work for you, it’s probably a sinkhole filled with your precious time and money.

  1. Having a website is OK.
  2. Having a great website is good.
  3. Having a great website that gets seen is better.
  4. Having a great website that gets seen by the right people is great.
  5. Having a great website that engages increasing numbers of the right people is extraordinary.

According to deep technical, big data analysis there are a gazillion websites.  Most don’t get read.   Many  are seen only by a small group of random people you can fit on that tiny elevator at the back of Macy’s.  Only a few have a big, juicy group of the right people interacting with the site and the organization.

Strategic Marketing PlanHow do you get from OK to extraordinary? Two words – strategic planning.   It’s not only the key to making websites work …  it can unlock  marketing and sales successes throughout your business.

Since the mere utterance of  ‘strategic planning’ seems to make people run,  let’s just focus on the Think…Plan…Do…Review  cycle.   Easy.

THINK – What are your insights on trends and activity in the market, your company, your customers and your competition?  What’s worked in the (recent) past and what hasn’t?  Don’t just look at your closely defined market.  Check out similar industries to see if reading between the lines might shed some light on your challenges.

PLAN – What are your key (measurable) objectives?  What is your strategy on differentiating and communicating your organization’s character and capabilities?  What are the steps you’re going to take to take you from where you are now and where you want to be? Who’s going to do What?  When will it be done?  How much are they going to do it and how much will be spent? Remember to write down your plan.  It’s doesn’t have to be a 42 page document with supporting charts and graphs that you print and distribute (but that’d be great).  You can write it with crayons on a big piece of drawing paper.  Keep a digital copy online or on your desktop.  Just be sure to write it down and save it.

DO – Go out and execute the heck out of your plan.  Plans are meaningless if you’re not going to commit the time, energy, resources and money needed to activate them.

REVIEW – Remember that plan you saved?  Go back to it weekly or monthly and make sure you’re doing what you need to do… and evaluate the impact the plan is having on your business.

 Creating marketing is easy.  Creating marketing that works requires some thought, work and (dare I say) planning.  It can be a great opportunity to create some impact and see your business grow.


Do You Need Big Agencies to Digest Big Data?

Do You Need Big Agencies to Digest Big Data?

big data ad agenciesDo you need big ad agencies to digest big data?  NO!

Bob Hoffman’s (aka The Ad Contrarian) recent take on the never-ending discussions of ‘big data’ in advertising is that “… the important data about consumer behavior comes primarily from 1) the brand, and 2) media and media research companies…The idea that the agency will now be the collector and keeper of data and the go-to developer of media technology seems highly unlikely. ”  

In fact, the unanswered question is whether or not big ad agencies have the technology, insight and will to evaluate ‘big data’ and apply their learning to the advantage of the client.  The short answer is (again) NO!

According to Hoffman, “The ad industry has decided to play the other guy’s game. They are now competing in an arena in which they have distinct disadvantages. They are not as good at data or technology as their competitors. They are quietly abandoning creativity, although it is still the one and only thing that clients can’t get somewhere else.”

Check out the full article in The Ad Contrarian.


The Big Win-Win. How to Get What You Want and Deliver More to Your Customers.

The Big Win-Win.  How to Get What You Want and Deliver More to Your Customers.

Win Win MarketingWhat do we all want from our businesses?

  1. More Customers
  2. Higher Prices
  3. Increased Bottom Line

How are you going to get there?  Value Pricing.

Understand that value pricing is not just a $100 term for low price tactics.   At a time when many core products are quite similar , creating additional value can be both a differentiator and a profit-maker.  If you can figure how to position that incremental value, it might just be the biggest win-win for your company.

Just make sure that the incremental value you create is valuable to your customers… not just something you believe should be of value.  If you do that successfully, you can charge customers for that.  And just about now I’m hearing the chorus of, “I can’t lower prices.  Competitors are lowering theirs.”

Think about it.  Do you really want to have the lowest prices?  Not only is lowball pricing generally unproductive, it’s a tough position to break out of.

McKinsey confirms this.  In a recent article they claim that, “Customers do not buy solely on low price. They buy according to customer value, that is, the difference between the benefits a company gives customers and the price it charges. More precisely, customer value equals customer-perceived benefits minus customer-perceived price. So, the higher the perceived benefit and/or the lower the price of a product, the higher the customer value and the greater the likelihood that customers will choose that product…..The key to success often resides in gaining a clear understanding of the real attributes driving customer choice and their relative importance.”

The potential for profit in managing the customer value chain is enormous.  The first step, as with most marketing challenges, is getting into the heads of your customers.  Customers imbue some level of value into all products.    97% of small businesses can benefit from figuring out how to add meaningful value to their core features and benefits.

Link To McKinsey Article

How To Hire A Marketing Consultant

How To Hire A Marketing Consultant

Kelly Burkart advises that, “The role of marketing director is one of many responsibilities that fall on the shoulders of a small business owner. Unless that’s your area of expertise, it may take time away from other areas you should be focusing on. ”  A marketing consultant who comes armed with experience in strategic planning and project management, combined with a network of expert specialists can save you time and money.  In her article in U.S. Bank Connect, Kelly describes how a marketing consultant can help.

Planning and execution. A marketing consultant works with you to determine your marketing goals and budget, and then creates a marketing plan with specific recommendations. With an agreed-upon plan, the consultant helps execute each step using their resources in areas such as media, creative, public relations, etc.

Experience. Many independent (or freelance) marketing consultants have already worked for large marketing firms and have years of experience with a wide variety of industries. You benefit from their expertise without paying for the overhead of a large firm. Expect to pay more per hour than you would for a salaried employee, but realize you’re only paying for the hours a consultant is working for you. In the long run you’ll save money by working with an established consultant who can get up to speed quickly.

More time for you. In addition to setting and achieving your company’s marketing goals, hiring a marketing consultant frees up more of your time to spend on what you do best, whether that’s the day-to-day running of your company, new product development, or sales.

A network of specialists. Just as you try not to do everything yourself, don’t expect a marketing consultant to design your brochures, develop your website, and write your press releases. Experienced consultants have their own networks of designers, copywriters, PR specialists, web developers, and others they call on to execute specific projects.


Link to Kelly Burkart’s article on U.S. Bank Connect

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Susan is a marketing leader who understands the creativity required to insure enduring success. She is smart, innovative and committed to getting it right.

K. SharpeC.E.O.Sharpe Partners

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We are marketing consultants based on Long Island, NY. Over the past 20 years, we've built fierce market leaders in a broad range of businesses - from tiny start-ups to global Fortune 500 companies.  Our experience spans multiple industries from consumer electronics to financial services and from food services to photo.  We're looking forward to talking to you to see how we can help take your business to the next level.