- 645F2A37953C2EC90FE4
MARKETING CONSULTANTS

Archive for the Strategy Category

The Four Lies Ad Agencies Love to Tell You.

The Four Lies Ad Agencies Love to Tell You.

When I was a kid, my mom told my brother and me that she knew when we were lying because she could see “L’s” in our eyes. Like most moms, she had 360 degree laser vision and generally knew everything that was going on. But, it didn’t stop us kids from testing the situation. Before an inevitable confrontation, we’d anxiously ask each other, “Look in my eyes! Can you see the L’s?” We were more naïve than stupid and most of the time we got caught in our (very infrequent) lies.

In business, there are multitudinous layers of lying. And it’s something you need to understand in order to make the best decisions for your company.

This is a tough market and it’d make sense to look for a little bit of help. Is your business at an impasse? Do you know that you can do better but aren’t sure of where to turn? You need to shake things up, so where do you look? Most often, your choices will be an ad agency or a marketing firm/ consultancy. Beware the lies.

Lie #1: One size fits all

Keep in mind that one size doesn’t fit all. No one can be all things to all people all of the time. Figure out what you need before you jump in. If you believe you need to “look before you leap”, then your next step should be a marketing consultant who can help you map out a plan. If you’re willing to jump into that pool without knowing if it even has water, then go to an ad agency first. Marketing agencies/consultants and advertising agencies are your two primary choices.

Lie #2: We have your best interests in mind

Although they may claim to do similar things, they aren’t the same. And the easiest way to differentiate them is to think about how they make money. There are nice guys out there who will throw in a freebie everyone now and then. In the long run, checking the money path explains things pretty well. Some agencies may work on a retainer basis and get paid for a specified amount of time each month. But, their primary income for advertising and design agencies is from the projects they do for you. The more projects they do, the more money they make. The bigger the projects, the more money they make.
Marketing agencies or marketing consultants get paid for their time. When marketing consultancies are also selling SEO, website design or mobile marketing, they’ve crossed the line into selling more projects and bigger projects.

Lie #3: What’s good for me is good for you

Ad agencies may work on a range of projects – from TV advertising to web design and from online advertising to social media. Ad agencies often claim to offer strategic services, but most often (99.4% of the time) they don’t. They create strategies that will help them sell more o

f their services so they can make more money. You can be pretty sure that if you’re working with an ad agency who focuses on digital marketing (online ads, website development, etc.), they are not likely to propose that you pursue direct mail. Before you jump into anything, you should figure out the objectives and strategies that’ll work best for your company. For that reason, a marketing consultant might be the best first step.
Marketing consultants focus on creating strategies that work for your company, your industry, your situation. They offer a range of marketing services that can include, strategic planning, project management, coaching and/or interim staffing. Good consultants will partner with you, working to leverage the expertise and understanding you have in your company

Lie #4: We are experts on your company

Beware when you hear an agency or consultant tell you that they know your company better than you. While they should have new perspectives on how you can move your company forward, they should respect the fact that you are experts on your organization.
Alternatively, you have 2 big responsibilities. First, open your mind to new ideas. Second, don’t relinquish your power. I’ve seen customers follow an agency’s directions because they felt the agency was “an expert”. They didn’t feel the proposal fit their but claimed, “These guys are at the top of their game. We’d be silly not to trust them.” Not true. While you might need to take a small jump out of your comfort zone, you shouldn’t be abandoning your company history, your brand or your objectives.

Ad agencies and marketing consultants can be invaluable partners for both big and small businesses. Like most other tools, they’re best used when you know how, when and why to use them.

Sierra, Nik Wallenda and How to Succeed in Social Media

Sierra, Nik Wallenda and How to Succeed in Social Media

Nik Wallenda Grand CanyonIn a recent client meeting, one of their summer interns was asked to join the meeting.

“Sierra has some great, fresh ideas about our marketing. She thinks we need to be on Facebook and Twitter.  And, I think we need to be on social media.”

 

Social Media isn’t a Strategy

Now, this is a company I was trying to bring into the world of blogging.  Not only were they in a highly competitive market where customer loyalty was low across the board, their website content was pretty static, un-engaging and un-supportive of a dynamic SEO strategy.  A blog seemed the perfect answer.

“Our customers aren’t interested enough in our services to read about them all the time.  We tried a Facebook page and it didn’t work out.”

I saw their old Facebook page.  There was no engagement.  In fact, there was no attempt at engagement.  It was a page of that infamous social media guilty pleasure of self-promotion.  Nonetheless, I saw an opportunity to leverage Sierra’s nudge to open the social media door. So, I asked Sierra what her goals would be for social media.  It was tough for her to mask her disdain when she answered.

“Goals?  What do you mean?  Don’t you realize how many people are on Facebook?”

No Strategic Plan

We Just Wanna Tweet.  We Don’t Need a Plan.

As it turned out, no one really had a plan for social media.  They just wanted to throw a few tweets and posts at the wall to see what might stick.  Whoa!!!  They  really didn’t care if anything stuck, they just wanted to toss a few things out there.

Social marketing without a plan is pretty close to crossing the Grand Canyon on a tightrope…without a net.  If you’re an undisputed pro (like Nik Wallenda), you may be OK.  If not, you’re screwed.

Social media is tough.  It’s a lot tougher, much more unproductive and a time sink without a plan.  A recent post by Heidi Cohen in Social Media Examiner outlines “How to Setup a Social Media Strategy”.

  1. Set goals
  2. Know your audience
  3. Define core topics
  4. Choose your media platforms
  5. Encourage engagement everywhere
  6. Create processes
  7. Measure results

I learned 2 lessons.

Don’t cross the Grand Canyon without a net.

Don’t attempt social media without a plan.

 

S-h-h-h-h! Don’t Tell! Small Business is BIG.

S-h-h-h-h!  Don’t Tell!  Small Business is BIG.

National Small Business Week began on June 17th.  But, it’s not too late to learn about how big small business is … and how they can grow even bigger.  There are some great insights here from small business owners who made it big-time.

 

The Best Advice For Small Businesses From Experts Who Have Lived It from HubSpot

hubspot small biz advice

Naked Branding Could Change The World

Naked Branding Could Change The World

Most companies have two brands.  One is the (cool) brand you promote.  And the other is the brand you live and breathe everyday.  Social media provides a great opportunity to provide brand transparency and help to create authenticity in branding.  At that point, companies can have one brand.  They can stop telling everyone how wonderful they are and  start BEING wonderful.

The Naked Brand documentary  talks about the amazing potential of this new advertising and branding model and a video sampling of the film appears below.

“Corporations have incredible influence on the world we live in and that’s given them free reign to pollute, collude and mislead us, but advances in technology are rapidly making them accountable not just to shareholders, but to everyone. The Naked Brand is a story about how corporations can help save the planet one small step at a time. It’s an introduction to a bright new future where companies tell the truth and work hard to create better products and a better planet.”

The Naked Brand. Simply genius.

Watch the brief video here. It’ll inspire you!

The Naked Brand – Official Trailer from The Naked Brand on Vimeo.

Stop Talking to Yourself… No One’s Listening

Stop Talking to Yourself… No One’s Listening

ListenWhen you’re busy talking to yourself, you’re probably not listening to your customers.  You know your business inside and out.  You know all of the funky terminology and the acronyms.  You know all of the details of your product or service that lie 27 layers under the surface.

When you go to an accountant to get your Tax Return completed, do you want to know that you can deduct the price of your new computer because State Law 2877 wasn’t passed at the 128th session of State Legislature?

When you buy Crocco Cream, do you need to know that the reason it smoothes your skin is because the structure of the CaH2OH ionized particles has the uberant genometability to pass through your pores into the denatured pollicules of the itinerant sub-cuticle and carbonize the helio-elasticin due to its unique fragilistic retinoiditis?

 

Respect their point of view

Your customers may not have the same knowledge and perspective that you do, but they are the key to your success.  It could be that if they’re confused, it’s because you didn’t do a great job of explaining your products and services.

 

Talk at their level.  Don’t talk down to them. 

Did you ever talk to someone who clearly thought they were smarter than you?   You know those people who have all of the answers and don’t think you have any.  That sigh of exasperation they have.  The way they roll their eyes.  Do you enjoy those conversations?  Well, your customers don’t enjoy it when you treat them that way.

 

Listen between the lines 

It’s great when you promote customer engagement.  You blast your customer service number all over the place.  Your customer service email address is everywhere.  And then your customer calls.  They’re confused.  You’re doing a million other things as you try to answer their questions.  You’re really not giving them your full attention.  Your answers are simple, one word answers.  And you’re certainly not listening “between the lines”.  To do that you need to give them your full attention.  Answer their questions and then… ask them questions to be sure you really understand what’s going on.   Your objective is not just to answer questions.  Your objective is to understand them.

 

Focus on benefits, not features

In every industry there are long lists of technical terms and technologies.  Legal and financial services are full of complex terminology and a unique writing style that can be near impossible to read.  Surely, you have some customers who understand it all.  Most do not.

If you’re buying new phone service, do you need to know the technology of fiber optic services or do you just need to know about the benefits it provides?

Some people don’t want any deep detail.  Some want a small taste (so they can feel like an expert).  And some want the full onslaught of detail.  The best solution is to make it available to them in easily digestible bits and bytes.  Bottom line – Don’t speak geek unless it’s requested.

 

Mutual understanding

After you’ve gone through all the steps, make sure that you understand your customer and that they understand you.  That confirmation helps to seal the deal.

 

Happy, satisfied customers are going to take your business to the next level.   There are a few keys that unlock that door.  One of the biggest is to stop talking to yourself.  No one’s listening.

Page 3 of 512345

What Are People Saying?

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

How We Can Help You.

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.