May 28, 2013

A Shakesperian Marketing Choice

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 12:08 pm

To be or not to be? That is the question when deciding if you should be represented by a marketing agency..

Among the four or five start-up companies that approached Marketing Partners of Arizona for advice recently was one whose owners were conflicted over the question of whether or not to enlist outside marketing help. Their stated fundamental purpose for procuring such assistance would be to sharpen their strategic advertising and public relations weapons and, perhaps, elevate the professionalism of their collateral materials and enhance their overall image. The core problem shared by each of the marketing client-candidates, not surprisingly, was under-capitalization.

The strategic marketing tools we recommended, they felt, were excellent, but, unfortunately, were deemed “unaffordable,” considering their meager budget. Because we perceived these particular companies to be “certifiably” financially strained, and its spokespeople were quite  sincere, we offered our blessings, and sent them off with some general suggestions for some marketing campaign upgrades they could assumedly perform adequately without outside (our) help. Hopefully, they will succeed in their difficult quest.

On the other hand – and this is an important distinction – we would have been derelict in our role as marketing communication consultants had we not urged them to apply any “affordable” funds to induce the timely emergence of their respective new enterprises. Valuable – even crucial — time can be lost through do-it-yourself marketing campaigns, and, with apologies to our friends in the legal profession, it might be said, he who represents himself has a fool for a (marketer).


May 20, 2013

“Pull the trigger” on your marketing plan

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:01 am

 “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

The point would seem to be that before setting out on a journey to a new place, even in marketing, public relations and advertising, it obviously is prudent to have a road map.

A marketing campaign is, for many I have encountered, one such — would you believe, vital — new place. It, therefore, follows that one should have a road map.  .  . a written one, if you please. Symbolically speaking, putting it down in pencil is ideal, because it should be a changing, growing thing – the mother of all “living wills,” to my way of thinking.

There are dozens of templates for marketing plans being offered online, or you should be able to get one through your friendly, neighborhood marketing consultant. Most of these – both, the customized and the canned — are proprietary, so you should expect to pay a fee. But if you are hazy on what comprises a good marketing plan, it is well worth the investment.

10 key actions that make marketing plans work

Of course, following on the heels of the planning process, the other – and equally important – step is execution. That said, following is a list of 10 guiding principles that if followed will surely maximize your chances for marketing success.

Good luck. And happy marketing!

  1. Form a vision of what you plan to achieve.
  2. Develop a plan to make your vision a reality.
  3. Judge whether an opportunity is one to seize or let pass within the context of understanding whether or not it fits into your goals (you can’t act on every good idea).
  4. Make sure your plan gives you a framework for making decisions.
  5. Get accustomed to making choices.
  6. Understand that the “perfect solution” is never going to come along (looking for perfection is merely a way to avoid making choices).
  7. Get out of your comfort zone (change is always uncomfortable).
  8. Make a real commitment to progress.
  9. Get used to saying “yes,” get used to saying “no,” and do both with commitment and conviction.
  10. Recognize opportunities, and, then grab on (if you don’t “pull the trigger,” you can’t hit the target).

May 13, 2013

The best advice ever

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:30 am

.  .  . “You have two ears and one mouth!”

I recently was reminded about the above advice, and the idea it implies. It was mentioned in a job interview context, but certainly it has other important applications.

The rule of thumb I inferred from the advice was, “listen twice as much you speak,” corresponding, as it were, to that same ears-to-mouth ratio.

In a marketing sense, opinion surveys are a time-honored tool for the very reason they have been found to be helpful in determining what a target prospect feels, thinks and wants. So why, conversely, are we seemingly so insistent on preferring to hear the sound of our own voice rather than that of our prospect, client, mentors and associates?

One of the many possible answers is that in these short-attention-span times we become so concerned we will be given neither the time nor attention to get our idea(s) out there that we think it essential to just blurt them out (the other party’s needs or wishes notwithstanding).

Here’s a related “marketing tip” for winning an account:

Do your homework. Become conversant enough with what makes a prospect and/or their business tick that incoming conversation (what they say) has at least an outside chance of being heard. Do this, and you may be amazed to discover how much more effective your thoughts and words are when it becomes your turn to speak.

Here’s another tip:

Have a pre-prepared list of pertinent questions to ask, if and when your prospect – or, for that matter, new client or fellow worker – runs low on thoughts, words (or wind) which inevitably will happen. Then, here’s still another surprise! .  .  . you, then, may marvel at just how grateful they seem to take a few breaths while they find out what’s on your mind.

Many years ago, we heard that bright and incisive negotiation guru, our friend Somers White, say, “He who talks first loses!” This advice has served us well through the years, and we shudder to think of how much we might have missed out on, had we been talking at the time, rather than listening.

Final thought: Next time you are engaged in a fairly pivotal conversation, “celebrate the silence” that can occur between the time the other party stops – and you start – talking. Look closely into their eyes, and hesitate for a few counts. You may detect that they seem to be fairly begging for you to respond to what they have been saying.

But, if you respond in a disconnected way, a sure indication you haven’t been focusing on what they said, you may have negated any advantage that comes from “listening.”


May 6, 2013

How’s your COIQ*?

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:01 am


*Center of Influence   Quotient (a term entirely fabricated by A. Starr)

Whether or not we are acutely aware of it, we all have centers of influence. These are groups to which we belong or have belonged, ranging from college classmates and Greek organizations to professional, trade and community organizations, special-interest clubs and churches/synagogues memberships, etc.

These may include the “gang” at the neighborhood hangout, beauty/barber shop, ball field or golf course. In essence, they are those with whom we “rub elbows” on occasion.

The power of these human contacts is never to be underestimated as a key piece of a success matrix that includes friends, family and clients/customers. Depending on the circumstances, they can “have your back” in times when your back needs “having.” They are the connections you may need for getting an appointment in the C-Suite, an appointment for a daughter to West Point or scoring a recommendation for membership in an exclusive group to which you otherwise wouldn’t have a prayer of cracking.

Think about it. Can you count the number of times you have been “bailed-out” (let’s hope figuratively) by a friend in need. Remind me to tell you about the two hours I spent in a Newport Beach lockup, in 1987 before being sprung by Bill Campbell (and, believe me, he never looked better!).

How to cultivate COI’s

While we all have them, one can never have too many (that’s something like being too skinny). That’s why we must spend time working, playing and interacting with others in various ways (this is in contrast to spending entirely too much time on the Internet). But can these vital helpers be “grown?” . . . Certainly, and the best way is by being a helper, ourselves, even going out of our way to offer assistance to others.

Such a characteristic probably already comes naturally to you, but if not, exercise your “helping-hand muscle” every chance you get. One of the biggest boosts I feel I am able to receive is to have someone call on me for assistance (even the unpaid kind) or advice. It makes a statement. It means they respect you. And when you are able to connect one in need with what they need, this means you are what Malcolm Gladwell, in The Tipping Point, calls a connector.

And no finer designation – or reputation – can be earned.

I came by it naturally, as it kind of ran in our family while I was growing up. It sometimes seemed someone was always calling on my mom or dad for a favor. Think about it; you probably can say the same.

Sure, helping others is a “good move”

. . . and the danger is it may sometimes be taken to extremes. But what we may “give” pales in comparison to the good feeling we often may receive when we know we have been able, perhaps uniquely, to give someone that certain something they had hoped we could help them with when they called on us.