July 29, 2013

Fourth generation websites are the real deal

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:41 am


We’ve seen three generations of websites, and now have entered a fourth. Come with me now as we revisit the progression of this phenomenon: 

First Generation – Just get a website up, and you are among the elite marketers. Content was immaterial, just having one legitimized your business and told others you definitely were “with it.” The early examples were little more tan flash pages containing basic, bare bones information, but they were “great cred.” How long has it been since you were asked, ”Do you have a website?”

Second Generation – These were more comprehensive, and actually ushered in the requirement for some navigation acumen on the part of the webmaster team. Little more than electronic brochures, they, nonetheless were characterized by a certain degree of sophistication, particularly in how the material was organized and presented.

Third Generation – Websites come of age with flash, blog windows, videos, sound, e-commerce capabilities and no small amount of dazzle. Unfortunately, in the craze to be state-of-the-art it also signaled the birth of the website on steroids, particularly in the area of a feverish urge for information overload and – to a regrettable degree – unintended irrelevance.

Fourth Generation – This, to my mind, is a stunning example of Back to the Future simplicity – a new age of directness and meaningful content. It is a refreshing backlash against the monstrosities that arose in the previous generation of website excess. Our web clients are now demanding clarity of message, clean layouts and, especially, calls to action.

Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” and marketers have finally come to realize that their online visitors don’t want to devote much time to getting the drift of what is offered in terms of their own best interests.


July 22, 2013

The foundation of marketing

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:48 am

The  cornerstone of marketing appears on a “one-way street.” Thus, here’s the case for one-way communication:

Here is the fundamental premise on which all marketing is based:

If the consumer isn’t aware that you exist, you can’t sell your product.

When encountering a prospect on the showroom floor or at a trade show, in every case, he or she was “delivered” to that critical pointby an awareness of you; whether through an advertisement, a referral or, in the trade show circumstance, merely because you were there.

What takes place at that point is two-way communication (you standing face to face with the prospect, closing the sale). Though your degree of success will be determined by your persuasiveness, product, knowledge, price, etc., something that happened before that gave you the opportunity: a prospect had to be delivered.

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, real success is largely a numbers game. To survive, let alone be a leader in your category, you have to close many sales. In order to do so, you have to have ample numbers of prospects with which to work.

Here’s the key point: developing adequate numbers of prospects cannot be accomplished through two-way communication, either face to face, by phone, the mail or, even, the Internet. Neither you nor your sales staff has anywhere near the time necessary for this crucial function. Prominent publisher McGraw Hill & Co. has estimated that the average sales call requires approximately 45 minutes, and that an average of three calls is required to close a sale. Surely, it’s no way to prospect.

Prospecting is what marketing ¾ the one-way communication element of sales ¾ is ideally suited for. Expensive, time-consuming two-way communication simply isn’t efficient, nor is it effective in developing prospects in the numbers sufficient for business success. Marketing communication, in one form or another, is the answer.

Most anti-marketing hard-liners got that way because they, at some point, were turned off by poor marketing efforts that failed to produce results. This is understandable, because much marketing is misguided or misplaced ¾ but it is not justifiable, and more than likely will be hazardous to bottom-line business health.

Is marketing foolproof? Will it always produce infallible, guaranteed results? No it won’t, nor is it fair to expect it to (after all, what does?). But it is more science than art, and, as such, has something very important on its side: LOGIC.  Marketing is measurable, quite often yielding predictable results, and as practiced by good professionals, should – and most often does – more than pay for itself.


July 15, 2013

Why we help others

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:14 am

It will come back to you.

The other day, someone in our office said, “Why are we always doing things to assist other people? They rarely seem to be doing the same for us.”

This person was referring to how we had just set one of our associates up with a crucial contact that was obviously beneficial to them, though not necessarily to us. In other words, the inference I took was, we might be chumps – or suckers – to be doing such things (apparently so often) without any apparent return.

My response to this comment came to me so fast, even I was a little shocked. I mumbled (mostly to myself),”Cast thy bread upon the waters.” Wow, I thought to myself, that’s pretty profound, and a perfect fit for the philosophy I had wanted to express at the time.

The Good Book

I wondered at the origin of this phrase. Of course, the style of the language pretty much gave me the clue it was a biblical reference, but which one, I wondered. Just then, Dr. Google appeared at my desk. “Why, that’s from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament,” he said. “It’s eccl.11:1,” he added with a knowing wink. Then, just for good measure, he added, “for thou shalt find it after many days. …”


Doc Google’s meaning was pretty clear: Show some benevolence, and you’re apt to have it returned somewhere down the line. Not only was this a comforting thought, but one which, upon reflection, has proven true on many occasions in my experience.

Wile E. Coyote

On the other hand, like Wile E. Coyote of Roadrunner cartoon fame has proven on many occasions, if we are always looking to gain an edge for ourselves, it is more than likely, the person we will outsmart will be ourselves. (The time I had brought some poker chips on a weekend trip with my buddies in order to lure them into a little card game came to mind. You guessed it, I lost my butt!)

A wise man once told me, “Do a good job, and pay no mind to who is going to get credit for it.” This carries over nicely to all of our business relationships. It seems, the harder we try to boost others, the more we are apt to become the one who gets a boost.

The application to marketing that is found in this phenomenon of boosting others is so apparent as to be able to speak for itself. Keep up the good deeds, and you likely will get more than some soggy bread for your troubles.


July 8, 2013

Pick yourself up, take a deep breath, dust yourself off

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:41 am


.  .  . and start  all over again! Those words aren’t my advice for this month, but, rather they are the words to an old Jerome Kern song (if that name doesn’t ring a bell, a trip to Google will introduce you to one of America’s most prolific song writers for Broadway productions (1885-1945). The musicals, Oklahoma and Showboat come to mind.

While the word dust hasn’t been utilized in many song titles, it is a rather important ingredient in one of my favorite business platitudes, “You (your business) will either make dust or eat dust!” As painful as it may be for us to contemplate this choice, it is one with which we are confronted — like it or not.

That’s because mediocrity is not a destination, it’s a ditch that’s very easy to fall into along the road to hoped-for success. Like the term, “average,” when you are mediocre, you are just as close to the bottom as you are to the top. The problem is, after a time, it becomes a fairly comfortable state, much like the sleep that they say precedes a death by freezing.

The point of this is that if you are not shooting for the top of the mountain, you are quite likely to get mired in the mud of the foothills. This is why, when crafting a marketing plan it is wise to set goals that would make those less ambitious souls around you blush. That’s because a funny thing can happen if you are focused on the pinnacle — you just might make it up there. And, if you fall a bit short, you are still in a place far above the crowd.

So, set those lofty goals and, then, develop the kind of strategies specifically designed to help you reach them. To do less is to tacitly adopt a self-fulfilling prophecy for failure. Support the strategies with tactics and prioritize the tactics, because even the ambitious can’t do everything at once. With the assistance of timelines for the achievement of tactics, all things being equal, you will be among the chosen few to reach the summit.

And, while you are there, don’t forget to enjoy the view.



July 1, 2013

Tracking your marketing campaign

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:26 am

In an Entrepreneur.com article entitled Developing a Marketing Calendar, Al Lautenslager gives us some good pointers. The co-author of Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days, says there are two best times to develop a marketing plan — right now and whenever your business started.

Al and I agree that marketing is complicated, and to make effective use of its many strategies and components, you have to first plan them out then stay organized and consistent in implementing your plan. His thought is that a marketing calendar is the best way to organize your marketing activity. The calendar also serves as a working document you can revise and update throughout the plan year, he adds.

A marketing calendar doesn’t have to be fancy. He recommends a simple spreadsheet. Across the top are column headings representing the months of the year. In the left-hand column are listed each marketing initiative, event or activity anticipated during the plan year.

How your calendar will look

For instance, if you’re going to do a press release every other month starting in February, you would put an X in the February, April, June, August, October and December columns. If I were going to issue a print newsletter once a month, each monthly column would have an X in it for that item.

To determine which activities to include in your calendar, brainstorm all the marketing ideas that make sense for your plan year. Balance your marketing workload with the other things you need to do for your business. Plan for what you can do completely, not halfway. Also plan what you feel comfortable with, emotionally and financially. Prioritize accordingly; then place your ideas on your matrix.

I always advise writing your plan “in pencil,” a figure of speech I use to emphasize that a marketing calendar – or plan, for that matter – is a living document subject to change, e.g. deletions and additions. I make this point because some people hesitate to make a plan because they seem to think that changing it would be a form of cheating. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Four things a marketing calendar allows you to do  


It organizes, categorizes and      prioritizes your      marketing initiatives and activities.

  1. It allows you to spot      “bunches” in your marketing activity. Too many X’s close together might      indicate the need to spread out your activity. It’s generally accepted,      though, that there are natural bunches that occur as a result of      seasonality in your business and your customers’ buying habits.
  2. It offers a way for you to spot gaps in      your marketing activity.      Too much time in between the X’s in your activities leaves customers and      prospects untouched. Your goal with marketing is to achieve top-of-mind      awareness. Consistency is key here, as is repetition.
  3. It allows you to more easily evaluate      your marketing. At the      end of the year, the quarter or any other period of time you specify,      grade the individual activity and initiative items. You can use a 1 to 10      scale, with 10 being spectacular, or you can use a simple A, B or C grading      system. If your particular initiative worked, grade it high. If it was      moderately successful, give it a midlevel grade, and if it didn’t work,      give it a low rating.

Where the value is


Now here’s the real value of this activity: When you plan the next period’s marketing, repeat what worked or what you graded highly. Fix, modify or tweak the marketing that kind of worked or that was graded at a midlevel, and eliminate the marketing that didn’t work at all.

That’s all there is to tracking your marketing plans on your marketing calendar. Do what works for your business. Plan it quarterly if that’s easier for you than doing it monthly. Once you establish your marketing plan, keep it moving on a regular basis. One warning, however: Be sure not to abandon initiatives without first giving them a chance to work.

In addition to tracking and analysis, a major value of using a calendar lies in its properties as a constant reminder that consistent marketing wins out. Planned, consistent marketing with effective implementation wins out even more.