October 28, 2013

Is this a missing link?

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

After being a member of Linkedin for a couple of  years, a few years back I decided to actually get involved with this venerable business/social networking site that was launched in May of 2003.

Bulletin: It works!

Let me count the ways:

  1. Reunions –      First of all, it induced and enabled me to reconnect with a number of      former business associates, friends and clients after varying lengths of time      (from months to years) being out of contact.

What a delight this particular aspect was. It turned up people like New  York-based Jeff Burger, longtime executive editor of Business Jet Traveler magazine, who I, as publisher of two national trade magazines in the late ‘80s, had hired when he was fresh from a stint editing Phoenix Magazine  (aside: I’d hire Jeff again in, ahem, a New York Minute).

  1. Recommendations      (inbound) – We all realize that word of mouth is by far our most      effective advertising. The kudos I have already received in the first few      days – you could check it out – have been enough to warm the cockles of      this near-petrified, but well-gratified old heart. I never thought I could      possibly hear so many kind remarks about me .  .       . without dying.
  2. Recommendations      (outbound) – The recommendations      feature has also has given      me the opportunity to recommend and relate some pertinent information      about some of the great services and people I have come across and in the      past 33 years, both in this business and as an active member of some key      business groups like The Arizona      Small Business Association, The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce      and The Executives Association of      Greater Phoenix. 

  1. Idea exchange      – One of the first things I did since surfacing on Linkedin was to launch a discussion      group, Marketing Partners Memos,      and the response has been great – over 40 members and several comments on      the first full day! In Memos, we      take up marketing and management topics that have an impact on our bottom      line, and we really would welcome your insights and active participation      (I’m betting you’ll get some valuable tips, too, because we’ve got some      very bright, experienced and well-qualified folks contributing, already).

  1. Overview – Just      this feature, alone, is worth      the price of membership in  Linkedin (it’s free of charge,      already!). I refer to the exposure and outlook it gives one to the      business scene and the various segments in which one is most interested      (it’s like looking in through the windows of the shops of some folks you      have often wondered about, without being detected).
  2. Gift-giving – I’ve      noticed that some of the people I’ve had the opportunity to ask to connect      with me on Linkedin had not      previously been active on the site, much like my situation barely a few      days earlier. I’m already convinced that if they take advantage of the      medium, they’ll appreciate it as much as I do. And if they choose to join      the Marketing Partners Memos      group (simply click the Groups link at the top-left of      the Allan Starr Profile page)      that, alone, will be worth the price of admission.

.  .  .  (And, like I said, – it’s free of charge, already!)










October 21, 2013

A critical answer

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:20 am

You probably have an appropriate and effective response to the hypothetical, yet critical question, “Why should we give you our business?”  One of our clients who is skilled at delivering those daunting “elevator speeches,” was nonetheless stumped when one of his was met with the challenging question shown above.

If this should happen to you, you “post-elevator-speech” response may be the last opportunity you will ever have to sell yourself, so it had better be to the point, and laced with relevant – and supportable – claims. Here’s a clue: Build your answer entirely around things unique to you and your business. The only things your prospect is interested are those things through which you can be distinguished from your competitors.

Vague generalities and empty or meaningless claims are verboten. Be clear, specific and benefits-oriented, rather than features-oriented in your response. And never rely on emotion rather than facts.  If you can’t dazzle your questioner on the spot, at least try to entice them with something of substance in order to “buy” enough time to give more thought to their needs and concerns before giving a more comprehensive response at a future date.

The keys are brevity, clarity, pertinence, and, if more time is needed to develop a truly appropriate response, enough “enticement power” to facilitate a follow-up opportunity.



October 14, 2013

Tips for exploring new markets

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:22 am

We recently presented a checklist of steps to take when you are considering entering new markets. Now, we will cover the 10 specific avenues available for entering new markets, as well as some geographical expansion considerations.

10 avenues for entering new markets 

First of all, here is a list of those avenues. A wealth of information is available on each, simply by consulting the Internet search engines:

  1. Geographic expansion

Is the grass greener – or as green – in another locale?

  1. Line expansion

You’ve been selling widgets. How about adding gadgets and doodads?

  1. Franchising and licensing

Franchise opportunities ranging from $5,000 to millions are available. What’s your flavor?

  1. Form an alliance

Much synergy is possible when complementary elements combine.

  1. Diversify

Vertical expansion takes advantage of the common denominator of success that is offered by your capabilities.

  1. Target other markets

Non-related-field possibilities also loom for the surging entrepreneur. You are good at what you do. What else could you do as well or better? Here are some guidelines:

  • Follow trends
  • What’s hot?
  • What’s in decline?
  • Is there a compatibility match?
  • Consider long-term “health” of      prospective business
  • Avoid hula hoops, pet rocks and running      boards
  • Assess e-commerce potential
  • Where do your personal interests lie?
  • What target demographic do you most      readily relate to?
  • Revisit missed opportunities
  • What sounds like fun?
  • Assess your belief in (its) future
  • Transferable expertise
  • Availability of human resources      (on-staff and external)
  • Presence of potential      employees/vendors/partners/customers
  • Barriers to entry
  • Have an exit strategy
  • Vertical versus horizontal considerations
  • Utilize The Three R’s – research, research, research
  • At the end of the day, would you be      better off building what you already have?
  1. Win a government contract

Many have prospered, while others have sunk in an effort to navigate these waters.

  1. Merger or acquisition

This avenue long since has become the option of choice for the expansion-minded entrepreneur. Struggling competitors comprise the low-hanging fruit of rapid growth.

  1. Global expansion

Language barriers and cultural differences make this choice particularly daunting, though potentially profita

  1. The Internet

Why not sell to the world from your own back yard?

Some geographic expansion considerations

Many end up choosing this route. Here’s some food for thought when your objective is to add branches to your corporate tree:

  1. Real      estate challenges, e.g.  a)      location, b) leasing, c) sub-leasing, d) lease negotiation, e) property      purchase (free-standing vs. condo)
  2. Understand      that choosing a location may be the easiest part
  3. Hire      local talent
  4. Should      you also export key staff for on-site duties
  5. Think      locally (who are our friends on the ground?)
  6. Join      local networks to find potential customers, partners and marketing      opportunities.
  7. Develop qualified sales and marketing      leads
  8. Make target-consumer assessments
  9. Determine need for (outsourced or      recruited) local sales/marketing team
  10. Assess your own available      sales/marketing capacities
  11. How will you market, e.g. database marketing,      advertising, strategic alliances, etc.?
  12. Create instant product-  or brand-awareness.
  13.  Adapting to, and creating “buzz” within a      new neighborhood, region, country or continent
  14. Conduct market research
  15. Assess financial and human resources
  16. Have clear campaign objectives
  17. Assessing the demand for your product      or service
  18. Conduct competitive intelligence (e.g.      knowing number and relative strengths of competitors)
  19. Tailor sales/marketing strategy to      needs of the market
  20.  Set firm goals budgets, timelines and      benchmarks
  21. Study direction and trends of the      market and economy
  22. Employ entry-  and long-term strategies
  23. Maintaining cohesion and uniformity of      methods and systems
  24. Assess advisability of product and/or      price adjustments
  25. Consider product mix for new markets.
  26. Are new skills, new techniques and different ways      of operating advisable?
  27. Seek ways to secure the long-term future of the      new business
  28. Interview prospective employees and customers
  29.  Obstacles,      e.g. a) you      create the need to change the way you do things, b) little or no market      knowledge, c) language barriers, d) no established presence or regional      client references







October 7, 2013

Write less, say more

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:42 am

While chatting with a friend the other day, one who constantly places people in mid-  to high-level jobs, he told me how some job applicants use too many – or too fancy — words in an attempt to compensate for their apparent deficiencies in communication skills. I told him that I call this widespread phenomenon the word crutch, and that an economy of words is almost always best in getting one’s point across.

It’s true. The best communicators deal with little repetition, flowery language or hyperbole in relating to others, particularly in a business context. The same could be said for the most articulate politicians and other opinion leaders, though among the former this seems to be a vanishing trait.

This topic brought to mind a piece I filed many years ago after it was sent to me by McGraw Hill, the venerable and respected publishing house. Because it is every bit as pertinent today as it was when first I received it, I am taking this opportunity to share it. Here it is:

Keep it simple

Strike three.

Get your hand of my knee.

You’re overdrawn.

Your horse won.

Yes. No.

You have the account.


Don’t walk.

Mother’s dead.

The words above demonstrate that basic events require simple language. On the other hand, idiosyncratically euphuistic eccentricities are the promulgators of triturable obfuscation. What did you do last night? Enter into a meaningful romantic involvement or fall in love?

What did you have for breakfast this morning? The upper part of a hog’s hind leg with two oval bodies incased in a shell laid by a female bird — or ham and eggs?

David Belasco, the great American theatrical producer, once said, ”If you can’t write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don’t have a clear idea.”

Thanks, professor!

I had a great journalism instructor in college who also was the sponsor of the school’s weekly newspaper, Bear Tracks (cute name, don’t you think?) I still remember how Donald Hackett would shove the copy we cub reporters had submitted back into our face with the following words: “ Look — I’ve marked-out the unnecessary words.”

And there, on the copy draft, were enough red lines that, if laid end to end, would at the time seem to be enough to reach the Continental Divide. The point stuck, though still, once in a while, I find myself slipping back into Verbosity Valley:

The next time you or an associate has written something, take a red pen or pencil and mark-out everything unnecessary to making the intended point of your communication. My guess is that as you pause to re-sharpen the point (in the case of a pencil, of course) .  .  . I will have made my point.