Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Word of the Day: ECO-PORN

n. A corporate advertisement that extols the company's environmental record or policies.

Yes, we're all used to eco-porn by now; those beautiful tv ads featuring some beautiful, lush forestry and happy, indigenous people. There's a lot of "greenwashing" going on, though, and it is frequently pursued most energetically by the companies with the worst records. As these marketing strategies / branding efforts gain popularity, are they truly effective or are they already becoming just more noise?

This topic is on my mind today simply because of my return this week from my vacation in CO... (see photo!)

Whether you're a secretary or a senior exec, you can take actions to make your company greener. Ideas include buying ecofriendly office supplies (http://www.thegreenoffice.com/) or pushing for more opportunities to work from home so fewer employees have to commute on a daily basis. For more ideas see http://www.treehugger.com/

Monday, July 30, 2007

Put some NEW in the Old School

So, I'm having a client meeting this morning in the Downtown Dallas Starbucks and I notice they have this interior signage that says "I need a new tan line strategy..." Appropriate for summer, but it also got me thinking.

How often do companies need a new image / new perspective / new way of looking at their customers? In other words, although change is good, where is that sweet spot of delighting your customer with fresh, ah-ah moments and just plain confusing the hell out of them with your randomness?


Thursday, July 26, 2007

So, what are you saying?

I just returned last evening from a "Birthday Week" in Aspen, Vail, Boulder, and Denver. Now, I'm back home in Dallas, seemingly the capital of the Plastic People, and I'm having quite a bit of trouble re-culturing myself.

Went to a meeting tonight in jeans, flip flops and very little makeup. My stilettos are not holding my interest and every woman's pink lip gloss is annoying me. Surely, I'll be recovered soon so that I can wear a new dress I bought before I left and perfume will become a priority again.

Which only got me thinking... do we recognize that cities have "brands," too? What are those brands saying about each city? From a marketing (and Convention & Visitors Bureau) perspective, do cities concentrate on shifting their brand image in the marketplace if it becomes worn-out and dated to attract a wide variety of businesses and population growth? (think TV show "Dallas" in the 80's... ugh.)


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Integrated? Strategic?? Why Marketing Needs New Lingo

Ah, yes... the promise and vision of integrated marketing. But, what does that really mean?

Marketers long for a seat at the decision-making table in companies, but in many firms Marketing maintains its low-stature position as "mouthpiece" and "cost center" that contributes little to the enterprise strategy. Often settling into reactive, chaotic, dysfunctional work environments where Marketers operate more like order takers at McDonalds than real change facilitators and customer response representatives.

How many Marketers are really happy in their positions today? Do companies listen to outside Marketing consultants more than their in-house staff? Are these consulting positions "safer" from a career-choice perspective and do they foster a more collaborative team environment focused on real company growth and ROI?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Is your attitude about your ability affecting your success?

What an interesting question posed by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (yes, they are brothers) in their new book "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" http://www.amazon.com/Made-Stick-Ideas-Survive-Others/dp/1400064287/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-7796923-0365527?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1184612192&sr=1-1

"There is a long-standing debate about whether leaders are born or made. But, let's not revisit nature vs. nurture. Could it be that your point of view on this issue is what actually makes you a better or worse leader? And if so, is nature or nurture the more career-enhancing POV?"

"People with a fixed mind-set believe that intelligence is static. Your behavior provides a sample of your true underlying intelligence, like a taster spoon from a tub of ice cream. And, because people will judge your intelligence by the samples you provide, you'll definitely scoop out an Oreo chunk whenever you have the chance. Examples: Bob Nardelli (Home Depot), Manny Ramirez (Boston Red Sox)

"The other group are people with a growth mind-set. These people believe intelligence can be developed, like muscles. If you're in this camp, you'll test yourself more, despite the risk. You're more inclined to accept criticism which ultimately makes you better. You perceive hard work as the path to mastery, not as a sign of insufficient genius. Examples: Anne Mulcahy (Xerox), Tiger Woods (Professional Golfer), David Neeleman (JetBlue Founder)

"Wouldn't it be fascinating to see whether a few hours of training in a powerful idea might move the needle on the corporate income statement?"


Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Main Thing

One is said to have INTEGRITY to the extent that everything he does and believes is based on the same core set of values. While those values may change, it is their consistency with each other and with the person's actions that determine his integrity and his true intentions.

Because intentions are closely related to fairness and certainly affect the degree of honesty/dishonesty, there is a wide spread confusion about what constitutes honesty. Socrates had much to say about truth, honesty and morality, and explained that if people really understood that their behavior was wrong-- then they simply wouldn't choose it. Furthermore, the more dishonest someone is, the less likely they are to understand honesty and characterize their behavior as wrong.

All this to say... do the hard right thing, people. I'm seeing lack of integrity in business dealings more and more lately. And, I'm seeing people who seem to not give a rip that they are slashing-and-burning through valuable relationships with their ruthless and ignorant behavior.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Socially Savvy... Tips for Success in the Social Media Space

There is no debate over the accelerating popularity of Internet sites and forums where consumers share opinions and experiences about every product and service imaginable. From blogs and podcasts to wikis and social networks, social media allows consumers to rate and review products, advise fellow consumers, and even make their own commercials praising or bashing businesses and brands.

But, the force that is driving social media is as old as business itself: word-of-mouth. Buyers have always shared advice on purchasing decisions and consider word-of-mouth among the most trustworthy of information sources. Yet, this new electronic result is that marketers are rapidly losing control over their own positioning and messaging as consumers begin to control the market conversation. So, how should Marketing respond?

1. Review your corporate product positioning.
2. Use your positioning to define relevant keywords and keywords phrases.
3. Assign a team of cross-functional employees to help track, and when appropriate, to respond to social media content relevant to your market. Make your rules of engagement clear, especially proactive identification of employment and position.
4. Use your keywords and keyword phrases to identify social media influencers who are driving conversations relevant to your business.
5. Read the social media content of top influencers in your market to understand the tone, direction, and drivers of the current dialogue.
6. Submit comments on the blogs of influencers in your market. If your company has a blog, link to these influencers and write posts that reference and link back to their posts. Try to engage them in online dialogue between your blogs.
7. Follow the same process to engage in other forms of social media, including forums, wikis, bulletin boards and other social media applications.
8. Track your engagements with influencers and review the related responses and metrics of attention to them.
9. Refine and repeat.

As social media engages your customers, it elevates and disseminates information about every aspect of your business. To respond to this challenging trend, marketers must avoid the temptation to leverage social media as a new technology to manipulate word-of-mouth messages. Instead, develop trusted relationships with your market community by leveraging all the tools that enhance their ability to focus on issues critical to them and by engaging responsively in a market dialogue.

Monday, July 9, 2007

10 Biggest Mistakes Marketers Make

Does Marketing lack influence and stature in your organization? Do your clients not understand why they need to make a certain monetary level of investment in their brand? Do members of your company's executive team- along with your peers throughout the organization- fail to see the direct connection between marketing and the cash flowing into your firm's coffers?

Bottom line... you and your skills aren't viewed as a true strategic partner. Result? You are underutilized which prevents Marketing from delivering maximum value for the company. Stop whining. Turn the situation around by correting misperceptions of Marketing's role in generating cash. How? Avoid the 10 biggest mistakes marketers make:

10. Handing off leads to sales... and then forgetting about them. Hot prospects aren't cold cash.
9. Failing to speak the language of business. Yeah, strengthened brand awareness is great, but it's got to be tied to a positive financial line item.
8. Using metrics that don't matter to top management. Again, show me the money.
7. Living in the Marketing silo. Lack of communication internally means frustrated customers externally.
6. Using ad-hoc Marketing processes. To be viewed as reliable and professional, you must use a consistent and transparent approach for each process and communicate that process throughout the company. No "winging it" lest you want to be labeled a "creative."
5. Letting R&D shoulder all the risk. Boost your business's chances of launching money-making hits by targeting the most promising markets, knowing target customer desired benefits, and identifying the themes of products that offer unique value, thus reducing the R&D risk.
4. Ignoring your company's business model. Is it velocity? Then, to achieve a rapid turnover of inventory, your Marketing strategies will include low pricing and aggressive promotions.
3. Swallowing fads without gauging their cash-flow potential. Innovative technologies, vendor services, and other companies' corporate best practices may look enticing, but each opportunity must be evaluated through a cash-flow lens.
2. Failing to market Marketing inside your own organization. Utilizing the same persuasive communication and smart decision-making you use to cultivate your company's brand to customers, don't forget to spread the word inside the firm as well.
1. Failing to be a cash-flow leader. Do more than just enhance the money streaming into your company. Help others throughout the organization see the direct connection between Marketing and money by influencing everyone to think in terms of generating dollars to achieve the company's financial mission, to see not only revenue goals but cost targets, and to get the big picture in which the company operates.

Monday, July 2, 2007

You Get the Most Flak when You're Right Over the Target

Delays, challenges, excuses, non-returned emails/phone calls, blatant avoidance, blame-passing. We all deal with these issues in our daily work lives. Yet, for those of us who consult for a living (especially, on our own) these little scenarios can sometimes mean a "billing snafu" on our part to the people that we owe. Ahhh... the joys of owning my time and my life.

However, I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything in the world. Some people are just wired for risk, chance, phenomenal luck, and good fortune that smiles down always at the precisely correct time. And, being a naturally positive and happy person anyway, I only look for the lesson in challenges. Heck, I know that if everyone's agreeing with me it must be a crappy idea.