Thursday, April 30, 2009

Recession Marketing

I thought you might enjoy the following Q&A that I provided to a national publication writing about how small business owners can succeed in a recession.

1. What tips can you provide for organizations looking to maximize their marketing budgets?

Focus, focus, focus. The biggest problem right now is that people are spreading their marketing efforts too thin. It is much better to call one warm prospect than to send a cold mailing to 1,000 people from a database. Focus your efforts on the most profitable and likely prospects.

2. What brand building techniques do you recommend during a recession?
In a bad economy, people only pay for things that solve immediate, serious needs. Take a look at your marketing messages and determine whether they address such a need. Think in terms of Emergency Care vs. Prevention. Long-term marketing messages simply aren't selling right now, so you need to dig deep into the "pain" your customers feel and tell them how you can help.

3. Are there marketing activities you have increased as a result of the recession? If yes, can you provide an example?
I'm offering more workshops and short-term projects that deal with specific problems (per the above answer - long term strategy just isn't as attractive right now).

4. Are there specific campaign examples or strategies that have worked particularly well despite the recession?
My marketing business has actually grown in the past six months, and my pipeline is full. I think it's because I saw the consumer mentality changing and applied what I said in numbers 1 and 2 to my own company.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

10 lbs

I have been actively pursuing a healthy body for more than a year now. I've gone down two pant sizes and feel great. I've established healthy habits like eating 6+ servings of fruits and veggies most days, clocking 10,000 steps per day and sweating through 4-5 cardio workouts per week. I have cut my alcohol consumption in half and actually developed a distaste for fatty, highly-processed foods.

In short, I'm happy with h0w I look and feel, and my body is healthy.

You know what's amazing though? I've only lost 10 lbs! One year and all this work, and all the scale can show me is 10 lbs.

It's times like this that I have to remember that numbers are only one of the guides we can use in life. There are lots of other metrics for our bodies, minds and businesses that can help us know whether we are succeeding at what we want.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Snail's Pace

Because my natural inclination is to rush to the finish, I have been amazed to notice that since I started meditating I have been able, for the first time in my life, to move slowly. The amazing thing about it is that in doing so, I appear to be moving even faster than before.

This is a strange paradox - by thinking more slowly most of the time, I am able to make better decisions even faster than before.

I always knew that my propensity to move quickly was linked to my propensity to make lots of mistakes. Now, however, I can see that, given the right space and time, moving slowly reduces the number of mistakes and somehow still allows me to work just as quickly as before. I'm not sure how the paradox works, but it does, and I'm stoked!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Beautiful Life

My husband and I have crazy schedules. Our work is our passion, leaving us both exhilarated and exhausted. Today we took advantage of the fact that our "crazy schedules" also mean "flexible schedules" and spontaneously went to the beach - he surfed; I ran.

It was a beautiful day, and both of us are so appreciative of the fact that we live such a charmed life that we are able to do such wonderful things.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Casino Marketing

Yesterday we went to an Indian Casino with my husband's 88-year-old grandmother. She had the time of her life! I can't say that I really enjoyed the casino - there were clouds of cigarette smoke everywhere and I'm a horrible gambler - but I did observe some classic marketing techniques:

1. Call to action! Nowhere have I ever felt such a strong internal drive to participate in something as I did walking onto the floor filled with slot machines. Everywhere you look, there are colorful machines begging you to take a chance - and just 5c a try! How can you resist? The pull is actually physical!

What a marketer can learn: always have a call to action - your customers should know exactly what they are supposed to do at all times.

2. Sensory control: Casinos are well-known for controlling our sense of time, space and reality. There are no windows to the outdoors, and the lighting stays the same whether it's noon or midnight. There are no comfy chairs or places to relax - the only thing to do is play their games.

What a marketer can learn: if you have a retail store or restaurant, remember that the lighting, decor and sounds will drive your customers to behave in certain ways. Take advantage of the opportunity by thinking carefully about what you want them to do.

3. Possibilities: The fundamental drive to gamble is the opportunity to make a lot of money, but ask any casino owner the truth, and you know that the house always wins. In our group of five, all of us lost between $15-$100. We had also all been up by between $50-$300 at some point in the day. It's the "up" moments that drive us into the "down" ones at casinos - we think that if we try just one more time, we may win it all back (plus more!).

What a marketer can learn: always have something aspirational that your customer can "reach" for with your product. The diet industry and get-rich-quick schemes are other good examples of this.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Great Expectations

Sometimes ideas come gently, and sometimes they smack you on the side of the head like a tidal wave.

I have been working on an idea recently that is so big and beautiful that it has shaken me up considerably. Usually when this happens, I move as quickly as I can to get the idea implemented. I am always about action, action action. The thrill and adrenaline of action towards a big idea is heady and intense. Sometimes though, it feels as if I'm rushing, always racing towards the next idea as soon as the last one loses its luster.

With this new idea, I'm nurturing it slowly. Letting it percolate and build. Allowing it to gradually develop in my head before committing to any action on its behalf. It's truly the strangest, most beautiful experience I've ever had with an idea!

How do you handle ideas? Do you race to implement them before you can see any obstacles and get disappointed? Do you consider the obstacles and drop the idea out of fear? Do you slowly consider each obstacle and weigh it against the potential opportunity, gradually making steps forwards and backwards until you feel confident that you are ready to run?

Monday, April 6, 2009

How to Set Your Customers Up for Success

Yesterday I attended a meditation retreat. It was nice, but not what I was expecting based on my last experience with the organization. As a result, I was somewhat frustrated and disappointed in a way that I probably wouldn't have been if I had just known what to expect.

This is a good reminder that when you are marketing, it is important to let people know what they can expect from you. This goes beyond the time and date and a snappy title: try to also answer these three simple questions:

1. What specifically will be expected of the customer?
2. What will the customer walk away with?
3. What level of customer are you catering to? (experienced, novice, etc.)

By answering these simple questions before your customer buys, you can ensure that she is set up to enjoy herself.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Life is Fragile - Live it Well

Tonight as I was running down a trail near my parents' house, I noticed the sky fill with helicopters and heard sirens in every direction.

We soon learned that a car-carrier truck lost control and ran over a few cars and straight through the local coffee shop and bookstore. This happened less than one hour after I had been at that exact location. Two people are confirmed dead.

Sometimes terrible things happen to everyday people. There is no rhyme or reason for why the truck careened down the street into the quiet little coffee shop in which I had just observed several people diligently working on their laptops.

There is so little that we can control in this world, but the one thing I know we can control is living our lives well.