Monday, 28 December 2009

Pessimism? Choose not to participate!

As a media relations consultant, I sometimes face an internal struggle between my professional need to scour all types of media coverage and my personal need to shield myself from what can seem like a never-ending stream of bad news.

With 2010 rapidly approaching, it has been interesting to read the myriad predictions about business, the economy and public policy (not to mention public health, public education, and public menaces). Though the stories quote expert after expert with their glum predictions about prospects for the coming year, I choose not to participate in the pessimism.

Nope.

For me, the new year is going to be better. Here’s why:

1) Lessons learned. After several years of smooth sailing, I – like many people – admittedly got a little too comfortable. While comfort is nice, it can trick us into growing complacent and taking good times for granted. If nothing else, I know 2009 has provided an injection of reality and a dose of humility that surely will benefit my long-term health and well being.

2) Priorities intact. Another risk of comfort and complacency is to lose sight of what’s important. While other sources of “security” may fall short, my real priorities – family, friends and faith – remain intact.

3) Ambition restored. Success can make us soft, while tough times can restore the grit that made us successful in the first place. I am starting 2010 with a renewed sense of ambition about the prospects that lie ahead. I’m prepared, focused and energized to make it a great year, both personally and professionally.

Pessimism for 2010? Bah humbug. Choose not to participate!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Ready for 2010




This has been a rather difficult year for my family: My husband missed two steps sneaking downstairs on Mothers' Day to make me breakfast in bed and broke both bones in his lower left leg. P.S. WORST MOTHERS' DAY EVER! Then my son broke his arm playing football last month. After the leg incident, the arm-breaking didn't seem like too big of a deal. Like most things, it's all about perception. In fact, the perception most of us have about 2009 is one of upheaval, fear and the fallout from economic recession. Some economists have tried to spin is as "market corrections," but that's just semantics.

But 2009 is nearly at an end, and 2010 is shaping up to be a bright, positive one. A fresh start and a new decade to look forward to. I was thinking about that this morning, as I looked at the Bradford pear tree in my backyard (pictured above, taken at 8 a.m.) and I was overwhelmed with joy and inspiration. That riot of color. That BrightBlue sky.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

BrightBlue Marketing Recommends


We’ve blogged about it before and we’ll blog about it again...What is "The Big So What"?

Before digging into event planning details, most people do themselves an injustice by forgetting to ask themselves “Who, What, Where, Why, When and How?” Who are you targeting, What is the event all about, What is the big so what? Why are you doing the event? Why will people care? When is the best time to ensure your intended attendees can be there (e.g. you wouldn't have an event for CPAs on April 14)? How will you divide up the to-do list?

Start with these important questions before you go forward with an event and you'll make a positive lasting impression with your contacts.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Take this time to r-e-a-d!

Don't you agree that the holidays are a perfect time to start reading all those great books you've been meaning to read?

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”
- Abigail Van Buren (but commonly misattributed to Mark Twain)

I don’t agree 100% with this quote, sometimes we need to escape from our work-life and relax with a light fluffy book. However, there still is that guilt for not reading the meaningful, educational material.

A very intelligent member of my Vistage Small Business Group inspired me to keep a yearly book list with the goal of reading all the books on that list. He brings a book with him wherever he goes and instead of wasting time waiting in lines, he reads while he waits. Brilliant use of time!

I decided I will switch off between a marketing / business and a leisure book each time. My goal is 2 books a month. Here is my list so far, not necessarily in this order. What do you suggest I add?

1. What Americans Really Want...Really: The Truth About Our Hopes, Dreams, and Fears. (Recommended by John Simonetta with Proforma Simonetta Freelance)
2. Eat, Love, Pray
3. Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga
4. No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt -- The Home Front in World War II: 1994
5. A Thousand Splendid Suns
6. The Accidental Billionaire (recommended by Chris May with CompTia)
7. The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
8. Tribes by Seth Godin
9 Hot Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman
10. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
11. Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin (recommended by Scott Levy with W3 Management)
12. Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin (Recommended by Scott Levy with W3 Management)

My top 3 favorites from this year:
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
  • Groundswell
  • The Last Lecture

I highly recommend www.xyzbooks.com. This non-profit book store donates a portion of all book sales to education!

Stay tuned for the main takeaways from these books. Coming soon to a BrightBlue Blog!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Are you easy?

Yesterday I went to the bank and deposited four checks, for a total deposit of 31 cents. Yes, that’s right. Four checks from the same company, totaling less than a dollar.

When I first started receiving these checks, the result of a series of mergers affecting a stock I own, I felt guilty. I couldn’t believe that this company was spending more on postage than the check was worth, not to mention the cost of actually creating the check, stuffing it into an envelope and processing it.

The first check I received gave me instructions for setting up direct deposits. What a fine idea! Easier for the company, easier for me. So, I went to the website they provided and filled in the form. And got an error. So I did it again. And got an error. So I called the company. After holding for several minutes, I got a message telling me to use the website.

Every few months, I go back to that website and try to set up direct deposit. It has never worked. So I keep getting checks in the mail. I save them until I am making a trip to the bank anyway, and then I deposit them all. And each time I think about how wasteful it is.

In these challenging economic times, it is constructive for all of us to stop and consider how easy it is for our customers to deal with us. Before even providing a useful product or service, are you easy to work with? Can your customers reach you? Can they interact with you efficiently and effectively, painlessly? If your customer wanted to actually help you save money, do you make it easy for them?

When you are thinking about the Four P’s of Product, Price, Place and Promotion, don’t forget the Big E for Easy.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

BrightBlue Recommends


Larissa's post about the 2009 TechTarget Online ROI Summit had a bunch of good info. I clicked around on several of the links she provided.

One presentation caught my eye: Looking Forward to a Post-Recession Economy. Click here to see it. Take advantage of the coming economic recovery to get the jump on competitors. Don't know how? Call us. We'll get you there!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Shifts in Search Patterns

About a month ago I attended TechTarget’s Online ROI Summit in San Francisco, a one-day event geared to those who market to IT decision makers. I came away with a lot of great information – on lead generation programs, ROI, lead scoring and automation – even got to hear directly from two CIOs in a breakout session about the best way to reach them (they unanimously said email – they don’t answer their phones!).

Some of the most interesting information to me was data shared from a Google/TechTarget Behavioral Research Project on the online search behavior of IT buyers during the purchase process. Breaking down the buying process into three stages – early (awareness), middle (consideration), and end (decision) - they highlighted two major shifts in search patterns between 2008 and 2009:

• Greater frequency of brand and issue/opportunity searches in the early stage of the buying process
• Higher volume of comparison searches in “consideration” vs. end stage of the buying process

Essentially, people are searching on a solution’s company name earlier in the buying cycle than they used to, and they’re looking to compare products with those of competitors earlier as well. The key takeaways – be sure your company’s web site addresses all stages of the buying cycle with relevant content, and don’t shy away from direct product comparisons between you and your competitors. IT buyers want comparisons and will do the due diligence with or without you, so provide them with the information - if you don’t, assume your competitors will.

Content from the Summit can be found online on TechTarget’s web site for your reference. If you market to IT buyers, it’s worth a look.

Friday, 20 November 2009

BrightBlue Recommends


The subject of this week's blog was Ernie Banks, a former Major League baseball player who played his entire career with the Chicago Cubs. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.

In 2008, Banks released a charity wine called Ernie Banks 512 Chardonnay, a nod to his established his own charity, the Live Above & Beyond Foundation, to eliminate prejudice, support programs that enhance neighborhoods and relieve discrimination among various age groups and races.

"Above and beyond" - That's certainly a notion that we at BrightBlue Marketing can get behind!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Minors to Majors

Ernie Banks went from hitting 19 homeruns a season in 1954 to 44 homeruns in 1955. One day he picked up a teammates bat instead of his, and he found he could swing better and faster than with the one he had been using. The only difference is it was 3 ounces lighter than his normal bat. 3 ounces changed his batting average dramatically. He didn’t make any major changes to his training schedule, go on a hot trend diet or go out and buy the newest equipment promised to improve his ability. He simply lightened his load by a mere 3 ounces.

What are your magic 3 ounces?


Success is in the details. The answer is not always obvious; in fact you rarely find answers in the big picture. You have to look a little closer, dig a little deeper. Who would have ever though that 3 ounces could make such a major impact? Think of the possibilities of a few minor changes like that in your business. What could be the key that unlocks success for you in this upcoming year? Where are there minor changes you can make that will have a major impact?

Friday, 13 November 2009

BrightBlue Recommends

Welcome to our newest innovation: The addition of our BrightBlue Recommends weekly blurbs! Every Friday, we'll have a recommendation for you that incorporates an idea, product, service, website, book or story from our weekly blog.

This week, I wrote about the Disney Pixar movie UP. I recommend Disney's business philosophy and "product," which is "WE CREATE HAPPINESS." See some notable quotes from Walt Disney here and remember, "All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them."

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Honesty, Honestly!

I took my son and his friend to see the Disney Pixar movie "UP!" this summer. Of course, it was beautifully written and had amazing graphics. The voice talent was top-notch and I found myself sobbing at the end, it was so touching.

But the thing that stayed with me all this time was the little dog named Dug. His diabolical first owner equipped him with a device that communicates the dog's thoughts. In one scene, he stows away in the house that his new master has tied balloons to and drifts over the continent. When they land, the master is surprised to see Dug, whose voicebox says something like "I hid under the porch because I love you and wanted to come with you."

If PEOPLE could express themselves so honestly and clearly, can you imagine what the world would be like? Sure, your husband's voicebox would tell you that YES, those pants DO make your butt look big. And yeah, the birthday girl's would say "I HATE THIS PRESENT. IT'S UGLY." Okay, maybe there's a LOT of room in the world for subtlety, innuendo and white lies. But maybe if we all learned how to be more sincere and concise, it would cut to the good stuff a whole lot faster.

And right now my voicebox would be saying "I wrote this blog entry because I love you!"

Monday, 2 November 2009

Find The Kitchen


Here is an excellent article from mediapost.com that discusses the importance of knowing WHY and HOW your business should be using the plethora of marketing/media tools on the Internet. At BrightBlue Marketing, we know how to create the best online presence that makes sense for your company.



Thursday, 22 October 2009

Think HUGE!

A friend of mine recently wrote a book that has me thinking. Thinking HUGE, actually.

Mark Arnold, senior vice president at a Dallas-based credit union, released the book Think Huge to share inspirational stories and motivate people to succeed in business and personal life.

The response has been very positive, with invitations for Mark to speak to groups around the nation. My own positive response has been surprising, because I’m admittedly skeptical of all the theoretical self-help and “get rich quick” books that line the shelves at bookstores.

In Think Huge, Mark has figured out a way to blend the theoretical with well-researched, real-life success stories. And he offers tangible action steps that people can latch onto.

The book, which began as a memo to his staff, is built around several characteristics shared by successful people he’s studied:

Vision: knowing where you want to go and how to bring your ideas to life
People: involving and surrounding yourself with the right people
Passion: finding and doing something you love
Time: committing your limited time to what’s important
Perseverance: staying the course even when obstacles threaten your dream
Learning: continuing to seek knowledge and life-long education

I can’t help but think about these areas of focus when I think about people who are really successful, and of course, my own shortcomings. The Think Huge ideas have made a difference in my mindset these last few weeks, for which I am grateful.

When I was traveling earlier this month, I gave my copy to the cab driver who had told me about his struggles to build a new life for his children after the recent death of his wife. He moved to a new community with strong public schools, has begun classes at the local community college, and has taken a second job to create a good life.

Just before handing him my book, I commended him for his vision and perseverance. For his commitment to his family and learning. For ‘Thinking Huge.’

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Stranger On the Plane

I just hung up the phone with an extremely intriguing and beautiful lady who calls herself a diva. She reminds me a bit of Bette Midler (I’m a huge Bette Midler fan.) She’d win my first place prize for the perfect people watching candidate. I was shocked to learn she resides in Keller, Texas outside of Fort Worth. Who would have thought a diva lives in the Fort Worth area?

How did we meet? She sat next to me on my plane on a flight from Dallas Fort Worth to London Heathrow. We both would be visiting France that trip. She was extremely fun and very interesting! Reminds me why I LOVE traveling so much. My former employee at Oracle laughs at me because she says I come off every flight with a new friend.

The reason she called me on the phone just now? Not to reconnect after a wonderful 9 hour non-stop conversation (okay, we did snooze for a few hours), but she called to give BrightBlue Marketing a lead for marketing business.

You never know where you'll be when you connect with people - connect personally or connect in a business sort of way. Try opening up to a stranger on the plane some time. Good things can come out of it!

P.S. Some of the best marketing advice I've received is to always have your business cards with you. Whether you are on a bus, train, plane for personal or business, there is potential business to be discovered!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

You've got the POWER

I’ve written a blog on the subject before, but it bears repeating. The way you conduct yourself will make or break your business. You don’t have to be the CEO or the VP of Public Relations of your company, either. Every single person within an organization wields this power.

It reminds me of a woman my father worked with in the oil & gas industry years ago: Jackie. Her company worked with Dad’s for years. One day, they told Dad that Jackie was off their account and some newly minted MBA superstar would be the new rep. The company thought they were impressing Dad with giving him someone “better.” After working with the new person for several weeks, the company called Dad and asked how the new relationship was working out, if they could do anything better, how they could make him even happier. Dad said “oh, that’s easy. Put Jackie back on my account or I’m going to use another firm.”

They trusted each other, they liked each other and they worked well together. Jackie’s company made a tactical error: they did not consider Jackie’s longtime interpersonal relationship with Dad. He didn’t need anyone “better” with more letters behind his name or a slick presentation. He already had the best as far as he was concerned. Dad’s been retired for 7 years now, and he and Mom still go to NYC to visit Jackie, who never forgot Dad's show of support. They all chat on the phone from time to time, and the relationship that was built on trust, respect and affection has lasted well beyond anyone’s “usefulness” in terms of business. It’s in your power to pave the same road for yourself.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The hierarchy of success

Seth Godin thinks it looks like this:

  1. Attitude
  2. Approach
  3. Goals
  4. Strategy
  5. Tactics
  6. Execution

Essentially, he believes how you approach a project (or anything for that matter) is the crux of success – “most everyone has a style, and if you pick the wrong one, then all the strategy, tactics and execution in the world won't work nearly as well.”

I believe that. Attitude is key. Setting goals and strategy – crucial. But execution last? Yes, execution is the final step, but relegating it to the bottom of this list implies it has a lower priority, is of less importance than the items before it. My thought is execution shouldn’t be on this list at all. Instead it should be the first item on a separate list, in a column all its own, after items 1-5 have been thought through first. There’s everything else and then there’s execution.

There are a lot of great people out there with great attitudes who have great ideas, but all of the great attitude, ideas and strategy in the world mean absolutely nothing if you can’t execute. And execute well.

Absolutely, you have to start with a great idea. Great execution can’t save a bad one...but bad execution? It can kill the greatest of them.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

What Should You Quit Doing?

I came back from a week off earlier this year to face a full inbox and a desk piled with work to catch up on. While this may not be my normal routine, this picture is a daily event for a lot of people. So much to do and never enough hours in the day to get it all done, eventually you will feel buried under the weight of it all.

We have all been to the seminars about time management, but let’s face it, there are only 24 hours in a day and no matter how well you manage them, it’s never enough. I attended a sales seminar a few months ago and one thing the presenter said really stuck with me: “What can you quit doing to improve your sales?” Someone is always telling you something else that you need to be doing, but what is it that you need to quit doing? For some it was checking emails every time they came in, for others it was restructuring workflow so they did not have to deal with small details, a few needed to reevaluate where the business focus was as a whole. The bottom line is if you never see a light at the end of the tunnel you are fighting battles that are not yours, you are handling details that should be delegated, and you need to quit something.

I would encourage you to take a very hard look at what your focus is and where you want your business to grow. Anything that does not help accomplish that end goal needs to be questioned. What can you quit today to help you sell more tomorrow?

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Marketing as a Science

According to Wikipedia, the practice of Marketing was seen as a creative industry in the past, which included advertising, distribution and selling. However, because the academic study of marketing makes extensive use of social sciences, psychology, sociology, mathematics, economics, anthropology and neuroscience, the profession is now widely recognized as a science, allowing numerous universities to offer a Master of Science degree in Marketing versus an MBA with a concentration in Marketing.

Frankly, this notion doesn’t surprise me in the least. I like the idea that Marketing as a discipline requires the human touch. It’s what made me choose it over other business majors like accounting and finance. The human interaction factor is what makes social networking - like blogs, Twitter and Facebook - so popular and appealing. It’s deft, malleable, current. If you’re not taking advantage of these sciences of Marketing? Call BrightBlue and we’ll make it happen for you.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The Twitter Effect

About a month ago, a small independent movie called 500 Days of Summer came to theatres in limited release. I had waited with great anticipation for months to see this movie after viewing the trailer, which I admit, left me giddy. It instilled in me a glimmer of hope…a hope there could actually be a good romantic comedy coming to theatres. After seeing the film, I was on a cinematic high. I spent a lengthy amount of time quoting my favorite parts to my best friend. We talked in circles about how incredible the dance sequence was (yes, there is a dance number and it further proves my belief that life should come with a soundtrack). And we fervently spread the word to get more people to see the movie. I went home and immediately posted on my Facebook and Twitter my praises for the film, telling every guy and gal to grab a friend and go see this flick.

Enter the Twitter effect. While I was not aware of it at the time, I and many other users of Twitter and Facebook have started a word- of- mouth phenomenon that has started to affect one of the biggest and most profitable industries in the world.


The Baltimore Sun’s Michael Sragow had this to say in his article, Twitter Effect rattles Hollywood: “Although word of mouth could always make or break a movie, it usually took days to affect the box office. But the rise of social networking tools such as Twitter might be narrowing that time frame to hours. And that has Hollywood on edge.”


Inglourious Basterds, the WWII farce by exclaimed director Quentin Tarentino opened to a shocking 38 million dollars when it was projected by many industry experts to underperform, but thanks to the overwhelming positive support on Twitter, the difficult-to-market film was able to soar above expectations.


The Twitter effect can also hurt films. Just look at such summer bombs as G.I. Joe, Bruno and Funny People. Many experts say these movies failed due in large part to tweets and Facebook statuses exclaiming the films weren’t worth one’s time or money. Ouch.


Over the past month, article after article have appeared in newspapers and magazines. AdWeek and Advertising Age have even made comments on what the Twitter effect means to the movie industry’s genius and if they can find a way to manipulate social media to their advantage.


It is fascinating to think that social media, which is free and can be used by anyone, has the ability to worry one of the most lucrative industries in the world, instantly making facebookers and tweeters movie critics and experts.


All of this goes to prove that social media does work. Proving once again that consumers listen to 20 % of what advertising says and 80% of what people say.



Sources:

http://www.nypost.com/entertainment/movies/news/n19591.htm

http://gawker.com/5341784/who-to-blame-when-your-terrible-movie-flops-twitter

http://adage.com/mediaworks/article?article_id=138579

http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/movies/bal-ae.twitter19aug19,0,7572694

http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/news/digital/e3i7bf40443797a443d5be240228478fedf

Monday, 24 August 2009

Social Networking & Online Marketing

Has everyone jumped on the social networking bandwagon yet? I was on Facebook the other day, taking some quiz on what my best personality trait is, and saw a notification in the bottom right hand corner. So-n-so “liked” my post. I then realized that so-n-so was an old friend from high school. Now, that doesn’t sound too strange, does it? But, maybe it will when I tell you I graduated in 1988, left my hometown, and never returned. And now, 80% of my Facebook “friends” are from my hometown. People that I would probably not consider “friends” in the real world, are now keeping up with my updates on Facebook. That is when I realized the power of social networking. Not only has it put me back in touch with friends from years ago, but it’s also put me back in touch with previous colleagues that I’d lost touch with, thus creating possible business opportunities.

The power of the Internet is amazing to me. I think every company should market themselves online; be it a company website, a Q&A forum, or even social networking sites such as Twitter and/or Facebook. There are tons of sites out there nowadays. After all, if you don’t advertise your company – how will people find you? That’s why I think marketing is one of the most essential components for a company to thrive. And these days, there are so many ways to do it and create business opportunities – there’s no excuse not to!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Credibility Gap

This week, Brett Favre shocked and amazed the sports world by announcing his un-retirement from football. Again.

Obviously, I’m being facetious. He did shock and amaze the sports world the first time he un-retired. This time, it fanned a series of searing stories focused on his credibility gap.

Favre, best known as the longtime quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, has enjoyed an immensely successful career in professional football, building a reputation both on and off the field as a man of character.
Unfortunately, his retirement-related flip-flops from the past few years put all that at risk.

It should come as no surprise that the media is gleefully covering the fact that Favre has contradicted himself. Reporters always cover contradictions or untruths. And they rarely cover it the way the person in question would have liked.

It offers every one of us a valuable lesson. Not matter what role you play in life, it’s important to say what you mean and mean what you say. And only talk about what you actually know.

Clearly, life’s situations change and none of us can predict the future with any certainty. But we can control how we portray our plans and our decisions.

In Brett Favre’s case, when he unequivocally told reporters in February that his retirement was for good this time, he boxed himself in. He could have said, “At this moment, I do not see myself returning to football” to reduce the future credibility gap should he change his mind. Unfortunately, he left himself open to charges of flip-flopping. Again.

In my PR 101 course, I recommend avoiding words like “Never” or “Always.” Do not fall into the trap of predicting the future or speculating about what lies ahead, a favorite tactic of reporters. Instead, talk about the current situation as you know it. Period. Smart decisions now will help you avoid falling into the credibility gap in the future.

Friday, 14 August 2009

It's SHOWTIME, Seriously! Part II

I'd like to continue on giving you insight on BrightBlue Marketing's Event Planning Web Seminar series with the Oracle Academy and the Oracle Accelerate Office to help their partners sell in the midsize space. The second of the three-part series is called "Will They Come? Driving Attendance." The title of the entire series, "Showtime Seriously," reminds everyone that you must take an event seriously, but at the same time you want to entertain, educate and be memorable. A few tips from "Will They Come?" are:

* The first step in driving attendance is your database. It's the foundation for all marketing activities, especially events
* Next, start building a BUZZ! Drop hints in your outreach campaigns, newsletters, tell clients that your "marketing department" is up to something big, but you are not sure what it is. Come up with teaser headlines that lead up to the event that you include in Twitter, e-mail news bulletins, and on your website
* But make sure what you are doing is worthy of the buzz! Going back to seminar One, make sure the event addresses the big "So What?"!
* There is both Art and Science that goes into crafting an invitation. Do a Quality Assurance Test. Look at your invitation and ask: Who, What, Where, Why, When and How? Make sure none of that information is left off. Then apply art and creativity with fun shapes, images, paper and words
* "Piggybacking" is what I refer to as building on an existing event. If you don't have the budget or the time to create your own event, hop onto an existing event
* Think out of the fishbowl when driving attendance by reaching out to your customers in unique ways. Maybe have a contest with employees to see who can drive the most prospects. Give a prize to the attendees if they bring a large quantity of guests or coworkers with them. Include a link to share with a friend in e-mail invitations
* Post the event on online technology groups. Work your memberships: Ask the head of an industry association of which you're a member to make an announcement about your event. Pick a unique venue that will be a draw. Ask others to hand out your event flyers to their contacts
* Create a Legacy - Find ways to make your event live on and on and on. Post videos of the event on You Tube. Take your web seminar and turn it into a series. Or how about write about it in your blog? Start a discussion around the featured event topic!

In order to be successful, you must reach out with event reminders on a regular basis leading up to the event. And don't forget to end with a Call to Action: Sign up for the event! BrightBlue's call to action - FOR YOU, RIGHT NOW! - is to e-mail us if you are interested in watching the web seminar series and we will gladly send you an invitation: info@brightbluemarketing.com BrightBlue Marketing will be rebroadcasting the event web seminars next month. For Oracle partners, the web seminar series is posted on the OraclePartnerNetwork. These web seminars expand on the above providing you with examples and fun stories!

Stay tuned for next week's tips: The Details that Make an Event Successful

Friday, 7 August 2009

It's Showtime Seriously!

A blog is the perfect place to store your notes from an event and share with others! I’d like to give you a bit of insight on an Event Planning Web Seminar series that BrightBlue Marketing is doing with the Oracle Academy and the Oracle Accelerate Office to help their partners sell in the midsize space.

The first of the three part series is called “Taking the Event to a Deeper Level” Using the Event to Drive Sales, Reach Prospects and Follow-up.


The title of the entire series, “Showtime Seriously”, reminds everyone that you must take an event seriously, but at the same time you want to entertain, educate and be memorable.

A few tips from the first Web Seminar in the series: “Taking the Event to a Deeper Level”


Start your event planning by asking yourself 6 questions: Who? What? Where? Why? When? and How? In this first seminar, we address the Why, the Who, the What and the When…


Why – Why will people care? The big so what of the event! Have a draw.

Who – Quality over Quantity is the key. Postpone your event if you don’t have the ideal target audience in your list.

What – The meat of the event: The presenter, the delivery by the presenter, and the presentation!

When – When not only involves When the event takes place, but how often you plan on touching the prospects. Read more about our 6+ philosophy on our BrightBlue Web site capabilities page: http://www.brightbluemarketing.com/Creative_Outreach.html


In order to be successful, you must follow-up, persistently and consistently!
And don’t forget to end with a Call to Action! Our call to action is for you to email us if you are interested in watching the web seminar series and we will send you an invitation: info@brightbluemarketing.com

BrightBlue Marketing will be rebroadcasting the event web seminars to all that want to listen in September. For Oracle partners, the web seminar series is posted on the OraclePartnerNetwork. These web seminars expand on the above providing you with examples and fun stories!


Stay tuned next week for more tips on “Driving Attendance”!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Let's dance!

I've had traditions on my mind since seeing the youtube sensation of the young couple and their wedding party dancing down the aisle. Haven't seen it? Check it out here. I watched it over and over and over and it just keeps getting better. You can tell that, when the music started and the dancing began, the congregation was shocked. But then everyone is smiling, laughing, clapping and cheering as the wedding party dances down the aisle in pairs or singles. By the time it's the bride's turn, I wondered why on earth no one has ever thought of this before. Or, if they had thought of it, why didn't someone do it before?

Most of our American wedding traditions come from Albert and Victoria's wedding in England's Victorian era. It was 1840, y'all, and when I got married in 1994, I'll bet it still looked pretty dang similar. But you know what? Your business isn't like anyone else's any more than your wedding or your spouse or worldview or fingerprints. The same old-same old is TIRED. Dance down that aisle. And BrightBlue Marketing? We'll be dancing right there beside you. Let's make new traditions, starting now.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Marketing Michael Vick

On Monday, the National Football League reinstated Michael Vick after he served a two year sentence in federal prison for his role in a grisly dogfighting ring. Prior to his incarceration, Vick made millions of dollars from lucrative sponsorship deals with Nike, EA Sports, Coca-Cola, PowerAde, Kraft and more. Some of these companies started distancing themselves from Vick before charges were filed against him, and the rest dropped him like a hot potato once the scandal broke.

Even if Vick finds a team willing to hire him, he will never be the sports celebrity that he was a few years ago. So far, only one organization has stepped forward wanting to employ him as a spokesperson. Who, you might ask, would want to associate their product or service with a personality who is as damaged as Michael Vick? How about the biggest animal advocacy group in the country?

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is currently talking with Vick about his possible involvement in their anti-dogfighting outreach programs. No one was tougher than the HSUS on Vick when the charges first came to light: led by President and CEO Wayne Pacelle, the HSUS campaigned to persuade the NFL to suspend Vick, the Atlanta Falcons to drop Vick, and his remaining corporate sponsors to cancel their contracts. They pressured state and federal authorities to prosecute him and provided informants whose testimony proved essential to the federal case against him. So their interest in his rehabilitation is notable.

In May Pacelle sent a letter to HSUS members around the country, explaining his decision to sit down with Vick. Pacelle said “…I think I'd be the least likely guy to end up sitting at a small table and talking calmly with Michael Vick about his interest in working with us. But when you step back and ponder it, we are actually the most logical place for him to go. We have the most developed programs on the (dogfighting) issue, so if he's sincere about making a difference, there’s no better place to land.”

Pacelle continues “He said this experience has been a trauma and he's changed forever... He asked for an opportunity to help. I want to give him that opportunity. If he makes the most of it, and demonstrates a sincere, long-term commitment to the task, then it may prove to be a tipping point in our campaign to eradicate dogfighting.

“We've done a lot with the law, and with law enforcement, and that work continues. But the most urgent challenge we face is interrupting the cycle of violence that leads kids down this dead end path, one that's paved with animal misery. They need to see that dogfighters never succeed. They are criminals, and there's no good outcome. Michael Vick's story is a narrative they need to hear.”

Politics makes strange bedfellows, and so does a provocative marketing campaign.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A little grace goes a long way

Off the topic of marketing (but still under the category of bright ideas) I thought I’d tell you about a Ning community I recently joined called Grace in Small Things, founded by Schmutzie, a prolific blogger, cat lover, needleworker, poet, photographer - an overall creative type - who lives with her husband in Canada.

I can imagine what you’re thinking - not another social network. I know, I thought the same thing, but I’d been a fan of the concept for a while (the tag line grabbed me right away, “Waging a battle against embitterment since 2008” – love that) and so I finally decided to pull the trigger.

Grace in Small Things is about identifying five small, graceful things every day. It’s about choosing not to allow the noisiness of life to rob you of the time and energy to be mindful of yourself and those you love and to recognize the grace that exists in small things.

While I feel I subscribe to this way of thinking in general, writing it down - actually publishing it for the world – has given it more teeth. It’s held me more accountable for sure, but more importantly it’s providing a ritual, reinforcing ‘best practice’ behavior to consistently appreciate life. Admittedly I’m a little lax with daily publishing, but I notice that I’m noticing the small things more. I’m searching for the good stuff, actively LOOKING for those five things. And I like it.

I have a salesman friend who likes to say ‘shavings make a pile’ and that’s how I think of Grace in Small Things. A little grace here, a little grace there. Eventually, all that grace adds up to something big.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Trading Places.

I've found that most people are able to sell/position someone else's company and effectively critique it, too. Yet when it comes to your own companies, isn't it the most difficult thing to do? Maybe it's because we are perfectionists. Or maybe we know so much about our own company, we expect everyone to read our minds and just get it. I love taking other companies through branding exercises, crafting their unique stories, writing their web content, and identifying their differentiators, but when it comes to my OWN company, I want to procrastinate. We are developing an exciting new BrightBlue Marketing online service and I finally took myself through our branding workshop exercise that we perform for our customers. It was actually fun! If you're in the same situation, try to look at your marketing materials from different points of view. Would your grandmother understand it? Your best friend from college? A teller at the bank? Trade places with them and see through their eyes. Betcha it'll be easier for you!

Friday, 26 June 2009

ATTITUDE.


"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes."

-Charles R. Swindoll



It can be so easy to get bogged down in the negative of what's around you and allow your attitude to suffer. I am a big believer that attitude can make or break a person whether it be in terms of spirit, relationships, goals or even a career. A great attitude can be not only personally helpful and allow you to get through a tough day or an unfortunate circumstance. A positive attitude can also be professionally appealing; many marketing professionals have told me that a great attitude can create a pleasant work environment that produces energy, creativity, and team efficiency.


By choosing a positive attitude, much like the positive side of a magnet, you'll draw good things toward you.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Social Media Sites: Everybody's Doing It

“Come on…everybody’s doing it!”

When it comes to social media, the old peer pressure cliché may be right on the mark.

According to a new nationwide survey, some 43% of online households use social media sites, including Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter (I’ve listed them in order of popularity). This is up from 27% just a year ago.

And they tend to be regular users, with more than half logging in every day and usually several times a day. Though we may assume that the vast majority of social networkers are under 35, the number of networkers over age 55 has tripled in the past year to 19%.

Besides using the social media sites to connect with old friends and classmates, the survey respondents said they would like more access and interaction with favorite companies and service providers through their social networks.

Yes, you heard that right. Social networkers WANT to interact with favorite companies and service providers.

It's clear that social media sites are ripe for marketers. If you haven’t already incorporated social media tactics into your marketing plan, now is the time (BrightBlue can help, of course).

Come on…everybody’s doing it!

The survey of 10,000 U.S.households was conducted by The Conference Board, a global membership and research association, in partnership with TNS, a global market insight and information group.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Notes from The Universe

Candace is staying with me this weekend, and it is our custom to work in my office whenever she’s here. She with her laptop on my futon and I at my desk, facing her. We like to e-mail each other back and forth to review documents or ask “does this sentence sound grammatically correct?” or talk about what’s new in the world. This morning, she said “have you ever heard of tut.com?” and read me the daily e-mail, which made us both laugh until we coughed.

According to the site, it is a “philosophical club of like-minded thinkers who believe that life is the ultimate adventure... because thoughts become things, dreams come true, and all things remain forever possible! Membership is FREE and begins with taking The Oath to receive our free 'Notes from the Universe' e-mailings - short and often humorous reminders of life's magic and your divinity.” How divine, indeed!


Here are some of their e-mails to her. Enjoy the sentiment. Oh, and also?

Keep on rockin’ in the free world, readers
The BrightBlue Marketing Team



THOUGHTS FROM THE UNIVERSE TO ME:

Sparks fly, angels talk,
time is bought and mountains walk.
How thoughts become things.

Haiku, Candace. Haiku very much. Haiku. 
 The Universe


What you want, Candace, has no bearing on whether or not you'll get it. None. Nada. Zippo. It's only ever a question of whether or not you can behave as if you already have it.

I got you, babe - 
 The Universe


While I would actually LOVE to help every living soul on the planet remember who they were in the 4th century, why the pyramids were really built, and how their past beliefs shaped their present manifestations, I'd infinitely prefer to help them bust a move here and now, learn some new tricks, get a cozy and peaceful second home in Austin, and live their dreams. Which, incidentally, is the only reason anyone ever chooses to come back.

Let's do this, The Universe


Oh yeah, regarding your ancient spiritual contracts, Candace, that outlined every facet of the life you now lead? Well, just wanted to remind you that they're all re-written every dawn, and perpetually updated as each day unfolds. Proving yet again that nothing is meant to be, that you are truly unlimited, and that anything can happen next, if you choose it.

Whooohooooo! 
 The Universe

Whatever it is you want, however you want to have it, no matter why you want to have it, Candace, you can have it faster if you can first be happy without it.

Sneaky, clever, foxy, wry - 
 The Universe

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Only Constant is Change...

Last week I took a class on Organizational Change Management at Southern Methodist University. It was a good class, with a great professor and a very aggressive agenda. Know what I learned? It’s about the people!

Organizations love to talk about how their human resources are their biggest asset, blah, blah, blah. But most organizations want to focus only on the positives: talent, teamwork, and training. What I learned about change management was that successful change initiatives differ from unsuccessful ones because they deal with all the “messy” people issues: fears, insecurities, hurt feelings, defeats.

Successful change management means identifying who the organizational “losers” are, whether those losses are real or imagined, individuals or teams, and helping them come to terms with those feelings.

Successful change management means helping those who have gained from the change to transition into new roles, while supporting their peers, who may be hurting.

And finally, successful change management means planning for and communication how things will work in the morass between the way things used to be and the new world order, before the old culture has been fully retired and the new culture has been indoctrinated. Successful change management means knowing that people and processes will go off the rails in times of stress, and preparing for it, not hoping that everyone just figures it out.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Some Creative Inspiration

Every self-respecting marketing person would dress up like a hippie for the sake of a marketing promotion, right?

Wait. Don’t answer that. Let me explain…

About three months ago my fellow FaceTime marketing colleagues and I came up with a video idea to promote the company’s no URL filtering fees promotion. We staged a take-off on Animal Planet where we observed a near extinct species: the URL filtering sales guy.

Response was great, really positive; people liked seeing a technology company injecting humor into things. We spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., then to build on the momentum we turned that one idea into a series we call the Larissa and Sarah Show, where my UK-based marketing cohort Sarah Carter and I star as roving reporters for FaceTime's Web Security Channel bringing viewers the latest developments and news in the world of Web security, compliance and management.

We’ve interviewed President Obama, we’ve taken a road trip to observe an IT manager…then last month we took it live, to the RSA Conference in San Francisco. Three and a half days of back to back Larissa and Sarah Shows in a 20x20 booth – I can still give the presentation in my sleep! And we combined it with an old-fashioned 60’s-style protest against high-priced URL filtering fees. It was a marketer’s dream – full creative freedom to carry an idea all the way through. We had tie-dye, we had protest signs, we had a protest singer….we got our message across, and we made it memorable!

Our presence at RSA landed us some press and blog coverage - NetworkWorld even named FaceTime a security company to follow on Twitter, specifically calling out the Larissa and Sarah Show videos as quirky (which we took as a compliment:-)). The best part? The prospects liked it - our sales people are hearing things like ‘you guys had the best booth at RSA!’ You have to agree it’s much easier to begin a sales conversation with that kind of opener.

I thought I’d share our fun marketing idea for some inspiration. It worked for our company – the humor, the slight way we’re making fun of ourselves instead of pointing to the competition – and we kept it personal. Sarah and I are real people. Real people who don’t mind crouching under a tree in a parking lot.:)

Camo and tie-dye might not be your thing, but there’s a unique idea out there for your company, too. What is it?

Honestly?

It was a family get together a few years ago, and in my absence my family began to speculate if I was going to show up. Some said, "Probably." Others didn't think so. Then my aunt chimed in, "He'll be here." Everyone turned and looked at my aunt because of her matter-of-fact tone. My grandmother said, "How do you know that?"
My aunt replied, "Because he said he would - Not only that... he will be on time!"

That was that, and the conversation shifted to other matters and preparing the food. The lunch was set to begin at 1:00 and at 12:57 there was no sign of me, yet the look on my aunt's face was as relaxed as it could be (she has nerves of steel - not a good idea to play poker with her).
Then at 12:58 the door knob began to turn and I walked through the door. As soon I stepped foot in the house, my aunt threw up her arms as if to signal the game-winning field goal and said, "What did I tell ya?!" My aunt has never been above gloating and savors every opportunity.

I soon realized her happiness was more than simply me joining them for lunch. That reaction from my aunt caused me to think that day. It forced me to pause and realize how valuable it is in life and business for others to trust what you say and feel comfortable depending upon you. It is priceless when others are 100% confident that you will follow through on your word.



A few weeks ago, I read this story in an eZine I receive from memory expert Ron White. It made me think about the value keeping your word really holds. In today's world where it seems like all we hear about is one corrupt CEO after another, someone who has built a solid reputation on integrity is rare. The dollar investment of keeping your word costs little, but the return on that investment is immeasurable. A reputation of honesty will take you further than any marketing dollar can ever get you, but put them together and you just can't lose.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Hooray for the Good, Old-Fashioned Library!

Recently, I was at Collin College in Plano, Texas for a Business Management and Marketing Advisory Board meeting. It was brought up that there was an 18-20% increase of library usage in the state and lines of people were waiting to get in every morning. What has caused this new trend? Free internet. With the economy being what it is, people are heading to the library to take advantage of the free computer/internet usage, browse the books and, I suspect, to just be around other people. And many people aren't aware that free computers and internet are available at their public libraries. The library is still the hub of information - just a different, more technological kind.

After not having been in a library since my college days, I strolled in to my local branch for some tax forms earlier this year. Other places had run out, but at the library, there they were - plentiful and free! It occurred to me that being in a library was a very different experience than, say, going to Starbucks. In the years since college, I've gotten my books from Barnes & Noble or Half Price Books. But those places don't have that comforting, familiar feel that libraries have.

I’m curious how many of you out there have visited your local library lately? I plan to be back again soon!

Friday, 24 April 2009

INSPIRATION BOX

During my freshman year of college I was in a writing class that proved to be quite the challenge creatively. I was assigned a paper –  which I wanted to ace, of course -- but every time I sat down in front of my computer: nothing. Not one word would flow from my head to my fingers and onto the computer screen – except my name. Time and time again, I was stuck, left frustrated and lacking confidence.

 

After days of torturing myself, I went to my professor for some guidance. While I was meeting with her she told me that during college, first jobs, and even just in life we need to step back, take a deep breath and allow ourselves to be inspired. She told me when she felt a bad case of writers block, a sour mood or a lack of confidence she would go to what she dubbed her “inspiration box.”

 

Inside this box she put anything that pushed her creative buttons and anything that made her happy. It could be as simple as a quote scribbled on paper or as individualistic as a childhood toy. She told me to go back to my dorm, take a deep breath and to find what inspires me and create my own box. I still have my “inspiration box” and I often find myself adding new quotes, images from old movies, dresses from runway shows, color swatches, event planning ideas, art, words I love (seriously, check out the word “halcyon.” It’s a gem), encouraging letters from friends and family, photographs, song lyrics, recipes, fonts, and the occasional photograph of George Clooney (a girl can dream, right?) 

 

The box is something I truly treasure. Anytime I’m lacking creativity, confidence or when I’m a little down, I open the box. I’m immediately inspired.  Since the economy is in a downturn, unemployment is on the rise, and even everyday life has its bumps, I think everyone should have an “inspiration box” or something similar that allows us all to take a deep breath and dive into our own creative euphoria.

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Never Ending, Always Pending: A New Motto for Marketers?

Remember the movie, Groundhog Day? In it, Bill Murray plays a haughty TV weatherman assigned to cover the "rat," as he calls the world's most famous groundhog who will emerge to look for his shadow. Through some odd twist of fate, Bill's character continues to repeat the same day over and over, much to his chagrin and extreme aggravation.

In recent months, I have begun to have my own Groundhog Day experience, as I repeatedly jump to write creative proposals for new projects that just won't seem to materialize.

Without a doubt, the economy is the "rat" in this scenario, forcing even the most ambitious of companies to delay their marketing plans. "Maybe next quarter" is the all-too-common response to these never-ending, always-pending proposals for new business.

"Never Ending, Always Pending." Hmm. Has a good rhythm to it. It even rhymes. And when repeated in a sing-songy voice, it kind of lifts the spirit of a frustrated marketing professional. Perhaps I've stumbled on a new motto for marketers during these turbulent times?

Lest it sound like I'm whining, I'm not. It certainly could be worse. After all, these potential clients could actually be saying, "No." That would be bad. But they're not. They're just delaying their decisions.

For an eternal optimist like me, "Never Ending, Always Pending" prolongs hope. I know times are tough. Budgets are being cut. Clients and potential clients long to implement the oh-so-amazing marketing plans our team is proposing, even if they can't right now. I also know that eventually, the economy will improve, money will begin to flow again and these projects may come to fruition.

In the meantime, just as Bill Murray's character eventually accepts what he cannot change and reexamines his priorities, this "Never Ending, Always Pending" phase presents an opportunity to learn, grow and become even more creative. Which will enable us to be even more effective in helping clients take advantage of the next boom!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Determination

Of course, the economy is on everyone's mind these days. It's also on mine. However, something happened two years ago that changed my path in life. My 2 year old son was diagnosed with autism. After a period of mourning, my world changed. A friend told me "Now is not the time to think of your feelings, but to put those aside and focus on your son, and doing whatever it takes to give him the best future possible." At the time, I thought it was a bit cold and insensitive. I wanted pity. But, when the dust settled, I realized she was right. Once the shock and devastation wore off, I moved forward. I researched and researched and became determined to do whatever my son needed to assure a productive and fulfilling future for him.

2 years later, I am a more determined person. Everything I thought my future would be is not. I never dreamt of raising a child with autism, or fighting for his education, or helping other mothers in those delicate days following a diagnosis. But, I do. The autism community is one that I am proud to be associated with. Parents join together and offer advice, compassion and motivation on a daily basis. There are days when this network of "mother warriors" gives me hope and helps me dust off those bad days and get back to work.

I don't think any of us thought we would ever be in the midst of a recession in this country. But we are. And, what I've learned from the wonderful group of parents who are struggling with autism, and from my own child, is to never give up! I feel that companies need to stay positive. We need to work together to ensure success. Employees need to be motivated to come to work and produce results -now more than ever. Although some companies are facing the "fight of their life" so to speak, it is possible to make it, to come out on the other side. Hard work, motivation and dedication are crucial to the survival of our economy. I choose to be optimistic about this change in our country, and to plug away everyday, as I do with my son's treatment, and look forward to the success our country will have once the dust settles!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Show, Don't Tell. But show whom?

Last week I presented to ewomennetwork, an amazing group of women who run their own businesses. My presentation was titled "Soar Above the Rest: Smart Ways to Grow Your Business."

I talked about "Show, Don't Tell", one of my favorite methods of doing marketing. I explained that an example of "Show Don't Tell" is taking networking one step beyond by volunteering on a committee or on the board of a relevant organization. That way, people see what you can deliver and trust you with their marketing. Instead of hearing you talk about yourself, you are showing what you can do! When you volunteer, you give others a demonstration of how good your product will be: whether you are dependable, show up on time, follow through with your volunteer commitment and prove your integrity.

What has been on my mind lately since my presentation is the immense number of organizations I've been visiting or have been invited to attend: ewomennetwork, Sales and Marketing Executives International, Alliance for Women in Technology (ATW), WITI, Richardson/Plano/Dallas Chambers of Commerce, Carrollton Networking Group, American Marketing Association, IABC, and on and on. It's overwhelming. So starting today, I'm going to create criteria that will help me decide which to join and which to continue attending. I must consider my objectives: Meeting partners and new vendors, finding new prospects, winning new business, learning about the latest and greatest, branding my company, obtaining a speaking engagement, etc. Okay, here it goes...

My criteria will now be that the organization must:
  • Meet a minimum of 2 of my objectives (e.g. learning and finding new prospects)
  • BrightBlue Marketing will be of the minority in types of companies like ours, such as being the only marketing agency at this networking event
  • Produce ROI after one year of membership
Have you thought about your networking criteria lately? We'd love to hear about YOUR methods.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Keep your chin up, soldier!

Anyone else sick of this rotten economy? In reading the news about how so many companies are cutting back, sales and marketing are often the first divisions to get cut. This has always mystified me. It reminded me of research that we did for a client at the end of 2008. This quote jumped out at me and, although it references IT specifically, you can also replace the word IT with "Sales and Marketing":


Why we are crazy to cut the IT budget
December 5, 2008 by Michael Maoz, gartner.com

"The management in all ten companies describes their IT budgets, and the IT budgets of their peers, as facing cuts. Some have already frozen projects...IT budgets, which are already tiny as a proportion of a company's overall spend, is the right way to go. We need to invest in specific initiatives to excel, right now. The budget should be what the budget must be to grow and protect the business. I've never noticed an army cut its own supply lines or thin its ranks during a military campaign and win, have you?

In times like these, it pays to have a military-like mindset as to how to cope with today's realities while still being mindful of the future. And my research says that, if we can all stay calm in 2009, 2010 is forecast to be much brighter. So instead of freezing in place, make things happen! We suggest putting on your helmet and smartly marching forward!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Follow the Leader....

The new season of The Celebrity Apprentice has just started, and I admit it, I am an addict. Each season of the show introduces us to the most extreme versions of the personality types that we encounter in the real world. And when it comes to egos and idiosyncrasies, the Celebrity version turns the volume up even louder than what must of us encounter on a day-to-day basis.

While the show focuses on the leadership skills and abilities of the person who takes on the Project Manager role each week, what strikes me is the poor “followership” skills and abilities of so many members of these teams. Nothing derails a team like someone who cannot or will not be lead.

Many organizations spend a lot of time and money developing leadership skills, but where is the focus on being a good follower? These days, work is often performed in a highly projectized environment, where team members take turns leading and following. Most high-functioning project teams are made up of members who take turns leading and following. A leader on one task is often a follower on several others.

The ability to brainstorm and generate ideas as part of a team, constructively raise concerns and disagreements, take initiative appropriately, and effectively support the person with the ultimate responsibility for a task are skills that we can all spend some time cultivating. Any good leader knows that good followers are a critical success factor. And any good follower knows that their turn is coming up.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

7 Myths About Marketing in Economic Downturns

When I read David Poulos’ article, the 7 Myths About Marketing in Economic Downturns, I was reminded once again that the time when the economy slumps is exactly the time when you shouldn’t stop marketing.

Most marketers instinctively know this….you need to keep your brand in front of the buyer, that’s how people learn about your product! And if your competitors are turning down their marketing efforts, well you’re in an even better position to dominate mindshare.

The challenge is how do you weather the economic storm and keep marketing moving on a downsized budget? Since the majority of us work for companies that aren’t global, worldwide brands already cemented as a fixture in the minds of consumer and/or business buyers, we NEED to keep marketing.

Myth #1 in Poulos’ article sums it up:

“Few brands are strong enough to survive without advertising, product promotion, and customer service support. Brands are like delicate houseplants—they need attention, support, bolstering, and polishing, (the marketing equivalent of nutrients, light and water)—or they will wither and shrivel to a shadow of their former self. This is not a position you want your corporate brand to be in when the growth engine for the economy revs back up.”

Poulos goes on to say, “Those that reduce their presence in their key service markets are in a far worse position in terms of profitability, market share, and market competitive presence when the downturn eases and profitability growth returns than those that maintain their marketing activity levels.” This article by Craig Pearce outlines a number of other reasons for treating an economic downturn as an opportunity…but these two observations in particular stood out to me:

- Creativity will give you more of an edge than in ‘normal’ times.

- Being positive helps keep and make new friends. Proactive marketing is an example of being positive in a tough environment.


I like this way of thinking – creativity being key and the idea that proactive marketing sends a positive message. It takes some smart thinking to do more with less, but it can be done. You just have to be creative. Stay focused. And stay positive.

As an example, the company I work for, FaceTime Communications, recently launched a video on YouTube to help further awareness of our web security solutions and promote our ‘No URL Filtering Fees’ program. My colleague and I star as roving reporters in the field observing a nearly extinct species…the URL filtering sales guy. Take a look at the Larissa and Sarah Show.

Creative? We hope so. We spread the word through social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and so far it’s been viewed more than 10 times that of our competitor’s presentation-style video - and it’s getting positive comments. People are responding favorably to the humor and personal aspect. Exactly the reaction we were hoping for.

As for ROI, considering it was a low-cost undertaking and the capital expenditure was mostly just time on our part...well, we’re staying positive on that too.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The People Issue

Recently, the entire BrightBlue Marketing team got together to discuss lessons learned in 2008. And surprisingly enough, not one of them dealt with a marketing topic. Every last discussion involved the people factor, which confirms the speech topic I chose for an upcoming speaking engagement: "Marketing and Psychology: Adjusting your behavior to get things done."

After working at Oracle for many years, I realized what a necessity psychology is in getting the job done. It's about finding a way for the competitive personality type to succumb to working as a team. How do you do this? Part of it is bringing out the best in people, making them shine in front of the others, keeping a sense of humor about yourself, allowing another person to express themselves, being sincere. You must address and master the people issues to be successful.

It's hard work, trying to keep the interest of the internal team as well as finding a way to captivate the attention of your target audience. Eventually, however, positivity begets positivity and everything falls into place with an audible click. And sure enough, things get done.