Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Right Attitude for the Holidays!

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to represent BrightBlue Marketing as a volunteer at the Salvation Army. Myself and other volunteers bagged up over 400 Christmas dinners for families that couldn't afford to buy a special meal on their own. As we bagged these items and set up the room for the families that would be coming for the pick up we laughed and had fun just working together.

However, as the people we were there to help began to arrive I looked at their faces and there is one face that will be stuck in my mind for a long time. It was the face of a little boy holding on to the hand of his mom as they waited to pick up their food. He was cute as a button and had a smile that just made my heart feel all warm. I have a little boy of my own - OK, he isn't "little" any more and I would be in trouble if he heard that, but he is 12 years old. I thought about how stressed I was because I couldn't afford to buy him the new game system this year, but hoped he would get enough gift cards from other family members to be able to get it soon after Christmas.

I was thinking about this as I looked at the innocent face of this smiling little boy. My gaze moved to his hand holding onto his mom and then, I looked up to his mother's face - that is when it hit me. What if I was that mom? What if I couldn't afford to buy enough food for my little boy? What must it be like to look down at that sweet, smiling face and tell him that Santa wouldn't come to their house no matter how good he tried to be? How does that conversation feel?

It was at that moment that I stopped worrying about a game system and anything else I didn't have and started appreciating everything that I did have. I can feed my child, I can clothe my child, I live in a neighborhood that you don't automatically lock the car doors when you get near it, and my child will have no shortage of gifts on Christmas morning, even if one of them isn't a new game system.
I am so thankful for organizations like the Salvation Army that help people in need and can help sweet, smiling children have a Merry Christmas. I am thankful that I was able to do some small part to help them do this. This Christmas I am going to think more about everything I have and not about the things I just want!

Do you have a special holiday story you want to share? We would love to hear it!!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Appreciate Your Customers All Year Long


The holiday season is the most popular time of the year to tell our customers how much we appreciate their business during the previous year, but we need to remember to do that all year long. Every business has their competitors and every customer has a choice as to where they take their business. Customer appreciation is another way to have your business be heard “above the noise”.

Customer appreciation can be a wide range of things and it doesn’t have to cost any money or take much time at all.

• A quick thank you email or, even better, a quick handwritten note sent to a new customer helps to build and solidify a new business relationship
• Learning and using the first names of the key contacts at each customer
• Sending a happy birthday email to your contacts
• Learning the names of spouses & kids of long time customers can ensure them that they are appreciated for their ongoing loyalty
• Create special hours for loyal customers
• Have a happy hour event for your customers on a landmark day for your company such as your anniversary
• Arrange for special pricing at a local amusement park for your customers to take their families

Be sure to say Happy Holidays to your customers this time of year but don’t forget to appreciate them all year long too.

Let us know if you have some unique ways that you appreciate your customers during the year – we would love to hear from you!

For more information on how to appreciate your customers:
http://sbinfocanada.about.com/od/customerservice/a/custservrules.htm

http://sbinformation.about.com/cs/bestpractices/a/aa120102a.htm

Don’t forget to always appreciate your employee as well:
http://humanresources.about.com/cs/rewardrecognition/a/appreciation.htm

Monday, 20 December 2010

A Designer's Experience in the Birth of a new Product: Virtual Marketing Outreach

What an amazing experience to be a part of the birth of a new product. From conception to birth, it was refreshing to create designs that all of you users will be sending to your contacts. The best part was, never before did I have so much flexibility in the quantity and creativity involved. I'm so excited about the great variety of creative options available to our users!

Here are a few things taken into consideration when we designed the materials for VMO:

• It's important to hook in the reader through a visual impact.
• The visual must tie to the messaging theme.
• The imagery must grab the viewers attention QUICKLY, ad make them curious, make them want to read what you have to say....

As VMO grows up, I can't wait to integrate more designs in the future that will help your business grow upward, too!

~This blog was written by Karen Lang with BrightBlue Marketing~

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Marketing and PR Tools & Tactics you can use to your advantage when exploring new markets

The Marketing Think Tank call hosted by BrightBlue Marketing and Big Noise Communications was facilitated this month by Andrea Lamarsaude of BrightBlue, focused on the topic of: Marketing and PR Tools & Tactics you can use to your advantage when exploring new markets.

We looked at several ideas including:
• Developing a marketing & PR strategy for penetrating a new market
• Creative low/no cost ways to market and receive some good PR
• Effective ways to use social media to break into new markets
• Marketing through partnerships
• Marketing through events

To start with, everyone agreed that a company should decide if there is a real need to get into a new market. The main reason to move forward with this strategy is to take market share away from you competitors. To do this you have to know what the competition is doing right and what they are doing wrong and find something you can do differently that will move part of their market share to your company. You can do this by attending their events and following them on their social media outlets or you can hire a competitor’s employee. Hiring an employee from a competitor can be tricky but, when you are able to do it, they can be a great source of information on how your company can improve upon what is already out in the market place.

You can broaden your market definition by expanding on something that is already offered. Adding a different service or product related to what is already out there.. One example of this was the launch of Vonage.. They were moving into a new industry and had to try and define what it was and what it was not. Vonage had laid a lot of groundwork via PR about quality, consistency, etc. in order to overcome some bad press they had received about quality. They did this in a three phase approach:

• Phase 1: 2-3 months prior to launch – sent releases to key writers in the industry with high readership to serve as Vonage “champions” and becoming an excellent test market to tell their readers that already trusted them what they thought of the product.

• Phase 2: Send releases to even more established resources like “E Week,” Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, etc. as well as well known analysts in the tech community introducing Vonage to them. These journalists started asking questions which in turn helped with the final development points.

• Phase 3: Product launch – Vonage incorporated tier one writers and industry leaders and hit them hard from a PR relationship standpoint.

The people Vonage started with in Phase 1 helped them to get to the higher level industry leaders and publications by gradually building credibility for them in a new market.

How do you do this without breaking your marketing budget which may be tight?
There are actually some low or no cost ways to market and generate positive PR in the industry.
• Find new networking groups that you haven’t attended yet and focus on your new market.
• Offer to participate in speaking engagements at events in your new market area.
• Use social media regularly and consistently with announcements of your new product or service (The Big 5: Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube, and LinkedIn).
• Guest blogging with other industry partners using and repurposing blogs you have already written for your site.
• Get involved with the community to promote yourself & your company as a good neighbor and as being actively involved in the community. This builds trust and when people compare apples to apples you stand out because you have been actively out in the community. Be sure you let news and media people know what you are doing and perhaps they might cover it as a story.

The Think Tank discussion focused on using social media to explore new markets, but how do you do that?
• Get involved with LinkedIn groups connected to your new market. Post promotions, discussions, etc. on these groups.
• Look to see what LinkedIn groups your competitors belong to and join those.
• YouTube – develop something that is uniquely you and bridges back to the value of your product or service in a slightly “nutty” way, but not just to be silly.

What are the benefits of building partnerships?
Partnerships can have huge benefits including:
• Providing access to a different set of contacts from yours that you will now be able to reach
• Giving the impressions of being more powerful and capable, going together instead of on your own.

However, you must be selective as to whom you choose as a partner. Be sure that they have the same vision and way of doing business as you do.

Another way of breaking into a new market is to produce marketing events. Events can be fun and a great addition as you work to get your business known in a new market. There are a variety of different types of events you can produce that have a range of costs including low or no cost options as well.

• A launch event, if done well, can bring a lot of attention to any new product or service you may be offering.
• A webinar virtual event to give a demonstration of new product or service
• Speaking engagements at other’s events that would have the right audience for your product or service.

Marketing events can be large, live events that include the entire community or something simpler you do that involves the virtual community.

As you start marketing to branch out into a new market the most important thing to remember is to be consistent while using multiple marketing and PR avenues. Studies show that customers need an average of 25 – 30 touches before they will purchase complex high tech services or products. So get out there and stay out there!

We would love to hear some stories from you and what has worked or hasn’t worked as you tried to break into a new market!

Here are links to further info about finding new customers in new markets:
http://www.allbusiness.com/company-activities-management/financial-performance/12955128-1.html

and How to Penetrate New Accounts in Tough Times:
http://www.bettermanagement.com/library/library.aspx?l=14826

and Secrets of a successful entry into a new market:
http://www.nextlevelinternational.com/pdfs/SecretsNewMarketEntry.pdf

Monday, 29 November 2010

THE SKILLS REQUIRED TO SET APPOINTMENTS AREN’T THE SAME WE USE IN NORMAL SELLING

We’d like to introduce you all to our newest guest blogger, Barry Caponi, President of Caponi Performance Group, Inc. and author of the upcoming book, Contrary to Popular Belief, Cold Calling Does Work! The Art & Science of Appointment Making (stay tuned for the release announcement). Caponi Performance Group has created a proven formula (called The Appointment Making Formula™) for setting more initial appointments. Barry has become a trusted sales resource to BrightBlue Marketing as we stress to our clients that cold calling is an important part of a successful marketing mix. Enjoy his blog and please share your thoughts! You can find him at www.caponipg.com.

There are four key differences.

Many sales managers we talk to operate under the assumption that because their sales team, once in front of a Target, can move that Target through the pipeline effectively, they are also properly equipped and capable of getting a Target into the pipeline. After all, selling is selling, isn’t it? The sale, or objective, is just different in the case of trying to set an Initial Appointment, right?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. And this misunderstanding of the differences has created what we like to call the ‘elephant in the sales bullpen’. It is apparent to everyone that enough Initial Appointments are not being set, but the root cause is not pursued. Instead, us sales managers all ignore the elephant and utter the old mantra, “Make more dials!”

This four part blog explores the four major differences: the Beginning Repartee, the Pace of the Exchange, the Types of Responses heard from the Target, and Preparation to Succeed.

1. The Beginning Repartee. If our Target has agreed to an appointment with us, the opening moments of the call, although perhaps not yet openly friendly, are at least collegial or warm. That happens because our Target has already determined to invest time with us so they are open to the conversation and to us.

On a cold appointment making call, the opposite is true. They have not yet agreed that there is value in even talking, let alone meeting with us (even on a referral call). The reasons for that are twofold. The first is that they don’t think they need what we’re selling yet, so why would they need to have this conversation? Reason number two is that we’re interrupting them from doing something, so they don’t even want to talk with us. The result is, they’ll do anything, including lie to us, to get us off the phone. Hence, the term ‘cold call’ as the Target’s behavior towards us is cold. What that means is that the call begins as being adversarial.

On the Initial Appointment, the normal conversational skills we all have developed throughout our life are at play. Not so on the cold call. The skills necessary to Counter that initial negative response and get the Target to open their mind for a moment to a conversation about how our value proposition has helped others – and hence potentially them, are not needed nor practiced in the pipeline half of the selling process.

2. The Pace of the Exchange. When in front of a Target in a sales call, the pace of the conversation is generally deliberate, calculated and measured. When the Target asks us a question, we can take a moment to think about the question before answering. It is totally acceptable to do so. As a matter of fact, it can be construed as a sign of disrespect if we don’t ever seem to take a moment to think about what is asked and always seem to be quick with what could be taken as a ‘canned’ response.

On an appointment setting call, the pace is accelerated. Our Targets generally answer very quickly by falling back on their favorite ‘Conditioned Response’ – i.e., their typical way of getting sales professionals off the phone quickly. They don’t need to think about it, it is a reflex.
We must respond just as quickly, or risk being hung up on, or at least put on the defensive. The whole conversation is conducted at the speed of a Nolan Ryan fast ball (you’ll notice I love baseball metaphors). So if we’re not practiced at handling the few standard Negative Responses that we hear consistently, we’ll not have near the results we’d like to or need to.

3. The Types of Responses Heard. Because a Target has agreed to meet with us, by definition, they are willing to hear our story and share theirs to help determine whether it makes sense for them to move forward with us. That means their responses to questions we ask are more apt to be based on logic.

On a cold call, the responses we generally hear are more of a ‘knee jerk’ response designed to get us off the phone. Those responses are many times not even true, although they may have a grain of truth. If you’ll think about it, each of us has our own favorite we use when cold called.
Applying logic to their ‘lie’ does no good because there is no logic in their response. Therefore when we call someone, we must give them a vehicle to retreat from that opening knee jerk response in such a way that they save face and open their mind to a short conversation regarding what we’ve done for others to address a challenge or supply a benefit.

We must Counter their Negative Response using a transition that provides them the ability to save face (a lot of our customers felt the same way) and then ask a question that will open their mind to a short conversation by asking one of our Bridge Questions™. (By the way, our Counter technique works just as well when the Target actually gives us a true response.)

4. The Preparation to Succeed. When in front of a Target during the pipeline phase of the selling process, our preparation for the meeting should definitely include some planning. However, we cannot plan for all contingencies. That means that much of our success is based on our ability to think on our feet as each situation is at least slightly different.

On a cold call, there are only a few responses we’ll hear if we deliver the same message each time we approach someone. To accomplish that, we must internalize or memorize our opening approach to limit the responses we’ll hear and then also internalize or memorize the responses we’ll use to Counter those. We’ll also need to practice them so that they roll off the tongue like normal conversation.

Caponi Performance Group and Contact Science jointly market the telephone prospecting and cold calling solution called The Prospector’s Academy™ under the brand name Coldcalling101. It is the only comprehensive solution to solving the biggest barrier to success in most selling organizations – the inability to secure enough Initial Appointments to begin the selling process. We accomplish that through simultaneously addressing both the efficiency and effectiveness of the process.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

PART II - How do we help Associations market & brand themselves and bring in new members?

The Marketing Think Tank call hosted by BrightBlue Marketing and Big Noise Communications was facilitated this month by Andrea Lamarsaude of BrightBlue.

Some of the topics discussed included:

Ø What are some of the key components of a successful marketing strategy for an association?
Ø What are some specific marketing tools that you have used that were successful in marketing an association?
Ø What are some creative ways or marketing tactics to drive membership up in an association -possibly tied to a membership drive?
Ø What are some ways to involve the Board in building membership?
Ø How do you gain media and PR exposure for an association? What are creative ways if you have a limited budget?

There were some great ideas that came from this Think Tank and because of that we will be doing a two part blog series to cover them more in depth.

In this Part II of the series we will discuss creative marketing tactics.

In Part I we discussed how to get the Association leadership and key members on board with the marketing efforts. Once you have the leadership on board, it is time to get creative!

As we have mentioned in prior blogs, the trick to marketing is getting heard above the noise of your competition. What can Associations do to make themselves stand out from the crowd? Many associations are using outdated marketing tactics and they need the energy of creative marketing to increase membership. Don’t be afraid to push your association a little bit out of its comfort zone. As you plan remember that during any campaign make sure you play up the associations strengths around a creative theme.

As you start looking at creative marketing tactics, be careful to not limit yourself and your ideas to the size of your staff or your current resources in order to carry out your marketing goals. You can also use your creativity to find more resources in the budget that can be put toward your marketing efforts and help you reach your goals.

Your first step should be to check out your competition to see who else is marketing to your potential members. What is your competition doing that is working and what you can do better than them? Don’t be afraid to learn and borrow ideas from the marketing they are doing. You can learn from their mistakes and successes and build on what they have already tried and make it your own. Ask your leadership and key members to submit short articles of different types of tips, advice and how-to items that relate to the needs of your audience and begin building a library. Once a library has been created you can begin reaching out to the editors of the smaller area papers and sending in these tips in the form of articles with a byline to the association. This is not so much of a sales tactic, but a help tactic with the purpose of showing that your association is a trusted resource; resulting in attracting new members. This is also an option that is low or no cost.

Something than many associations overlook as a marketing tool is making sure the association is tied into the community through charity work or by helping the community in some way. Choose a cause and back it by encouraging members to volunteer their time, having your staff volunteer to help and by being a resource for your chosen cause or charity. Not only is this just a good thing to do, it will create free media exposure and show that your association is an active member of the community resulting in attracting more potential members.

The most important things to remember are to think outside the box and get creative; look at low or no cost ideas that give the association exposure, and build on ideas that have worked for your competition giving them a twist of your own.

We would love to hear some of your creative ideas you’ve found success with as you market your association!

Lessons on Strategic Customer Service

BrightBlue Marketing is excited to have another piece from our returning guest blogger, Susan Dodia, President of The Project Coach.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a presentation by John A. Goodman, author of Strategic Customer Service: Managing the Customer Experience to Increase Positive Word of Mouth, Build Loyalty, and Maximize Profits. That’s a long title, and Goodman backed it up with a wealth of interesting information.

Goodman’s organization, TARP, is credited with inventing the science of studying customer experiences in order to develop key knowledge that aids organizations in improving their bottom line by improving their customers’ satisfaction. Over the last 30 years, Goodman’s client list has grown to include Coca-Cola, Pfizer, Sears, Toyota, Citibank, Goodyear, and many other Fortune 500 customers.

I will share with you the biggest surprise I got from Goodman’s presentation: if you poll customers and employees about things that don’t work in an organization, 70% of the items on each list will be the same. I had never heard this statistic, but it makes perfect sense. Many times, the biggest source of pain for employees is not being able to adequately respond to customer requests.

So, the next time you stop and think about how to provide more value to customers, start inside the organization. If you can solve the problems inside the organization, you may be able to solve the lion’s share of your customer problems as well.

For more information about TARP visit their website at http://www.tarp.com/home.html.


For further reading on the customer experience visit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer_experience
Blog post by Susan Dodia of The Project Coach




Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Partnering with Partners 111210

How do we help Associations market, brand, and bring in new members?

Part I - Getting the Association Leadership on Board

The Marketing Think Tank call recently hosted by BrightBlue Marketing and Big Noise Communications, facilitated this month by Andrea Lamarsaude of BrightBlue, focused on the topic of: “How do we help Associations market & brand themselves and bring in new members?”

The group discussed creative ways that an association can stand out and attract new members.

Some of the topics discussed included:

~ What are some of the key components of a successful association marketing strategy?
~ What are some specific marketing tools that you have used that were successful in marketing an association?
~ What are some creative ways or marketing tactics to drive membership up in an association -possibly tied to a membership drive?
~ What are some ways to involve the Board in building membership?
~ How do you gain media and PR exposure for an association? What are creative ways to do this if you have a limited budget?

There were some great ideas that came from this Think Tank and we will be doing a small series of blogs to cover them all more in depth.

This first blog of the series focuses on - Getting the Association Leadership on Board.

All of the leadership of an association must be on board with the marketing strategy and be sending out a consistent marketing message throughout the association, especially the Board of Directors and key members.

However, the general nature of Board members is that they are very busy people because they get involved. This can create a bit of a challenge when trying to get them to be a part of your marketing plans. Our Think Tank came up with several ideas to help overcome these challenges.

1. The Association must have a formal communications plan that the Board and Key Members have had the chance to contribute to and have all had the opportunity to become familiar with the final version. The communications plan is a step-by-step plan of what you want accomplished each week/month, etc. It helps ensure that there is a consistent mission statement and message that everyone participating is clear about. Also, the plan must have some flexibility to adjust to any unforeseen changes.

2. Don’t forget member retention while in the midst of a membership drive. You should include some ideas in the marketing plan on how to retain the new members once they come on board.

3. Create a contest to pit Board members against each other to bring in new members - a friendly competition for a nice prize, but be sure you make it fresh by only doing it every year or bi-annually and not every month in order to make it possible to put more planning into it.

Generally speaking, because Board members are usually business people they compete for business every day and are competitive people. Fostering that feeling with a friendly competition amongst your Board members can be a huge benefit to your Association. The prizes that they are competing for can be as simple as a plaque in your Association’s lobby with their name under Top Producer of the 2010 Spring Membership Drive or perhaps a weekend golf get-away or any number of things in between. The main idea is to give them something to compete against each other for and really light their competitive fires!

4. Another great way to get your Board and key members involved in marketing your Association is to build a speakers bureau within the association by using the Board and other key members as speakers for other organizations’ events. These Board member speakers would then be able to promote your association as well as their own company or organization. This option is a win-win for both your association and your key members company at the same time. You are basically incentivizing your Board and key members to promote your association and at the same time they are promoting their own company or organization.

We would love to hear from you if you have had success with some creative membership drives and/or Association marketing plans!

Next in our series of helping Associations market and brand themselves we will discuss some creative marketing techniques that Associations can use. Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Getting ROI from Advanced Sales and Marketing Tools

BrightBlue Marketing is excited to introduce our guest blogger, Bob Foster, Founder of GlobalNow Inc., a technology services company. Bob Foster is highly regarded in the sales and technology industries. He recently formed a community that brings together various software solutions that improve sales performance. We encourage you to visit Bob’s site at http://business-class-software.com/.

Like most folks, I’m enthusiastic about the value proposition my company has to offer. This includes a standalone offering (BCSS) that resells a portfolio of hosted software that improves the performance of sales teams. I’m a process guy, so I appreciate the impacts that these process oriented tools bring to the table. However, I sometimes wonder if I overestimate the anticipated return from the use of advanced sales and marketing tools when they are being used by companies with sales and marketing departments that are misaligned (they have disconnected procedures, personnel, software and messaging between the two departments).

For example, we offer software that improves the performance of sales campaigns and activities; by building, implementing, managing and refining sales workflows. This approach does work. However, maximum revenue performance is dependent upon quality leads being received from the marketing department. As we all know, quality lead generation no longer means just providing accurate contact phone numbers. Are the contacts the “right” leads? Do the prospects identified from marketing efforts have needs that are consistent with the company’s service offering? By the same token, do the sales personnel conduct the proper conversations and activities to fully address the lead opportunity?

Do the necessary ongoing conversations occur between Marketing and Sales to ensure maximum return from the end to end revenue generation efforts? Or do we become content with our departmental successes based on our internal system measurements (e.g. - Marketing: number leads generated; Sales: number of leads contacted) - with the software and process tools then actually becoming slightly counterproductive! Do we then focus more on meeting our internal metrics and less on the big picture of revenue growth!

The opportunity for more revenue through effective alignment seems to be even greater as the selling and buying behavior changes due to advancements in technology, as customers have a greater reliance on the internet to identify products and services, and customer profiling data is used to generate better leads.

There are some obvious and traditional opportunities for integration: One of our apps (Jesubi) allows companies to track the type of objections encountered during sales calls, and feed these back to marketing, ensuring messaging issues are addressed as early as possible, and quickly refine the sales workflow to accommodate if needed. Our sales playbook application (Kadient) allows companies to ensure they are using the best methods consistently across their entire sales team, including the use of the “proper” content for sales advancement. Our sales training tools (Communication Coach) ensures personnel are having the right type of conversations with prospects. On the surface, the above methods look good. But, if sales and marketing do NOT properly align, a company loses revenue since there is no chance to refine the message (based on objections); enhance the conversations, or alter the content/collateral to best contribute to sales closure as part of the playbook.

I feel marketing must be jointly responsible for the health of the sales pipeline; including volume of conversions. By the same token, I feel sales must be jointly responsible for the quality of leads (through proper feedback and execution).
I’m very interested in hearing from others who have successfully connected the sales and market functions and what metrics were used to measure the success of this integration.

Let’s continue to drive more revenue by using these advanced marketing tools and software; but let’s make sure we are spending our time and money wisely by effectively working together across our internal teams.

Blog by: Bob Foster

Monday, 25 October 2010

What is your dream?

DREAM BIG DREAMS…..DREAM BIG DREAMS!!! We’ve all heard it and we’ve all done it – the dreaming part, but then what happens? Nothing. In Kevin Wilke’s Nitro Blue Print System (www.NitroBluePrint.com) an incredible source of information for anyone interested in starting a new business, expanding their current business or launching a new product line within your business) he states the missing step – go make it happen.

What?!? No one said anything about me making it happen. A dream is supposed to float around in the mythical mists of our mind and we smile angelically each time it passes through our thoughts hoping someday, something will happen and that dream will magically come true. Right? Wrong. Making it actually happen sounds complicated, difficult, scary, and where on earth would I even start? Well, as Kevin says in his video – you start right where you are. Don’t try to see the path ahead of you because you can’t. Look straight down at that one step in front of you and then – take it. Then, look straight down at the next step right in front of you and take that one. The journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. Very deep, I know, but seriously it is true. If you want to write a novel, make a pact with yourself to write one page every week – even if it isn’t very good; if you want to start a new business start doing some market research on it; if you want to see the Eiffel Tower start finding a way to get there.

Let me tell you a story about me. From the first time I had ever heard the words “Paris, France” I wanted to go there – that was my dream! And in my dream I was going to fall in love and marry some fabulous, rich Frenchman who would whisk me away in his luxurious private jet and we would live in our castle in the French countryside visiting Paris often. Hey, it’s my dream – I can make it anything I want! Needless to say it did not turn out exactly as planned but nothing ever does and that is why we have to look for other options. I was determined that I would get to Paris one way or another so, I started thinking beyond my fabulous Frenchman and considering other ways to get to France. It seemed like an impossible task - I didn’t have the money to just jump on a plane and spend a month in Paris so I just started sharing my dream with the people in my life. One day, one of those people pops up with an opportunity for me to temporarily work in France, not Paris, but France nonetheless. I jumped at the opportunity and several months later I was in a jumbo jet packed to the gills with strangers, boring movies and uncomfortable seats – not my fabulous Frenchman’s private jet, but it landed me in France just the same. I didn’t live in Paris while I was there, but I did go there often during my stay and learned so much more about the culture and people of France than I would have otherwise.

That is the story of one of my dreams coming true, but not the end of my dreams – there are plenty more where that one came from! Tell me – what is your dream? Do you want to start a new business and share your personal passion with the rest of us? An important lesson we should all learn is that you should do what you love every day of your life. Remember, there is more than one way to make a dream come true and we are here to help you find a way – we want to make your business dreams come true and can come up with lots of ways to do it!

DREAM BIG DREAMS…..then go make it happen!!

Here is an interesting article that talks more about dreaming big dreams:
http://www.suite101.com/content/dream-big-dreams-a240880

Monday, 18 October 2010

Thought Leadership - How to gain credibility for your company

The Fine Art of Organization

The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
— Stephen R. Covey

I am a firm believer in organization. I’m quite sure that I wouldn’t make it through a single day without it. My planner is my lifeline, my compass, my guide. The lists, the prioritization, the checkmarks, I can’t be without them! Now, while I realize there are probably 100 or more different ways to keep a planner these days; whether on your phone, or your email program, or your iPad; modern technology offers a vast array of ways to stay organized. I, however, am still “Old School”. I have my handy Franklin Covey planner binder at my side at all times, even on my nightstand at night. I make lists, I make notes, I add post-its, I use different colored pens, whatever I can. And, having long been one who’s daily life depends on her list, I have to say, the satisfaction of having those lists, then crossing items off as the day goes by-to have that concrete evidence of accomplishment-there’s no better motivator!!

So, for those of you who are Old School like me, as well as those who are more inclined towards modern technology, I recently discovered a treasure chest of resources on the franklincovey.com. Did you know, that on the Franklin Covey web site, there is huge library of free resources available, from the ‘Quote of the Week’ to Podcasts & Webcasts, Mission Statement Builders, Stress Assessments, and much more?

There are articles and podcasts on the site such as:
• E-learning and Sales Training
• 16 Reasons to Break the Rules on RFPs
• How to Become a Trusted Business Advisor
• Intent counts More Than Technique
• Helping Clients Succeed
• Resources, Time, Money and People

So, take a minute to go to http://www.franklincovey.com/tc/resources, bookmark the site, and take a look when you have a chance. There are lots of valuable resources to improve both your personal and professional life, so add this to your list of things to do!


....Informative blog entry-DONE. One more item I can cross off my list.

Blog written by: Karen Lang of BrightBlue Marketing, LLC

Monday, 11 October 2010

Being Heard Above the Noise - Part II

Just this past Sunday, I attended the Austin City Limits Music Festival. If you are not familiar with it, it’s an annual three-day music festival outside in Austin’s Zilker Park. This festival attracts over 65,000 people each day. With more than 130 bands on 8 stages playing throughout the weekend I couldn’t help but think about our last video blog which discussed how to be Heard Above the Noise. The sounds on Sunday were a blend of music ranging from hip-hop, reggae, rock, folk, indie, Americana, and bluegrass and everyone there was trying to be heard above all the musical “noise”. As my head started spinning with the great example this festival was for this topic I just had to put on my Marketing Professional hat even though I was there to enjoy the bands on my day off and see just how all the advertisers there were getting heard.
The first stop on my marketing inquisition was, of course, the bands themselves. They were given the opportunity to be heard live by an enormous audience of music fans each day during the festival. What a great opportunity to advertise their music to their perfect target audience of music fans!



In the days and weeks leading up to the event itself, the event promoters did a great job of getting media coverage and there were a number of billboards by Budweiser tying the event into their advertising. However, at the event itself, it was an interesting blend of a variety of advertisements that were being used to be “heard”. These ranged from the very casual lawn signs, wind kites and banners to elaborate stage sponsorships by companies like Budweiser and Zync-American Express. The local metro had given themselves a large presence with banners all along the bus lines and by providing “free” bus shuttle service to parking lots. And, Red Bull used umbrellas to literally rise above the sea of people, getting themselves “ABOVE” the noise. I also saw a sign encouraging you to text to “X” company to win highly sought after tickets for next year’s music festival which was a unique way of attracting attention to their company.

Budweiser was a stage sponsor which gave them a great deal of visibility; however, they also managed to have a community message tied to their communications. They chose to focus on recycling and they had a “cool” way of getting the message out: A wooden fan with a Budweiser advertisement on one side and a recycling message on the other side. Becoming involved in local causes like recycling will get your message heard by more people because it speaks to those involved in your cause and those who are looking at your product or service.

Think about the events and causes that are happening in your community – how can you make your company heard above the noise of each of those and become involved and visible on a local level? What creative ideas have you seen or done at large community events and festivals? We would love to hear from you!

Or, if you need help coming up with some creative ways to be Heard Above the Noise, then the BrightBlue Marketing team would love to help you!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Getting Heard above the Noise

The Marketing Think Tank call hosted by BrightBlue Marketing and Big Noise Communications was facilitated this month by Narciso Tovar and Rhonda Tovar of Big Noise, and focused on the topic of: “How to be heard above the Noise” from a marketing and PR perspective.

The group discussed ways that an organization; business, etc. can stand out and make some noise without just creating more noise. Bring in some reason to the clutter and make yourself memorable.

Some of the topics discussed included:
• The definition of “noise”.
• Best practices or good examples of how companies get heard and stand out from the crowd.
• Examples of effective things that have been done in social media to stand out above the crowd.
• Tips on how to stand out at a trade or an industry event.
• Top 3 most critical things you need to have when developing messaging to ensure that you stand out above the crowd.
• Once you get the audience listening – how do you sustain the excitement and fervor?
• Tactics that would work better at a local level than a national level.
• The 5 cardinal sins of making noise/what you want to avoid.
• Guerilla Marketing – Creative ways to use this type of marketing to stand out.

Participants in our call determined that noise is basically just a lot of sound without substance much like a jack hammer in the middle of Manhattan - it is a distraction and eventually people just tune it out. No one wants their company to be tuned out so how do you make your message heard? One way is to consider targeting smaller markets with a more concentrated message if this fits with your business model. This will allow you to get a more complete or concentrated message to a specifically targeted group of potential customers. If this doesn’t fit your needs then Jeff Hazylett suggests in his book, “The Mirror Test“, to attach yourself to something positive by giving to the community in some way or helping a cause. Volunteering yourself, your employees or giving needed sponsorship support to causes that are important to you and your community is a great way to get your business’ name in front of a mass audience.

Social Media has become a prevalent buzzword in the marketing industry in the last couple of years, but with so many options and so many people and companies participating insocial media channels, how do you stand out above the crowd? One great way to get started is to think about what ads, videos or blogs stand out in your mind and that you remember. The E-Trade babies are a great example of using social media to further your message. Most everyone remembers these commercials from the Super Bowl, but since then they have gone viral on YouTube because of their creativity and catchiness. You can now even get the E-Trade babies on a personalized greeting card with your voice coming from their mouths. Their marketing tool is now a product in itself.


Another example of how to use social media is the “Will it blend” videos that can also be found on YouTube. It is an ad for a blender, but what they do is put some crazy things into the blender, destroy them by blending them, and then post the blend on YouTube. Their message is that if their blender can blend this then it can blend food even better. The videos went viral because people wanted to see everything they blended in this machine – electronic devices, cell phones, you name it. The trick is to come up with a gimmick, but then to get the gimmick to attach back to your product or service.

Creating a gimmick is crucial to help you stand out anywhere, but especially at a trade or industry event because you have to create a way to stand out in the middle of the sea of booths around you. One way of doing this is to not have a pre-made booth set up. Use just the tables and signage provided and then create a clever theme with decorations; (Power of the Pitch – baseball theme), (Rock your Marketing World – old vinyl records, etc.). Create something that makes people want to come see your booth like the old vinyl records – people don’t see those much anymore and they wanted to come by and see which records were there.

Unique sponsorship opportunities can be another powerful tool at trade events. For instance, you can become the Exhibitor Lounge sponsor and the event itself will direct people your way because your booth is the lounge area which gives you instant traffic. If you don’t have a booth space then you can create a “virtual walking booth” with a clever give away, costume, and/or message. Afterward you can then follow up with small bits of information in increments through email with those you connected with or even through other social media outlets.

Now you have their attention! They are listening and they are interested so, how do you sustain that excitement and fervor? You get personal. Stay in touch with those you met or connected with at trade events, networking events, virtually, anywhere. Continue a dialog with them as you continue forward through email, set up a lunch or coffee meeting with them. Let them get to know you. Make a personal connection because the old saying holds true today that people do business with people they know. This is especially true when you are in an industry with lots of competition. An example of this is the American Express Open Forum. American Express developed a site for a small business community to replace entrepreneur.com, but they have reached out to them as a consumer and not a business owner. You must remember that a consumer is always the one that makes the final decision. They made themselves much more appealing to a much larger audience.

There are some tactics that work better at a local level than a national level. It is harder to rise above the noise on a national level; however you are able to give that personal touch on a local level unlike when you are on the national level doing massive Super Bowl type marketing.

If you want to work your way to a national campaign, do them in 3 part phases. You start with analysts, move to the local arena, then go for national. This gives you more credibility once you get to the national level. Make sure you hone in on a value proposition on the national level where as on a local level you can focus on being involved in the community, long standing company, etc. Don’t confuse the local vs. national message – your message must always remain consistent just a different delivery.

When working on press releases, remember that they have to be done much smarter these days; even more so than in the past because reporters are thinning out and they have huge segments to cover. What you have to say must catch their interest and you always have to be consistent, creative, and constant.


Things to avoid in your message and delivery:

o Politics, controversial subjects (but it does depend on who you are)
o Negative messages
o An inconsistent message
o The gimmick should not outweigh your message
o Don’t do it just because everyone else is doing it – don’t throw it together just to get it out there. Must be thought out and planned.
o No follow up plan
o Not preparing for worst case scenarios
o Not ensuring that your spokesperson is media trained. A spokesperson that goes awry can really destroy the message.

A great quote from one of the Rocky movies as an analogy:
“You don’t want to wear them down…just counter and move…”

In conclusion, the one thing that came through every aspect of our Think Tank call this month was this - Be authentic to your message. Give yourself the opportunity to really hone in on your spot in the market. Amplify what you do different from the competition. Don’t try to be everything to everyone.


Here are some links to more info and tips on getting heard above the noise:

1. 10 Ways to cut through the Social Media Noise and Be Heard
http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/cut-through-noise/
2. 10 ways to get seen and heard above the noise
http://www.adivinestudio.com/10-ways-to-get-seen-and-heard-above-the-noise
3. Make Your Booth Stand Out at a Trade Show http://theentreprenettegazette.com/2010/07/14/make-your-booth-stand-out-at-a-trade-show/
4. How to stand out in the inbox
http://www.email-marketing-reports.com/article_inbox.htm

Monday, 27 September 2010

Every Interaction Matters


My husband recently forwarded me a link to an article that so resonated with me I had to share it. Titled, “How to Build 24/7 Relationships, Using New Media.” You can read it at http://www.fastcodesign.com/1662348/how-to-build-247-relationships-using-new-media.

This latest piece in the PATTERNS series by the savvy folks at IDEO gave me hope that the days of being stuck in an endless and seemingly hopeless loop of one-way dialogue (which I recently found myself a part of when our air conditioner went out in the heat of the summer) are hopefully on their way out the door. Don’t worry the AC was eventually fixed but the customer service I received from the home insurance group I dealt with was so bad I was compelled to use Facebook as a place to vent my frustration. Every time I spoke to anyone it was as if I were speaking to a robot that gave a response to my question as if reading it from a list of answers on a cue card.

I feel the times they are a changing though. And I am excited and happy to be a part of it! With all the social media channels available to us, turning a negative interaction into a positive one, creating meaningful dialogues and truly connecting with colleagues, business partners and most importantly customers is a snap. It’s as easy as popping open your laptop at your local wireless café and logging on to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn group or blog. You have the power to create significant “micro-moments” and really make a difference in someone’s day.

Fingers frozen on your keyboard? Not sure what to say? Sam Ford at PRSA has some insightful words of wisdom for “Putting Messages in Motion”. He advises:
. Listen: Find the audiences who are talking about your brand and understand the issues they care about, the language they use and the nature and culture of the community.


. Converse: Reach out and address your audience’s concerns and issues those audiences you are listening to raise. Find where they are already having those conversations.

. Build: By launching social media platforms and initiatives in ways that link to and draw from the places where audiences are already talking, you stand the best chance of building a blog, microblog, social network presence or mobile application that people will care about.

. Maintain: Never look at listening as an initial “research phase.” To build a long-term relationship with your audience, it’s crucial that listening remains a cornerstone of your social media strategy.

For the complete article visit:
http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/TheStrategist/Articles/view/8756/1019/What_s_the_Rush_Creating_Meaningful_Dialogue_with

In the mood for some social media benchmarking? Check out some creative B2C and B2B companies that have added social media to their marketing mix at
http://mashable.com/2009/02/06/social-media-smartest-brands/ and http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/02/b2b-social-media-winners/.

Have you added social media tools to your marketing arsenal? The team at BrightBlue would love to start a conversation with you. What has worked? What has not? Have you fine-tuned your 140 character creative Twitter Tweet? What compelling discussions have you had in a Linkedin group recently? Want to talk about best practices in regards to video blogs? Let’s share insights so we can learn how to perfect our social media marketing muscles together. Please join us in ongoing conversations of just about everything marketing! We’re easy to find on:
Facebook, search BrightBlue Marketing and choose the one that says local business page. Like us there; we'll friend or like you back!

YouTube: www.youtube.com/brightbluemarketing
LinkedIn: http://tiny.cc/bbmlinkedin
Twitter: http://twitter.com/brightbluemktg

Andrea Lamarsaude

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Event Management – What does it mean to me?


Event Management is the phrase that stands between you and stress. It is what makes the difference between a smooth Conference or Marketing Event and chaos. Ok, you understand that, but what does that really mean when it “hits the floor”?
An Event Manager (or event management company) handles all the details and logistics of any type or size of an event that your company would like to participate in or organize. What is behind the scenes of event management? It is the vendors (caterers, photographers, entertainment, etc.), selections (site, food & beverage, entertainment, décor, etc.), logistics direction and the detailed management necessary to ensure everyone is in exactly the right spot, doing exactly the right thing at exactly the right moment. More than this though, it is the umbrella where everything that is an event resides.

When your guests are due at any moment and you have just received a phone call that the catering truck has broken down en route to bringing your order to your event, the event management company or contact within your organization is the one who knows what to do. They will contact the caterer to see if a back up is on its way or will jump in their car, find the broken down van, transfer everything to their car and make sure it is to your event on time.

When you want to participate in a conference in your area or even out of town, the Event Manager is the one who has your back. They can do everything from finding the best conferences for your ROI, help pick your booth location, design and set up your booth and booth graphics, suggest appropriate collateral for each target group, and help with all the last minute details throughout the conference for you. In addition to taking care of all the details of each event, your event manager is the one who can step back and look at the big picture as well. This means ensuring that your chosen theme or message is consistent throughout all the different parts of any event or conference. You can rest assured that the message you have chosen will be heard and seen throughout every detail.

By bringing in an event management company it will help free up your time to bring in additional sales. For more information on event management check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Event_management or http://eventmanagement.com/.

We would love to hear your experiences with event management whether it was within your company or with an outside Event Management company. There has to be some great stories out there – let’s hear them!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Virtual Think Tank: Handling Crisis


The BrightBlue Marketing team and Narciso Tovar of Big Noise Communications had of the first of what will be monthly Virtual Think Tank meetings to discuss relevant marketing and PR topics and compelling issues in the business world. This month’s question was “From a marketing and PR perspective, how do you handle a crisis?” On our minds were the Jet Blue incident, the BP debacle, Shirley Sherrod’s resignation, the Dominos vulgar viral video, Comcast positively reacting to a crisis via Twitter and the Tiger Woods scandal.

In the face of a crisis, companies can be badly hurt if they don’t have a crisis management plan in place for eventualities. These plans should be detailed and reviewed often. Why? Just like the fire drills we used to have in school, it is imperative that companies have a plan in place to guide employees’ behavior and identify who is in charge. Tiger Woods and Jet Blue enjoyed being media darlings, but when crisis hit, their virtual silence put the situation in the hands of everyone else: competitors, consumers and the media.

We came up with five main points for a contingency plan

1. HAVE ONE! This ensures your company knows what to do, who is in charge and provides a blueprint for behavior. Explore and learn all the facts before you take action. Your response must be appropriate and made when you have all the information available and the facts completely straight

2. Move quickly and don’t hide. Be ready to speak to the press and use your online presence to put forth your message. Leverage your social media channels (Comcast/Twitter, etc.) to react in a positive and proactive way to people dealing with crisis

3. Be ready to adapt and change. Be flexible. You will be dealing with a lot of emotions from a lot of different players. Everyone is the company should have their crisis hat on

4. When you do start talking, give accurate, truthful information. Keep it real and be a resource. If you don’t know something, say so. If you can’t discuss something because of legal reasons, just admit it

5. The company spokesperson should be human and not come across as just a “suit.” Be yourself. People in a crunch respond to human beings that are both emotional and rational. You don’t want to come off as cold. You want to be able to humanize the situation and put a face to the company within the situation

To summarize, be prepared (with a crisis management plan), be honest, be sincere and be proactive.

Do you see anything we missed? Let yourself be heard and let us know!

Next month’s discussion: Getting Heard Above All That Noise. How do you make your own compelling, positive and memorable noise and how can you be heard above the rest. We will recap this call and share our thoughts with you through our social media channels.

Interested in joining our conversation? Every quarter, we will invite clients and prospective clients to be part of the Think Tank and exchange views on germane topics. Look for more information in November!


Further reading:

Dominos: The company’s step-by-step response after a vulgar video goes viral
Social media DO’s and DON’Ts: 5 hints for successful crisis-management
BP's crisis management marketing won't work without a little proof in the pudding
Wikipedia crisis management article

Monday, 30 August 2010

2 minds are better than 1


2 minds are better than 1... That’s our mentality at BrightBlue Marketing. One way I see this work is in our marketing approach of partnering. We’ve found it’s so much powerful to go in with others that can speak to your work and bring additional value with their offerings than going in by yourself. What you need to make a sale is credibility, and the right partnerships can bring it to you. Recently we partnered with Big Noise Communications, a PR and Media firm. With the power of 2, we’ve joined forces in business development, social media efforts and delivering great results for a couple of new clients! Plus we’ve come up with a few cool ideas in the form of think tanks (stay tuned for future blogs that will highlight our upcoming think tank results!)

Another form of 2 minds being better than 1 is the collaboration that can take place within your team. We work together using the strengths of everyone, the creative ideas of all to enhance our marketing efforts and client’s marketing campaigns. One of our team members is one of the world’s best event planners! And she stepped in to help another team member on a client account. Have you thought of pulling your best minds together on projects instead of assigning it to one person? When have you done some bus development together with a partner? We suggest you put a couple minds to it and get started now!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Mobile Marketing - QR Codes


This week’s guest blogger is Tom Walter, Principle of Marketing Services at Sir Speedy of Addison. They provide printing and marketing services designed to help companies grow. Products and services include traditional printing, copying and mailing services as well as value-added offerings such as web to print solutions, integrated direct marketing tools, and promotional products. Sir Speedy helps companies meet their business growth objectives from lead generation, customer retention and reactivation to brand management.

__________________________________________

Today’s consumers are increasingly becoming more mobile. Are you effectively getting your message to them? A new and increasingly popular way to reach and measure the effectiveness of integrated marketing campaigns is with a quick response (QR) code.


WHAT IS A QR CODE?


A QR code is one of many mobile tags used to bridge the gap between offline and online media. QR codes are two-dimensional “bar codes” that can transmit several types of information such as a Web URL, a phone number, email or simple text message. QR codes trigger an action such as launching a browser to a web page, video, or special offer. A smart phone equipped with a 2D bar code reader (app) and Internet access are all that are required to experience the advantages of mobile tagging with QR codes.

WHERE CAN QR CODES BE USED?

The opportunities for QR codes are endless. You can incorporate them across a variety of media—business cards, brochures, fliers, direct mail, print ads, posters and signs, car wraps, t-shirts, websites and more. QR codes can be used alone or with personalized URLs, coupons and other response tracking methods.

QR codes can:
•Deliver an integrated marketing experience for your targeted mobile audience
•Measure the effectiveness of various media and your ability to reach mobile users
•Better integrate offline and online campaign components
•Improve the perception of your company and brand as a progressive marketer

PERSONALIZED QR CODES


Whether you use one general QR code for a campaign or media type or several, personalized for each of your prospects and customers, we can help you instantly track and measure the responses you’re sure to get from using QR codes to reach mobile users.

For further information, contact Tom Walter at tom@sirspeedy4043.com

Monday, 9 August 2010

Your customer has embraced social media. Have you?


To aid BrightBlue Marketing’s efforts to continue to enhance and improve our social media presence I’ve been knee deep in research about this rapidly changing and constantly growing addition to the marketing mix. By now you and/or your company have some sort of presence on the big three: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Shama Hyder Kaban, the author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing (a book I highly recommend) has found them “to be the best for marketing purposes.”

If you haven’t already jumped on the social media bandwagon, now is the time. As Michael Mothner of Inc. so aptly puts it, “Social media is no longer an option; it's a necessity.” Check out his complete article “How to make a Social Media Marketing Strategy" here).

The study What Americans do Online, released last week by The Nielsen Company, backs up Mothner’s statement. According to the study Americans spend 22.7% of their time on social networking sites and blogs, up from 15.8 percent just a year ago (a 43 percent increase). For more details, check it out here.

As BrightBlue Marketing is B2B focused, I’ve been looking at best practices in social media for a B2B business. Here is a link to an extremely informative guide that will help you if you’re just starting out in social media or looking for concrete examples of how to take your social media marketing to the next level.

J.J. McCorvey of Inc. has some great tips on using sites like Twitter and LinkedIn to market your services and establish industry contacts. Check them out here.

Tony Bradley of PC World shares some informative tips about using a Facebook Page to promote your site including a great explanation of the recent switch from “Fan Us” to “Like Us." (Article here)

The bottom line is that, whether you’re just joining the conversation or you’re right in the middle of it, always remember to really listen to what’s being said around you and enter the discussion when the time is right. Respond with content that adds value, be nice (i.e. don’t spam), be helpful, and be yourself. After that, everything will fall into place.

Join our conversation about how you’ve integrated social media in your marketing mix. We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Fine Art of Stock Photography


A company we know recently got in trouble with a VERY large stock photo agency for using one of their images without purchasing the proper rights to it. I highly recommend NOT doing this. Stock photo agencies do take usage rights seriously, so it is important to purchase your images and read the usage rights thoroughly, particularly when dealing with some of the larger agencies like Corbis and Getty. Corbis and Getty are the “Grand Poobahs” of stock photography, and their image banks consist of photos shot by professional photographers. Images can sometimes cost upward of 100s of dollars.


Other options cost far less than images on your Corbis & Getty-type sites AND can help your company from getting sued. A favorite around here is iStock photo, which is owned by Getty images. iStock offers an almost staggering amount of choices in just about any subject matter. Taken primarily by amateurs, iStock offers a strong selection and wide variety. Most images will run you about $15 for a reasonable print-size image. Just watch out for those VETTA images, they can get pricey. Morguefile.com has a pretty decent amount of FREE images, an especially good choice if you don’t need a very large file (i.e. you’re not printing a HUGE poster or anything like that) and is great for web use! Dreamtime, Shutterstock and Bigstock are some other very low-priced options, with enough image choices to make your head spin!


Having trouble finding the perfect image? Think abstractly, stretch your creative muscles...think of the feeling you want the image to evoke, the idea behind the kind of image you are looking for. Think of the larger, more abstract concept you are trying to convey rather than being too literal. Have a sense of humor, don’t be so serious. Apply this theory to your stock photo searches - and to everything in life for that matter! - and you’ll be in good shape.


Questions about photography purchasing rights? Contact us and we’ll be glad to help you.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

BrightBlue Recommends: Video Blog Experiment


The time has come: BrightBlue Marketing is experimenting with video! We will start by regularly sharing tips on marketing and posting videos on YouTube (check it out soon at www.youtube.com/brightbluemarketing). We'll monitor our results/success and report back.


We challenge you to try this, too! A few video related tips: Think about what VALUE you can bring to your customers. Be interesting by telling a story or giving proven advice. Try bringing on a guest or “costar” (your client or partner) and for goodness sake, do not chew gum. Start by testing a video internally and if your team gives you a decent grade, go for it! If not, practice makes perfect. See you on YouTube!

Friday, 9 July 2010

BrightBlue Marketing Recommends


BrightBlue Marketing Recommends Thinking about Your Company’s “Meta Message”

David Perry of Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters writes

The term “meta message” is a marketing concept referring to the overall impression you give when communicating with others. It’s the “vibe” that extends beyond (meta) what you say (your message).

Here’s an example.

You’re sitting across from a prospective employer during a job interview. You say: “I’m really eager to be a part of your company, Mr. Jones. My five years of experience and training give me the tools to succeed as a Sales Rep for you.”

On the face of it, that sounds like a convincing message.

But if you’re saying this with spinach in your teeth, a razor cut on your chin and wearing socks that don’t match, here’s your meta message: “I’m not really that eager to join your company because I couldn’t find time to groom myself properly. If you let me anywhere near your clients, you’ll be making a big mistake.”


A recent blog entry at Mind4Marketing discussed Tiger Woods, deeply into damage control, forgoing his usual red and black attire for all white. He writes

The old saying was…don’t judge a book by its cover. In our visually saturated world, image experts now believe that is no longer the case. In fact, it’s the opposite. To simplify what we observe in our desensitized state, we look at clues: color, shape, texture, type, emotion, etc.

When a disgraced pitch man goes for an all-white ensemble, he’s seeking association with all that is good and pure.


Think about your company’s name, tagline, message, pitch and “feel.” What does YOUR meta message convey?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Mad Men Effect


So many people I know love the TV show Mad Men, so I Netflix’d (is that a real word? If not, I’d like the copyright, please!) seasons 1-3. I’ve marveled at what 1960 in an office was like; the men in 3 piece suits, the women in their be-girdled glory and complicated hairstyles. The things that really stick out are smoking and drinking in the office, and how grown women were treated like a combination of servant/eye candy.

If you don’t know the show, it revolves around the people who work at advertising firm Sterling & Cooper. The title is a clever combination of “Ad Men” and the fact that the big firms had HQs on Madison Avenue in NYC. Watching the characters research and brainstorm pitches, taglines, marketing slogans and graphics is fascinating and not unlike what a lot of firms still do today. What’s changed, however, is the client’s role in this endeavor. The show makes it look as though the client has no part of the process except to say yes or no. Any discussion on the part of the clients is frowned upon, and in one episode, a client was told to leave when they didn’t fully accept the advertising agency’s (one and only) campaign suggestion. The lead in the show, Don Draper, is said to be able to “talk anyone into anything.”

Which got me wondering, have you ever had an experience where you felt like you, as a client or customer, were manipulated by this kind of tactic? Tell us about it in the comments.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak!

It's summer and everyone has the grill fired up. My husband is a vegetarian and I rarely cook meat, so I have to live vicariously through the intoxicating fragrances emanating from the yards around me. Some nights it’s all I can do not to walk up and down the street with my plate and a steak knife in hand.


Veggie burgers on the grill, while a completely satisfying meal, just don’t provide the same olfactory sensations. And these nightly temptations have prompted me to think again about the old saw “Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak.”

Whether you are selling products or services, it can be easy to forget that customers aren’t interested in the details of what you are offering; they are interested in what it means to them.


People are not interested in insurance; they are interested in the peace of mind that comes from having insurance when they need it. People aren’t interested in consulting services; they are interested in a competitive edge that comes from an expert’s advice and support. And they aren’t interested in a piece of cold raw meat, sitting on a Styrofoam plate, wrapped in plastic.


What appeals to people is the primal satisfaction of a perfectly-cooked choice cut of beef, washed down with a nice Cabernet, a beer or an iced tea, plated with a baked potato and some grilled asparagus, enjoyed with family and friends, to celebrate a special occasion or no occasion at all, in the backyard, the neighborhood dive or a fancy steakhouse.


In my neighborhood, it’s not the steak that’s driving me crazy, it’s the sizzle.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Accidental Marketing Campaign shows a ray of hope for the Gulf


With two cats, three lizards and one dog under our roof (and another dog most likely to join the family this summer) you can most definitely say that I am an avid animal lover. I don’t like to see animals in pain or without a home. We found our dog at the pound and one of our lizards was originally going to be used as a live kitty toy by our cat. Rescued just in time, “Bob” now hangs out a lot on a branch in our lizard cage and waits to be hydrated with a spray water bottle.

With my love for all animals, it’s been hard for me to turn on the TV lately due to the recent devastating oil spill in the Gulf. With it came the inevitable: video of thousands of native wildlife covered in muck. It makes my heart break and I wish I had the means to hop on a plane, go down there and help wash them one by one. As I am not able to do that with my current obligations here at home, I did what I could and donated to the National Audubon Society.

This leads me to why I am writing this blog today. I recently saw a commercial about a company whose product is helping wildlife affected by oil spills, and for once it was not hard to keep watching television. The commercial shows ducklings and otters being cleaned by volunteers using Dawn liquid dish detergent. Apparently, just like it has always been advertised, the product is tough on grease but still gentle enough to use, even on live creatures.

What’s interesting is that the company started running the ads last summer. As Leslie Kaufman of the New York Times points out, “The timing was an odd twist for the marketers of Dawn, who are watching their commercials recreated in TV news reports about hapless birds covered in oil, creating an accidental — and uneasy — bit of product placement.”

The company is being very low key about the campaign and has not decided if it will continue after its scheduled end date this month, most likely because they don’t want to be seen as taking advantage of a horrible situation to increase revenues.

Dawn has donated 7,000 bottles to the Gulf and plans on sending 5,000 more.

If I were a marketer at Dawn, I would be feeling good about the accidental marketing campaign. To be able to see progress in the Gulf cleanup can only be a good thing.

Click here for the complete New York Times article quoted above.

BrightBlue Marketing would like to hear from you. Do you have examples of accidental marketing campaigns? If so, what was the outcome?

Sunday, 13 June 2010

BrightBlue Marketing Recommends


We recommend that you check out speaker and author Don Schmincke. He spoke with Candace's Vistage group recently (see Candace's upcoming blog on his topic at the meeting, as well as what Vistage is).

Check out Don's site - www.donschmincke.com - and read his bio below.


"Audiences find Don Schmincke’s irreverent humor and unconventional methods a refreshing change from other speakers, and leave with the most remarkable and entertaining insights ever experienced on stage. Schmincke’s revolutionary scientific research established him as a consultant renegade and top speaker for the world’s largest CEO member organization.

This is no accident. Schmincke began his career as a scientist and engineer. After graduating from MIT and Johns Hopkins University he became fascinated with how people perform in groups, and even more intrigued by the high failure rate of popular management theories. With more than two decades of research using anthropology, evolutionary genetics and studies of human performance in extreme environments, he discovered that most management theories fail due to biological factors. He admits, “my work is politically incorrect, but scientifically accurate.” Audiences love it.

Schmincke is the author of the bestselling books The Code Of The Executive and High Altitude Leadership (with NBC Emmy-nominated climber Chris Warner). He’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Industry Week, USA Today, and over 60 industry publications annually; appearing on CNN and with G. Gordon Liddy in addition to hundreds of other radio and television programs worldwide. In 1990, he founded The SAGA Leadership Institute to offer corporate training programs and help CEOs accelerate business performance in the areas of strategy, leadership, sales, and cultural alignment.

Today, Schmincke flies 200,000 miles annually keynote speaking at conferences, training CEOs in his workshops, and working with clients in every industry from the Department of Defense (once being shot off an aircraft carrier – he’s still recovering) to large and small corporations across every industry including the healthcare, manufacturing, distribution, information, communications, finance, and insurance sectors. Occasionally he can be found at universities inflicting his unconventional techniques on innocent graduate students."