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 ( 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:

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 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, 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, 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
2. 10 ways to get seen and heard above the noise
3. Make Your Booth Stand Out at a Trade Show
4. How to stand out in the inbox