Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How to get started on a marketing project

Following my presentation on “Marketing and Sales Team up for Mediation Business Success,” I conducted a workshop. In one activity, I asked participants (approx. 6 at a table) with 5 tables to take a marketing tactic (brochure, newsletter, website, direct mail piece, and event) and determine these five things:

1. who has the information to do this project (if more than one person or source, list their general title or role. It could also be Internet, but specify where you would look).

2. Who will write it? Who will design it? If it’s a seminar, who will sponsor it?

3. How much time will it take to do this tactic?

4. What will it cost?

5. Who is your audience?

6. How will you get the mailing list together?

7. Who will you partner with or seek advice from to complete this project?

The groups enthusiastically pooled their efforts. The object wasn’t so much to get the job done before they left the conference, but to see that teamwork is essential in tackling major tasks. Also, participants had a reality check on the resources needed, advance timing and budget required to bring marketing projects to fruition.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tip #7 - Do what you are best at

For professional service providers – lawyers, accountants, mediators, recruiters, engineers and others – there's a temptation to write your own brochure, set up your own website, and/or conduct your own media campaign. Resist that temptation. Do what you are best at – your profession – and hire help for the rest.

My company produces marketing materials such as newsletters, brochures and websites. We also provide writing, design and strategy for major print projects, case studies and presentations. We handle media relations for professional practices. We can also coach you when making statements or conducting interviews with the media. (I used to work in the media: radio, TV and print.) Allow Cezat Creative Resources to help polish your image, and let your expertise shine.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tip #6 - Cultivate referral sources

Professional practices count on referrals for new business. Don't neglect this important part of your effort to bring in new clients. As you build a referral network, keep in touch with them.

• Communicate regularly through an e-mail or e-mail newsletters

• Call at regular intervals - perhaps monthly or quarterly. Tell them about your latest success and any new services that you have.

• Gain insight from them about the needs of prospective clients. Consider sending a survey.

• Send PDFs of white papers or case studies (let the results speak for themselves).

• Share media coverage, online articles or other news about your profession that will help your referral sources know who to refer to your practice.

• This may seem basic, but it helps to describe the type of client you are looking for. In my business, I seek out VPs of philanthropy departments at universities, health care systems and nonprofits so I can help them create case statements, donor information and proposals. For my professional service practice, I seek out owners of medical offices, other health care providers, lawyers, accountants and recruiters with practices of around 8 to 12 or more professional staff. Then I can develop a marketing plan and implement it. For marketing departments at corporations, I seek out the marketing director to produce community reports, annual reports, newsletters and brochures and write speeches.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tip #5: Tell your success stories

Professional practice groups - mediators, attorneys, CPAs, engineers, recruiters – should tell their stories of success. You don't need to brag, just point out how your service has helped your clients - especially in ways that your competitors can't match.

• Let prospects and referral sources see how your service works for people in tough situations.

• Tell stories that show how you've dealt with a common problem or a specialty case - both types of stories can lead to referrals for similar types of business.

• If your story has enough impact (tell the truth), people will remember it. Add important details, such as how you streamlined a process, saved money for the client, solved a problem that perplexed other professional providers, brought about a quick resolution, etc.

• Educate prospects and clients; they often don’t know the full range of how and when your professional service can be applied.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tip #4 - Seek media coverage

For professional service groups seeking new & repeat business, here's another tip.

What item of your business can you “pitch” to the media as a news story? Given the recession of 08-09, the media wants to know what’s coming down the pike in terms of job creation. Have you hired someone in your office lately? Or created a new position that you are filling with a contractor? Found a good niche market for your services? Why not share that with the appropriate media - maybe it’s not your daily paper but it could be good material for an industry journal or your local chamber magazine/online blog.

Small business news has its own panache. Consider teaming up with another professional service group or your association to report trends affecting your industry.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tip #3-Find your trigger

This is the third of seven tips designed to promote your professional service practice - whether it's a law firm, accounting firm, recruitment firm, mediation practice or engineering group:

Tip #3. Identify the “triggers” that prompt your services. Leverage these and bake them into your marketing plan.

• A trigger is an event, occurrence or other identifiable item that provides a logical time for you to sell your service/product.

• It could be a time or season when an event occurs (e.g. back to school, tax season)

• Review your quarterly sales to see when peaks occur and why – these could reveal unknown triggers

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Marketing Tip #2 for professional service groups

To promote your professional service practice - whether it's a law firm, accounting firm, recruitment firm, mediation practice or engineering group – here is another tip:

Tip #2. Point out the benefits of your service in your sales presentation and your marketing materials

• repeat your key messages – benefits and advantages – in your brochure, newsletter, direct mail, etc.

• when talking to prospective clients and referral sources, let your "benefits" line become your mantra.

• Add a tagline to your business card that tells what you do. Mine says, "Strategy, writing and design." While my main service is producing marketing materials to help professional service companies sell their service, I also write case statements for nonprofits, universities and health care companies trying to raise money. These skills are also being applied to produce anniversary books for large corporations - a new product line called "Minted Memories®". But the main benefits: "professional writing, pleasing design that helps tell the story, and strategy to determine the message, format and audience" can be applied to different markets. My advantage: very few companies do what I do. I have a niche business that is part public relations, marketing, and project management of print and web-based projects. These benefits and advantages are used to help solve the client's problem.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sales and marketing tips for professional practices

I presented a seminar “Marketing and Sales Team up for Mediation Business Success” on Nov. 13, 2009, at the Marriott Hotel in Pontiac, sponsored by Oakland Mediation Center.

I will do a series of seven take-away points that can be adapted by any professional practice:

Tip #1. Seek out and act on opportunities
• The more you know about your clients – their likes and interests – the more you can meet them on their turf. Find out what groups they belong to. Check the membership directory to see where members work.

• If you’re not generating leads and support from a certain group…try another group. Go to groups where you will get leads to business or better yet – people who need your services right then and there.

• Read newspapers (whether online or printed), keep abreast of local and national news and trends. Talk to people – find out where their pain is. What problem will your service solve? Then, act on those opportunities.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New anniversary line launched

My company’s new offering, Minted Memories®, has been launched. It’s a product line of unique anniversary booklets and videos for companies celebrating milestone anniversaries. My first batch of letters to prospects went out today. I was prepared to send them last Friday, but thought that day might be too ominous – like stepping on a crack, breaking a mirror or walking under a ladder – since it was 9/11. So, good things can and do occur on Mondays.

Mark Salloum, of VideoMagic, and I are eagerly awaiting some orders for Minted Memories® videos. My graphic designers and I are ready to put our unique stamp on booklets ordered through the program. Their skills at designing annual reports, newsletters and brochures will be just as amazing when applied to this format.

Meanwhile, the memory book for my mother is in the layout stage. When completed, it will be a fitting personal tribute to a woman who has had an incredible impact on just about everyone that she met and, most especially, her children.

These projects reflect solid values, hard work and the ability to overcome adversity to reach prosperity. In their own way, each offers a tribute and sense of hope. Best of all, these stories allow us to get a closer look at the amazing people who have brought some great things to life. Whether successful companies or close-knit families; in times of turmoil, we need more of both.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Don’t let PowerPoint® be a crutch

How many of you are a spokesman or spokeswoman for your company or organization? If so, you are the one that clients, employees, community leaders and other vested parties look to for information about new products or services, as well as leadership, industry trends and company direction. It’s a tall order, and too many executives think their delivery has to be ponderous and super serious.

To keep your information memorable, don’t rely too heavily on your PowerPoint® slides or Web page enlargement. It helps to project these images but don’t count on them to carry your speech. Inform your audience that the important points of your speech will be available to them (either online or as handouts), so they don’t have to fuss with extensive note taking. If you give the audience handouts prior to your talk, people will be shuffling through these papers rather than listening to you. (There are exceptions to this guideline, so you be the judge.)

Since most people won’t remember statistics, use them sparingly. Link the statistics to trends, which are easier to recall. Leave the esoteric examples up in the clouds. (Important statistics should be in your handouts or online charts.) Use examples that your audience can relate to … by linking them to current events, common annoyances (driving in heavy traffic), pop culture (using I-Pods while running or running errands) or heartfelt interests (kids, parents, neighbors and pets).

Inject your speech with humor. Use an approach that suits your style. Don’t try to be Jay Leno or Don Rickles. Low-key jokes work just fine. Presenters are often told to start with a joke that will loosen up the audience. Instead, get the audience’s attention with a great headline (use a startling fact or question), then space your “jokes” throughout your speech. The audience will be more attentive and have better recall when the jokes, stories and anecdotes reinforce your key message.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Welcome to the 21st Century cyclone

It’s almost a natural disaster. But, alas, it’s mostly man-made. I’m talking about the financial meltdown/sub-prime mortgage crisis/manufacturing base erosion/and conversion to the Web that has upended a lot of industries. As we sort out what works best and will sustain us economically over the next few decades, if not longer…let’s not lose sight of excellence. If people continue to do what they do best, what they are passionate about, and what they have a strong interest in, how can we go wrong?

Certainly, I hope my business will survive. I know the editing, design and production process. I’m a skilled writer and I work with some very talented people and outstanding suppliers. We like what we do, some of us even love it and wouldn’t want to do anything else. Right now, I’m trying to apply my strengths to new venues like presentations. Perhaps in addition to writing and producing annual reports, newsletters and brochures, my company can produce anniversary books for companies or memory books for families of the recently departed.

If you love what you do, how can you stretch that to new markets or different industries? Can you turn your hobby into a business while you keep your day job (if you have one)? Can you partner with someone in a similar industry for added strength and resilience?

Think back to how you made it in your career or business. Who helped you? Are you extending that help to others? Like the people of Fargo, N.D., we need to come together in times of crisis and prevent the worst from happening. Let’s rally behind the producers in this economy, not the shakers and takers.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Economic stimulus for the rest of us

Right now there are a lot of smart, educated and experienced people who are out of work. They may have been employed in the financial services field, worked in the auto industry, have been mortgage lenders or estate agents, or even retail owners or employees. Aside from doctors, nurses, government workers, teachers and auto mechanics – to name a few of the “safe” occupations – there are a lot of industries and sectors undergoing massive restructuring and downsizing.

While we await the results of the stimulus package, how else can we – downsized employees, baby-boomers not yet ready to retire, small business owners, and the next generation of workers (recent college graduates) – make a difference and jump-start the economy with our ideas, products and services?

The failure rate of new business launches is intimidating. Fewer than 70 to 80 percent survive the first year; of those that do survive only about half will make it to the five-year mark. I’ve been fortunate to be in business for 15 years, but this recent downturn is making it even tougher. I’ve had part-time employees and would like to hire again. Yet, due to business fluctuations, I continue to rely on talented and productive free-lancers.

Is there an easier way to launch an idea or drive more sales that doesn’t involve spending lots of time and money in getting it to market? Those who create new items or services often lack the business skills or desire to do sales, accounting, marketing, human resources and management – just some of the roles required in running a business. Is there a way for small endeavors to survive and grow relatively quickly with an infusion of smarts from a “go-to” source? I don’t think it’s the government that will or should provide this impetus. When I contacted the Small Business Administration years ago, I didn’t get much satisfaction.

I know of several small-business owners who have a product to sell but lack the knowledge or connections to gain ground in the marketplace. Is there a way to create a shared knowledge database that could pair an inventor or small business startup with a business-minded person to help the business take off rather than idle on the runway? If this process could be made easier, a slew of new industries would thrive.

I welcome your comments and suggestions!