Halloween Is #2 Promotional Opportunity

When you sketch your plan for the year be receptive to new opportunities or ways to enhance the current position. Seasonal promotions are a broad and significant way to accomplish this goal. Many times communities, businesses, and non-profits are participating in the festivities on some level – publicly or privately.

Halloween is the #2 promotional opportunity after holiday gift giving. Product mix for various age groups are available.

Communities will feature parades, trick-or-treating, Chamber of Commerce events, to name a few where any marketer can show their prowess with fun and creative SWAG year after year.

Business often allow employees to dress-up. This opens the door to employee engagement activity, such as a cute trophy that can be passed from winner to winner, or redone annually to display winner’s name and date. It’s also an opportunity to move to the front of the annual gift giving campaign with a PR gesture or enhancing the name and brand recognition.

Non-profits will often jump on Halloween wagon as a PR supporter of larger events. Sticking close to these groups and participating in their opportunities can lead to a broadening of your own client base. Many business owners want to do business with others that grasp their own philanthropic activities!

Caveat: Always maximize the Promotion! Do not go into the schools with donated, non-educational product to be distributed by school teachers and staff. These efforts tend to get “lost” along with your client’s message! Move the distribution to activities of this age group such as community soccer league where the structure offers a greater interaction and parents can monitor the activity.

A Delicate Balance: Your Life’s Plan

When you GOOGLE “nice guy,” Jim’s face comes up! Jim and I have been friends since the first grade. He is a marketing guru. I have referenced his respected feedback for many years. Jim owns a marketing promotions company that has grown quite successfully, even in this down-turn economy.

Inevitably, Jim will drive the conversation around to ask about my wife and daughter. “You’ve done a GREAT job driving your career and having a personal life,” says my friend who is financially worth more than I can ever hope to amass. His system drives ten successful sales people in a local economy that is stricken harder than most.

Don’t you have a business plan?” I ask, already knowing that Jim is able to calculate his long term and short goals, and establish solid earmarks to move his interest along at a solid pace. Jim does A – B testing, calculates promotion timing, distributes leads to his sales people like the best point guard running a fast-break!

What Jim hasn’t developed is a LIFE PLAN! He hadn’t allocated vacation time, days off, retreats, education or trade shows. I kept after Jim to start making time for himself, to do the things he loves … “that’s part of your ROI!” I would stress.

I talked to Jim this week. “Hey, you’ve been pestering me to come to Carolina and play golf with you,” he started the conversation. “Let me know a good weekend! I’m dating now and I’d like to bring her with me … “

Just like a business plan, your life plan starts out with “baby-steps” to reach the bigger plateaus, you have A – B testing, promotional periods, and making yourself available to your key people! Developing these plans will balance your portfolio!

Prospect Us!

I LOVE my wife! Not only is she a beautiful person, woman, mom, wife, a great cook … but she is also a marketer’s dream! I’ve learned more from watching her buying habits and tendencies, than from any of my college, or industry courses throughout the years. With the introduction and chatter about the iPhone5 this week, she is looking at her upgrade options for a new phone. She doesn’t “need” a new phone, she “wants” THE new phone.

My wife is Not a Prospect, she a customer to upgrade. I have seen very few companies do a reasonable job prospecting consumers like my wife. Prospecting is often viewed as a long, dull process with a very heavy draw on ROI. I don’t know anyone who likes to do it and the successes are too often arbitrary. However, amidst a successfully run prospecting campaign, the rush produces an intense strengthening of “team” and employee self-esteem!

How can that be?” you ask. “Prospecting campaigns are usually based on short-term sales contests.” Remember, I said successfully run! If prospecting is just a one day campaign when the phones are slow or order count is down, the strategy is too ethnocentric. By that I mean, it is focused on the individual or organization, rather than the prospect. Prospecting should be the SOP within your business … everyone, everyday … tracked over time – weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. Synchronize teams, coordinate marketing campaigns, developed course of action upon success to build reasons for prospects to become customers.

Whether you are prospecting a new product, service, or marketplace, start out by establishing timeframe for the campaign, along with goals and expectations to measure success. Format your teams and procedures, and coordinate offers and promotions. Be sure to establish tracking methods to acknowledge prospects that move over to customers, and the offer that drew them in. Gathering this information at the outset will assist in developing successful offers in the future. Your market will hand you the development opportunities if you listen to what your customers and prospects have to say!

So prospect us in an intelligent manner to elevate your business, employees, and your customer’s opinion of your organization!

It Doesn’t Pay to Keep Your Mouth Shut: PR Effect on Profit

I am a student of Public Relations: B.S. in P.R.! (I also LOVE irony and sarcasm. You can tweet me all the jokes, but I’ve probably heard them already.)

Throughout the education process, I can remember how the professors and textbooks tried to maintain a distance between sales and public relations. In doing so, what they FAILED to connect is the relationship between public relations and profitability.

It used to be that you would make strides for publicity when your organization reached a milestone, hired a new executive, or won an award or client contract. Social media now allows you to draw your brand into the paradigm with creative and fun games, meet the staff, and even “look at the funny thing that happened today” shares with your followers – your (best) customers.

Today’s social media groundswell has made it very easy to develop an effective ongoing soft sell branding campaign about who we are, what we do, and the fun we have; thus, creating a more immediate familiarity. At some point, however, you have to do business with a stranger. We are usually drawn to the more genuine personality. They make it easier to drop your guard and WANT to make a purchase.

This is the “warm and fuzzy” of social media. It goes beyond the fact that you make a widget at a specific price, but For you, Today … If your public relations and social media efforts are nothing more than an extension of your sales, marketing, and advertising campaigns, than apply your resources elsewhere because the ROI just isn’t there!

Public relations and social media in today’s environment gives you the opportunity to maintain a presence and pertinence with your target audience even when the need is not there today. Use the channel to present ideas for product and service that aren’t obvious to the novice user. Allow your sales and support staff to make videos regarding new products and services that are new, or coming soon. This will add a sense of familiarity to what used to be the (phantom) voice on the phone, or worse yet – email.

The impact on profitability can be enhance many times over with stronger prospecting leads, better results with product and service introductions, and stronger customer relations.

Who Do You Think You Are?

When I was a sophomore in high school, a teacher did a simple exercise in empathy and ethnocentric attitudes. He taped a ruled line piece of white tablet paper to the black board. Every student was to write down a description of no more than 5-words about what he had just attached to the black board. It was amazing how many variations in perception there was to such a simple daily object. So, you can image how much more complex is the task of defining who and what your organization is.

It is YOUR perception, or understanding of the various perceptions of your organization, that will set the tone of Who Do You Think You Are. In answering the question you establish your organizational objective statement. This statement will branch-out to guide goals and objectives, new products and services, and future opportunities as the pertain to your organization and its marketplace.

In defining your organization, remember that you are a combination of your product / service, the needs you satisfy, and the service received by your customers as they attempt to satisfy their need.

No Business Plan, No Problem!

If you’ve come to this place in time of your organizational life cycle without a documented plan, and not sure how to begin the process in mid-stream; no worries! I am presuming, of course, that you are not on the brink of bankruptcy due to the lack of planning and review.

My first suggestion is that you clean off your desk to begin setting up short term goals and objectives that can be implemented immediately: today or tomorrow. Document your end of year targets:

  • gross sales
  • prospecting growth (new accounts)
  • marketing plan
  • promotional budget
  • operating expenses

In your review and analysis of the short term goals and objectives, constantly review new strategies:

  • prospects
  • cross sell existing customers
  • marketing and promotional avenues with best ROI
  • expenses in your operating budget.

Over the next several months you will also reflect and establish the long term organizational issues, which I tend to do in reverse order:

  • succession plan
  • 10-year vision
  • 5-year vision
  • 3-year vision

Be sure to establish earmarks on your long term plans. Keep in mind that these plans will get worked into the short goals and objectives. They may come to fruition, or be adjusted to accommodate new theories, technologies, and opportunities.

Business Planning ~ Analyze Goals & Objectives

The first impact on your business plan is that you are being attentive!

Developing your business will always be a challenge. Your plan should be a method to keep focus. Before you start, pull together your customer list, marketing plan, and P&L financials. A review against the earmarks will give you an easy, tell-tale sign.

  • Are the sales in line with projection? How about your profit margin to draw in those sales?

  • Did your prospecting campaign reap the returns you needed?

  • Have you maintained the marketing goals, within budget?

Likely, you have a strong gut feel for the answers to these issues, and likely you are right. But a review will insure you’re heading into the balance of 2012 with the proper planning.

In the event that you recognize something that you’ve missed in the daily activities of doing business, you can adjust accordingly. Before you simply adjust projected sales to be in line with the track you appear to be on through 5-months, consider doubling down, or adjust your thinking on some of the goals established to reached your year end objectives. Maybe you’ve strayed from your marketing plan and have the opportunity to get back on track, or re-direct some of your efforts to support your plan. Also, leave yourself open to something that may have come to light since setting your objectives.

Whatever you find, mid-year reviews and adjustments are always fruitful.

Did you find that your planning was dead-on in your projections, or ahead of projection? Give yourself recognition!

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