The Myth of the Big Splash

big-splashIf you don’t have time to read this whole article, here’s the most important takeaway: don’t spend your entire budget on the equivalent of a Super Bowl commercial. While this may be a viable strategy for a big international brand, it’s rarely a good idea for most companies.

Let’s back up for a minute. Our agency has been around for over three decades, so, in the sharp-witted words of Farmers Insurance spokesperson J.K. Simmons, ‘we know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.’ Kidding aside, it never ceases to amaze me how many companies we have talked to over the years that are initiating an agency review because they gambled on a big splash idea that failed to produce the results they hoped for. Sometimes it’s a case of a new marketing manager trying to make a name for themselves, and in the process ends up reverse engineering the majority of their marketing budget around one big splash. Other times it’s the case of bad advice from a previous agency who’s looking to win the next new shiny award at the expense of the client’s best interest. Or it could be a clever media salesperson who manages to successfully pitch an all-inclusive campaign in their publication or on their station. Whatever the case, there’s no substitute for doing the proper research and planning before doing any creative ideation or budget allocations.

It’s tempting, but don’t give in

It can be tempting to give in to the idea of making a big splash. Maybe your competitors are all bigger than you, and you feel like doing it can give people the impression you are on their level. The key is to take a breath and not cave in to pressure or excitement. In our agency, we live by the RPIE (research, planning, implementation and evaluation) process. When you give in to the temptation of the big splash idea, you’re basically skipping the first two steps in the RPIE process and going straight into the implementation phase focusing on one big thing. It’s sort of like building a house without a blueprint and the proper permits. And by the way, the house in this example has this one incredible room that took most of the budget so there wasn’t much left for other essential rooms that you really need to live your life fully.

An integrated plan is the way to go

In the early stages of developing a marketing plan, it’s best to assess each strategic area individually (advertising, public relations, digital communications, etc.), and determine their level of importance in contributing to the objectives, and then assign percentage allocations of the budget accordingly. After that, you can look at each individual area and develop strategies and tactics within the parameters of a budget allocation. Remember, within reason, and with the right resources and planning, it’s possible to scale projects and programs and not sacrifice effectiveness.

If you’ve been tempted to go with a ‘big splash’ marketing approach, but your better judgment is telling you it’s not a good idea and you need some advice, we might be able to help. Why not give us a call? We’d love to talk to you.


How your media events really gain traction

media-eventsMedia events attract publicity and promotional coverage. They give your company direct opportunities to raise awareness of what you do while you connect with prospective clients and show them your value as a resource. Whether you showcase your business in person or through a streaming webinar, you make experiential connections that create memorable experiences for audiences that place increasing value on these direct interactions.

Time to stand out
Customers choose what your company offers on the basis of its ability to satisfy a need. How you differentiate yourself from competitors determines whether your prospects rank you above other alternatives. Media events give you an opportunity to convey your advantages directly, to reinforce your uniqueness and solidify prospects’ impressions that you know what they want and can deliver it better than others. Brand identity forms an important central aspect of the message you convey.

Establish your expertise
Hosting a media event shows your mastery in your field. Whether you put on a gathering to honor your clients or offer a webinar to share your know-how, you identify yourself and your business as authoritative leaders. That direct, confident show of in-depth knowledge makes a powerful impression on clients, prospects and the media. Publicizing your event requires an effective public relations effort to raise awareness among your audiences.

Pass it on
Brand recognition and messaging rely on your ability to convey your advantages and make that message widely available. People who attend media events tell others about what they see and hear. As many as eight out of 10 of your attendees will talk to others about their experience. When you strategize, plan and organize your event effectively, you give people good reasons to spread your message. Effective planning gives your entire organization a boost, helping you identify and communicate your company’s unique advantages to the right target audiences.

Countdown to launch
If you’re planning a new product rollout or adding a new service to your offerings, a media event offers an ideal way to reinforce the value of what you do – and to do so less expensively than if you publicized your launch with ads in traditional media. Either at a face-to-face event or online, you create cost-effective opportunities to connect. To extend the message about your new offerings even further, add printed or digital collateral literature that delivers your product or service story before, during and after your event. And to encourage your audience to attend, professionally crafted invitations convey your identity as well as your event details.

Gathering feedback
Meeting directly with prospects and customers gives you a chance to gather their equally direct feedback about what you’ve announced and previewed. That mixture of critique and praise can be essential to assuring that your product or service truly reaches the targets you’ve set up as your objectives. Your attendees’ questions may show you areas that deserve further attention before you’re truly ready to hit the market – or reveal opportunities to broaden what you offer in response to additional needs. Managing attendee feedback relies on the personable combination of direct communication and software-driven contact management.

Attracting attention
If you take the right steps to assure media coverage of and attendance at your event, you increase your attendance accordingly. To attract an ideal audience, of course, you need to know who’s important to you, whether it’s a particular type of client, an influential decision maker at a specific level of responsibility or a media personality whose audience reach can boost your profile. A public relations partner can help you solidify your sense of who’s listening and who should be tuning in.

All these tasks and considerations become much easier to handle with expert assistance, and that’s where we come in. We’ve helped our clients run countless successful media events, along with all the strategic planning, brand identity and public relations expertise that underlie a confident communications plan. We welcome the opportunity to put our knowledge to work for you. Let’s talk about what we can do for you.


Speaking the Lingo: Business Jargon and the Quest for Clarity

avoid-business-jargonThe next time you tell a colleague that you’re going to run something up the flagpole or touch base offline about synergy and ideation, reconsider the impact of “business speak” and language in general.

Language alters the brain
Clarity of thought produces clear communication. In a process known as neuroplasticity, language affects the way your brain maintains itself. Visualizing future positive actions triggers brain activity with a lasting positive impact on the capacity for self improvement.

Working in an environment dominated by business speak and corporate jargon also affects your brain. Tough-talk metaphors lead people to believe winning is everything. Vague, jargon-filled pronouncements lead to imprecise thinking. All of these verbal habits can affect your state of mind and your ability to communicate.

Welcome to the machine
The jargon of business speak began during serious attempts at business reform. In the early 20th century, assembly-line factories dominated industrial production. Mechanical engineer and efficiency expert Frederick Winslow Taylor wrote The Principles of Scientific Management, the century’s most influential work in its field. The son of wealthy Quakers, Taylor used what he called “scientific management” to increase industrial performance. “Taylorism” pioneered industrial engineering, breaking assembly-line work into its smallest units of activity to eliminate wasted motion.

This approach treats employees like cogs in a machine. A few decades later, sociological experiments revealed that workers who thought their bosses paid attention to them as people did better at their jobs than those who were treated like interchangeable parts. This focus on workers’ social and psychological needs blossomed during World War II as a way to understand culture’s role in authoritarian societies.

Human potential
U.S. corporations emerged from the 1940s as big conglomerates in which workers once again felt disconnected from where they worked, prompting a renewed interest in creating an emotional environment conducive to maximized profits. The 1950s spawned organizational development theory, which viewed employees as self-motivated performers who operate well in an atmosphere of trust. This world view fit the prevailing culture of the 1960s and its focus on personal fulfillment. Surrounding these ideas, a vocabulary of buzzwords began to build. “Synergy,” “paradigm shift” and “disrupt” all arose as business speak during the early 1960s.

Consultants took on a focal role as corporations and organizations attempted to adopt organizational development. The use of “resources” to describe employees came from the influential consultant Peter Drucker, author of the 1954 book The Practice of Management, who teamed with General Electric’s Jack Welch to overhaul GE’s organizational culture in the 1980s. Welch’s “Work-Out” program addressed the process of speeding up business problem solving and applied its own terminology to various aspects of the process. “Low-hanging fruit” emerged from Work-Out’s vocabulary.

The Dilbert era
After AT&T’s breakup into so-called “Baby Bells,” Pacific Bell introduced the management philosophy of consultant Charles Krone, who believed that the use of specialized vocabulary improved organizational health. Instead of enhancing employees’ attitudes and communications, however, “Kroning” increased the reliance on jargon. No one outside Pacific Bell could understand what its insiders said. Inside the corporation, the humanistic-sounding focus of Krone’s philosophy rested atop a “my-way-or-the-highway” approach. The comic strip “Dilbert” emerged from Pacific Bell culture, the creation of a computer programmer who lampooned the management speak he heard at work.

Krone’s philosophy fell out of use, but not its jargon. Other consultants brewed up a stew of terminology to make their insights look unique and add a veneer of pseudo-science to their theories. Consultants also introduced HR’s glossary of terms for human capital, designed to promote a focus on efficiency instead of on individual value.

Money talks
The world of finance lost its focus on worker satisfaction during the aggressive increase in Wall Street power and influence of the 1970s and 1980s. Many financial concepts, such as leverage and value addition, moved into academia and the larger arena of the world of business.

Advertising contributed its own share of the business-speak vocabulary, from the “run it up the flagpole” of the 1960s to the “personal brand” of the 1990s. With the rise of Internet technology and access, today’s jargon flashes around the globe at lightning speed. The tech world also contributes its fair share of buzzwords, including “bandwidth” and “multi-task.” The current corporate vocabulary teems with “team” language from the world of sports. The language of social equality now speaks of the demographic criteria of “diversity and inclusion.”

So at the end of the day, have an awesome aha moment about bang for the buck, and make the business case for circling back to transform core competencies as the focus of the cutting edge of corporate culture while you’re cross training your empowered employees to disrupt their workflow with deliverables that prove you’re an evolved game changer who’s fully on board with incentivized ideation. Just make sure you explore all your customers’ pain points with a paradigm shift that’s preplanned for outside-the-box thinking!

Want to avoid vague language and even vaguer thinking? Let’s talk. We value direct, productive dialog about your best approach to marketing your business.


Snapchat for Promoting Your Business: Yes or No?

In the PR industry, we strive to reach our clients’ audiences wherever they are, and in recent years, that means following users to popular social media platforms. However, while businesses have grown increasingly comfortable with advertising via Facebook and Google, new platforms pop up all the time, offering new vectors for public relations strategies and new challenges for PR agencies’ clients. The most bedeviling challenge right now? Snapchat.

The buzzy social media company could use its own PR intervention after the events of recent weeks, which saw influential celebrities abandon the platform in response to various controversies. At the same time, it earned positive press for offering companies access to its Marketing API (application programming interface) program and its rich trove of location-based user data to provide free statistical insights to brands. And in the most recent Pew Research Center report on social media usage, more than a quarter of American adults said they used the app, including a staggering 78 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds.

So, should your business turn to Snapchat as a promotional tool? As usual, the answer depends on many factors. The most important of these is your marketing and PR budget due to the high minimum spends for traditional ads; the most expensive option, sponsored lenses that feature the playful live animations for which the platform is known, has been estimated to cost between $300,000 to $750,000 per day for national campaigns. However, even smaller businesses can afford so-called “geofilters” that Snapchat users can apply to their own pictures and videos to interact with your brand.

Since nearly every business can afford something offered by Snapchat, the question then becomes whether or not it’s worth the investment. Generally, B2B marketing is out – a geofilter for a professional conference may be worthwhile for brand building, but Snapchat is far better suited for B2C tactics. There are also clear demographic trends: if you’re aiming your product or service at millennials, Snapchat is a great way to reach your audience, whereas other audiences are easier to reach via Facebook or Instagram.

But even B2C companies selling to millennials need to think carefully about how Snapchat can be effectively utilized for PR purposes. Building brand awareness with a fun geofilter, offering users barcode or QR-style coupons if they swipe up on your ad or creating a geofilter for an event that lets users share content with your brand attached are all great ways to take advantage of Snapchat. However, given the limited time ads appear on the service and the small amount of screen real estate filter and lens producers have to work with, it can be hard to go far beyond that kind of brand awareness campaign.

It also requires approaching advertising in a new, user-directed fashion. People expect casual, fun snaps that are quick glimpses into the lives of the people they follow, and businesses seeking to reach their own followers via Snapchat need to follow the format. It’s easy for businesses to come across like Steve Buscemi trying to look like a hip high schooler if they just jump right in, so business owners and marketing professionals need to do what they should do with any new platform: spend plenty of time getting familiar with the jargon and visual vocabulary before you launch your new campaign. And resign yourself to having to learn it all over again when you follow the kids to the next big social media platform.