Media Matters

Media Matters

What’s the matter? Not enough people know about your company? Your service? Your product? (For simplicity’s sake, let’s just call all of them “product”). You know you need to get the word out but you don’t know how…

To start off, the world of marketing is divided up into two major subsets: The Message and The Messenger. You know the old saying “Don’t shoot the messenger”? Well, in this case, sometimes that’s called for. That’s because the Message is what you’re saying about your product while the Messenger is how you’re getting the word out, and boy, are there many ways to do that...

There are the “old classics”: TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, direct mail, window signs and billboards. And there’s the vast array of “new stuff”: geo-targeted cable TV, geo- and demo-targeted EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail), transit ads (planes, trains, taxis and buses), bus shelters, train stations and platforms, airport displays and pillars, grocery store shelves, floors and carts, Google ad words, web advertising, website SEO, Facebook ads, Facebook Boosts, mobile device ads, webinars, podcasts, blogs, YouTube channels, info-videos, going viral, emails, texting, RedStamps, Evites, product placements in TV shows and movies, guerilla marketing tactics. That’s still not everything…and there’s always something new emerging.

Good grief, what’s a body to do? Don’t worry…we’ve got you covered!

First of all, get professional help. Seriously. Because this is where you can spend (and waste) a great deal of money if the media is not carefully selected. Your marketing firm will (or should) help you determine your audience. Who are they? What are their ages, interests, stomping grounds and income levels? Where do they live? How do they get around? What media are they most likely to interact with?

Secondly, you’ll need to establish a budget. It’s like going out to shop for a house—your realtor can show you anything and everything, but if it’s not in your budget, it’s a waste of your time. Budget is especially critical with media because you’re juggling three things: reach, frequency and impact.

Reach is essentially your geographic reach or how many people you’re reaching. Frequency is how often they’re likely to see your message and for how long and Impact is how noticeable the message is—ie you can’t miss it (like that plane flying over a beach with the banner that everyone looks up at, or the city bus that’s completely wrapped, or that billboard that repeats 5 times in a row down the expressway). To have all three can be very expensive so you and your marketing partner will need to decide which is most important—which one will give you the most for your money.

For instance, you choose a small geographic area over a limited period of time so that you can have high frequency and maybe some high impact. We’re doing that now for a university that has a program for disadvantaged youth. We had a limited budget so we knew we needed to target specific areas and specific media that would be the most likely to reach our audience as they move about. We chose mass transit (CTA trains, buses, platforms and shelters), and junior posters (those small neighborhood billboards that are at street/eye level). Because of the highly targeted nature of the campaign, we’re able to blanket the areas with high frequency and even a few moderately-high-impact hits. We’re confident our audience is going to see our message!

Another young, trendy product was promoted strictly online: website, Google AdWords and hyper-targeted FB boosted posts and ads. Another product is so unusual that we’ve come up with fun, high-impact, guerilla marketing tactics that are as innovative as the product.

Always keep this in mind: if you’re spread to thin on reach, frequency or impact, it’s like you don’t even exist out there. Remember, the average consumer is bombarded with over 4000 (and growing) marketing impressions a day so it’s a tough world to break through that takes thought, creativity, planning and yes, money.

By now you can probably see that the media you choose really does matter.  But it’s a complicated matter--a left brain/right brain challenge that requires both creativity and analytical skills for numbers, charts and graphs and all that. Just the kind of complex puzzle-solving stuff that gets us excited.

So bring it on—let’s see how we can help you with your challenge!

Your Customer's Dream

Your Customer's Dream

Once upon a time, there were three partners in a restaurant venture. They all agreed that a college campus would be great place for their restaurant...

The first partner said, “We should have a hotdog cart. Low overhead, no rent, minimal staff, streamlined inventory. That’s the way to go!” The second partner said, “Well, a hotdog cart may leave money on the table. College students want to hang out with their friends while they eat. I think a fast casual restaurant would be better. That way, the menu can still be manageable, but the average meal will bring in more than a hotdog & a can of soda. Maybe we can cater too…” The third partner said, “I really like raspberry bars. And specialty coffee drinks. We could serve that along side the BBQ and mac & cheese, couldn’t we? What do you think about linen table clothes and real silverware? I bet college students would appreciate that.”

Well, as Goldilocks and all the college students will tell you, Partner #2 was right (although hotdog-cart-guy wasn’t far off). All entrepreneurs have a vision for their business. Usually something they’ve spent years dreaming about bringing to fruition. But if your vision does not match the vision/appetite/taste/needs of your customers, your business will not succeed. Before you open your doors (whether they be actual or virtual), you need to take a hard, honest look at whether your dream is your customers’ dream. You also need to take stock from time to time even if you’ve been in business for years.

Chili’s has done just that. They’ve launched a very interesting and engaging ad campaign to address their own assessment (or feedback from their customers, perhaps) that they had strayed from their original vision…from those core competencies which their customers loved…and which grew them to over 1600 locations since their inception in 1975 (thanks Wikipedia!).

Chili’s recognized that they had ventured down a path that they thought was a swell idea, but that caused their customer base to miss what made them love Chili’s in the first place. Rather than embark on a slick Jedi mind trick to redirect their audience back to their “re-rebrand,” instead, they owned it. They admitted that they’d gotten off track and were taking steps to return to their baby-back-baby-back-baby-back…

Check out the first commercial of the campaign. Fascinating. Never seen anything like it. Well done, Chili’s.

The Fast and the Furious: How To Avoid Running On Fumes When You Are A High-octane Individual

The Fast and the Furious: How To Avoid Running On Fumes When You Are A High-octane Individual

Entrepreneurs are made of many types, the artists, the visionaries and the doers. And while we may have distinct personality differences, we also tend towards similarities in the way we approach our business lives. Often, we are fueling our passion with above average motivation and we feel the adrenaline rush of risk taking. This high-octane lifestyle may be the key to our success, and we feel powerful in the moment, but it can lead to dangerous results as we approach burn out.

There are some things to consider as you navigate your entrepreneurial journey:

The Need for Speed

Entrepreneurs always want everything they envision for their business as quickly as possible. We are working ourselves to the limits trying to speed up the steps to our success. If we are looking for funding, we want funding to happen RIGHT NOW. If we have launched and we are trying to sell a new product, we want to sell our goal IMMEDIATELY. We work with others to help us reach our goals, and we are constantly pushing for things to speed up. This is because we can see the road ahead and we know where we are going- we just want to reach it faster!

The problem is that this need for speed causes a few problems. It creates unrealistic expectations for ourselves, our goals and the people we work with- which creates a toxic environment for everyone. It also means you are moving so quickly that you could be missing real opportunities for a better or different road to success, or you are missing warning signs about your business that could be catastrophic later.

Slow down. Find partners to work with who can help you regulate your speed towards your goals and find real, tangible, small steps to get there. This is often difficult to accept, but we all know the story about the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race.

Running on Empty

Another classic scenario entrepreneurs face is overlooking their own personal needs above the needs of the business. We are so focused on reaching our goals, growing quickly and that “next big thing” that we forget to take care of ourselves. This becomes a problem when you reach the point of sleepless nights, and hidden self-doubt and anxiety.

Take care of yourself and take a mental inventory of your health. It is very common that those running businesses suffer from nearly debilitating self-doubt, and various anxiety disorders. You are not alone. There is a very real phycological connection to your ability to drive your business forward in hyper speed, while running on empty personally.  Inc. Magazine published a poignant article on this topic, and every entrepreneur I know has found that they are able to identify with some of this.

Don’t get caught in the trap. Make sure you take care of yourself first.

 Build your Pit Crew

The best way to avoid completely overdoing it is to build a highly skilled, trusted team you can lean on. Yes, employees are included in this, and yes, they are hard to find, but they aren’t the only options. Find trusted advisors you can confide in and find professionals who are highly skilled in the areas that are your deficits. Build your crew specific to your needs. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Despite your high-octane personality and drive, you cannot do it all alone. And that’s ok.

Take a moment and breathe, slow down and take stock of your personal health. I know you won’t slow down forever, but even just a moment here and there can have a significant impact on helping you avoid burn out.

4 Tips to Use LinkedIn Successfully

4 Tips to Use LinkedIn Successfully

I’ve found myself being very active on LinkedIn lately and that got me to thinking…how can LinkedIn really benefit my career?

Not that social media outlets benefit me in any way (other than giving me the satisfaction of being nosey and snooping into people’s lives), LinkedIn has a reputation of being the “it” social media for networking and potentially finding a new career, so for a 23-year-old like me, yea I would say that’s important. Other than the basic network building, professional profile picture and job search, I wanted to figure out other ways I could fully benefit from LinkedIn.

So, like what usually happens when I have a daunting question, I turned to my good friend, Google. Browsing through dozens of articles, I came up with my version of 4 tips that one could use to fully benefit from the LinkedIn experience:

Use your profile to showcase everything that doesn’t fit on your resume

As we might have all learned when we first started applying to jobs, keeping our resumes neat and straight to the point is the goal. Well my friends, let your fingers do all the typing they desire because LinkedIn is the perfect place to jot down every summer job, volunteer opportunity and skill set that you might have. I mean c’mon, they even changed their algorithm to fit up to 1,000 characters per section, fill that sucker up.

Snooping is key (also my favorite thing to do)

Once you’ve got a valuable network, snooping is the best way to use LinkedIn, but only after you’ve forged good connections. For example, lets say you’re interested in a job posting, you can use LinkedIn to find former employees who could potentially give you real insight on the company or position. 

Take advantage of the blog on your profile

Did you know you can write blogs to your LinkedIn account?! I say this because not many people know about it, and if they do, they shy away. Well, I am living proof that writing a blog shouldn’t intimidate you…you’d be surprised with the content that your brain can come up with. Your blogs can be about anything you enjoy or find interesting (obviously not something inappropriate) and they’re an awesome way to showcase your thoughts, ideas and writing skills! 

Stay active!

I can’t stress this enough. Even if you are at a good place and are happy in your career (if you are, congrats), it is important to stay active on the LinkedIn radar. Share posts, comment on articles, update your profile, etc. because you never know when you might need someone in your network!

So as you can see, my epiphany with LinkedIn was great. I figured, if I’m going to spend a lot of time editing my work experience and picking a profile picture that captures my professionalism but doesn’t make me look like a robot, I could also use my time making the most out of this business community. I hope you learned a thing or two and take my [awesome] tips into consideration next time you’re logged in.