Marketing 2010…What now?

November 30, 2009

So many companies will go back to the old methods of advertising their products or services because that is all they know. We are already seeing an increase in TV ads which have had less than stellar responses for years. Is this because they are becoming more effective? Not likely! It is always easier to do what we have always done as business owners rather than explore new, better and more effective methods of marketing. Is it time for you to rethink your marketing? If so, where do you begin?

Everyone is a specialist now days. This can be good or bad. What it does do is make it even more difficult for business owners, who often don’t know the right questions to ask in order to determine if a particular service or method is really the best for their company or industry. Don’t assume that because no competitor is using a particular marketing method that you shouldn’t. Maybe that is exactly what you need to do to stand out from the crowd. Take for example the creation of a Web site or updating your existing Web site. Where would you likely start?

1. Graphic designer: Makes the site look good and coordinates your visual brand. Tend to be artistic.

2. Developer: Creates the functional aspects of a site. Tell them what you want it to do and they will make it work. Tend to be technically oriented.

3. Writers: Create the verbiage with your input. Usually write for grammar, spelling and content flow. Tend to be word smart, not marketing smart. May or may not be experienced in writing style for the Internet.

4. Consultants: Advise based on their background, knowledge and expertise. Tend to tell you what you need to do but don’t usually get involved in the implementation phase. The best consultants listen more than they talk. They need to understand where you have been, what you want to accomplish and how they can assist. Choose your consultant well. Make sure they have a solid marketing background and are knowledgeable about current marketing methodology.

5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Use a variety of methods to get your site seen on the Internet. This service is often used when a site is not creating the results you were hoping for when you created your site originally. SEO is a very vague term that is used for doing many activities that may or may not be what you need from a marketing perspective; creating meta tags for your site, submitting it to search engines, setting up and analyzing the analytical reports, creating links, and even regularly writing articles and blog postings for you or with you.

Now that you have an understanding of the complexity of marketing today, is it really your area of expertise? If not, I would recommend beginning with an analysis of your current marketing methods and what has worked and what is not now working well. It is often best to seek outside consulting assistance that understands the importance of integrating everything you do and how critical it is to create a perception of value for your goods and services. Make sure that the consultant of choice is up-to-date and stays up-to-date with the many options available for action and results oriented marketing. Just remember, if you don’t do this first, and your competition does, they will have the advantage. Next year may be too late.

Most companies make the mistake of calling in a specialist first. Those that do are more likely to start out in the wrong direction, waste time and money, and be less effective.

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ICG Client Featured on CNN

November 27, 2009

Talk about exposure! ICG client Mike Tracy was recently featured in a news segment on CNN. Mike, a restauranteur, came to ICG for help with a new business concept.
While working with ICG, Mike was contacted and featured on the CNN television spot regarding small business loans.
There are many benefits to working with ICG, and every client gets special treatment. Work with us and expect the unexpected.

http://money.cnn.com/video/smallbusiness/2009/10/27/smb.karen.mills.katwalk.cnnmoney

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Working More and Enjoying it Less

November 18, 2009

It is difficult for most business owners to delegate, especially when the company is in crisis. The continuing thought is that the owner or manager has to do it because if he or she delegates the task, it will not get done or he or she will spend more time fixing errors. Instead, what often happens is that the task does not get done and hangs around haunting the owner/manager in the pile of TO DOs. Try delegating internally if you have competent staff, if not, you will get through this economic crisis better and faster by subcontracting for what you need done that require a different skill set or knowledge base immediately.

It is time to adjust your thinking if you want to survive as a business today. What worked in the past, no longer is effective. You have probably already discovered that you cannot do it all. Instead of staring at your computer screen, stressed with everything on your list that is not getting done, take action and delegate. You will be amazed at how much faster you will be back in control.

Bonnie Griffin Kaake

ICG President

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The Value of a Marketing Audit

November 18, 2009

Many companies create their own marketing materials and Websites in an attempt to economize. It can work for a while and then you begin to notice that the results are just not coming from what you have created. The first tendency is to blame the economy, the business climate, the time of year, your salespeople, the big business of search engines, and I can go on and on. The truth is that most of the time there are relatively quick and simple things that can be done to what you have that can make all the difference in getting results. Other times, you need a total new direction. In order to know the difference, it is helpful to bring in a savvy marketing consultant to do an audit of what you are doing currently and make written recommendations for changes. If you want a thorough audit with analysis and recommendations, expect to pay for that service, it is worth it and you will receive a higher quality of feedback and written analysis with recommendations, than from a consultant who is simply looking at your materials to secure business.

Bonnie Griffin Kaake

ICG President

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Employees Working From Home

November 18, 2009

Telecommuting managed well can save you and your employees’ money. The trick is to have good tracking systems in place, clear instructions and written policies outlining your expectations of employees working from home offices. Some companies find timers on employees’ desk tops, wherein the information is forwarded to the company headquarters on a regular basis, work well. Others require that employees log in to corporate servers when they are working. The overwhelming majority of employees are extremely satisfied working from home and only miss the camaraderie of an office environment. Of course, abuse of the privilege requires a manager of that employee to act quickly to point out the abuse and, if it is repeated, the appropriate action must be taken. Again, it is important to have the term “abuse” clearly spelled out in your working at home policy so that there is no ambiguity about treatment differences between employees. There must be consequences or the behavior will continue to worsen.

Bonnie Griffin Kaake

ICG President

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Engineers Create Products, Some Don’t Fit Your Product Line

November 18, 2009

Technical product companies’ engineers often create products that are unused and reside in the inventory of prototypes and intellectual property. Why not turn them into revenue producing assets? You are probably asking yourself  “Who has the time?”. You can delegate the research to someone inside or outside your company to determine other markets for the product. The out-sourced research may provide the most unbiased and creative direction for those prototypes and products collecting dust in your inventory.

Then again, there may be an application for that genius product or patent at another company, one that is willing to compensate you for the asset. The best approach would be to analyze the highest and best use of your asset and assist in determining the next step: trash it, expand your existing product line, or commercialize through licensing to another company.

Bonnie Griffin Kaake

ICG President

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Bad Logos Hurt Businesses

November 18, 2009

I encountered one of the worst logos I have ever seen just last week. As a marketing expert, I notice these things. Looking for a restaurant for a lunch stop while on my way to a client’s location in an unfamiliar place in town, it caught my eye—not in a good way.  It may have been a great restaurant but the logo looked “homemade” rather than what I imagined the food should be.

The name of the restaurant was difficult to read and the logo was more of a complex drawing in the form of a sign on the top of the building. It was so complex that from the busy road I could not tell what it was. Out of marketing curiosity, not interest in eating there, I drove into the shopping center and out of traffic to take a closer look.

Bonnie Griffin Kaake

ICG President

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