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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Ditch the Business Plan

October 19, 2009

Writing a business plan is time consuming and costly, often starting at $20,000 at most agencies. It can take up to three months and in six months to a year it needs to be changed. In today’s fast paced and challenging business environment, we recommend an action plan, unless the purpose of the business plan is seeking financing. An action plan is less costly and you will see results much faster. To create an action plan requires some serious thought time, putting priorities in order, in writing, with a list of tasks to be done. Then, it is time to assign the tasks and hold those assigned accountable for completion by specific dates. I know, you are asking yourself when do I find the time to do that when we are so busy keeping the company afloat or working in our business every day. This is where professional marketing assistance is a tremendous help and very cost effective. Especially helpful is the out-sourced marketing department concept, as ICG offers it.

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Overwhelmed Business Owners

September 22, 2009

We have all had those days and, at times, months when we are so overwhelmed that we do what is easiest simply to give us a sense of accomplishment. This tends to add to the stress level of most executives. It is best to prioritize your marketing needs and then attack them one at a time from the highest priority first. ICG’s clients are amazed at how quickly their stress subsides when the most important tasks are getting done and done well, especially when we are there to expedite the process. It is key to prioritize before starting your work day or at the end of your work day.

Bonnie Griffin Kaake

ICG, President

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Leveraging Social Media for Business

September 9, 2009

During my presentation at the Denver Chamber of Commerce last week, I asked how many business owners and executives in attendance knew the difference between a forum and a blog. Out of approximately 50 Chamber members, only 2 raised their hands. It is time businesses get up-to-speed on how social media can increase a company’s visibility, credibility, and revenue.

I cautioned business owners in my presentations, five years ago, that without Web sites, the majority would be out of business in five years. I am now cautioning business owners that if they are not participating in social media, their competitors are passing them by. A company can start small by simply going to an industry forum and add their expertise to the discussion topic or start a new topic. A blog is usually a one-way communication. Many companies are adding blogs to their own Web sites and posting brief commentaries on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. These posts, whether to a blog or a forum, get  noticed in search engines and by your potential customers who are usually searching the Internet before they decide to call you or make a purchase.

Author: Bonnie Griffin Kaake

Innovative Consulting Group

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Changes at the United Inventors Association

August 21, 2009

More and more inventors and companies providing services to inventors are realizing the value of getting involved with the United Inventors Association www.uiausa.org. The providers of services to the inventor community must pass stringent criteria in order to be Certified by UIA and carry that seal on the company’s website. The fact that a service provider to inventors is Certified, should not be misinterpreted to mean that inventors don’t need to do their own due diligence. You must ask a lot of questions and be clear about the services being provided. The Certification process gives you the first level of comfort that these providers have met the criteria established by UIA in order to be listed. It is critical that you be sure your expectations clearly match the deliverables quoted or promised by the provider and put those expectations in writing along with the deliverables. Mistakes are costly and can impact your ability to commercialize even the best of products.

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Businesses’ Love & Hate Relationships with Consultants

July 15, 2009

Why do most consultants charge high fees and fail to deliver the goods to client’s expectations?  The key word here is “expectations”. A consultant must clearly define the deliverables and the client must clearly define expectations, both in writing. If there is not a clear understanding between the parties, consultant and client are likely to be disappointed in the working relationship and the end results of the project. Often, a client either does not pay the balance due or resents paying for services that did not satisfy expectations. On the other hand, most consultants resent having to do additional work, risk not getting paid, or have to take legal means to be compensated appropriately.  

Therefore, it is imperative that client and consultant spend time discussing the company and what the company’s goals are, rather than simply quoting the project at hand. Choose your consultant carefully, put a mutual confidentiality agreement in place for sensitive information, and speak openly about the project at hand and then listen with an open mind to the consultant’s input. If you are actually expecting a “consulting session” in your first meeting, expect to pay for it, too.

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Invent Bay Expo –Worthwhile Event Last Weekend

October 21, 2008

For a first year expo, I have to hand it to Keith Hammock, president of InventBay, for such a fantastic venue and opportunity for inventors. Because it was the first year and the economy is in the tank, I was amazed at the number of inventors attending. My guess is that there were 200 inventors exhibiting. That does not count the number I talked to who were roaming the aisles and taking advantage of the educational sessions. I gave two well attended presentations, one titled “Free and Trustworthy Information for Inventors” and the other “Funding, Licensing and Marketing; Everything an Inventor Needs to Know”.

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