Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Get Proactive With These Summer Marketing Ideas for Outdoor Events

With school ending and summer starting, adults and children alike will be spending as much time as possible outdoors at home and community events. In most locations, summer weekends are chock full of local and regional events that attract a wide array of people. Some events attract local residents of a community or region, while larger events can bring tourists into an area for a few hours, day or an entire weekend.


Summertime creates both opportunities and challenges for marketing to clients. While you may have more opportunities to provide products and materials for events, getting customers to walk in your front door is more difficult. Customers who like to participate in summer activities spend as much time as possible out of doors including taking vacations, days off and leaving early. So how do you take advantage of summertime doings instead of having them take advantage of you?


Opportunities


Let's start with the opportunities. Since people are out and about during summer at farmer's markets, fairs and concerts, you may run into clients in one or more of these casual setting simply by participating in them yourself. You should always be ready to hand out marketing materials everywhere you go, especially if most of your clients are local. Fill a pouch or tote with apropos marketing handouts for people you meet when out. Handouts should be family-friendly and summer appropriate such as:


  • Water bottles

  • Water toys

  • Lip Balm

  • Sunscreen

  • Visors

  • Hats

If you give out marketing items that people actually will use in the summer, they will love getting them which puts your contact information in front of them for at least that day. Parents will also love anything that you hand out to occupy their children's time such as foam fingers or other toys.


Beat the Heat


If handing out materials isn't appropriate for an event, another idea is setting up a mister tent to help people beat the heat. In fact, handheld fans, water bottles (with water in them), squirt guns and other products that help people cool off will always be appreciated by prospects. Just be sure that your logo and contact information is big and bold. Misters are so delightful during hot summer events that they are very popular with all ages. To engage prospects, hand them small towels with your logo and information to dry off after they get wet.


Keeping Drinks Cool


For food events, cup or can holders that insulate are a fantastic handout. Arrange with food vendors to give them to every customer that gets a drink. Or create event promotional materials such as cups that have a coupon imprinted on them. The ultimate goal is to invite people into your brick-and-mortar business or visit your website, so a coupon offer for a free or discounted service is ideal for giveaways.


Challenges


The biggest challenge for marketers during summertime is to drive customers indoors to your business. People are inclined to spend time outside during warm weather. Additionally, customers may be out of the office for a significant number of days and can't be reached. Therefore, it is important to think outside the box creatively to find prospects and offer them an incentive that will overcome their reluctance to come in. Every locale has one or more special events unique to that area. Go out of your office to where you will find crowds of people and offer them something that they can't wait to use.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Every Extrovert Can Learn to Listen

The Courage to Connect


When research professor Brené Brown opened up to a TedxHouston audience about shame, vulnerability, and courage, she had no idea her message would become one of the most wildly popular TEDx talks of all time (with over 24 million views). Brown has spent the last ten years studying the power of authenticity and empathy, and poses wonderful questions like these:



  • How do we embrace vulnerabilities and imperfections so we can live from a place of authenticity and worthiness?

  • How can we engage people in a way that makes them feel worthwhile, brave, and willing to commit to something bigger than just a project or deadline?

  • How can we choose courage over comfort, stretching our team to connect in ways that powerfully motivate everyone?

Every Extrovert Can Learn to Listen


Brown’s work hits home in the hearts of many who long for authentic relationships and want to see this come alive in their workplace. While there are many hindrances to open communication, one of the greatest barriers is simply our personality differences. Over half the population are considered introverts, but research shows that introverts make up only two percent of senior executives. Which gives extroverts a great opportunity to do lots of talking. But studies show that business leaders who prioritize listening are perceived as considerably more effective than those who dominate the conversation.


Invite Them to Engage


We all have room to grow, and great interactions begin with intentional listening. Here are three ways to quiet your mouth and open your ears as you seek to engage others in meaningful ways:


1. Start every meeting with a question.


Imagine yourself standing before your team with an invitation instead of a megaphone.


Seek to motivate conversation rather than charging into a meeting with a tight-fisted agenda. Opening your gatherings with dialogue can shake out the nerves and cobwebs of the entire team, sparking creativity and building interpersonal collateral. Increasing dialogue can catalyze more “green light” brainstorming and bring a fresh, life-giving dynamic to your entire company. When you formulate meeting agendas, push yourself to start with a prompt and to leave more tangible space for discussion.


2. Listen with action.


How can you show your teammates their insights really matter?


Often people are tentative about sharing constructive criticism, fearing negative repercussions or believing “nothing will really change.” Great leaders surround themselves with those who will give honest feedback, and they intentionally close the “listening loop” by following up with some sort of action. Close a meeting by thanking your team for their honesty, or sending personal e-mails telling them you valued their input. Make a list of things to look into, review, or change, and add timelines to these goals so your ideas aren’t lost in the weekly grind. Even if you can’t implement suggestions, make a point to tell people they are valuable and you have actually heard what they are saying.


3. Embrace vulnerability as a step toward courageous communication.


What do you do when someone asks you a question you can’t answer? Saying, ‘I don’t know” can be the most significant reply of all.


When you acknowledge your limitations, it opens the door for your teammates to step in and shine or to admit their own uncertainties or frustrations. Vulnerability can grow powerful partnerships and prompt growth in areas you hadn’t previously targeted. Ultimately, vulnerability builds engagement, which grows teams and enriches the atmosphere. Push yourself toward bold, transparent communication, and you may be surprised at the results. Brene Brown says it like this:


“Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s the most accurate measurement of courage.”


Ready to open a new pipeline of thoughtful teamwork and open communication? Be brave, be intentional, and sometimes . . . just be quiet.


 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Why Your Marketing Should Be Actionable Above All Else

One of the traps that even seasoned marketing veterans often fall into involves crafting collateral that has far too much information for its own good. Marketing messages start out simple enough, but as brands continue to grow and evolve, the marketing messages do the same until it can be difficult to remember what that short, sweet, actionable idea was in the first place. 


And if you think your marketing has lost focus, just imagine how your audience members probably feel.


When your marketing starts to suffer from a lack of direction, it starts to become much too passive. Thankfully, the solution is simple - strip away the noise and focus on the action of it all. This, of course, requires you to keep a few key things in mind.


What is Actionable Marketing?


Think about your marketing the same way you would something like a call-to-action. A CTA is effective because it's clear and concise. It tells your readers exactly what you want them to do, how you want them to do it, and most importantly, what they're going to get in return.


It's a way for them to take the experience they've already had and elevate it to the next level by continuing their relationship with your people or your brand.


Passive marketing, on the other hand, does the exact opposite. People may see one of your flyers and become aware that your brand exists, but they're not motivated to do much with that information. They certainly don't know why they should care or what you can do for them that nobody else can. Passive collateral just... is. That, most definitely, is a problem. 


To put it another way, every element of your collateral - from the color design of a flyer to every last word on a brochure - needs to be building towards the eventual action that you want someone to take. It's like a CTA on a larger scale and rest assured, it pays dividends. 


The Byproducts of Actionable Marketing


Actionable marketing requires you to target your audience. You need to know who people are, what demographics they fall into, what they like, and what they don't like. You then have to address a specific need that they have and direct them to take your desired action.


If all of this sounds familiar, it's because these are the types of things you should already be doing. Making action a priority simply allows you to double down on these efforts, allowing them to rise to the surface. 


The real benefit of actionable marketing is precisely that - it creates its own momentum. It has an energy that passive content just can't match. You can use that energy to create new opportunities for yourself, not only in terms of up-selling or cross-selling your products but also with regards to increasing the overall lifetime value of your customers.


Simply put, if your marketing content is active your customers will be, too, and that's the type of opportunity you do not want to overlook.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

5 Ways to Find the Strength to Try One More Time

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become an Olympic athlete, a NASA astronaut, or a leader in a major organization?


The one trait that all of these individuals likely possess is persistence: the ability to get back up, dust themselves off after a fall, and keep trying. No matter your talent, regardless of your genius and irrespective of your education, persistence is often the trait that sets people apart from their peers in terms of their level of success.


Succeeding at anything in life requires a great deal of effort over a period of time -- very few people simply decide to be the best at their craft and are able to do it without a battle. How do these individuals find the strength to try one more time . . . repeatedly?


1. Be Prepared


Planning for success helps you think through all of the reasons why someone would disagree with your ideas, and also gives you the bulletproof mentality that you're prepared for any question that comes your way. Think of all the reasons why something won't be successful, and then consider arguments against that point. Become your own devil's advocate, and it will be that much easier to find a positive response and an open door for your next request. 


2. Be Adaptable


Being adaptable provides you with the mental agility to not hide in a corner when you're kicked to the curb. As Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle Corporation states:


“When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for people telling you that you are nuts.”  


You have to be willing to adapt your thinking and your processes and find a way to create change while not straying from your core ideas. You can't listen to every naysayer, but you can look for the nuggets of wisdom that they share and use that information to your advantage the next time you try to move forward. 


3. Be Confident


You may be surprised that confidence is not the first attribute we consider, but the reality is, you need to have a plan in place that you can trust and support before confidence will help you through to success. Confidence in yourself, your family, and your ideas -- as well as a burning passion to make a change in the world -- are what can help you continue on even when it feels as though there's no path forward. 


4. Do the Work


Unfortunately, there are few things in life that can replace hard work. Whether that hard work is from an athlete completing the same moves repeatedly for months or even years or a business leader who is told "No" more times than they can count, the ability to simply buckle down and execute on your vision is critical to long-term success. 


5. Inspire Others


Perhaps one of the most rewarding things you will ever do with your life is to inspire others to be their best. Take the time throughout your life to inspire others. When you realize how many people you have impacted and how many are watching your success, it's a lot easier to find the strength to try again in difficult times. 


Finally, in the words of Thomas Edison: "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." Shouldn't you give it one more shot? 

Friday, May 4, 2018

6 Over the Top Things to Look for in Business in the Future

Business isn't going anywhere. In fact, here's where the most probable types of market exchange will happen with customers according to famous futurists:


  • Remember those Star Trek episodes where people used a transporter to go from place to place? In the future, it's likely that business will use something similar to deliver goods, from your printed materials to food to durable products delivered right into a person's room as ordered, bought, and sent from a business electronically. 

  • Michio Kaku sees a technology-driven convergence of thinking, consciousness, and the internet. Instead of thinking of the internet as a tool, people will become the Net by connecting their brain to it for full immersion and interaction, as well as contributing to real-time synergies in information generation and use. Business, no surprise, will become far more intangible as a result, adapting to the mind-environment to keep pace with where the new demand exists.

  • Personal augmentation with technology will be commonplace. Just being a regular, average human being won't be good enough. Instead, people will carry their technology within them. Not to be confused with "on" them, but tech actually integrated with their bodies. We won't need a computer to design what we want to print; the idea will come straight from a digital connection to our minds translated to electronics and then produced by a vendor as we desired.

  • James Canton sees robots and artificial intelligence giving human-led business a run for its money due to the fact that robots and AI will be able to easily grind millions of bits of statistical data and produce probabilities of what consumers want well before any humans can realize that want or need on their own.

  • Some folks don't even look at business in typical environments. Instead, Jason Silva sees cars becoming so advanced, our need to drive will be replaced by our need to get lots done in a car while it dries itself. And that includes business, generating new ideas, printing and producing inside a car, and getting work and life done while traveling from point A to point B every day. Business services will tailor themselves to people working remotely all over the place, delivering what they need where they are, and when they need it.

  • Finally, our bodies won't necessarily want to live longer just because our technology advances. So instead of relying on a failing system, the medical community will embrace body part production and printing, creating organ replacements designed by computer to work specifically with an individual patient. The term "batch order" printing replacement organs will take on a whole new meaning in hospitals.

    Long story short, business will likely still be around years from now, but how it delivers goods and services to consumers will change dramatically.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

4 Ways to Stop Your Team from Falling Apart

There are times in every supervisor's work life that you can feel everything going off the rails -- projects don't sync up as they should, laughter feels forced within your team, and the energy levels are low.


While it may feel like everything is falling apart at the seams, and you're not sure what you can do, don't give up! There are ways to bring teamwork back to your team, but it will take some work to rebuild trust between team members and realign your focus to the future.


Even the most high-performing teams have moments of doubt that can be introduced by stress or fear. These negative emotions could overtake a team or its leader, but the first step is re-imagining the future and then casting that vision to your team. 


Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure


While it may be too late if your team has already entered a downward spiral, preventing negativity from happening is always the best alternative to a team that's coming apart at the seams. Getting to know your team, understanding their motivations and stressors, and working hard when you need to will help you become a trusted member of your team -- and not just the leader.


Spending time together bonding in good times will help sustain your relationship during times of difficulty, both with each individual team member and the team as a whole. This trust doesn't come overnight but is worth the time spent building it in the long run. 


Slowing the Negativity


Perhaps your team has just begun showing signs of stress, such as team members being unwilling to contribute in meetings, leaving early, or losing energy early in the day. If you look up in the afternoon and everyone is wandering around looking aimless instead of focused on work or building relationships, it's past time to get more involved in your team's dynamics.


Start by talking to someone on your team, either the person who is seemingly the most stressed or one with whom you have the most trust built up. See if you can determine what the root cause of the uncertainty is, and look for potential options for resolution together. 


Returning from the Brink


If your team is truly on the brink of collapse, with your best and brightest team members disengaged and actively looking for other opportunities, it's time to take more drastic measures. Consider asking your human resources department if they're hearing any rumors about what's happening, or pull the team together as a whole in an offsite meeting to add to their comfort level.


Request that they be open and honest with you about challenges that they're encountering -- either within the team, outside the team or even outside the organization.


Take Charge of Results


You also must face the possibility that you as the leader are the problem, which can be painful and difficult to accept. However, you must first look to make changes in your own leadership style in order to help salvage your team's success.


Take responsibility for finding a solution, and don't be afraid to claim accountability when things aren't going as you had planned. Too often, leaders find themselves in a situation that feels hopeless and attempt to look externally to find the problem.


If there is truly someone on your team who is causing the excessive negativity, know when it's time to make the difficult decision and make a change in personnel. Sometimes, all it takes is removing a negative influence or underperformer to bring your team back to center. 


Today's organizations are moving quickly and chasing many different initiatives at once. Managing people is always a balancing act: creating a culture of learning and accountability while allowing people the space they need to take appropriate chances. Fortunately, nearly every team can be brought back from a downward spiral with time, effort, and loads of positive energy from its leader.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Here's Why Visual Communication Works

According to a recent study, the average person gets distracted in just eight seconds - although, for some people, just 2.8 seconds is enough. When you operate predominantly in the print-based marketing world, you've already got something of an advantage over most people: print is something tangible. It exists in the real world. People can hold a flyer in their hands or share it with friends and family members if they'd like to, and it's already something that's harder to get distracted from than a computer screen. One way to take the benefit of print and extend it even further involves using the full power of visual communication to your advantage.


Visual Marketing: Breaking It Down


Human beings are visual learners - they always have been, they always will be. It's not necessarily a sign of intelligence but about how the human brain operates. By making sure that all of your collateral includes a healthy blend of both text AND visual elements, you can absolutely make this idea work to your advantage.


Consider the fact that when a person hears a piece of information, they're only likely to remember roughly 10% of it about three days later. These aren't exactly good odds if you're trying to prime a member of your audience to make a sale. When that same piece of information is paired with a relevant image, however, people retain a significantly higher 65% of that same information over the same period of time.


This, in essence, is the power of visual communication at play. In terms of your marketing content, when you make an effort to include relevant images that really help tell a larger story when paired with the text, people will spend more time looking at those images than they do the text on a page. This is why images alone aren't important, but relevant images are the key to your long-term success.


Show, Don't Tell


Basically, you need to focus on the age-old idea of "show, don't tell." The next time you sit down to design a piece of collateral, try to convey the major idea in a sentence or two. Whether you're trying to sell a product or service or inform someone about an upcoming event or something else entirely doesn't matter - just figure out what the essence is of what you're trying to say.


Then, think about what parts of that story can be told via images instead of text. What is the bare minimum amount of text that you can get away with that will still include all the relevant information (like dates and times)?


This is the type of approach that you need to take when you sit down to create any piece of print marketing collateral that will eventually be consumed by your audience. Marketing is nothing more than convincing someone to follow directions - you're trying to give a consumer the information they need to reach out to you and make a purchase, for example. Well, when you consider that people literally follow directions 323% better with the combination of both text and illustrations than they do with just text alone, you begin to get an idea of why visual communication is one of the most valuable tools that you have in your print marketer's toolbox today.