I've been working in and teaching marketing now for over 18 years. I have practiced and preached all forms of marketing methods, processes, strategies and plans.
I'm knowledgeable when it comes to textbook definitions of branding, marketing, promotions, and sales. I have also gained a tremendous amount of experience and discovered some amazing insights as I've applied, taught, tweaked, and finally created my own method for marketing. Through it all, I discovered something so extraordinary, it blew my mind and it humbled me. I've learned what marketing really is and I've learned, unequivocally, what marketing is not.
It comes down to a fundamental human skill. One we use every day and every waking moment of our lives. Let me start off by telling you that, we all have the capacity to be marketing masters and that is why I want to share what I've discovered. This is my most important marketing advice ever. I hope you take a minute to read it, take it in and if compelled, share it with others. I want this to spread wide and far...
I want to share a story with you.
The summer I turned 14 years old, my dad decided he was going to designate the task of cleaning windows to me. I was to go around the entire house and clean every window from the inside of the house. He would clean them from the outside.
So, I began. Mind you, by age 14 I had pretty much everything figured out, especially when it came to cleaning our house. I had a solid 5 years of experience cleaning our house. I got a rag, I got glass cleaner and I started cleaning. I imagined sparkling windows and my dad giving me huge praise for doing such a stupendous job. Instead, I got streaks. I got white spots and lots of fuzz from my rag. The windows were getting clean, but the results I wanted were no where to be found. While I cleaned and went from window to window, my dad kept telling me to use newspaper instead of a rag. I rolled my eyes every time. I thought to myself, "how in the heck would newspaper do the job better than a rag? He must be making it up. There goes dad again, trying to tell me how to do everything HIS way." I certainly did not need anyone telling me how to clean, of all things.
Yesterday, I read a report by MarketingProfs, a leading marketing research, and management company. One of many of organizations dedicated to studying and reporting on marketing and communications findings.
The report they published showed what major marketing departments across the U.S. are utilizing and spending their money on to get their message across to their target markets.
I am a huge advocate for reviewing your marketing plan and tactics every few months. At the very least, you should review it every 6 months. The end of July is right around the corner which is a perfect time to closely inspect all of your marketing to determine what is working and not working with your marketing.
Here is where most of my clients get stumped. They know the concept of reviewing, but they don't know what information they need to really look at to make decisions like, whether to spend more money on something, or to stop doing it all together.
I want to help make it simple.
4 things you are probably doing in your business or nonprofit that you need to stop doing immediately.
Many are walking a dangerous line. I’ll explain. Though the rules have changed, and many can sense this, and may even know logically that they need to change, they just haven’t changed the old way of doing things. This is primarily due to two things. 1) You don’t know what it is exactly that you need to change and 2) you haven’t broken your habits of operating the old way. Which also means you know what you need to change, but haven’t figured out how to implement the change.
Knowing is a big part of changing. So, let’s start with learning what it is we need to change immediately. I say immediately because continuing to operate in this way will absolutely lead to failure. A business and organization can no longer sustain themselves this way.
It flew by didn't it? The year is almost over. For businesses and organizations this means the thinking and brainstorming for 2014 is beginning. You might not be writing your plan just yet. But, you may have started thinking about what to do in 2014. That's good, because before jumping into planning, you absolutely want to do the necessary thinking. When you THINK strategically, you start asking yourself questions and questions lead to ideas, solutions, and innovations. How do you start generating the right questions that will lead you to fresh new ideas and strategies for the new year? The questions come when you sit down with your 2013 plan and start looking at what you've done. But I can tell you that there are essentially 4 key questions to ask before you start making plans for marketing in 2014. These 4 questions will enable you to examine and critique your marketing plan so that new ideas and strategies emerge. These 4 questions may also help to solidify your direction and give reason for sticking with the plan as is, which could be just as useful, if not more. So let's get started shall we?
Have you ever been witness to a firefly show? I grew up in the Midwest and it's an understatement to say I am fascinated by fireflies. It is much more accurate to claim that I am obsessed.
Fireflies are cool for many reasons. I have studied fireflies informally for many years. From learning about their behavior to the energy efficient light they give off. That light is now being studied formally at UC Berkeley to see if they can recreate it.
It is the light that draws us to the firefly. That subtle, consistent blinking light is the way this little bug communicates with other fireflies. If you've had the pleasure of witnessing them, it is a beautiful, subtle, dance of survival for this species. They NEED to attract other fireflies in order to mate and continue their species through time. This communication is delivered with precision and when done right, a whole community of fireflies will blink their light in unison, as if proclaiming..."i've got your back, I'm here for you, you are not alone." It's quite inspiring. I realized when I was forming my business almost 5 years ago, that fireflies shaped my philosophy on communication and marketing hence the namesake Firefly Strategies. They communicate strategically and here's what I learned.
Not too long ago, I was struggling to keep my head above water, trying to manage and do WAY too much. Unfortunately, this predicament isn't something that happens to me only. In fact, I know MANY businesses, organizations and individuals that have or currently are incredibly stressed out and exhausted due to juggling too many roles, hats, or whatever you label all of your work and personal life responsibilities.
I know that sometime, there just isn't any way out of it. Hiring someone is just not feasible. There's no time to recruit an intern, and volunteers, though great, just don't have the skills to do what you need done.
So what CAN you do when you are on the verge of "drowning?" You create systems. If you had systems in place, you would eliminate quite a bit of time explaining things, and doing work from scratch, or I'm even guilty of this, doing something totally different from before because I forgot how I did it last. Also, when systems are in place, then you do feel comfortable hiring someone and recruiting an intern or volunteer. You and they know exactly what needs to happen what they need to be accomplishing. There is less time spent in training and orientation because documented systems can serve as training material. So here are the top 3 systems I recommend you put into place as soon as you can.