Don’t Let Lack of Knowledge & Poor Planning Dull Your Enthusiasm Towards Social Media

When considering marketing tactics that will benefit your business and promote your brand, do you know if your business is ready to venture into the world of social media?
As with most things, you have to know what social media is, how it works and what it can and cannot do for your business before you make such a decision. Consider how excited young children are come Christmas morning. They run to the Christmas tree and rip through the paper to get to the toys and surprises inside the wrapped packages.
The excitement and possibilities of what social media can offer your business may get you ready to tear into this new marketing craze as well. But without the proper knowledge, you may walk away with a lack of interest and miss out on the value of social media all together. On the other hand, before you get in too deep and waste staff hours building and designing any social media application, have solid answers to the following questions:

  1. What exactly is social media and what does social media mean to your business and/or brand?
  2. Do your current and prospective customers currently use social media in their day-to-day lives and if so, what are your current and prospective customers looking to find through social media?
  3. If you see a benefit in reaching your customers through social media, where’s your social media plan?
  4. Who is responsible for maintaining your company’s social media applications?

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It’s a Puzzle When It Comes To the Word, “Crossword”

When the crossword puzzle was invented in 1913, it became a worldwide craze, particularly in the United States and England. One of the major side effects of the craze: a tremendous boost in the sale of dictionaries. Yet dictionaries, being instruments of snobs at the time, refused for seventeen years to recognize that crossword was a word.*

*from the book, ‘Duh! The Stupid History of the Human Race,’ by Bob Fenster

‘What Do You Do For A Living?’ Your Employees’ Answers May Be Impacting Your Bottom Line More Than You Realize!

With so many responsibilities each of us is tasked with in one day alone, having a clear answer as to what it is you do at your company may not be so easy. But if you are the owner of the business, the answer your employees provide their colleagues, friends and family is much more important than you may realize. Keep in mind, your employees are walking and talking billboards. These men and women are ambassadors for your company and its products and services. When someone asks one of your employees what he or she does and this person says, ‘I am an accountant or an executive with XYZ business,’ you have just lost an opportunity to educate someone else about your business and possibly lost a sale through the additional contacts this recipient of the answer may speak to next.

Take a minute and ask yourself the following:

  1. What does your company do?
  2. How does what your company do impact others?
  3. What is a meaningful and relatable way to communicate the value of your company’s end result from product/service to end user?

Once you have decided on a company-wide message that effectively answers the questions above, make it mandatory that each employee knows what the message is and is prepared to answer that all-too-often asked, ‘what do you do for a living?’

For more information on effective messaging, click here.

Pencils Promote Drugs to School Kids: Communication Gone Wrong

Available at

An anti-drug group in New York distributed free pencils to school kids with the anti-drug message,  ‘Too Cool To Do Drugs.’ It started out okay, but got worse and worse when the kids actually used the pencils.

As the pencils were worn down and sharpened, the message changed to:  ‘Cool To Do Drugs,’ and ‘Do Drugs.’ (excerpt from the book, ‘Duh! The Stupid History of the Human Race,’ by Bob Fenster.)

Okay, so the idea above seemed like a good one at the time but thinking through the communication tool and how it would be used seems to have taken a back seat. Just think about about little Johnny and Sally rushing home excited to tell their parents that it’s okay to do drugs because their schools says so. Can you say, Ouch?!

Although the anti-drug group had the best of intentions, the end result, the message communicated, probably did not win over the parents of that particular school or any school this anti-drug group passed out its pencils.

Winning over customers can be just as challenging. But don’t forget the need to win over your own employees. Employees are dependent on the business where they work to help them earn a living and continue to bring income home on a steady basis. But besides an employee’s job description, there is a lot left unsaid or not communicated that can cause more unnecessary chaos and stress throughout a company that is rarely even there in the first place.

If you are an owner of a business, there are some basic messages that each employee should understand. And if you and your upper management don’t effectively communicate this information to each employee, you can never hope to think that all employees know what you want for the business and how you want to get there AND what they are supposed to do to help you get where you want to go.

Mandatory Communication To Each Employee:

#1 What is the company’s goal AND how does this impact each employee?

#2 What is the company’s positioning statement AND what does this mean to each employee and his/her daily responsibilities?

#3 What role does each employee play in the overall ‘big picture?’

Most Forgotten Communication Needed From Management to Employees:

#4 When an employee is asked by a friend, potential client or local official where he/she works, the employee should be able to offer the name of the company and an agreed upon company wide ‘key message’ that encompasses what the company does and who the company serves. This key message should be no longer than one sentence. Now, this is effective communication that gets the entire company on the same bus headed in the same direction knowing where they are all headed.

Coach John Wooden: Inspiration for ad agency new business

Coach John Wooden: Inspiration for ad agency new business.

The New Business Test: Lose The Cozy Couch & Foosball Tables

Whether it’s your firm’s website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter accounts or new business collateral, when it comes to new business, there seems to be a lot of creative junk that is missing the mark to win new business. The question you should always keep in mind is – “Who is the audience I want to see and act on the information I am developing?”

Also, remember a website sitting alone gathers no new business. Please do not program, print or publish any information to entice new business before you consider putting what you plan to use up against this new business test.

New Business Test: Your Website

Decision Maker’s Thinking: Imagine you are the client or potential customer. You have 2 to 3 minutes total to review some ad agency’s information and the first impression – what you see initially will determine if you keep looking or click to another site. What you see and read will also determine if you toss the information received in the trash before even visiting the agency site in the first place.

ONE: You Have A Website. Now, How Do You Drive Prospects To Visit?

Who do you want to visit your website?  And how do you plan to get them there? Websites can be very effective in providing useful information to a prospect if you are brief and to the point…the point of how you will gain business for potential clients. But if no one knows your site exists besides family and friends, it’s not making money for you.

Challenge: What can you do to drive your target market to your information?

TWO: Agency Websites – If A Decision Maker Can’t Use It, Lose It.

Who did you have in mind again when you developed your website? Was it you, your cool agency and its great achievements and awards or prospective clients? Review your current website with this mentality. If a decision maker can’t use what you are showing copy-wise or image-wise to see how your agency can help him/her grow his/her business, it’s taking up valuable cyberspace. Lose it before you lose a potential client. Your diatribe regarding each of your employees, a multitude of photos of awards and cozy couches give a decision maker no reason to distinguish you from all of the other ‘cool’ agencies with cozy couches, foosball tables and hip music playing in the background.

THREE: Make Me Contact You

Give me a reason to want to contact and/or hire you in three steps – from the website landing page to ‘contact us.’ I never said new business was easy. But there are ways to accomplish this last step. It’s going to take some thorough understanding of your target, your targets’ industry and what the meaningful differentiation is that will make a decision maker feel compelled to contact your firm. This is the one test that many agencies apply very limited time towards. Don’t make this mistake!

Challenge: Make your website stand out in such a way that your potential clients HAVE TO CALL or they won’t achieve their own goals.

Want New Business? Get Off The Rollercoaster!

© Heike Brauer |

Okay. I am not anti-roller coasters by any means. In fact, not too long ago, I had a blast with my 12-year-old son on some amazing coasters in Myrtle Beach. The ups and downs, the twists and turns are great and that initial drop down at the beginning of a coaster always catches me off guard.

But unless there is something I am unaware of, being caught off guard in business is never a good thing. So, if one has to prepare for a business presentation, get ready for a job interview, and going back to childhood, think of what we would say when mom and dad got home after breaking something extremely valuable, it seems logical that trying to win new business needs a bit of preparation and planning as well.

Getting Started

Someone must be in charge: New business decisions should not be random. Someone needs to maintain a list of potential customers and provide information on the customer’s business, possible marketing opportunities your agency can provide, discern who the gate keeper is (often an administrative assistant or an executive reporting to the decision maker) and who the decision maker is (the person who determines who the marketing resource his/her company will hire.) There are many more responsibilities for the person maintaining all new business information as well. This grazes the surface.

New business is a year round job: When your agency starts to see some new business roll in, it’s not time to stop searching for more. In fact, new business is an ongoing, year round job. It is the source of fresh opportunities and the home of continual growth.

It’s all about ‘What’s in it for me?’: No matter how many awards your firm has won, how amazing your website design is and how much information you supply on each employee’s years of experience, in new business it’s all about ‘what’s in it for me, the customer?’ Remember to think about this when considering the design of new business materials as well as re-designing your Internet and social media resources.

Red Square Agency Website – A Winning Site & Having Fun Building It

Do you remember when working at an advertising agency was fun? Maybe you are having that experience right now. If you haven’t checked out the 2009 winner for Agency Website presented by the Web Marketing Association, check it out. While you’re at it, have you seen an impressive business website? Send me a link!

I enjoyed the copy for ‘House Rules’ and ‘Contact.’ Congrats Red Square

Red Square Agency wins 2009 WebAward for Red Square Agency Website.

Hearst Corporation, Helen Thomas & Casting Stones

I received a phone call from the Hearst Corporation today. I asked the person, a leading executive with Hearst if I could ask a straight-forward question. This person and I met briefly during a visit to D.C. when I visited Helen Thomas at her office…or should I say cubicle. I was amazed that Helen Thomas worked from a small cubicle. Anyway, the Hearst executive knew who my father was and I wondered if I could ask him a straight-forward question. My question was simply this; why did Hearst make the decision it did to ‘help’ or to force Helen to retire as one of its opinion columnists? After all, Helen did state an opinion. The stammering and uhms and uhs were heard on the other end of the line.

What. No opinion? I have one.

As inappropriate and disrespectful as the comment was, it was an opinion. Each of us knows someone who has fought for our country in some way or another. These men and women have fought for our freedoms, one of which is the freedom of speech. I am underwhelmed at the many who have elected to scatter away to distance themselves – many who were her ‘friends’ for years and even some who claimed a close relationship with Helen throughout their own lives.

Next, we’ll find out The Society of Professional Journalists is considering to rename its Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement. Oh, that’s right. states the society is considering this and will make its decision in July.

‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’
John 8:7

BP Oil Spill: PR At Its Worst?

I’m not quite sure if any of my colleagues would want to be a part of the public relations team currently involved in ‘handling’ the BP Oil Crisis. I do not know how many people BP has on staff who are a part of its public relations team. I do not know what type of crisis communications plan is currently in place. For now, I think it’s fair to say that it isn’t working. In fact, the company seems to be putting its proverbial foot in its mouth on an ongoing basis with nothing to cap this poor communications problem anytime soon. For instance:


BP CEO Tony Hayward Comments On Current Situation (L.A. Times)

  • “I’m sorry. We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives. There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back.”

BP Tries To Mop Up PR Mess (CBS

  • The Financial Times quoted Tony Hayward as saying it was “an entirely fair criticism” that the company wasn’t fully ready. “What is undoubtedly true is that we did not have the tools you would want in your tool kit,” Hayward was quoted as saying. However, Hayward said BP had been successful so far in keeping most of the oil away from the southeastern U.S. coast. “Considering how big this has been, very little has got away from us,” Hayward was quoted as saying. Hayward said the April 20 explosion on an oil rig that caused the leak was a “one in a million chance,” but that risk needed to be cut to one in a billion or even one in a trillion. BP’s latest attempted to stop the leak stalled Wednesday when a diamond-tipped saw became stuck while trying to cut the pipe. The company plans another attempt with giant shears, but said that even if that works it will be less satisfactory than if the saw had completed a clean cut.
  • The brother of one of the deceased who lost his life from the blast of the oil rig sent the BP’s CEO his own message, “I want my brother’s life back.” (CNN TV News)


BP Response to Gulf Coast Business Claims

  • BP claims paying out $48 million so far

BP Oil Spill: The Impact On Just One Business (CNN TV report)

Bourgeois Charter Fishing Business:

  • The company has had to let its employees go
  • The company is broke and fears losing its home
  • The small business has filed claims via fax to BP for 30 days in a row
  • Business owners say without financial help soon (within the next 30 days) this husband and wife may lose their home
  • This couple says businesses that are their neighbors have not received any money from BP yet either.