Tag Archives: Marketing

But That’s Not What I Meant

Words can persuade.  Words can hurt.  Words can calm.  Words matter.

Whether it’s convincing, providing services/care, managing a project or anything else in operating an agency or organization – words matter.  Here are 3 ways to use words to your advantage.

Know your client’s/donor’s language

Words do not always mean the same thing to everyone.  Take the word superficial as an example.  To someone in the medical profession a superficial wound means something not very serious, a surface injury.  Outside of the medical community, if we describe a person as superficial we think they are shallow.  If we think a situation is superficial we consider it insignificant.  So to an ER doctor a wound that is superficial is good; to a client whose need is called superficial by your program manager, it is an insult.  If you do not understand the lingo of your clients/donors you run the risk of insulting them or being misunderstood.  It does take research and listening to know the language of others, but the effort can set you apart from funding competitors and help you accomplish your mission.

Use language your partners understand

If you believe the premise in the previous paragraph then you probably think that your partners should make the effort to know your language and you would be right.  However, if they don’t you will suffer.  Here is an illustration:  You are on the road and almost get hit by another car.  You think, if we wreck it will be the other person’s fault.  You may be right, but you will still be in a wreck.  If you are the lead on a project/program and your partners do not understand your need, time-frame or whatever you could suffer if you do not adjust.  A good truth to remember is that just because someone should does not mean they will.

Speak softly and carry a big stick

Or as my Grandmother used to say, sugar catches more flies than vinegar.  If you start out using kind words you are likely to get cooperation.  If you do not get cooperation then you can resort to stiffer language.  If you start out with vinegary words you may get cooperation or at least action.  But if you do not get what you need, you are at a disadvantage.  Do you use tougher language or do you try to drop back and use nice language?  The typical tactic is to get tougher.  Then even if you get what you want, you usually don’t feel like a winner.  And what happens next time, because if you started out with vinegary words there will likely not be a next time.

In closing let me give you an extreme example to help you remember that words matter.  In South Carolina, my home state, and in some other Southern states the word “Shag” is a dance done to beach music.  In England the word “shag” is a slang expression for sex.  I’ll let you think of ways this word could cause embarrassment, confusion, insult or amusement.  But you get the point — if you don’t understand the other person’s language the outcome will not likely be what you want it to be.

Guard Your Professional Reputation

As Social Media continues to grow in reach and scope it is very important to represent your organization/agency and yourself as professional.  It is important to keep your professional interactions separate from personal ones on Social Media websites such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.  Much has been said said about how the wrong postings on can hurt chances for employment.  The same advice applies to your organization or agency.  Any posting you, or anyone who represents your organization puts online reflects on your organization.  The easiest way is to keep them separate — have a page/presence for your organization and one for yourself.  You may also want to make the personal one available only to friends, while the organization one can be open to the public so that you can use it more effectively to promote your programs and services.

Keeping your reputation and image positive is important everywhere.  Here is one of the Actions in my book 101 Winning Marketing Actions for Small Businesses. Just replace the business references with ones that are applicable to your organization.

Action #93  Keep your reputation positive.

If you do not live up to the promises and claims you make, you will lose existing Customers/Clients or never really have a chance with a new Prospect.  Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the moment and say yes when you should not.  Be sure that you do not sign the contract unless you know you can do everything promised and required in the manner it must be done according to the specified schedule.  Remember that word-of-mouth is the best or worst friend of a Small Business; if you do fall victim to over promising or committing, people will know.  Also, many government agencies and businesses can, and may, exclude you from future bidding and consideration if you fail to meet your commitments.

Remember that it is better to be known well by a few than to be known widely for the wrong reasons.

Diet for Your Promotion and Publicity Plan

Before Atkins & South Beach diets and before The Biggest Loser, diets were not weight loss tools.  A person’s diet was the foods he/she ate.  The healthier the diet, the healthier the person.  And a healthy person could accomplish more, enjoy things more and have a better life.

Today we think of a diet as a tool to help us lose weight.  But most of us realize that if the diet is solely to lose weight, the weight probably will come back once we are off the diet.  But if the diet helps you become healthier then the weight comes off, stays off and life gets better.

So if your Promotion & Publicity plans and efforts are not moving you forward at the proper pace or at all, you need a healthier diet for them.

Here are questions you can ask to determine if your Promotion & Publicity plans are healthy:

  • Can I measure the results of time, efforts and dollars spent (or do I even know what the results are)?
  • Do my staff, partners, funders, etc. know what results we need from Promotion & Publicity?
  • When I make a change (i.e. new logo) or add something (i.e. mail-out) do I have a specific result in mind (i.e. new clients in a program) or am I changing because it seemed to be time.
  • Have I been able to realize new clients of funding increases as a result of the time I spend on in-person and social networking.  Or to put it another way, are the people who “like” my organization benefiting us.
  • Do I have an idea of the ROI (Return on Investment) for the Promotion & Publicity dollars I spend? Could your time and/or money be better spent on something else?
  • Are your Marketing & Sales activities driven by someone else – competitors, trend setters, etc.? If they are, do those people know your business and do they have your interest at heart?

If you are not pleased by your answers to these questions, it may be time to put your Promotion & Publicity plans on a diet.  Yes, it may be time to do some of the following:

  • Reduce fat – if I am paying someone else to do my promotion, publicity, social media, etc. could we do it internally as well or better and save money?  Are there efforts or advertising I could spend less time and money on and not hurt my results?
  • Increase fiber – Am I networking directly with potential clients, partners, and funders?
  • Increase fruits and vegetables – Am I properly serving my current clients, partners and donors in ways that will increase their loyalty and participation?
  • Get appropriate protein – Am I concentrating my Promotion & Publicity efforts on the clients that are the core of our mission?
  • Limit desserts – Am I appropriately mixing the fun stuff with the have to do stuff so that my work life is balanced but profitable?

Most any organization can benefit from increasing revenue without inappropriately increasing cost because that expands your ability to provide programs and services.  A healthy Publicity & Promotion plan is a major component of a healthy and fit ROI.

Your Christmas Decorations Are STILL Up?

Do your Christmas decoration habits reflect your Publicity & Reporting habits?

It’s true, in the US we now have 5 seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall and Christmas or the Holiday Season.   Christmas decorations are now put up in stores while pumpkins and skeletons are still in evidence.  Santa shows up at malls the weekend after Halloween.

When do you put up your holiday decorations?  And when do you take them down?  I think that your Christmas decoration habits can give you insight into your personality and how it relates to your promotion and reporting habits.  Bear with me.

If you put your decorations up before Thanksgiving you may tend toward “showy” publicity and reporting.  You likely prefer events to one-on-one meetings.  You might use a power point presentation for a 10 minute talk and use long paragraphs in your reports.  You may be partial to promotional items and not so partial to statistics and outcomes.   None of this is bad – or good.  What is important is that you take into account your personality when you plan and execute your publicity plans and reporting.

If you always put your decorations up at the same time every year you probably like structure.  As far as publicity you either don’t want to do it because it seems so ambiguous and not easily measured or you have a real plan and you work that plan and you are not happy when something gets you off that plan.  Structure is a good thing and having a plan is essential to promotion but that plan should have room for occasional adjustments.  Structure can be a real asset in reporting as long you focus on measurements and outcomes.

If you leave your decorations up longer than twelve days after Christmas then you are either lazy or you have a hard time letting go.  Either one will get you in trouble if you treat publicity and reporting in the same way.   If you are lazy about promotion or reporting it will hurt your organization.  If you hold onto a promotion activity or plan when it no longer serves a purpose or it has become non-effective, you may as well not be doing publicity and promotion and save your money and effort.  If you are still doing reporting the way you did it ten years ago, you may not be meeting the expectation of your board, funders and partners.  Now if you say your decorations are still up because you are too busy to take them down – well that’s another problem.  If you feel the same way about publicity and reporting then you are cheating your organization out of possible clients and jeopardizing funding.

Now for those of you who say, “I don’t even bother with decorations!”  Not only are you a scrooge, you probably have stubbornly not seen the purpose of publicity and think it is fluff, just like decorations.  Even more risky, you may be jeopardizing current or future funding if you do not do a good job with reporting.

If you put your decorations up just a day or two before the holiday and then leave them up for weeks after the holiday you may be a procrastinator, not a believer in planning or just have bad timing.  If last minute is a way of life for you, you need to be sure you truly know and understand the needs of your partners and funders; otherwise you could lose them.  If you try to make up for being late by going overboard (providing lots of flowery information, profuse apologies or lengthy explanations) you may want to rethink that “I don’t need no stinking plan” attitude.

What are my decoration habits?  My husband and I put ours up about two weeks before Christmas and then take them down the day after Christmas.  Do I think this is the way everyone should do it?  No, but this is the way that works for my husband and I – it suits our personalities.   We are kind of “everything in its own time” people.   And by the way, I put up a few decorations for Valentines Day, Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving, ‘cause that suits my personality, too.

When Preparing Is Really Delaying

Delaying can be a pitfall for any person, organization or business.  Here is an excerpt from my book 101 Winning Marketing Actions For Small Businesses to help you understand when you may be delaying something important.  For organizations and agencies, the most common things to delay are reports and evaluations and anything involving research.

 

Action #13

Guard against spending too much time on “getting ready” instead of “doing”.

When doing something that is scary, risky, takes a lot of time, seems overwhelming or is boring/tedious it is tempting to put it off by “getting ready”. Some common delay tactics that are easily disguised as preparations are:

  • Buying supplies
  • Making lists
  • Getting others opinions
  • Reading inspirational stories or articles
  • Looking for an “easier” way
  • “Finding” time

Whenever you are faced with something you know you should do to market your business and you find yourself struggling to get started or to make progress, ask yourself if you are postponing by pretending to prepare. To help yourself decide, plug your situation and your activities into one of the following examples:

 

Example A – Making a Dessert

You have to make a dessert for a pot-luck dinner. You really want to make something unusual and impressive. You look through your recipes, but you don’t find one that quite fits. You ask some friends for suggestions. You look online for just the right dessert. You visit a bookstore or library and look through several books. You call a local bakery and ask for suggestions and prices. Now you have so much information you can’t make a choice. Finally, the day before the event you pull out an old recipe you have used many times and rush to the store to get the ingredients. You prepare your tried-and-true dessert and take it to the pot-luck dinner. You are dismayed to find that three other people brought the same dessert. Your dessert certainly did not stand out, you wasted a lot of time and you have to take two-thirds of it home.

 

Example B – Building a Birdhouse

Your mother tells you she wants a birdhouse for Mother’s Day. You think that building one for her will make it extra special. You search online for plans or kits, but there are so many choices. For inspiration you visit a local gift store that sells birdhouses. You go to a local hardware store and talk with a sales clerk about materials and kits. You buy some materials and a blueprint; you take them home to get started. You wait a few days until you can find time to build the birdhouse, but you can’t seem to set aside enough time. Finally, the Saturday before Mother’s Day you go to the gift store and buy one of their birdhouses. When your Mom opens the birdhouse, she smiles and says, “My friend Ella has one just like this.”

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: