Eyes, Ears & Brain – Wide Open!

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“If I am through learning, I am through.”   

John Wooden

This is one of my favorite quotes from the all-time winning UCLA basketball Coach and for more than a decade, I had the honor to work for a Company with a related core value: We Will Continually Learn & Improve.

The learning culture at Booth Creek Ski Holdings, Inc. propelled our success. Every manager could freely share ideas and mistakes to keep reaching for the highest bar. One of the business planning tools that we used was called Start. Stop. Continue. I point it out here because it’s a continuous learning model and can greatly help your marketing planning.

The way Start. Stop. Continue. works is you first make a list of the things you want to START such as testing a new idea to better please the customer or beat the competitor. Next, list those you should STOP such as programs that didn’t boost employee morale or didn’t have a ROI (abandon ship!). On a separate list, keep track of the proven methods you plan to CONTINUE.

This learning-based model will certainly help guide your strategic marketing planning and its evolving tactical execution. It’s useful on an ongoing basis. And heck, the Start. Stop. Continue. model can even help you grow on a personal level… perhaps to improve your relationships.

In the spirit of continuous learning, it’s important to always keep your eyes and ears (and brain) wide open especially when it comes to observing and learning how to navigate your communications strategy. I often find myself being a ‘scientist of human behavior’ (my passion for psychology started in college) and on a day-to-day basis, I’m an avid reader of diverse perspectives and expertise.

I learned early on from my expert marketing mentors (thank you Doug and Julie) to think of your marketing plan as a living document responding to the ebbs and flows of technology changes, customer trends, and research. In other words, it is the result of continuous learning. It’s an evolving tool that invites new infusion of tactics (ideas you want to START) while keeping true to proven successful strategies (those to CONTINUE).

A marketing plan should not reside on a shelf to collect dust but rather, it is a daily planner sitting front and center on your desk or desktop. It will keep you aligned to top priorities, force good time management and ensure respect to your budget.

I love working with clients to deliver a successful marketing effort and during the process, there’s a sweet bonus which is: we all get to learn and improve! 

 

Grab & Go Tips

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I recently had the pleasure to share some tools of the trade with some business owners and operators in the Lake Tahoe region.

The two, 1.5 hour workshops were sponsored by Sierra Business Council, Tahoe City Downtown Association and North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.

Co-led with Kathleen Lee of East River Public Relations, we brought expertise and passion to the room and it was fun!

I was also able to learn from the expert attendees as they contributed their own thoughts and ideas to strengthen the workshop.

DIGITAL MARKETING WORKSHOPS WITH A PURPOSE

Despite about 3-4 feet of new snow, many of us made it to this first session and maybe you can find a tip or two as it lays the foundation for an effective brand communication platform.

Heads up there are some sound issues and to get started quickly, use your scroll bar cursor to start the video at 17.56:   Workshop 1

The 2nd workshop, helped to bring the digital marketing effort forward to make it more tangible for those wanting to take it to a higher level.

Two links are provided here and there’s a bit of content that goes missing but if any of this is of interest, feel free to reach out via email TOC and I can help fill in the blanks. Again, to get started quickly, scroll to start as noted below.

start 14.05:  Workshop 2: first part

start 7.38 Workshop 2: second part

 

Strategizing What’s Next

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The fall season is amazing with vibrant opportunity to begin mapping what’s next for your communication program. It’s a time to reflect and strategize for your next effort and one way to start is by thinking of your favorite brand and you can begin to identify how it makes you feel. Why are you attracted to this organization, product, service, effort, or project?

THE WHY BEHIND THE FEELING

Write down how you feel when you think of or engage with it. Understanding the role emotions play when it comes to brand loyalty is mission critical. A good way to improve your understanding is by thinking about why you are loyal to one brand over another. For me, I love Toms shoes. My feet feel really good when I wear them and they look nice but what’s at the core of why I truly feel good when I buy and wear these shoes is that I know my purchase has also helped another human being. My values are aligned with the company and I certainly love the quality and style. I have other brand favorites but let’s focus on yours and why you are pulled to that brand.

GETTING TO THE ESSENCE – JOT IT DOWN

Start keeping an eye out for what brands you engage with and why. Keep a running journal of the what (list the organization, product, service, effort, project or entity) and the why (how you feel when engaging with it). By doing this, it will help you when you’re working on making your organization’s brand and communication program relevant to those you most want to attract. Where do the values align? Articulating and delivering on this, my friend, is the essence of a successful brand communications program.

 

Triangles and Pyramids

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One of the tools I use to help an organization to pinpoint its brand’s emotional pull is in the shape of a triangle. It’s set up like this Maslow Hierarchy of Needs triangle where we work from the bottom up to identify the brand’s truth.

Maslow:

Just like Maslow’s triangle moves you toward self-identity, the brand triangle tool is useful to move us through a series of steps to brand-identify. Why are customers deeply connected to your brand? As a director of marketing and business coach, I’ve used numerous brand triangles because this tool brings results. It helps our communications to be relevant and therefore successful in order to grow profits or reach other goals.

I continue to fine-tune and evolve this tool to help organizations be effective and here’s the latest TOC version to-date:

Just like with Maslow’s triangle, you’ll see as you climb up the Brand pyramid, you’ll arrive into a more powerful and energizing territory because it is in this space, that you’re connected to values and the ‘why’ behind people’s connection to your brand.

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Deal Works!

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A relationship with a brand feels great…just like a boy feels about his dog.

The Real Deal Works!

Have you ever tried to be all things to all people? Whether it’s in your personal interactions or your marketing communications effort, you may already know, this doesn’t work. What happens is, you get a watered down version of the real you, product or service. And despite trying so hard, you become meaningless to most.

The Search for the Truth.

It’s a Heller’s catch-22 because although you want everyone to like you, unless you’re the true you, people will see right through it and end up not trusting you. Sure when you put forward the real deal, you may lose some folks (who just weren’t the right match anyway), but the beautiful result is that many others will want to connect with you even more. And most likely, they’ll be in it for the longer run with loyalty.

A Relationship of Shared Values.

In some circles, I’ve heard the ‘be all to all’ way called ‘vanilla’ (yummy and a favorite flavor of mine) or generic. But to be meaningful to those who matter most, it’s important to reveal the true you. Taking this idea to your product or service, the same applies. Your customers want the authentic, true product or service. And if you communicate plus offer just that, you can stand apart, be different from the rest plus relevant to them. And you’ll find that by doing this, you’ll attract those who most want to interact with you anyway and who share values with you. This is what can be considered, a real relationship of shared values.

“It’s always better when we’re together,”   Jack Johnson

Do I Feel Good When I’m With You?

If you try to be all things to all people, your best potential customers will see right through this as they search for the truth and at some point, they’ll realize that it’s hard for them to understand how they feel about you or how you’re relevant to them. And it’s not necessarily as much about how others feel about you or your product (although this is important) as it is about how they actually feel about themselves when they’re with you. If they feel good about themselves when engaging with you, then it’s working! As songwriter Jack Johnson says, “It’s always better when we’re together.”

You Da Brand.

As a mentor to young adults, I’ve shared an article called ‘You Da Brand’ and it’s about how to embrace and realize the potential of your own personal brand. And as a brand coach working with organizations to develop and pinpoint their product brand, we apply the same effort by bringing forward the personality of that product in a way that is different from the competitors and relevant to those you want to engage.

Management guru, Tom Peters takes the concept a bit further to explain differentiation (which is certainly a key strategy!):

“Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors — or your colleagues. What have you done lately — this week — to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?…”