• home
  • About AMA Boston
    • our mission
    • board of directors
    • committees
    • who’s who in ama boston
    • ama boston history
    • boston marketing blog
  • get involved
  • upcoming events
  • sponsors and partners
  • marketing jobs
  • contact us

Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Retrench or Rejuvenate?

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

As President of the American Marketing Association in Boston, I am uniquely privileged to have my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the market. Practical business intuition would suggest that a down economy is the perfect time to invest in your company. However, due to the rolling effects of “Black October” and the lack of confidence demonstrated by consumers during the holiday season, some marketing executives are retrenching. It may be tempting to freeze salaries, cut marketing budgets, and take on a “Marketing for NOW” attitude, but now may not be the time.One consequence of marketing for NOW might be to eliminate tactics that are not readily familiar to you as a marketer. New marketing tactics such as social media, online video, digital media outreach, viral marketing and event search marketing are sometimes not perceived as “safe” if they haven’t had a few successes already. With our clients, we’ve found that when executed properly, these new media tactics can increase your lead generation by up to 25%.

A second effect of focusing on NOW is the temptation to axe your nurture programs. These important programs may fall off the budget table because the yield is too far down the road. However, these nurture programs are your future. There are some creative ways to keep your nurture programs running in the background.

The third result of focusing on NOW is that your cuts could create holes in your message. At a time when companies desperately need marketing, cutting important online and offline channels can create unfortunate gaps in your unified marketing message. If you are not careful, retrenching can also create campaign silos, which will eat away at the effectiveness of your total marketing investment.

Marketing is always important, in good times or bad. As your competitors pull back in fear, they create extra space for you to fill. You may have an opportunity to create a bright spot for your brand to shine through the economic darkness. What will you do?

Myles Bristowe
President, Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association
http://connect.amaboston.org
http://www.amaboston.org

Chief Marketing Officer
Commonwealth Creative Associates
Framingham, MA
http://www.commcreative.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/mylesbristowe

Economic Crisis can be Opportunities with the Right Planning

Monday, October 20th, 2008

It’s that time of year again, the leaves are changing, the nights are cooler, the school buses are rolling, and, if you’re lucky, senior management wants to know what and where you want to spend next year. They aren’t making any promises, but it looks like the current financial crisis means that you should think long and hard about what to spend at all. On the other hand, those that have the resources may come out aggressive and try to take your market share. Everyone is looking hungry, including your clients. Should you go for broke or pace for the marathon? Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya?

A well-thought-out, or even a mediocre-thought-out, strategy involves a lot of thinking and a lot of ideas. Sometimes that takes time, sometimes that takes effort, usually it takes both. I’m right in the middle of our annual planning sessions for the upcoming year, but I have an advantage. I have a fuzzy idea of where we’re going to be in the future. Knowing that helps to plan for the next year because I have a benchmark that I can shift-up or shift-down throughout the year depending on industry issues and opportunities.

At the very beginning, you need to know what do you do, how do you do it, how well do you do it. This involves some internal analysis and navel-gazing. In addition, include external things that impact you, like regulations, customers, even the potential ones, technology, best practices, and finally competitors. Knowing the long term trends in your industry will help you allocate to the right initiatives and helps to plan on where to put your resources to the best effect.

As you begin to plan, you can use a pre-made system, and there are many, many out there, just check your favorite search engine. Here’s one that I don’t endorse, but I liked their web url: Bplans.com. As a note of caution, it is unusual to find an exact pre-made format for everyone’s needs, so take a flexible approach, glean what you can and discard the rest.

One thing to remember, and this has a lot to do with your audience and your role in an organization, I’m focusing on Marketing plans, not business plans. Business plans address financials and other non-marketing topics that marketing doesn’t have responsibility for. If you find a business plan you like, cut those sections out rather than comment that it doesn’t apply. A good place to get the right perspective is to check out the SBA. They have some good plans, at least to get you thinking about how to write your plan.

Finally, spend the balance of the strategy explaining how you’re going to get there. Feel free to borrow other resources in the plan. Let some other departments do some of the heavy lifting - they’ll reap the benefits with you as you succeed. If you have metrics, detail them; proof is better than benefits, which is better than features.

I try to break mine down into three sections:
1. Initiatives - goals, objectives, industry initiatives (client, regulator and competitor), corporate initiatives.
2. Product, services, solution - a description of positioning is the important part as it makes sure everyone is in agreement, or you know who isn’t. I recommend that you discuss market segmentation here, with backup in an appendix. You can also, if there is relevance, talk about changes in distribution, changes in pricing or value, and the other Ps. Use your best judgement when discussing People…
3. Influences - these include external factors such as regulations, competitors, etc. If your products are so mutually exclusive that it makes more sense to discuss these topics in the prior section, go for it. But most firms, and I state this rhetorically, have products that are extensions, complementary, or otherwise tied together, and so a separate section is easier to read than re-stating the same points in each product strategy.

I hold a few sites out on a small list to remind myself of topics I may have forgotten, or new issues that need to be addressed. A very good place to look after you’ve finished your first draft, is the wiki on marketing plans. If you’re like me, I update the plan once a year with notes from the past year, new ideas that we’ve been bouncing around, and any other chaff that comes my way. Since the wiki is updated constantly by donated content from global sources, you can get some good fodder for new ideas or threats to your firm that you may not have thought of or seen yet.

Four additional tips for a lasting strategy (and have learned the hard way):
1. Write it for beyond your known audience, including the timing. I’ve found old strategies that I’ve written switch the e-mail referred to at other companies.
2. Condense the executive summary, the current state, and the future state onto the first page of the document. If you find yourself defining, explaining, rationalizing, and proposing, start again. Finally, the Executive Summary should state any significant change to the current process, like a creation of a cross-departmental-strategy-execution team.
3. Use appendices for tables of data, include expense by product, by intitiative, market move segmentations, etc.
4. Don’t define the obvious. It’ll make your document a dull read and lose its efficacy. If you’ve always sold through VARs, or direct sales into prospects, and continue to do so - then, so what? Don’t waste type, space and reader’s attention span with the mundane.

Finally, be creative, have fun, but make sure it’s professional. This document has your name on it, make it good enough to look at next year as the foundation of your next one. It should be a pleasure to read. It’s a stake in the ground and you’re holding the sledge hammer - wear your best shoes.

To leave a comment, please double-click on title.

Kevin Flavin has almost 20 years experience in the financial services industry. Balancing the first half of his career as a buyer, he has spent the last ten years as a vendor in a range of roles from sales, product management, but always marketing. He is based in the Boston area. He is also a monthly contributor for the AMA Boston blog.

The crisis continues – Funding the “gap” and redeploying

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

 Especially if you are a small nonprofit ($ ½ million or less) or you have barely 3 FTEs to run your organization, you are feeling horribly right now. If your budget hovers around $1 million -$3 million, you probably feel like a small nonprofit, no matter how the Dow Jones is doing today.

Get organized to push ahead - Hopefully your fund sources have been diverse so you’re not suffering from the downfall of Merrill Lynch. In the crisis is opportunity, as a wise person said several millennia ago.

This is when having a good database of emails for your constituents - especially donor prospects or civic-minded leaders in your community - comes in handy. If you don’t have one now, create it. Put people to work on this. Name-address-phone-affiliation-email and a column for “notes.”

Email push  - Most people will be generous even in this terrible time. People want to do something positive and feel good about some gesture toward others they’ve made. A well-written email push to prospects could yield $25 to $100 each. If this audience is mainly middle class ($250,000 and above), you may be successful beyond your dreams.

Example: In your pitch, please tell them about the gap you’re experience, how the money would be used, how much money is needed and when you need it by. Assure them they will get an immediate receipt and thank-you and that their help during this time will help your organization continue to operate reliably (supplying services to your constituency groups).

Ask the recipient to kindly forward to three friends or colleagues. Provide a “back-end” (as mentioned last time) to accept credit card purchases online. Be clear about where checks can be sent and, again, your deadline. Include a form to complete if the person wants more information or wants an occasional or periodic update. Evan Shapiro, Meerkat Technology, in Massachusetts, has an excellent tried-and-true back-end for nonprofits, especially theaters and other types of arts organizations.

A premium? Offer a prize for giving that makes the recipient of your request laugh - perhaps a coupon for $20 for take-out for two from your local favorite chicken-dinner place. Offer this for donations @$50 or above. You’re going to make money anyway.  The plus about the premium is it signals the seriousness of your intent, and gets people’s attention.

Redeploy? - Even if you have 3 FTEs (or fewer) you have to be smart and strategic about how you prioritize and focus your daily activity.

Example: If you have been doing a newsletter in-house - consider getting pro bono help from the outside (e.g., a graphic designer) for a shortened newsletter, but punchier and with a simple, clean look. Pour whatever talent you have in to creative fund raising. Give morale boosting small potluck dinners for your program directors, coordinators and caseworkers. Hang together. Be specific about what you can do together to keep your nonprofit viable and lay groundwork for a healthier future.

BasecampTM - This tool will help you through a time of workforce assessment. You may have staffed a lot of board committees or task forces. You’re agonizing over how to keep these going. Basecamp is a platform that organizes conversations, sharing of documents and even writing together. There is a brand-new live chat function; Basecamp is always adding and improving.

The basic fee is $24/month. I have found this level sufficient for most of my purposes to date. It’s intuitive and fun. Feel free to write me with questions about how it can be applied or how it works. Basecamp (run by 37signals) has very good short tutorials and is intuitive to use if you pause for a few minutes to think (and don’t rush yourself).
To leave a comment, please double-click on title.

Economic Crisis Is a Social Media Opportunity for Smart Nonprofits

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Hi to all. I’m sending you this quick post during this time of extreme economic crisis in our country and around the world as a possible result of greed on Wall Street.

Sad economic state of affairs - I don’t mind saying this to you because on behalf of nonprofits everywhere, doing the hard work of keeping people together, this next year or more will be very difficult. See this special report by the Philanthropy Journal. Read this article with a grain of salt in the palm of your hand.

Keep learning - I find that the traditional national associations of nonprofits or even grant makers are a little behind the curve where communications strategy is concerned. By this I mean, many senior folks are not tuned in to social media. Everyone says they don’t have time to learn how to use the media. This is a silly excuse. I am sorry to sound tough on people whose leadership has resulted in the wonderful array of 501 (c) 3s in the U.S. that competently serve the disenfranchised. But during the next year, not a single CEO or communicator can afford not to think about how to use social media. Also, join the Center of Nonprofit Excellence in Charlottesville. I have not yet seen a more nimble web presence able to provide info and wisdom to nonprofits. 

Debating the value of social media vs. use of traditional media - see my letter to the editor in The New York Times Magazine, Sept, 21.  It is a comment on an article published two weeks prior in the New York Times Magazine, Sept. 7 (Clive Thompson, “Digitally Close To You”).  All of you should/could read and benefit from this.

Just Do It - All is not lost. I am not encouraging you to fold up your nonprofit tents and go home. Quite the contrary: keep in mind that social media can boost your fund-raising, help reach an audience or audiences you haven’t even touched yet, and give you hope for the future. Also look for upcoming information about a new media conference sponsored by the Society for New Communications Research on November 14 in Cambridge, Mass.

To post a comment, please double-click on title.

Join our group on LinkedIN:

Visit Connect.AMABoston.org
AMA Boston • Office: 411 Waverly Oaks Road, Suite 331B, Waltham, MA 02452 • (781) 647-7555

The views and opinions on this blog are solely those of the contributors and do NOT necessarily reflect the official opinions of the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association.

google

levitra rx