Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tips on Planning a Corporate Celebration Pt. 2

Corporate birthdays, or anniversaries, are also a great time for reflection.  A corporate milestone is a valuable opportunity to reinforce corporate culture and support business objectives.  Major anniversaries do not come every year and, therefore, they should be fully leveraged when they do arrive.

Here are a few more ways to make your Corporate Celebration a success!

1. Throw a party
Anniversary events can range from casual employee-only parties or celebrations for special customers to general galas open to the public.  The specific type of event you choose depends on your corporate culture and the goals you want to achieve.  Is it a "family event" or do you want to generate media coverage?  Is it a one-location event or a traveling road show around the country?  Does the event take place at a special venue or is it at the company headquarters?  Business anniversary events are a special occasion and should be treated with a special celebration beyond the expected.

2. Show off your stuff
No matter how your company chooses to celebrate, use this occasion as a chance to remind customers of past achievements celebrate current deals and showcase new technologies, products and developments to come.  Give the audience some new "news" and make them feel special by revealing this news espceially for them. This can be done through a presentation at the party through special video announcements and other creative ways.

3. Say thank you
Keep in mind that customers, employees, vendors and the community have made your success possible, so an anniversary is the perfect occasion to acknowledge those contributions.  Tell them you are proud of what they have helped you with and reinforce their important roles for your company.  Use this time for personalized recognition, to make these individuals feel valued.

4. Give presents
Provide thoughtful gifts as recognition of your appreciation.  These gifts may vary, depending on the audience.  Employees might receive one item, while customers receive another.

Grab your calendar, circle the next important date in your organization and start planning!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Corporate Celebrations!!

Celebrating a business anniversary is a great opportunity to increase sales, strengthen relations with clients and enhance the corporate brand.  Today and tomorrow we will be revealing tips for corporate celebrations.

1. Determine your goals.  What do you want to get out of the celebration?  Are you trying to remind customers that you're resilient enought to be strong through economic good times and bad?  Is it an opportunity to showcase new and coming projects?  Determine what you want to achieve from your celebration.

2. Determine your audiences.  Once you know your goals, determine audiences and the best mechanisms to reach these audiences.  For example, one audience should be your employees.  Are you going to have a fun employee outing or party?  Maybe a special gift?  What about past customers?  Will you host a special reception just for them?  You should always do something to communicate important messages to appropriate audiences.

3. Prepare to showcase your past.  There will be a focus on your company's history, so you should do something to showcase your past.  And tell the story from your perspective, whether it's through an article, a book or a visual timeline.

4. Start the planning early.  Company anniversaries can be elaborate occasions, and can include multiple activities and events.  It's important to start as early as possible, indentify a planning committee and set deadlines for tasks.

5. Celebrate by celebrating your community.  Anniversaries are a great time to share with your community.  Depending on the size of your organization, you can support a local school or a national cause.  Build a house, host a kids' science fair or other type of educational contest, clean a local park or donate to national environmental organizations.  Use this as an opportunity to give back to the communities you and your employees support.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Other Word...

Last time we revealed the most important word in blogging.  That's right you!  Today we pass along what Brian Clark, CEO of Copyblogger, considers to be the other most important word in blogging because it will capture your readers' attention.

The other word is "because."

One of the most important characteristics of compelling, persuasive content is specificity.  The more specific you are the more credible your points, arguments or sales pitches.  There are many ways to be specific in your writing.  One of the best is simply giving a reason why.  And the most effective transition word when giving a "reason why" is because.

The power of the word "because" has actually been documented by social psychologist Ellen Langer, as told by Robert Cialdini from the Blog Triggers series.  Langer performed an experiment where she asked to cut in line to use a copy machine. 

She tested three different ways of asking, and recorded th results:
Excuse me I have five pages.  May I use the Xerox machine?  Sixty percent said OK.
Excuse me, I have five pages.  May I use the Xerox machine because I'm in a rush? Ninety-four percent said OK.

It appears taht giving the reason why she wanted to cut in line boosted the effectiveness of the request.
But here's the kicker.

Excuse me, I have five pages.  May I use th Xerox machine because I have to make some copies? Ninety-three percent said OK.

The trigger word "because" is so powerful that the reason why didn't really seem to matter.  Be specific in your assertions and always give a reason why, especially when you want people to take some form of action.

Not because I said so, but rather because it will work wonders for you.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

You are NOT Important

Do You Know The Two Most Important Words In Blogging?
"It's not about you."  That's the first sentence in Robert Warren's best-seller A Purpose-Driven Life.  However, when it comes to writing purposeful blogs, it is about you.

Today we will pass along the two most important words in blogging (according to Brian Clark, CEO of Copyblogger).  Hint: we already told you the first word.

The Most Important Word is "You"
It's certainly ironic that a medium often used as a self-absorbed jounaling platform would now need to be overwhelmingly focused on teh reader in order to be effective.  But if you're blogging for marketing or public relations purposes every post should be purposefully aimed at the needs and wants of others.

You only benefit when readers benefit first.
When it comes to writing engaging content, "you" is the most powerful word in the English language because people are ultimately interested in fulfilling their own needs.  It may sound harsh, but the fact is your readers won't start to actually care about you at all until you've repeatedly offered them exceptional value with your blog.

But once they do start to care about you, look out because wonderful things can start happening, things like viral buzz and customer evangelism.

The same substantive content will be more effetive with the focus shifted toward the reader.  One of the easiest ways to do that is to maximize the use of the word "you," while minimizing or eliminating words "I" and "me."

Every time you finish writing a blog post check the focus.  How many times does the word "you" and its derivations appear?  What about "I" and "me?" 

Try it, and you'll be amazed at the results

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We Give Good Service

Are you better than your competition?  You might think so, but in reality, it depends on who you ask.  Yesterday and today we are focusing on effective marketing strategies that highlight your differentiation.

Principle No. 3 Outside -In Strategy Development
If it's true that effective marketing techniques create a perception of difference between you and your competition, then you must first know how your competition is perceived.  This requires an "outside-in" approach: looking outward at the competition and the market in order to identify what strategic opportunities are open to you.

For example, trying to open a new hamburger restaurant chain with a perception of being the "happy, family place to go for a meal" is a recipe for disaster since McDonald's already holds this perception in the minds of consumers.

Unfortunately, most businesses try to identify their strategy by looking inward to determine why their own product or service is better.  As we discussed, your strategy lies not in claiming you're better, but in creating a perception of difference.

Always remember, your opportunities for effective marketing campaigns lie in what your competition isn't doing.

Principle No. 4 Why Service Is A Bad Word
Obviously, it's important to give good service, but saying you give good service is not as effective as a brand strategy.  Why?  Because your competition is saying the same thing about itself.  Plus, as consumers, we've heard claims about good service so often, and been disappointed so often, that we just don't believe them anymore.  For the same reasons, other words that are ineffective as differentiating strategies include: quality, honesty, integrity, value, experience and the list goes on.

As we've said, the most effective marketing techniques involve understanding how your competition is perceived.  That's crucial because once your market holds a perception about a competitor, then you cannot create the same perception.

Determine the perception you want your customer to have of your business that's different from your competitors.  And when your marketing begins to help you make money (instead of cost you money), then you can feel like you're ahead of your competition.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

You're Ineffective

Everyone wants to know the key to effective marketing techniques.  The truth is that for most business owners, marketing is costing them money rather than making them money.  Today and tomorrow we will be sharing some key principles to implementing effective marketing techniques.

Principle No. 1 Backward Marketing
Every business has tactics.  Few businesses have a brand strategy.

Tactics are the things you put in place, or the actions you take, in order to bring your product or service to market, including: product development and packaging, distribution channels and sales teams, your logo and website design and everything in between.  These are teh tactics of a business.

The problem most businesses have when it comes to effective marketing techniques is that they don't base their decisions about tactics on any underlying strategy.  The practice of implementing tactics before strategy is what we call backward marketing.  It is the primary reason most companies find their marketing efforts costing them money rather than making them money.

Principle No. 2 Being Better Is One Thing, Being Different Is Everything
Most business owners think a successful brand strategy lies in the idea that their product or service is better than the products or services of their competitors.  Nope.  The key to a successful brand strategy lies in creating the perception that your product or service is different from your competition.

Want proof?  Just take a look at the following top brands and the perceptions they've created.  Notice that none have built their brand strategy around the concept of "better".  McDonald's (family/happy); Nike (athletic spirit); Coke (real thing/American)' Levi's (classic/American); Volvo (safety); Apple (innovation)" Subway (fresh/healthy).

What differentiating perception does your product or service hold?  If you want your marketing to make you money rather than cost you money, you must first discover how your competition is perceived, then you can develop a differentiating brand strategy of your own.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Find Your Passion... Where to Start

Do you know your purpose in life?  Your passion for living?  If you're searching for your passion now and haven't found it yet, what makes you think continuing your search in the same way will magically bring your passion to you?  As we pointed out yesterday, if you want a new passion, then you need to create a new experience.

What You Like vs. What You Know
Once you've accepted that you need to put yourself in new situations to discover your passion, how do you decide where to start?  Most people will tell you to start with what you know.  I disagree.

If everyone only did what they already knew, then we would never learn new skills, change careers or try anything different.  Let's say that you work as a sales rep in th pharmaceutical industry.  If you can't find your passion right now, then what makes you think that sticking with what you know (pharmaceutical sales) is going to help you find your passion?

Of course, there's nothing wrong with utilizing your current skill set.  There's no reason to waste the talent you already have.  But don't choose a new path simply because you can do it.

Your choices should be based on what you like and not what you know.  What you like is different than what you're passionate about.  Likes may turn into passions eventually, but they are simply interests right now.  Everyone has an interest in something.

Maybe the pharmaceutical sales rep likes movies.  What if he started looking for jobs in sales and marketing for a media company?  Or a cinema company?  Or a theater company?  He could still use what he knows (sales and marketing)... but he's basing the decision on what he likes.

To Find Your Passion, Set Goals
Eventually, the new experiences that you have will help you with the next step: finding a goal to work toward.  Reaching for a goal is a powerful thing because it will take you to places you could never envision beforehand.

The value in having a goal and pursuing new experiences is as much the journey it leads us on as the experiences we have, the lessons we learn, the doors it opens as it is the accomplishment of reaching it.  You  cannot predict where a journey will lead and what passions it will reveal.  You can only start the journey and let the passions evolve naturally. 

The pursuit, or the journey, will bring your passion to you.  That's the secret to finding your passion.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Discovering Your Passion

We hear it over and over again.  Discover your purpose.  Find your passion.  As you're sitting behind your desk this morning, reviewing e-mails you're probably thinking, "well, this certainly isn't my passion, but where do I start?"
Instead of searching high and low for your ultimate passion, get out there and experience it.

Passions are born out of experiences.
You love your favorite team because it was the first football game you ever went to or at the very least, it was the team that you and your family cheered on from your living room.  You're crazy about that one movie because of how it made you feel when you watched it for the first time.  These are examples of experiences that left a mark on you.  The emotions they conjure up, and the passion you feel, came after the initial experience.

Discovering your passion for work and life follows this same pattern.  You will never become passionate about something while sitting around on the couch.  If you want to discover a burning passion, then you need to put yourself in a position to have a burning experience.

I knew a woman who discovered her passion quite by accident.  When her child started kindergarten, she took a cake decorating class to fill the void.  This experience led to her passion and her talent for cake decorating, which blossomed into a home-based business that lasted many years and resulted in hundreds of wedding cakes.

You need to read something new, talk to someone new, go somewhere new.  Get out there and try it.  See where it takes you.  Have a new experience whether it's around a familiar topic or an unfamiliar one.

Are the wheels turning yet?  Think of something new you can try today, even if it's a small experience.  Then check back tomorrow and we will have some tips on how to find your passion.