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Sum is Better than One

April 18, 2011

True success comes from connecting the individual actions of your employees to your shared organizational goals. More than anything, employees want to know that their individual contributions actually make a difference. If they are working hard, yet spinning their wheels towards an uncertain destination, you’ve failed them. And no matter the riches, high performing employees will leave you.

Great leaders are great team builders.
They understand that a goal must first be defined and then the team and tools organized around making it happen. If you aren’t shining a light on what the path is, how can you expect your team to find the way? The sum of the parts will be stronger than individual efforts.

In an increasingly competitive business landscape. You must be ready to function as a team.

Step 1: Be sure your mission is defined and widely known.

Step 2: Create specific goals that focus you towards achieving your mission.
Make sure you have “SMART” goals.
S
pecific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely

“Gain new customers.” Not SMART.
“Grow customer base 5% by July 1st, 2011.” CORRECT!

Step 3: Organize the contribution of each department and/or individual towards achieving the goals.

Step 4: Goals are your constitution, not just words on paper. Reward, plan, communicate, etc. with your eyes always on achieving the goals and the actions that contribute to them. On the flip-side, correct behaviors that aren’t.

It’s not rocket science. It’s much more difficult than that.
Individual preferences, personalities and passions, if not guided in a shared, unified effort, are simply organizational waste. Even disagreements are that much easier when the goal is shared.

Work on creating teamwork in your organization today.
Meaningful goals, in which everyone shares a stake, will get you started.

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B2B Facebook?

April 13, 2011
tags: ,

A B2B (business-to-business) marketing friend of mine asked me for my advice on using Facebook to promote her organization’s products and services. “B2B? Not Facebook,” was my quick answer. But whether or not her organization was going to use Facebook was not debatable; that decision had been made. What she needed was a way to frame up the goals for using it and establish the elements to consider.

If anyone loves developing rationale out of the air, it’s me. And here is what I came up with.

She already indicated that one of the goals was to “show the fun side of  ______.” (insert B2B company name)
Step 1: Ask: “who am I trying to reach with social media and why?”
This will quickly tell you Facebook will only reach a portion of that target and open the door to other social media that should be integrated.

Step 2: Understand the founding principle of Facebook: it’s about creating relationships.
OK. B2Bs need to do that, too.

Step 3: Acknowledge that Facebook has undeniable loyalty and popularity.
Participation for the simple opportunity to “be seen” is probably worth it.

Step 4: Resolve to look at Facebook as a part of the sales cycle and developing relationships with:
1) folks who might just be your end user (it’s still a human)
2) people who know/influence that person
3) future people in the above two categories
4) general market as a means to create an affinity for the brand

Step 5: Build a page based on best practices.
1) utilize multiple ways to engage: photo, video, games, wall, etc.
2) make sure the landing page sticks to the critical mission of getting people to “like” you
Although not B2B…17 million+ “likes”…not bad Red Bull

3) expand your brand through visitor submissions – fan of the week “product shots”
No matter who you are selling your product or services to, there are always opportunities to collect the shameless product placement shots.

Don’t have a physical product? You can still call for shots that demonstrate a lifestyle associated with your brand.

Examples: Travel Agency – photos of specific destinations
Insurance – photos of daring adventures (no, bad idea)
Office Furniture – photos of locations most in need of a makeover

4) continue to demonstrate/deliver industry expertise…Remember: you are still looking to develop an eventual business relationship

Step 6: Determine Page Design/Theme
– know how well it needs to comply to your corporate standards
– recognize the makeup of the Facebook audience and balance these standards with a fun, fresh style

Step 7: Make the biggest decision: tabs versus pages?

Mari Smith is a social media writer/speaker. And although she uses phrases like “clickety-click” and has teeth that are a bit intimidating, her Facebook page is loaded with great advice, and provides demonstration pages for a ton of page apps that allow for webpage-style customization.

Look at her list of recommendations here.

And while you’re at it, go ahead and like Brandom Acts, too.

Brandom Acts

Promote Your Page Too

WANTED: Anything but Dial-up

April 4, 2011

12397 83rd Ave SW
Motely, MN 56466

This happens to be the home address of two locations:
1. The Erholtz family.
2. The official technology black hole.

$50 finder’s fee to connect me to reliable, useful, high-speed internet.
Here’s what I’ve tried:
1. ACS – no service
2. CTC – no service
3. Qwest – no service
4. Wild Blue – hundreds of feet into the air…no signal
5. Clear Choice – ditto
6. Charter – no service
7. Verizon Wireless
8. AT&T Wireless
Wireless: good idea, right?
It gets worse. Not only no Internet at Casa de Erholtz, but no cell phone coverage either.
You can occasionally call and text if you stand on a step stool near the kitchen window.

My last hope…

I struggle with the “value” of $109.99++/mo for:
1. download speed of 2Mbps
2. upload speed of 300Kbps
3. daily download max of 400 MB

Hughes Net reviews aren’t doing it any favors either.
My favorite comment: “A good choice if there is no other alternative.”
That’s quite a vote of confidence.

Somebody stop me.

Misplaced Products

March 28, 2011

I’m OK with the glass of Coke in front of each American Idol judge. I even manage to only roll my eyes a little through the planned Ford commercials that are shown each week on elimination day. I appreciate the fact that the microphones used on stage as well as the headphones in the recording studio (both beats by dre) are noticed for their “b,” and have yet to be incorporated into the dialog for the show.

Nielson Reports for the month of February 2011 show American Idol leads the way for network shows in the category of product placement, with 102 instances. Their partner, Coca Cola is only second to Chevrolet in brands using TV placement.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a list for ridiculous product placements…It might be the only way Days of Our Lives realizes how painful their recent plugs for products like Chex Mix and Midol have been. It’s one thing to see the product, but Days takes it to a whole new level, embarrassing what acting “chops” their cast might have and forcing lines like, “it relieves the cramps…it relieves the bloating…” into the story.

Chex Mix and Midol did some viewer profiling and chose a soap opera for a reason. It’s the same reason a marijuana law reform campaign might appeal to its audience in the munchies section. Nice.

Kinda-“Sworda”

March 22, 2011

I enjoy designing the occasional t-shirt. I am mostly called upon for the friends and family freebie.
The following example is for the golf team my sister coaches in Sartell, Minnesota.
Question #1: what is your mascot.
Answer: we’re swords.
Question #2: really?

OK. So they are actually the “Sabres.”
noun: a stout single-edged cavalry sword, having a curved blade

All sorts of thoughts run to my mind: sabre-toothed golfer…nah; slicing…no; saber swingers…definitely no. These kids are too young to remember Chi-Chi Rodriguez and his sword fighting putter routine.
Think! Finally, the immortal words of Ron Burgundy came to mind “I’m kind of a big deal.”

Kind of = sort of = sword of! And the simple design was born:

Now try it on.

It’s always smart to get an idea of how your artwork looks actually on a shirt. There are dozens of sites offering free vector and psd artwork that let you simulate your shirt art. Choose the color and style and “try on” your art.

These two examples are from:
http://madnessism.deviantart.com/art/T-Shirt-Vector-Template-39773099
http://maaaikel.deviantart.com/art/TeeModelz-91772113

Although I’ve only been to Missouri a few times, I agree with their motto of “show me.” I use apparel art for all sorts of mock-ups, and insist on them when developing identity guidelines for corporate wearables.

While the Sartell Sabres are not likely worried about misuse of their identity, some organizations wage a tremendous battle against stretched, mis-colored, revamped and otherwise tarnished versions of approved imprints. Brand integrity requires spot-on reproduction. Kinda-“sworda” won’t work.

“Show me.” That’s what most vendors want and what most employees want, too.

Click on the shirt below to get the excerpt regarding logos and wearables developed by Brandom Acts for NJPA.

Next step: get yours.

You Can Only “Like” Me

March 14, 2011

I recently added a Facebook page for Brandom Acts, (note the link, follow the link, like the page) where–in addition to the wisdom found in my blog–you can catch brief notifications on interesting marketing finds and tools. I am especially looking forward to the entire point of Facebook Pages: to create a dialog with folks and get some feedback on some of my work…In some ways, become my own virtual focus group. I defer to the wisdom and wealth of the Facebook creators and need to be OK that you can no longer be a “fan,” but instead, can simply “like” me.

The problem with Facebook feedback? The people that “like” you, will likely be polite and “like” your stuff, too. When I test a new concept, I’m looking for a gut-check. I want to hear about the first thing that came to a person’s mind. And gosh darn it, if it’s the truth, I want to be told that my concept is off the mark (read: sucks).

I’ve found an affordable (even free) solution to avoiding the “like” when what you really want to know is if an audience “loves” it or “hates” it and why. Fivesecondtest.com

Fivesecondtest.com lets you choose between public and private (by invite) feedback sources.
It got my brain churning about all they things I could ask a “crowd” to help determine:
Look at a logo and tell me what product it represents.
Look at an ad and tell me what message I am trying to communicate.
Simply put, it provides a “gut-check” about how well your image and message are being communicated.
5 seconds is a REALLY good way to test billboard creative, as it simulates the actual amount of time it would be seen.

But what about ongoing brand management?
How can I get an audience to engage with my products and drive the ideas?

Hello UserVoice! Again, the tool is available anywhere from free to free of ads. It lets users submit ideas, participate in discussion, leave feedback and vote. What got my attention is its ability to create an engaging environment. Both the administrator and the participant can see the ideas get voted to the top or be alerted if an idea is implemented. The tool also helps manage the noisy minority by regulating the voting.

IdeaScale is another tool that works to create a feedback community.

The great copy on their website was enough to draw me in:
“IdeaScale empowers communities to drive innovation.”
“IdeaScale gives you answers to the questions you never thought to ask.”

Sealing the deal, IdeaScale offers website and social media integration, as well as private community development!

The best brands realize they are only as good as their ability to relate and share the values of their audiences.
What better way to show your audience that you “like” them, than by embracing their ideas.

So…What do you think?

Erholtz Kids Plunge

March 8, 2011

It is official: My children are braver than their mother.

Finn (10), Beck (8) and Bo (7) Erholtz all took the chilly leap into the lake at Breezy Point this past weekend as part of team “BraiNERD.”
This YouTube video shows them cheering (and freezing) at 0:19.

It was easy for their aunt Dana (a former Brainerd math teacher) to get them to commit to the idea on a sunny July afternoon. But as the day approached, and especially as they watched volunteers continue to skim the ice off of their entry point into the lake, the idea seemed “less good,” according to Bo.

Complete with taped glasses, suspenders and propeller hats, they didn’t hesitate.

298 plunges and $67,000 later–the event that raises money for Special Olympics Minnesota–just MIGHT be on Brandom Acts list of to-dos for 2012.