Archive | April, 2015

Business Lessons You Can Learn From Film and Television

19 Apr

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Inspiration can come from many places. While it’s always important to look toward successful leaders to see what you can do to better yourself and your organization, you can also find tips in the most unlikely of places, including film and television. While certain fictional characters may seem like little more than “kids stuff” on the surface, entertainment is actually filled with budding entrepreneurs, successful businesspeople, and everyone in between.

1. Lex Luthor – Supervillain, Business Leader, Or Both?

If you’ve only known Lex Luthor as a “mad scientist” who will do whatever it takes to stop his arch rival, Superman, you haven’t been keeping up with the character for the last several decades. In the classic Richard Donner film, Superman, Luthor’s plot involves buying up thousands of acres of worthless Arizona desert that will eventually be transformed into a “new West coast” of high-priced real estate after he separates California from the rest of the U.S. by way of his dastardly plan.

Though Superman thankfully puts a stop to him before that can happen, the business lesson here is abundantly clear. Luthor recognized an opportunity in real estate (or, as he so eloquently put it, “the one thing they’re not making any more of”). He thought outside the box and was able to find a new way to penetrate an existing market, which is something all business owners should be doing on a daily basis. Even though his target market seemed impenetrable, he was able to put a bold new slant on an old idea just by embracing unique possibilities.

2. The Avengers – The Importance of Teamwork

One of the most amazing things about the 2012 film The Avengers is the important business lesson inside. From the moment these heroes get together, all they do is bicker. Instead of saving the world, much of the first part of the film involves them arguing with one another to the point where a villain is able to execute the vast majority of his master plan while no one’s even paying attention.

The business lesson from The Avengers, however, rests in the third act. Separately, each hero could not complete the mission before them. Only by properly teaming together and utilizing their complementary strengths were they able to form something much bigger than any one person. It’s the same thing you need to be doing in business on a daily basis. Your team members are there for a reason. Everyone is good at something. Recognizing those strengths is what drives success.

3. Wile E. Coyote – There Is No “Magic Bullet” In Business

Wile E. Coyote is known for many things, including being a textbook illustration of what not to do in the world of business. As Wile E. Coyote attempts to capture his arch rival, the roadrunner, he keeps trying to do so with a single solution. Sometimes that solution takes the form of an Acme rocket that explodes too early or an anvil placed in just the wrong location.

The business lesson here is startlingly simple and amazingly important at the same time. If you depend on one single “magic bullet” solution to achieve business success, you’re never going to get what you want. Such a solution doesn’t exist. Putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, isn’t the way to run a successful business. It’s gambling that will never quite pay off. You can’t expect any one single move to rocket your business into the stratosphere. Instead, you need to have backup plans for your backup plans and (most importantly) patience.

You really never know where inspiration might rear its head. One second you might think you’re only watching a diabolical villain trying to pull one over on the last surviving son of Krypton. But before you know it, you realize you’re actually watching a master businessman at play. Important business lessons can come from even the most unlikely places. You just have to make sure your eyes are always open and you know where to look.

Transparency and Authenticity: Two Keys to Marketing Success

19 Apr

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Trust is essential to success in today’s business world. It’s not enough to offer a terrific product or service. You need to back that offering with the type of high-quality brand experience people won’t find anywhere else. Doing so doesn’t just create customers — it creates advocates. It creates a legion of followers who are willing to champion your brand to their friends and family members, extending your reach farther than you ever could on your own. In order to achieve this, however, you need to focus on two key qualities: transparency and authenticity, especially in your marketing message.

What is Transparency in Marketing?

At its core, transparency means being truthful about your business at all times. Far too many business leaders believe that acknowledging problems or mistakes is akin to showing signs of weakness. As they see it, letting people know your business may be going through a rough patch is proof that blood is in the water and the sharks will soon begin to circle.

In reality, transparency is one of the best ways to establish yourself as a trusted brand. If you make a mistake, don’t attempt to sweep it under the rug. Instead, lean into it, take the heat, and use the experience to better your organization. From that regard, transparency isn’t a weakness at all. It’s a way to show your organization is run by human beings who sometimes make mistakes but who always care about their customers above all else.

Consider the recent surge in data breaches that have affected some of the biggest companies on the planet. There are commonly two types of reactions to these events. Some companies try to pretend like a data breach didn’t happen for as long as possible. This never ends well and only damages their reputation. Others step up, take full responsibility, and go to great lengths to do right by their customers. These are the companies that survive the PR disaster that a data breach represents.

Authenticity is Key

Gabe Newell is the co-founder and managing director of the Valve Corporation, a highly successful video game development and distribution platform. When asked about the early days of Valve and the major success it had with digital distribution when so many other platforms were faltering, Newell said the key was simple. “One of the things we learned pretty early on is don’t ever, ever try to lie to the Internet,” he said. “They will catch you. They will de-construct your spin. They will remember everything you ever say for eternity.”

Newell understood what so many others failed to: authenticity is no longer a recommendation for business professionals. It’s a requirement.

Building a following for your business is always a challenge, especially as new competitors crop up with each passing day. Transparency and authenticity are two of the most important resources you have that will move you toward that goal.

Local Marketing: The Biggest Weapon in A Mobile and Social World

4 Apr

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Engaging with customers has always been the name of the game in marketing. Thanks to the Internet, target audiences are increasingly spread out. That isn’t to say the Internet hasn’t been a benefit to marketers. It unquestionably has. However, the Internet isn’t marketing’s final frontier. Far from it, actually. When you think about some of the biggest digital channels businesses are using today, mobile devices like smartphones and social networks like Facebook unquestionably come to mind.

When you break down those two categories into their core elements, however, what you’re left with is the same type of local marketing businesses have been using for decades. This is why traditional print marketing and — more specifically — local marketing remain hugely valuable tools to businesses in the 21st century.

What Is Local Marketing?

Studies have long shown that most people do most of their shopping within a ten mile radius of their home. This is still true, even at a time when people can have something delivered to their home with the press of a few buttons and the click of a mouse. People are still willing to venture out of the home to pick up that hot new item or to participate in a service they truly believe in. They just need to know where to look.

According to a recent report released by the CMO Council, 49% of all respondents to a survey agreed that localized marketing was crucial to the overall growth and longevity of their business. More than that, one in four marketers were spending at least 50% of their total marketing budgets on localized programs, certain location-centric promotions, and more.

At its core, local marketing allows you to use these types of stats to your advantage by not just targeting as many customers as you can with your campaigns, but by targeting the right customers — namely the ones who live in the area where your business is actually located.

The Benefits of Local Print Marketing

To illustrate just how effective local marketing can be, think of one of the oldest such strategies in the book: the business card. As you meet new people or network with fellow industry professionals, you’re likely to hand out a business card to whomever you meet. Even if that particular person doesn’t have any use for the product or service you provide, they may know someone who does. Thanks to your business card, they now have something tangible they can give that person to point them in the right direction.

The whole idea is brilliant in its simplicity. You’re establishing your organization as a local leader in a way that creates increased traffic right to your doorstep. On the one hand, it really is no different than sending out mobile “push” notifications to a smartphone or making people in your area “friends” on your Facebook page. The advantage it does have over those digital channels, however, is that it’s something tangible. By tailoring your printed materials to a local market, you’re instantly increasing their relevancy in the lives of those people. The result is improved marketing effectiveness, which will ultimately build brand awareness and position your business as the type of authority you know you are.

Targeted local marketing remains one of the best ways to bring your organization to the attention of a new set of customers who may not even realize you exist. In an age where you’re competing with digital businesses that may offer the same services, it’s no longer about trying to attract the biggest possible audience. It’s about attracting the right audience. That’s the power local marketing gives you if you know how to use it.

Planning a Meal, Planning a Marketing Campaign

4 Apr

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Imagine planning a special meal. You start by thinking about the different dishes you want to serve and how well they’ll go together. You try to choose flavors that complement each other and fit well with the occasion. You hope to create a delicious feast people will love and remember for months to come. The same should be true of your marketing.

Understanding integrated marketing

Planning a successful integrated marketing campaign is a lot like planning a successful feast. Just as choosing various dishes that complement each other helps to create a memorable meal, using a variety of marketing platforms to create a single campaign will help to capture the story of your brand.

Too many companies try to create different marketing campaigns for each platform. The result is like a meal of random dishes that have absolutely nothing in common. Separately, each might taste good and draw compliments, but together they seem confusing and fail to provide the lasting impact you hoped to create.

The importance of audience

It’s also important to consider the desired audience for an integrated marketing campaign. When you plan a meal, you carefully think about the atmosphere and what people will expect. Similarly, when you plan the various aspects of your integrated marketing campaign, you need to consider who you want to reach. If your audience consists of largely retirees and empty nesters, focusing a large part of your campaign on Facebook might not be the best use of your time and money. The same way you think about the types of dishes people would expect and appreciate, you want to maximize the reach of your marketing campaign by thinking about where people are most likely to appreciate your message.

Planning a large meal requires careful preparation to ensure that each dish fits together well to accomplish the desired final effect. Similarly, your integrated marketing campaign must combine various marketing elements into a successful, incredible campaign that attracts the right attention.