Malcolm A. Teasdale

Wednesday, 25 April 2007 20:00

Increase exposure through events

Event marketing has been growing in popularity. Many businesses and organizations realize that they can’t build their brand through advertising alone.

One of the most significant ways to increase your marketing return on investment is by producing and sponsoring events. Whether your company creates the event or you simply partner with another company for their event, selecting the right event to sponsor is key. Don’t sponsor an event just because someone asks you to. Be sure that the event will have businesses, organizations and executives in attendance that will be interested in your product or services. Event sponsorship should help you reach your target audience, expand your brand awareness and, ultimately, give you more sales.

Event sponsorships allow you the opportunity to socialize with your customers and not just talk business with them. This level of involvement can be significant in developing a deeper and stronger relationship. With event marketing, you’ll be creating a favorable environment for them to be in the spotlight and talk about their business.

Partnering with companies through successful events keeps you at the forefront of their mind and increases your chances of earning future business. Making events part of your marketing strategy not only expands your possibilities, it also informs the community where you live and work that you care. If people in the community perceive your company as one that cares, your chances of doing business with them increases exponentially.

However, it’s not enough to just put your name on an event and assume it will attract the new customers you seek. You must go further if you want to reap the full potential of what event marketing can deliver to your organization. There are three distinct areas to focus on with event sponsorship. Each stage is important and must be executed professionally and strategically.

Before the event

  1. Announce your sponsorship to your customers, prospects and relationships
    • Encourage them to attend

    • Use this nonsales-pitch communiqué

  2. Invite your important prospects as your VIP guests

    • This affords face-to-face time in an upscale professional atmosphere

    • Builds stronger relationships

  3. Establish your benchmarks

    • Study and target the anticipated attendee list

    • Know who you want to meet at the event

    • Do your homework; research not only the attendee list, but the sponsor and vendor lists as well

  4. Prepare an appropriate, impactful and cutting-edge message

    • Include this with your brochure or special handouts

    • Get creative and be sure you are talking their language, not yours

During the event

  1. Display your banners/signage in key places

    • Use customized messaging for the event and audience b. Be creative and interesting with your display

  2. Work the floor

    • Meet and greet attendees, introduce yourself as the event sponsor

    • Host your guests, help them make important connections

    • Make sure that executives get the most out of the event

  3. Build your database and relations

    • Exchange business cards with contacts

    • Consider utilizing a pocket-sized memento that they will keep

After the event

  1. Secure the final attendee list

    • Be sure to get e-mail, phone and address information

  2. Send an immediate follow-up note or e-mail

    • Not a sales pitch — but rather a “Nice to have seen you” letter

    • Send a personal note to all the people you met

    • Nurture relationships and schedule key meetings

    • Target only viable new potential prospects for sales messaging

  3. Consider an ongoing nonsales contact program for nonprospects

    • Informative outreach correspondence works

    • Focus on top-of-mind awareness and general positive publicity

    • You never know who the new people you have met may influence

Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to increased revenue, great community exposure and more significant relationships that will last a lifetime.

MALCOLM A. TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” for Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm that is headquartered in Tampa. Reach him at Malcolm@Teasdaleworldwide.com. To obtain more information about upcoming events and possible event sponsorship, visit www.MarketingofDistinction.com. You may also call Kathi Kasel at (813) 868-1520 or e-mail Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com. For additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.

If you’re reading these words, and you don’t have a marketing and communications plan in place for 2007 — then you should resign your post at once. You heard correctly, I did say that. If you are in a leadership role in your organization, it’s your responsibility to lead. How can you lead the way if you don’t have a fresh vision and don’t know what direction you plan to take in the New Year?

Okay, so you refuse to resign? Then let’s get busy planning. The New Year is already ticking forward. I do not suggest that you do this by yourself; you’ll need buy-in from your team. Pull your leadership team together for a strategy session where you can develop the best ideas through brainstorming. It’s best to do this away from the office if possible. Pick a destination that is within a two-hour drive, so that you can still accomplish everything you need to in one day.

Charging forward
Unlike most people, I do not call this a retreat. I have never understood why companies call these strategy sessions a retreat. I don’t even like the sound of the word — it means to withdraw, retire, or draw back. Why, then, would you retreat? I prefer to call this most important session a ‘charge.’ After all, charging forward is what this is all about.

Keep your leadership charge fresh, relaxing and in a creative environment. The key to this meeting is inclusion, getting everyone involved. Sometimes it helps to have a facilitator at the session, to insure that you get the most out of the time. At the end of the day, you should have an extensive collection of ideas that can be weaved into your marketing and communications plan. Don’t wait too long before you begin the process of incorporating these ideas into the plan. It’s good to do it the following week as you arrive back at the office.

As you develop the plan, remember marketing is every touch-point that impacts a customer. Think not only of different ideas, but different angles and ways that you can attract prospective customers. This is not about how much money you can spend; it’s about how innovative you can be. The best results will come from developing an integrated marketing plan. Today, it’s not just about advertising. It takes a comprehensive and integrated approach to reach your future customers. The combination of a strong publicity program, combined with guerrila marketing, can produce strong results.

Ad or event?
Event marketing can also deliver a stronger ROI than taking out an ad. Consider becoming part of business events that will tie into your overall marketing strategy. Determine which sponsorships would benefit your company as well as increasing your exposure. Partner with other companies that have been successful in producing events in the past. Research and create innovative ways for your company to give back to your community. Giving back to the community is not only good for the community, it’s good for you. Attaching your company name to a strong not-for-profit can create great name recognition for you. Cause-related marketing has the potential to deliver market awareness and unprecedented results.

As you plan your annual strategies, consider which ideas will make the greatest impact and schedule them throughout the year.

MALCOLM A. TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” of Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm headquartered in Tampa, Fla. Reach him at mat@ScreaminEyes.com. To obtain more information about upcoming events and possible event sponsorship, visit www.MarketingofDistinction.com. You may also call Kathi Kasel at (813) 868-1520 or e-mail Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com. To view additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.

Thursday, 30 November 2006 19:00

Playing darts in the dark will hurt you

 

Enter an enclosed room in your house, turn off the lights, and invite a few of your best prospects to join you in a game of darts. Just start throwing darts and see if you can hit the dart board. Pretty silly, right?

When it comes to marketing programs, many of the business executives are doing just that, running marketing programs like throwing darts in the dark. Whether it’s placing a media buy because you like the rep, you were told it was a good buy, or because it’s the latest idea that an executive in your company had, all constitute making poor business decisions; making decisions by the seat of your pants. Throughout the year, executives keep trying new concepts with no true strategies in mind — just to see if they work. As silly as this sounds, many executives are doing this every day. Not only do you need a marketing and communications plan, but you need the strategy to back it up. Understand who you are reaching out to, what they want, what they need and the best way to reach them.

Spending too much on marketing
If you spend thousands of dollars on a campaign and haven’t reaped the benefits of your efforts, then you’ve spent either too much or spent it in the wrong places. Many businesses neglect to conduct the necessary research before spending money on a marketing campaign. They make the common mistake of believing that they truly understand the nuances of marketing and advertising in their industry and just dive right in. Little do they know that there are specific strategies and methods used to create a great marketing campaign that optimizes a marketing budget.

Messaging & communication
What are you trying to say? If you haven’t secured a message, how are you going to convey one to your customers? This is a key component when devising a marketing plan. You must develop a message that you want to communicate to your customers. The message should be the lifeline of your campaign. All of your images and ad copy should focus on your messaging.

Know your customers. If you’ve completed adequate research about your customers, then you should be able to identify your key message. Understanding your audience is an important concept that is consistent throughout a marketing campaign.

Once you have developed the proper message, you must evaluate the message that you are trying to deliver to the public. After you’ve identified your target audience, you must choose the best medium of communication for the audience. Not all media outlets are suited for your specified market. Communication media includes print, broadcast, Internet and more.

Expensive vs. inexpensive
Identify the various price-points of effective marketing tools and create a plan that best suits your budget. Not everyone can afford an intense newspaper advertising campaign or television commercials. A variety of advertising methods can convey your messaging, such as direct mail, e-blasts, Internet banners, radio advertising, billboards, promotional items, public relations and more.

You have to assess your message, your budget, your customer, and then choose the right method for your marketing campaign. If you have a small local business, you might not want to spend an excessive amount of money on billboards. The most cost-effective advertising might be newspaper advertisements in local papers; however, this marketing decision should be based on market research.

Return on investment
Make sure you identify your desired Return on Investment (ROI). If what you have been doing thus far hasn’t helped increase your revenue, then reevaluate your process.

Remember, marketing does not sell. Marketing opens the door and presents the opportunity for sales to occur.

You can track your marketing efforts by monitoring sale increases or sale opportunities. There are a variety of tracking methods that allow you to evaluate your marketing strategies. They can be as simple as having your employees ask new customers how they heard about your company or as high tech as Web site tracking reports.

Based on the information you retrieve from your tracking methods, you will be better equipped with the data to make any necessary changes to your marketing plan. The results from your research will allow you to assess and possibly revise your marketing plan. You will be able to better gauge whether you need to spend more or less on your marketing efforts.

MALCOLM A. TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” of Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm headquartered in Tampa. Reach him at mat@ScreaminEyes.com. To obtain a new direction, increase revenue and the expertise to facilitate customers’ Unique Buying Advantages, call Kathi Kasel at (813) 868-1520 or e-mail Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com. To view additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.

Monday, 25 June 2007 20:00

What a brand is not

Knowing what a brand is not can save money, aggravation and most importantly, save your company. When was the last time you approached a design or ad shop to create you a new brand? Companies and their executives approach ad agencies and graphic shops every day, intent on getting a brand. They think that if they go shopping for a new logo, different colors, enhanced collateral material and a new message: POOF, they will have a brand.

Not so fast. An ad agency, a graphic shop or in-house designers are not capable of giving you a brand. You can’t order a brand like a flavor of the month. If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you already have a brand, good or bad. If you’re just starting out, then you have work to do in order to create the kind of brand that you really want. Today, the brand word is thrown around like a Frisbee: everybody needs one, but nobody knows how to go about getting one.

The devices used in branding can be a spokesperson, such as Priceline.com using William Shatner. Or they can even be designs, like the contour bottle for Coca-Cola. However, these devices can change in the shelf life of a campaign and should therefore not be considered the product’s brand. Although many devices used in branding may be unique, none of these devices make the product more valuable to the consumer. Just because Product A uses the color red, that does not necessarily portray any perceived advantage over Product B. Many executives mistake these attributes for branding — they in themselves cannot deliver a brand.

When you think of brands like Taco Bell and KFC versus Chick-Fil-A and Subway, what thoughts come to your mind? Is shopping at Wal-Mart the same as shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue? Of course not. Each brand has its own set of characteristics. Today, many organizations just can’t get the details right, and if they do — they just can’t get them right consistently. Inconsistency also creates branding, but maybe not the kind that you want for your organization.

Fonts, colors and messaging

Sure, the creative zest behind your brand is important. It reminds your customer base of who and what the brand is; they will be able to recognize your brand upon seeing it. Certain feelings will come to their mind when they see your packaging, logo and overall marketing design. This will give you a significant marketing advantage over your competitors. Your creative messaging must speak to your audience. It has to hit a nerve. What’s in it for them? It needs to be from their point of view, not from the executives in a boardroom. The creative and graphics can only enhance the brand attitude; however, they are not the brand.

So what can deliver a brand?

Is it the excellence of the employees? Could it be the high level of customer service?

Might it be the quality of details in the product?

What about the extra value that the organization delivers?

It could be all of the above. It’s those distinct attributes that people remember when they think of your product, service and/or company. Consumers will remember every positive and negative experience they have with your company. Keep a focus on maintaining strong customer relationships. Sometimes it’s about doing the simple things and doing them well. Customers will remember the company that insists on going the extra mile to give them a personal touch.

Decide what type of brand you want to have out in the marketplace; it might be one that requires a distinct level of customer service. Maybe you create a contact line that is available for extended hours, making it more convenient for your customers to call.

Quality and price play a significant role in branding. Evaluate your product lines and look at your service options. Are they fulfilling your customer’s needs or do they need to be expanded? What is the perception of the quality of your product line versus the price in your industry? Is it where you want it to be? What feelings are invoked when potential customers look at your products or services?

These are the kind of questions you need to ask yourself when evaluating your brand. Each and every employee, as well as contractors for your company, impacts your brand every hour of every day. Don’t let people underinfluence your brand. Positive branding and powerful marketing will go a long way to improving your company’s position in the market. Now that you know what branding is, get busy creating yours.

Don’t let your company’s brand depend on some graphic madman.

MALCOLM A. TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” for Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm that is headquartered in Tampa. Reach him at Malcolm@Teasdaleworldwide.com. To obtain more information about upcoming events and possible event sponsorship, visit www.MarketingofDistinction.com. You may also call Kathi Kasel at (813) 868-1520 or e-mail Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com. For additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.

Saturday, 26 May 2007 20:00

‘Midnight Clear’ in Dallas

Life’s lessons can be learned from new motion picture.was the night before Christmas in a Southwest city, and for five lonely strangers spread across town, it’s the most depressing time of year. Lefty, a divorced, jobless and homeless man, is on the verge of losing the privilege of seeing his young daughter if his situation doesn’t change. Eva, an older woman estranged from her family, contemplates suicide. Mitch, a discouraged youth pastor, takes his reluctant teens for a night of caroling to shut-ins. And Mary, a young mother and her son, become stranded at a convenience store when their car breaks down, forcing them to spend the evening with Kirk, the bored but sympathetic owner. Throughout the movie these people randomly cross paths and exchange fates along the way.

You’re thinking this sounds like a movie plot? It is. Recently, I was Stephen Baldwin’s guest at the premiere of his new film Midnight Clear. It debuted at the 37th Annual U.S.A. Film Festival in Dallas, Texas. The U.S.A. Film Festival is one of the oldest, most respected festivals in the United States. Dallas Jenkins of Jenkins Entertainment directed the film and did an excellent job of melding superb acting with an incredible story line. There are countless life lessons to be learned from this film that keenly parallel both our personal and professional lives.

Trust and respect are values that can be applied every day of your life.

Knowing when to trust people is key; respect however, should be given to everyone. Trust is earned by doing what you tell people you’re going to do. With regard to respect, you must give respect to get it in return. When you tell a client that you’ll have a product or service ready on Thursday, make sure that you can deliver it on Thursday. If you’re not sure if you can really fulfill that deadline, then don’t promise it. Customers will respect your honesty. When you protect your word and make it count, you will gain your customer’s trust and that’s priceless.

Opening doors must be a part of your mission.

You’ll never know where the next great opportunity lies unless you’re willing to open each new door you encounter. Many people fail because of stagnation and their unwillingness to play on multiple levels. Be prepared to try new things and new ways of accomplishing your goals. Be willing to change up the way you presently do business. Make it a point to consistently review, revisit and revitalize projects. Put a new twist on the way you do daily things.

You’ll meet people in the most unlikely places that can help you get to the next level.

Often it’s when you least expect it that the most extraordinary things can happen. Being open, ready and prepared at all times is essential. As depicted in the movie, throughout our daily routines we encounter people that could impact your life and business in a way that you didn’t plan on. Relationships are so vital. You can’t be successful without them. Surround yourself with the best people you can find. Hire people who will inspire others and bring out the best in your company.

Have the fortitude to keep moving forward no matter what the consequences.

There are many times that you probably feel like throwing in the towel. Don’t. Life is a series of ups and downs. We really learn more from the hard things in life if we determine to use them constructively and grow. There is a purpose in everything that happens to us, good or bad. Success comes in many shapes and forms. Be willing to adapt and stay focused on your bigger vision. There will be distractions along the way, but if you understand that everyone has them, it will help you not give into them. Be determined to win in the end.

It was refreshing to experience a movie that reflects the positive outcomes that life can bring. While Hollywood continues to produce movies that focus on murder and mayhem, Jenkins focused on hopeful opportunity to make this thriller.

Midnight Clear will be released in theatres later this year. Watch for it and other exciting events that Stephen Baldwin and Dallas Jenkins are producing to positively impact America’s youth.

MALCOLM A. TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” for Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm that is headquartered in Tampa. Reach him at Malcolm@Teasdaleworldwide.com. To obtain more information about upcoming events and possible event sponsorship, visit www.MarketingofDistinction.com. You may also call Kathi Kasel at (813) 868-1520 or e-mail Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com. For additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.

Monday, 26 March 2007 20:00

Beware of your media choices

Building mind awareness through the right medium choices is one of the most important things you can do to improve your bottom line. Knowing where those new customers are coming from is the second most important thing. So why are you throwing your money away, and why are you giving credit to the wrong medium?

First things first, in order to create mind awareness with your future customers, they have to find you. Did everyone hear that? They have to find you. Chances are they will not find you when you advertise in one magazine, one radio station, on just cable, or a print ad. Many of your future customers may not read that magazine, listen to that radio station, watch that cable channel, or read that publication.

Top-of-mind awareness can only be achieved through an integrated marketing plan; your future customers need to see you in multiple places.

Of course, the media will not tell you this, but they will gladly take your money. After all, they’re in business to make a living as well. More media dollars are wasted every day with the wrong creative and placement. If you’re going to the media for advice on creative and placement, then you get what you deserve.

There are two important points that I must make. The first is the need to utilize more than just one medium, and integrate the media in a comprehensive time-line to expose your products and/or services to future customers. Most importantly, don’t spend all your effort and money on advertising. Put an emphasis on developing significant marketing strategies that reach your target audience. Like never before in history, you must reach out to your future customers in their immediate circle. They must see your message repeatedly and in multiple places.

If you don’t remember most of this column later, please remember this; your future customers may not need your product or service right at that moment, but at some point, they will.

The key is to keep your name in front of them so that when they do need it, they will remember you. This is what we call top-of-mind-awareness. Too often executives assume it’s not working because you didn’t get the exact number of calls you expected, and then pull the ad after just a short time. When a future customer needs your product or service, it’s key that they remember your company or you won’t get the sale, your competitor will.

One sure way to help them remember is to keep your name out in the community in consistent ways, not relying on just one medium. The more mind awareness you build, the greater the chances are that you’ll get the business.

Secondly, I want to talk about tracking your leads to determine where those new customers are coming from. This can be very difficult to measure. Too often, your Web site and the Yellow Pages get credit for exposure that they have nothing to do with.

I see it every day; many of you believe you know where your customers are coming from because that’s the feedback you’re getting. I have found that unless properly questioned, the answer being given is very often not the real source of the lead. I call this ‘surface response measuring’ and clearly it doesn’t go far enough to get the true answer of why they called in the first place. Think about it: when you need a phone number or contact information; you go to a Web site or the Yellow Pages, correct? So when the front-line person asks the question “How did you find us?” the answer can often be the source of where they found the phone number, instead of what drove them specifically to your company.

Your front-line people must drill down to the real source of the lead with the right questions if you are going to find out where your money is being best spent. Don’t just ask where they found your number or heard about you, question them specifically on the medium, the location, and the time. It takes a few more seconds, but the difference in the information will be well worth it.

MALCOLM A. TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” of Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm headquartered in Tampa. The author’s e-mail address is Malcolm@Teasdaleworldwide.com. To obtain more information about upcoming events and possible event sponsorship, visit www.MarketingofDistinction.com, or contact Kathi Kasel at Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com or (813) 868-1520. To view additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.

Wednesday, 25 October 2006 20:00

Competitive capabilities

Just like sports, businesses need to know and understand their competition as well as be able to assess their own winning strategies. And like sports, if you don’t have a game plan, you’ll get your butt kicked. Unless of course, you have a wizard on staff — in which case you can keep conjuring results out of thin air. Competition is not only between businesses that offer the same product or service; it far exceeds your first level direct competition and extends to emerging ground-breaking businesses.

Producing results
Stop beating yourself at your own game. Many of you monitor your competitors for the wrong reasons. You see what they do. You do something similar or try to outsmart them with the same rhetoric. Take the furniture industry or the automotive industry — even the office product industry; in fact, take any industry. Line up all of the competing ads and you can’t tell one ad from the next. There is absolutely nothing distinctive about them. There is no apparent competitive advantage. I call it “garbage-in-garbage-out” syndrome. If you find yourself considering such look alike messaging, make a u-turn and run like hell the other way.

Extensive research is involved in the process of understanding your audience. Don’t be afraid to get into the minds of customers to get the real deal; what influences their buying power and why do they choose one product or service over another? Through surveys, focus groups and other research components, your company can identify the wants and needs of current, potential and former customers. Then re-evaluate your strategies. After researching your customers’ opinions, you will be able to examine what your business should do to improve poor business practices or even create new strategies to focus on your target market.

Competitive awareness
Part of winning the game is understanding the players. Yes, customers are the voice of our businesses; however you also need to take note of your surroundings and be aware of what current and future competitors are up to. This will help you assess your business strategies and get a better grasp on how the industry is evolving. A basic method of examining the industry is simply identifying what in your market can threaten your company’s position. Find out who is out there in the industry offering the same product or service as you do. How is it different from your product or service? Who is offering a substitute product or service? Simply knowing your competitors and potential competitors enables you to find innovative ways to stay on top. Understand how your business fits into the whole scheme of things by asking yourself, what are my competitive advantages and how do I keep my competitive edge?

Ongoing process
It is extremely important to commit to continuous research and analysis of your customers’ buying behavior to monitor your success and/or failure relative to your competitors. It’s not a one shot deal. You don’t conduct the research one time and continue to use the same results from survey three, five or 10 years ago, and applying it to today’s market. Ongoing research is essential to keep up with the competition, the changes in the market and the buying trends. Companies, products and consumer behavior change. Products evolve, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are aware of all of the trends and how your business fits into the evolving industry.

A company should take stock of where they are in the industry and be able to identify how or if they have improved over the past year; what can they do to increase success; how they rank among their competitors; are they catering to their target audience, and how are they received by their customers? Taking time to analyze your business successes and failures will help your company grow far beyond your competition. Constant awareness and action breeds success and you won’t have to hire a wizard to be successful.

MALCOLM A. TEASDALE is the principle and “Big Idea Catalyst” of Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm headquartered in Tampa. Reach him at mat@ScreaminEyes.com. To obtain a new direction, increase revenue, and the expertise to facilitate customers’ UBAs, call Kathi Kasel at (813) 868-1520 or e-mail Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com. To view additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007 19:00

The quickest way to kill your marketing plan

So let’s say you get it all right. You’ve worked diligently for some time to put together what you think to be a great marketing program. You now have an extensive marketing plan that you feel will work, which includes great creative ideas and a communications timeline. Your plan is put together in a professional presentation, you have great visual images, a catchy and compelling campaign, radio spots, TV commercials, print ads, flyers, posters, direct mailers, billboards and nifty promotional items. And you’re now ready to reach out to your public…

Stop. Your plan may be flawlessly designed, but are you truly prepared to walk your talk? Have you consulted with your staff and conducted essential internal research to ensure your plan’s success? Now you might say, “Malcolm, we don’t need to do any of that touchy-feely stuff; none of that matters. Our marketing plan is perfect — and really ‘pops.’” I’m here to tell you that, unfortunately, your plan is seriously flawed.

One of the biggest failures of a potentially successful marketing plan is neglecting to consult with your internal customers, conduct employee research or communicate the plan to your employees. Do your employees have a copy of the plan? Did they have input or help write it? Do they know anything about the plan — better yet, do they even care?

Chances are you probably guard this “strategic information” like the Fort Knox treasury. Don’t destroy yourself before you even begin. You may have the external and media touch points well addressed, but not thoroughly addressing your internally affected touch points is the express lane to a business dead-end.

Every touch point to a customer or potential customer matters — nothing matters more. What is a touch point? Everything from the vocal inflection when answering phones, office dcor, personalities, customer-centric attitudes and actions, to the bathroom being cleaned — and condition of the walkways and windows. Everything about your business is a reflection of who and what you are as an organization. The easiest way to blow a successful plan is to ignore some of these minute details. On the other hand, fine-tuning and orchestrating those details help take marketing — and your business — to another level.

Get your left and right talking
Systematically address this internal marketing and alignment. Survey your internal staff; talk to key players that deliver and execute on the claims made in your marketing. Be sure to include all of your employees. Dig a little deeper to see how even staff who don’t interact with your customers make an impact on customer deliverables. You may be surprised to find just how many ways that everything they do can help (or hinder) your marketing results. This process isn’t just about the CEO’s opinion; it’s about everyone involved in the day-to-day processes. These are the people who are ultimately responsible for your customer’s happiness.

Use their perspectives to better gauge the approach that you want to take to satisfy your customers. This is a formative process that allows you to look at the company as a whole and pinpoint specific pieces that allow you to figure out the company’s best alignment to deliver what is called your “brand promise.”

Shared vision
Do all of the employees know the 2007 goals? It’s the CEO’s job to set the vision, and share the goals. Creating the goals of the company and having a great marketing plan are useless in your desk drawer or attracting dust on the bookshelf. In fact, your plan should reflect the goals and vision of the company and be integrated into the daily tasks throughout the ranks.

In order to achieve a goal, you have to put some effort into it. Simply setting goals is not enough. The goals should be acknowledged and shared with everyone in order to achieve them. In addition to the overall goals of the company, each employee should have a record of their goals and objectives to check frequently and make sure that they are on the right track. Everyone is accountable.

Once you’ve been able to share and align your vision, goals and infrastructure, your brand delivery will be turbocharged and your marketing plan destined for success. Taking these steps will allow everyone to get a better grasp on your company’s direction and help motivate your employees to better address the expectations of your customers. It’s not just about having good ideas, it’s what you do with them that matters. We’re only two months into the year, so it’s not too late to take out your marketing plan from the desk drawer and start using it.

MALCOLM TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” of Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm headquartered in Tampa, Fla. Reach him at Malcolm@TeasdaleWorldwide.com. To obtain a new direction, increase revenue, and the expertise to facilitate your customers UBAs, call Kathi Kasel at (813) 868-1520 or e-mail Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com. To view additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.