diverse experience, diverse skills, diversity

An Anniversary Message on The Value of Diversity

This month marks three years since Results Communications and Research, and I as its Principal, hung our marketing & communications and market research shingle. As I mentally reviewed the past several years, I thought about common themes that might capture both the nature of the work we’ve completed for our beloved clients and the type of clients and prospective clients with which we’ve worked. The word that immediately came to mind is “diverse.”

As far as diversity of work goes, we’ve helped clients issue RFPs for Web site design & development and assisted them in selecting vendors; used client content management systems (CMS) – such as WordPress and Hubspot – to revise existing client sites; and launched new Web sites for clients using WIX. We’ve developed, implemented, monitored, and reported on brand new online advertising campaigns, but have also assumed management and optimization of a client’s existing Google AdWords online campaigns. We’ve conducted research of both internal and external audiences, and of a client’s customers, prospective customers, and competitors. We’ve served as our clients’ blog writer and social media voice. And, we’ve developed integrated marketing plans, executed PR campaigns, and assisted with internal communications needs.

Despite detailing above some of the diverse client work with which we’ve been involved, the emphasis of this post is more related to the diversity of our client base. Our clients have been of all shapes and sizes – one-to-three-employee business-service consultancies to organizations with 500+ employees; of all profit statuses – for- and not-for-profit; and from a very diverse set of industries: food, healthcare, financial services, employee benefits, private investigation, non-profits with a local scope and ones with an international scope, higher education, religious denominations, and the list goes on… One of my biggest takeaways from consulting work completed under the Results umbrella and from other consulting roles is this: when developing a marketing plan, there is great value and learning to be had from exposure to and consideration of the marketing challenges and opportunities of leading organizations outside one’s own industry or niche.

From years of working in both corporate and consultant marketing roles, I can attest that it’s a very common practice for organizations to want to or to actually mimic the marketing, and other general business practices, of the one or several competitor organizations they most wish to be like. Often, a key driver of this “mimicking” behavior is the strong tendency and temptation by an organization’s leadership to look for inspiration in the marketing activities employed by competitors in their industry/niche — organizations whom leadership believes is doing the best job of converting prospective customers into sales customers or at causing a desired set of individuals to complete whatever the next desired step is, such as signing up to receive e-mails. This, in turn, frequently causes the individuals who are responsible for developing comprehensive, integrated marketing and communications plans for a new product, new service, or an entire fiscal year to feel pressured to follow in competitors’ footsteps.

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(Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)

While we do think there is value in reviewing the marketing tactics competitors are using to identify a key lead- or sales-generating vehicle or a marketing activity that might resonate best with one or several of your target audiences – for example, your competition may be employing a Google AdWords Display campaign to create awareness of a product or service that is less-well-known and not actively searched on, or pay-per-click advertising for a product or service on which your target audience(s) regularly enters search engine queries – some of the best marketing ideas and opportunities come from focusing on what other successful, world-class organizations, regardless of industry, are doing from a marketing standpoint. Many of those marketing activities may still be applicable and transferable to your organization. And, yes, even if your organization is a non-profit vs. for-profit one, there’s still great value in considering marketing tactics used by corporate organizations.

What are the implications and practical applications of the above?

  • If you’re in the planning stages for a new fiscal year, or new product or service launch, and have a large enough marketing team with the bandwidth to do so, hold a brainstorming session where each member of your team (and if appropriate, other internal staff who aren’t on the marketing team, but who interact with your customers) bring examples of their favorite brands that DON’T compete for your target audience, but whom they think are doing marketing right and/or differently (and we mean positively different :)).
  • The next time your organization is in hiring mode for permanent or contract marketing staff, interview and hire candidates who HAVE NOT worked in your industry and who can bring an objective, new outlook to your marketing challenges and opportunities. We find marketing skills are very transferable, and good marketers know how to effectively educate themselves quickly on the challenges and opportunities associated with any industry.
  • If you’re a business-owner who wears many hats, including a marketing one, or a one-person marketing team, consider hiring a consultant or marketing agency like ours who has helped a diverse group of organizations meet their sales and awareness objectives, and who can share some best or new marketing practices from other industries and niches that might be applicable to yours.

We’re always up for a non-obligatory, complimentary discussion of your marketing and communications challenges and opportunities. As we begin year four of our marketing consultancy, we look forward to continuing to work with a diverse group of clients on diverse work, and we say “thank you” to all our clients for the opportunities they’ve afforded us to help them achieve their objectives. We also want to thank those prospective clients with whom we’ve held engaging and informative discussions.



diversity, marketing consultant, staying current, Target Marketing, Uncategorized, Understanding Your Environment

The Many Wins Of Speaking To Your Many Target Audiences

I have found the fact that more brands are acknowledging and presenting same-sex couples and parents in their advertising quite refreshing, and hopeful. Kudos to Chobani for having the courage — and great wisdom — to create advertisements that speak to a demo that doesn’t get a lot of speaking to — women in relationships with other women. Sure, as you’d expect, there’s a variety of groups up in arms about it, but Chobani, I believe you are doing the right thing. You are keeping pace with the, thank-goodness, open times and making a target audience feel very welcomed by a well-known, and well-loved brand — something that hasn’t happened too often in the past, but is starting to happen with much more frequency. So, I say, “keep up the great work!”

And, I’m giving equal kudos to Cheerios, Honey Maid, and State Farm for recognizing there’s all types of families in this world — many are mixed race, are made up of adopted children and adoptive parents, and many have two parents of the same gender.

Let’s face it. If you’re a consumer goods company, in general, it’s likely that your product is used by individuals of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientation, and the list goes on. Don’t all your loyal and prospective customers have a right to view advertising that represents them and their lifestyle? Imagine how good it must feel to those populations who have been over-looked up until recently to have large well-known and well-loved brands acknowledge their lifestyles, and even just their existence. Not only are the brands that are creating advertising that represents over-looked audiences creating good will with those audiences, they are creating good will with the friends and family members who love those over-looked audiences and believe they have a right to be represented in and acknowledged in advertising.

Keep it going, you aforementioned great brands!  Despite the naysayers, I believe you’ve got it right on so many levels.

competitive advantage, differentiation, diversity, keeping up with trends, marketing consultant, staying current

The Value of Diverse Industry Experience to Both Employee and Employer

No clever, punchy headline today.  Instead, a statement about which I feel very strongly.  In the past several weeks, both I and friends who are in the marketing field and seeking contract or permanent employment, have had potential employers or people we network with make comments indicating that they didn’t think were appropriate for a particular job in a particular industry because we had no industry experience.  Or, we’ve had comments along the same vein made to us that the hiring company was likely to, or was going to, proceed with another candidate who had experience in that’s company’s industry.  And, we’ve been told, “well, I would have spoken with you about X,Y,Z opportunity, but I thought you were only interested in or able to do work in X,Y,Z industry”.

My whole career I’ve never forgotten a statement made by my then VP of Marketing and Sales.  He told his staff at a team-building event, “don’t just strive to be the best in our industry, strive to be the best in any industry.  Look at what world-class organizations are doing in other industries, and not just ours”.  I never forgot that.  At the time, I was employed at a health plan that had unfortunately allowed itself to become a bit of a dinosaur, relying on past achievements, and not keeping up with the times.  He encouraged us to look toward world-class organizations such as FedEx for inspiration and role models.  At that health plan, as part of a sales conference I helped plan, we had a speaker from a leading hotel chain that had received accolades for outstanding customer service, address our group.  The hotel representative talked a lot of about how to improve customer experience by thinking outside the box.

I digressed a little, but it was with a definite purpose.  The above reinforces, that quite often, both an employee and employer benefit when an employee has been able to work in and/or get exposure to different industries.  I’ve found this to be very true in my case.  At this point, between my permanent positions and my various contract and agency positions, I’ve served clients in or worked in the following industries:  healthcare (health plans and hospitals), financial services (both investments and banking), higher education, consumer goods (health and beauty, food, and more), manufacturing, hospitality, private investigation, non-profits serving vulnerable populations, real estate, and I’m sure there are more.

I believe without a doubt that employers and clients both have benefitted greatly from the fact that I am able to bring best practices and innovation from other industries to any work with which I am involved.  And, without a doubt, I’ve grown professionally, mentally, and emotionally from having exposure to so many distinct industries with their distinct challenges.  It’s kept my mind sharp, kept me learning, and kept me quite happy.

I’ll just close with this simple hope — that employers won’t shut out/dismiss potential contract or permanent employees because of lack of industry experience, particularly us marketing and communications folks.  My experience has proven that marketing and communications skills are extremely transferable across industries, and as long as a potential hire is intelligent, they can fairly readily learn the nuances, opportunities, and challenges of any industry.  And, they’ll likely bring an open mind to the situation and discover some opportunities that someone who’s worked in an industry for years might not bring.

differentiation, diversity, keeping up with trends, marketing consultant, online advertising, staying current, Understanding Your Environment

While You Wait, Educate

I’m keeping the “ate” rhymes going in my topic header that I started with my recent To Make Sure You Relate, Integrate post, but the topic of these two posts are quite different. If you’ve read some of my recent posts you know that it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to launch a new business, including a consultancy.  And, there are a lot of starts and stops along the way.  You get very excited about a prospective client meeting and spend hours preparing for it, so you are able to communicate what you know about your prospective client, their industry, their competition, and particularly their pain points. It’s particularly important that you be able to demonstrate what specific skills, experience, and activities you can bring that will help minimize or eliminate a client’s pain. Unfortunately, even when you are able to demonstrate your value proposition, prospective clients aren’t always ready or able to make the leap to engaging your services for a project or ongoing contract work.  They may already have relationships in place with organizations offering similar services, or they may need to obtain approvals from several levels higher up in their organization before they can start working with you, and/or they just may not have an immediate need for your services. Lastly, while you may be able to address one of their pain points, they may have greater pains that may need addressing first that aren’t in your area of expertise. You may be offering services to help them with a belly ache when they’ve got such sharp, shooting back pain that the belly ache, while troublesome, is not the area that they feel needs the most immediate attention.

As I advise friends who are seeking permanent, contract, or consulting work to do, I make every attempt to use any time where I am not doing client work and/or presenting to a prospective client/networking to educate myself on topics important to my industry and line of work. While I wait for my client work pipeline to grow, and when I feel I need a break from networking and selling myself and my skills, I attend webinars and phone discussions with/offered by experts in online/digital marketing.  I read blog and web site content about digital opportunities/marketing, and particularly, about improving SEO (search engine optimization) and optimizing pay-per-click/paid search advertising. If someone reaches out to me to attend a webinar — most are free — or asks to have a phone conversation about new digital marketing technology or any topic related to online presence, I’m almost always glad to listen in, have a conversation, etc.

I know keeping myself well-educated on all the ongoing changes and improvements in digital, traditional, and integrated marketing will make me a more valuable consultant to my clients.  Being well-informed just adds more and more tools I can add to my doctor’s kit, so that when faced with a client’s or prospective client’s pain point, I can share a variety of options with them that will help them minimize or eliminate their pain in an effective and efficient manner.

Continuously educating myself on topics related to my area of expertise and interest will mean that when a current or prospective client comes to me with a new pain point, I’m more likely to have the tools to address it.  In fact, the next time a client needs help with their back versus a toe, I may be able to help or have made a connection who can help (which will also create good will with any client). I don’t ever plan to stop growing and learning professionally, and I hope you won’t either.  It’s a great way to remain fully engaged in any industry or profession. You’ll remain enthusiastic and draw other enthusiasts toward you, including new customers who recognize you as being knowledgeable about their particular challenge.

brand promise, differentiation, diversity, integrated marketing, keeping up with trends, marketing consultant, Memorability, staying current

To Make Sure You Relate, Integrate

I’ve been working with a real estate firm to grow the number of individuals who list properties with them as well as to identify prospective customers for the firm’s listings, which include commercial properties for purchase as well as for rent. Because of how critical it is for organizations to have a strong online presence and marketing program, we put a lot of our initial energies into Google AdWords search and display advertising, social media, and Web content.  The firm’s online marketing and communications activities were minimal and causing them to miss out on opportunities.

While online marketing has generated some leads for my client, a small recent incident reinforced something I’ve always believed and regularly share with prospective and existing clients.  You never should put all your eggs into one marketing basket. While a large percentage of individuals do search for business or personal information or needs online — and for them, it’s likely that digital and online communications are their preferred means of communicating and/or gaining information — there is likely to always be some percentage of the population who prefers to obtain information or communicate by other, more traditional means.

The incident I referenced above was that the client had sent out a flyer to a very targeted list of prospective customers we had pulled from a public database — individuals who, because of their line of business, we thought might have some interest in a particular property.  This “direct mail” initiative ended up causing a strong prospective customer to contact my client, and reinforced that there are still people out there who will open, read, and take action related to a direct mail piece — whether it be a postcard, letter, or some other format.

Right now, my client and I are also looking into print advertising opportunities. Yup, good old-fashioned newspapers and magazines because, again, there are still prospective customers out there that prefer to or enjoy getting their information through print media.


Photo Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I believe I may have already shared this in one of my blog posts, but one of my favorite marketing sayings is “fish where the fish are”.  It’s really important to know what type of fish you are trying to catch, and then, what types of and what bodies of water they like to swim in. This will allow you to develop and execute an integrated marketing campaign that repeats messaging, creative, images, etc. across a variety of vehicles and media that are appropriate. This will ensure that each of the types of fish you are trying to catch are spoken to via a vehicle or media to which they can relate.  And, of course, you’ll get the benefit of repeated exposure by your fish to your messaging by employing many vehicles. Remember, the average fish doesn’t always stay in the same area of the lake. In fact, they may regularly travel between a river and an ocean, and like both fresh and salt water.  Maybe I should have titled my blog post “integrate with the right bait”.