The wild and the wacky. Do these words scare you? Do they make you want to go into a corner and shut down? Do you get all uneasy when you’re asked to do something that’s against the status quo? If so, chances are you have yet to unleash your inner creative. Your life is as boring as dull grays or maybe you’ve turned up the volume by adding the bold colors of black and white. Nine times out of ten, you do things the same way and prefer the same habits – and that’s perfect for you. I mean, who wouldn’t want routine. Routine is safe. You know what to expect, where to go, and even the result of the foods you eat. One extra gram of fat, and it’s going straight to your hips.

But what if I asked you to shake it up? Would you retreat from the conversation or would you be all in?

If I said, come up with a new idea for your business today, would you instead come up with all kinds of reasons as to why new ideas won’t work? Or would you go for the gold?

I find it shameful that many of us, myself included, settle for being Clark Kent when there’s a superman inside of us. We settle for the status quo. We do what others do; you know the things that are tried and true. That’s cool and all, but if it’s a bit boring. And you know what boring gets? IGNORED!

So what does this have to do with marketing?

Have you ever read the book, “Blue Ocean Strategy?” If not, get it. It’s a great read. (Well at least the first few pages were. I’m horrible at completing books.)

Anywho, the book discusses the notion of being creative to be competitive by not doing the same thing everyone else is doing. It’s about using your what you know to inspire thinking. Instead of running on the same field everyone else is running on, it’s about finding a field of your own to run on. And if you’re the only one running on the field, but you have a captive audience, you win.

The same is true with marketing? Marketing channels have increased and so has the advertising on these channels. Don’t expect it to get any better anytime soon. Commercials are here to stay, “print” is here to stay (whether it’s in traditional or digital format), and social media is going to be here for a while. With that being said, you’re going to have to get a bit creative to stand out from the crowd.

Here are some conventional and unconventional ways to unleash your inner creative.

  1. Turn off the TV. “What? But that’s where the advertising is. That’s how I get my ideas.” You’re right, and that’s the problem. You’ve had all your life to watch TV, and I’m sure you have more than enough “market research” in your mind to fuel your thinking. The more you watch TV, the more you’ll be encouraged to do what someone else is doing. However, with the TV off, you can think for yourself.
  2. STOP. Whatever it is, just stop. We’re on the run so often, thinking of what we have to do or where we should be, we don’t have time to simply think.
  3. Write an episode of a TV show. Think about the emotions you want your audience to feel. Think of the characters and lines that will help elicit these emotions. Think about the environment?
  4. Say yes to something new. It is so easy to say no, especially to the unknown. However, when you say no, you hold yourself back from an experience. And every experience is a chance to learn. And knowledge actually empowers creativity.
  5. Do something adventurous. Generally when you do something adventurous, you conquer something. When you conquer something, your self-esteem goes up. When your self-esteem increases, you feel like you can do anything. You are now on top of the world. [Note: RRP Marketing will not be held liable for any unwise decision]
  6. Unleash your inner child. Yes. I have a coloring book and I play video games. Stop saying you’re too old to do something. This is nonsense. Just do it. One of the best designers I know has a ton of toys, is in love with ComicCon and is pretty awesome. She does what she wants to do- and guess what else. She’s super creative and innovative, and it’s probably because she’s a free spirit not bogged down with what everyone else thinks.
  7. Participate in a brainstorming session, and don’t say no to anything. Ideas build off of one another – good and bad. So let go of your negative Nancy for a couple of hours, and just let the ideas flow. If you allow yourself to be free, you make room for creativity.

After you’ve employed a couple of tactics to unleash your inner creative, come back to your marketing plan. Look at what you’re doing, and ask yourself, “what here is status quo? What can I enhance? What can I do differently?” Then give yourself the freedom to let go of Clark Kent and make way for your inner Superman.

If you can’t seem to get out of your rut, give me a shout. I’m sure together we can come up with something.

Until next time,

Live, love, prosper.

It’s true. Email is a highly effective strategy for internet marketing. It definitely drives reaches your target audience as well as drives conversion. It’s a great way to increase awareness of a product or service, educate the market, and even get the market to take an action. And many people have opted in to receive the email…meaning they have said, “Yes. Send me junk mail valuable advertisements. I want to spend my money with you.”

But email is time consuming…and FOCUS is the word of the day. While on Twitter, I previously posed the question “how should a marketer spend their time?” The response that stuck out the most, spend your time where you make your money. Well, duh. It was a duh answer, but it was profound at the same time.

We, as marketers, get caught up in the hype of all the different tactics that we want to jump on them all. In reality though, that’s not always smart. We need to invest our time where we can see return. That’s what smart marketing is all about.

Since then, I have refined my marketing strategy. I’m not simply focusing on the fun, free, or even quick things. I recently focused on efforts that builds awareness and generates leads. From there, I have to close the deal.

Today, I pose this question, where have you gotten lost in the hype? Where are you wasting your time? What can you do better? How can you make your marketing efforts worth your while? How can you live, love AND prosper?

Regina R. Patterson, M.B.A.

As business owners, the one word in the English dictionary that may make us cringe more than any other word may be “free.” Other words that may make it to the top of the list of painful things we hear from our customers are: “discount,” “can I pay later,” “can I get a “hook up,” – you know anything that would encourage businesses to decrease prices in the effort to capture the customer.

I know. I’ve heard these words more than enough. “Can I get the family discount?” “Can you do it on a volunteer basis?” And yes, just like you, I want to scream at every instance I hear these words – primarily because I know the investment of time and other resources it takes to execute.

Yeah. It may seem that there can’t be high costs in designing a logo or developing a marketing strategy or even managing your social media accounts, but the cost is in the research, technology, labor, materials, and time that could be spent on paying clients. Time is money…and if you have a normal hourly rate, frankly doing something for free can simply be a means of cheating yourself. However, there are instances when there is profitability in free.

How many times have you seen “1st session FREE”…or “Buy 1 Get 1 Free”…or “FREE Sample”…or “FREE for the first 30 days”…or “FREE XXX with the purchase of $50 or more?” You get the gist.

These statements generally have an unstated goal, such as “I need to clear inventory,” “I want to hook you as a customer,” “I know you won’t buy any other way (and yes, this has already been calculated into my financial plan)” or “we need to do this in order to keep up with our competition.”

Offering something for free can be a very effective marketing tactics. However, YOU MUST BE SURE TO HAVE OBJECTIVE AND YOU MUST WEIGH THE PROS AND CONS. 

Before offering a free service or product, here are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  1. What am I looking to achieve? This is the first question you need to ask. Are you looking to gain new clients? To increase word of mouth? To get an on the spot purchase? To obtain a future purchase?
  2. What will I offer for free? You may have a full line of product or service offerings. It may be wise to offer smaller portion of the product as a sample or a service that is not as labor intensive as others but at the same time  educates the customer on you offerings and lets them know why they need you.
  3. Can I afford it? It’s wise to generally do some type of financial analysis prior to offering a free service determine how much it will affect their bottom line, esp. if they plan on losing money due to offering the free service. You need to understand how much they can afford to lose.
  4. Will you be able to keep up with the demand? Is your product or service so greatly desired that by offering it for free, you’ll get a greatly increased number of customers? (7-Eleven Free Slurpee day is a great example of those.) If you expect a high number of customers due to the free offering, you’ll need to make sure that you can keep up BEFORE offering it for free.. (Or simply manage your risk by limiting the number or type of customers who can take advantage of the free offering. (i.e. )
  5. What’s my risk? Will you have to neglect other customers to fill the demand of the customers looking for the free product or service? If so, this may not be a good option, or you’ll want to work this into customer’s expectations when determining project timelines. Remember, it costs less to retain an existing customer than to gain a new one.
  6. After they’ve bitten into the free offer, what’s my next step? This is the most important question of all. How do you plan to get them to make an actual purchase? Are you capturing email addresses? Do you give them a coupon? Do you send up a follow up email, and in what timeframe do you send that email? If you don’t have a follow up strategy, then all the effort put into offering something for free may have been in vain.

You’re on one side of the table. Your potential customer is on the other side. Your job…the pitch.

You have this one in the bag.

You tell them all you can do, and your prospect is definitely impressed. They’re drawn in with each word. They see it – how you’ll benefit their organization.

You’re even ready for the questions and requests that come your way. “Yes, Mrs. Smith, as a matter of fact, we can do that. There would be a small increase in cost, but we definitely can work it into the package.” (It doesn’t really matter what the “it” is. You can handle it.)

Then it came in slow motion. That request that you’re not ready for. However, instead of being transparent, you confidently say, “Yes. We can do that too.”

Liar. You can’t. For one reason or another…you don’t have the time, the expertise, the technical know how, or other resources to get it done.  But you said “yes,” and now you’re stuck. And even worse, your reputation is on the line. If you aren’t able to deliver, you may be screwed.

How could you have prevented this?

Just say no. If you aren’t ready to handle the customer’s request, be honest. Tactfully, let them know you can’t deliver what they’re asking for. Even if you lose the potential customer, you’ll keep your integrity, and your organization’s reputation won’t be tainted. Remember…you’ll always be able to pitch to more clients.

He Who Over Promises & Under Delivers

Being overly ambitious results in over promising and under delivering. As stated earlier, this will result in a huge blemish on your organization’s reputation – especially if your organization is a repeat offender.

There are several options that you can take in order to avoid being one who makes promises in which you can’t deliver:

1. Say no. As stated before, if you can’t do it, just say no. This doesn’t mean you have to let the prospect walk away unfulfilled. It just means you may have to seek 3rd party assistance to get the job done.

2. Be realistic with yourself. Know what you can do and what you can’t. Make sure you’re realistic about what’s on your plate, your skills, your resources, and what the amount of time it takes to complete what’s being requested.

3. Set customer expectations. Communicate timelines and needs in advance. Then continue communicating throughout the execution. Give status updates, communicate roadblocks and definitely give your customers opportunities to provide feedback.  Remember, you are in a partnership with your customer, and great  partnerships result from effective communication.

4. Be open to constructive criticism. Maybe you think you’re delivering effectively. However, your customer base doesn’t. Give them a chance to let you know. Allow your customer to give you feedback, both while you’re in teh process of completing a project

5. Obtain necessary skills or resources. If you find you are low on time or missing a certain skill or expertise, outsource the parts of the project in which you need help. If you’re budget doesn’t allow this, it will be better to say no than to get into a pinch. ~ On the other hand, if you’re simply need to enhance skills – such as presentation skills, design, writing, etc. – get training. Consult or hire an expert or seek out the proper education to help with development.

Reach for the Stars…

We’ve all heard this – and it’s not bad in theory. We all have goals. And this is great. However, if you’re ill-prepared, you will get burned. So, before you have to stop, drop and roll, make sure you have the skills and resources necessary to prevent unwanted blazes from down yonder.

Live, love & proser,