Getting a Real Return on Corporate Communications

I meet with many businesses that do not have a marketing plan but are spending money on websites, brochures, promotional material and advertising.  Frequently, there is no centralized agency providing these materials since their procurement comes from scattered sources that negatively impact the brand and cost more money with less return on investment.  Those businesses that operate without a plan usually proceed as follows:

The company decides that they need a website or website upgrade so they initiate a search for a web design firm.  Many times the project is shopped on price alone, without considering the company’s marketing needs.  Most often the branding is not successfully integrated throughout the new site, thus diluting company identity.  Other issues may be ignored, including the decision to employ a professional copywriter, search engine optimization, and the proper selection/creation of unique imagery for the site.

Several months later the company wants to create a brochure so they shop for a print designer, who is unaffiliated or coordinated with theweb design firm.  The outcome is a brochure that is not consistent with the website branding which further dilutes the brand.

Now the serious damage and waste escalate as different peddlers of ad specialties (pens, key chains, letter openers…) directly sell to the company and guess what happens? — the brand is once again diluted because there is no marketing plan in place.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen companies purchase custom printed pens that only have their name, address and phone number.  There is no logo and even the pen is the wrong color (the company has a red logo and they buy purple pens).  This is a complete waste because the brand has now been completely compromised and the main reason anyone will ever look at the label on the pen is when it stops working — that is not the time to make a lasting impression.

Media vendors these days solicit company owners instead of marketing and advertising agencies because they can pressure owners more effectively than experienced agency media buyers.  Company owners are convinced to appear in journal ads, trade publications, local newspapers, circulars, direct mail pieces, coupons…  These vendors tout circulation statistics and include free ad design.  The ads, however, are designed by underpaid and often under-talented staff artists who have no interest in preserving a company’s brand and maintaining consistent corporate messaging.  Furthermore, they do not offer any mechanisms for tracking response rates.  Without tracking the company has no hope of realizing whether they showed any return on their investment.

The solution to all of these problems is to work with an ethical marketing firm that company owners trust — one that can create a mutually agreed upon marketing plan. The marketing firm should be unbiased when selecting appropriate advertising media. They must be able to provide metrics on every advertising and communications effort to insure more profitable results with each campaign.  All creative efforts should be geared to defining, preserving and strengthening the brand.  Money that is invested in this kind of business relationship will lead to achieving real and measurable returns on all corporate communications.

If this makes good business sense to you, please contact Bruce Kersten, owner of Savant Creative Group at 516-791-4474 for a free initial consultation.

Does Your Business Have a Website or a Web Presence?

We are at a point in time when a website is not a luxury, it is a necessity.  Most often, the first step a prospect or new business contact will take is to visit your website.  This provides an opportunity for them to learn more about your business as well as for your business to make a good impression in regard to its integrity, stability, and goods and services.

The problem with many websites we come across every day is that many businesses, particularly small ones, think that having any kind of website is helpful.  This includes free ones, those done by a friend or relative on the cheap, or in many cases, produced by a web design company that has no knowledge of branding and marketing.  They produce inexpensive sites that are made from templates and offer little more than a “your face here” appearance.  Owners of these sites feel that they have made the investment and that all sites are equal — possibly even a commodity item.  Nothing could be further than the truth.

The public can tell a quality website from an obligatory one.  Furthermore, the negative impressions offered up by these sites result in reputation damage that can not be seen or calculated.  When prospects arrive at one of these sites they are likely to see a lack of professionalism and they are gone — opportunity wasted.

Successful and effective business website development reflects a company’s brand in a positive light and fits in with their other marketing materials including business cards, brochures, and social networking touch points as well as all other collateral.  The written content on theses sites has been optimized to keep visitors interested while also creating positive search engine rankings — allowing a website to be found during searches for important keywords by anonymous prospects.

A properly created, designed and written business website produces a web presence in which a company effectively expresses their brand and mission statement as well as their capabilities and distinct advantage that clearly communicates why they should be contacted rather than a competitor.

Savant Creative Group offers free business website consultation. Learn how we can help your company deliver a united and powerful web presence designed to increase business and deliver more qualified leads.  Contact us today to see to see how we can assist your company excel.

Sustainable Business Development Is Not Magic

Building and maintaining a successful business is quite a challenging undertaking these days due to economic conditions, global competition and the existence of large conglomerates made up of a bounty of other ex — small businesses.  Many people ask me for the “magic pill” that will transform their businesses over night into fantastic profitable enterprises.  My marketing communications firm, Savant Creative Group has helped many businesses of various sizes grow considerably but, sadly to report, we don’t sell magic pills nor do they exist.  In fact, if any company offers you one, they are lying to you.

Let’s examine what is involved in sustainable business development.  It is essential for a company to build a solid brand from a visual standpoint as well as one of reputation.  This means creating a good memorable logo as well as maintaining brand awareness throughout all touch points with the public and amongst employees.  When the public recognizes a brand visually as well as by its solid mission statement and actions, a very powerful attraction begins to recruit customers.

A business also needs to flow that identity through a quality website, brochure, and all other collateral materials.  Any lapse in this process leaks performance and recognition of the brand in a sometimes unseen yet very significant manner.  This applies to all forms of advertising, public relations materials and social networking endeavors.  Keep the ship tight!

The process of creating and building a powerful brand and correctly choosing and producing the most expeditious messaging materials takes a bit of time, planning and money but once built, can become not unlike the finest of tailored suits — accentuating every single positive feature for all to see.

Now that we are all dressed up, as the saying goes, where do we go?  The answer is sales.  At the heart of every great company is a great sales machine! Many people do not want to hear that statement because it requires tremendous effort and it disproves the existence of that magic pill I spoke of at the beginning of this post.

Savant Creative Group can help you create a strategic plan and get you dressed up for every occasion but you will still need a sales force to wear the clothes we manufacture.

 

 

The Global Catastrophic Tragedy That Started in Japan

It is hard to understand all of the dimensions and implications of the tsunami, earthquake and, at least, partial meltdown that struck Japan on March 11.  Comprehending it from the perspectives of nature, emotions, humanitarianism, geography, global warming, nuclear devastation and common sense is off the charts.

The tsunami caused by the earthquake alone has caused incredible suffering and the loss of many thousands of lives. Homes have been destroyed, businesses, lifestyles, family units, property…  If this was the extent of the damage, it would have been an horrible tragedy.

Unfortunately, it set off another wave of terrible events starting with the cooling system failure and ensuing explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.  This caused the astronomical release of radioactive material into the atmosphere.  Radiation has been detected in Tokyo’s drinking water, milk supply and vegetables making them unsafe to consume.  It has been detected in beans in Taiwan.  As of today, radioiodine-131 has been detected in Massachusetts, California, Washington, Florida, Pennsylvania and North and South Carolina.

The disaster continues to unfold as Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the world’s chief nuclear inspector, cautioned that the nuclear emergency could go on for weeks, if not months more.  See http://tinyurl.com/nuclear-disaster.

Although there are very polarized points of view on the subject, some experts say that one of the possible consequences of global warming is increased earthquake activity.  If this is the case one can see the spiraling effect this is having on the environment.  One natural disaster (the earthquake) led to another (the tsunami) and caused the nuclear disaster.  The nuclear disaster never should have occurred because nuclear energy is not a sustainable answer to our energy problems and should not be utilized.

Regardless of what New York State officials say concerning its safety, the Indian Point Nuclear Facility is only 38 miles north of New York City and it is built on a fault line.  What happened in Japan could easily happen here.

We need to use renewable green power solutions as much as possible and get two monkeys off our backs — nuclear energy and the use of fossil fuels.

A QR Code Advertising Agency Campaign Gone Wrong

This weekend I spotted a QR advertising campaign by Jet Blue Airways on a New York City subway car.  As is common these days, advertisers take an entire wall of a subway car to display a series of different pieces that make up the promotion.  This was a complete waste of advertising dollars on the part of Jet Blue’s for the following reasons:

  • It is very difficult to get a decent scan of a QR code on a moving train.
  • The code was made up of design pieces and rotated by 45 degrees making it more difficult to decode.
  • One of the largest mobile phone carriers in the New York market is AT&T who has no internet service on subways.
  • In order to scan the code I had to point my phone directly at several passengers making them feel self conscious.

The QR advertising industry is still quite young in the United States and it can provide excellent ways to reach out to prospects if handled correctly.  At Savant Creative Group we provide QR code advertising agency services to clients in a well planned, easily used and highly measurable manner.  Contact us today to see how we can help your company effectively attract prospective customers.

So You Want To Update Your Website Yourself?

Recently it seems as though many more clients are asking for websites they can update themselves.  These sites are frequently referred to as content management systems (CMS).  As in any trend, many people ask for things that have become buzz words or due to horror stories they have heard from their contemporaries.  The fact is a content management system is something that needs careful consideration before automatically having one built.

Many people want a CMS because they don’t want to rely on their web design company to make updates for them.  The truth of the matter is that an average minor website update costs about $100.  Not too bad when you consider the fact that building a quality content manage system runs about twice the cost of an average static website.  If you factor this in with the time it takes a business owner or employee to update the site on their own, it may be a better deal to just let the website development company do the work.

If a company wants to make frequent changes to content, and perhaps also wants a blog, then a CMS might be the best solution.  Savant Creative Group normally builds blogs on the WordPress platform.  The majority of blogs you see today are published using WordPress — including this one.  It is excellent for search engine optimization and even for some content management systems.  For clients needing a more extensive CMS solution, Drupal is an excellent choice.  Now that version 7 is out, it has a whole new look and feel.  Drupal can be used for many different business website development solutions including online  journalism, ecommerce, blogging communities and entertainment sites.

The best way for a business to decide on which website solution is best for them is to consult an ethical marketing firm who will help them sort out the various options and find the most successful and sustainable solution.  There isn’t one answer that fits all companies.  Spend the time now so as not to spend extra money later.

Fourth International Environmental Protection Exhibition

The fourth International Environmental Protection Exhibition will be held in Macau starting on March 31, 2011.  The keynote speaker will be former under secretary general of the United Nations, Klaus Toepfer.  This year’s theme is “Green Opportunities – Low Carbon Urban Development”, advocating “Green Cities, Smart Technology, Sustainable Growth”.

Activities are planned including forums, assorted business exhibitions and something called, “Green Public Day”.  The main goal of the event is to communicate the sharing of knowledge between Macau and other countries with respect to environmental solutions.

More than 250 foreign companies have already signed on as participants in this year’s expo.  Last year’s event saw nearly 6,000 visitors with over 350 companies exhibiting.

Macau is located close to Hong Kong and the two cities are treated similarly by The People’s Republic of China.  Macau reportedly also has the longest life expectancy in the world but that’s an entirely different form of sustainability.

The Impact of Corporate Culture on Being Green

Many companies are trying to become outwardly greener in order to help the planet as well as to garner positive public opinion.  It is essential that these businesses bring the green inside as well.

One of the most ignored aspects of branding is that of internal branding or, more eloquently stated, corporate culture.  Corporate culture is the embodiment of a brand. It is the way workers behave, think and interact inside the office.  Businesses should help educate and support their employees’ respect for the environment.  The greener the corporate culture, the greener the brand and its touch points.

Businesses can hold seminars that teach workers how to conserve energy, reuse materials, and even how to bring there lunch to work in a greener way.  At the same time, they can make sure they are recycling office and employee waste diligently and sustainably.  This way, businesses are not only talking the talk — they are walking the walk.  What the public experiences on the outside is the same as what the workers experience on the inside.

The more companies utilize holistic and consistent green branding, the more united they will become and the more true to the cause they will be aligned.  The business wins, the workers win, and the PLANET wins.

Posted in: Corporate Cuture

QR Code Advertising

Many advertising campaigns and marketing programs in the United States are now implementing QR codes as a means to direct the public to online media including promotional videos, public service information, the ability to purchase tickets to various events, and coupons — just to name a few.

QR codes are a type of 2d bar code that was invented in Japan in 1994.  It is open source and its use is widespread throughout Japan and much of Europe.  Now its usage here is starting to reach critical mass.  The December 18th cover of The New York Times Magazine Section features a full page photo of a QR code that was made by artists out of balloons, bringing credence to the fact that these codes have become a part of pop culture.

Using these codes in marketing pieces allows viewers to interact with them using their smart-phones, reaching a marketer’s destination without having to remember or input a lengthy url into their browser.  This makes it easier and error free for the user as well as highly trackable for the marketers.

Savant Creative Group (SavantCreativeGroup.com), a QR code advertising agency is adept at implementing QR code advertising programs (http://savantcreativegroup.com/green-advertising.html).  In the coming year many advertisers will start embracing this new media.  The early embracers  are most likely to get the biggest pop by standing out.

Posted in: QR codes

New York City Business SMART

New York City Business SMART (Sustainably Minded Alternative Round Table) is a group that meets monthly in Manhattan.  SMART has been in existence for about a year and a half and has been growing at a healthy rate.  It started as a Linkedin group and can be found at http://tinyurl.com/BizSMART.

The group is free to join and is open to principles of companies doing business in the areas of sustainability, ethical responsibility, social responsibility alternate energy sources and environmentalism.  It brings together a group of like-minded professions to discuss various issues, learn about each other’s businesses, and to offer support for the issues they face.
Members take turns giving presentations about their company’s capabilities and values. The group exchanges advice and referrals in order to help participants grow their businesses.

The group was started and is led by Savant Creative Group, an ethical marketing agency that embraces sustainable business development methodologies.  The group is currently building its own web portal as well as planning various public events designed to help educate the public about sustainability issues.  SMART is currently looking for people interested in presenting on point inspiration talks as well.  If you are interested, Please contact Savant Creative Group or apply for membership through Linkedin.