employee group

"You can eat your cake and have it too when you're counting on your chickens to hatch."

There are great rewards for the company that encourages its employees to be innovative. In this fractured analogy, your cake is your profits, the chickens are your employees, and their eggs are the new ideas you need to have profits.

In the past a company could count its chickens but not make them hatch, and most companies didn't even care if their chickens hatched any new ideas as long as they were in the coop scratching away at their jobs. Today, companies must have the ideas and insights of their employees. And when you have involved everyone in the quest for new ideas, then go ahead and eat your cake, that is, use some of your profits on their ideas, because only in that way will you have more cake, more profits.

Here are some ways to involve your staff in the quest to be innovative. First, explain why it is so important. In a highly competitive marketplace, innovation is crucial to survival. Next, set a goal such as, "We will come up with three new services this year," or "We will improve our products in a certain measurable way by year end." Encourage employees to get close to customers or in some cases, to meet with other employees for cross-functional idea sharing. Ask for their ideas on what might improve their jobs or what projects they would like to work on to facilitate innovation. Invite an expert on creativity training to your firm. Many large corporations have realized significant benefits from such seminars. Plan with employees how to carry out their vision. Have contests and give rewards for great ideas.

In Peter Drucker's book, Managing for the Future, he discusses how the Japanese organize to innovate. Every major industrial group in Japan now has its own research institute whose main function is not technical research but research into knowledge, that is, to bring to the group awareness of any important new knowledge in technology, management and organization, marketing, finance, training, developed anyplace in the world. These think tank groups have emerged from the Japanese belief that leadership throughout the developed world no longer rests on financial control but on who knows the most.

Why couldn't your organization have a research institute? Why not stage a monthly meeting where people come together to share their discoveries, with each one responsible for an area such as technology, marketing and so on. Just by compiling the reports and taking minutes on the discussion that would ensue, new ideas would be generated from which innovations would emerge.

Another way to organize to innovate is through the Inquiry Center. This is an idea introduced by Gerald Zaltman and Vincent Barabba in their book, Hearing the Voice of the Market. The concept is to have a group of people within your firm whose job is to listen to or do research to discover what customers want and what they are willing to pay for. This group then makes known their findings to the various departments, and is also responsible to understand the voice of the company and to reconcile these two voices.

How would you implement an Inquiry Center? Very loosely, say Zaltman and Barabba. 1. Find the right people who are good inquirers and change agents. 2. Give them broad goals. 3. Let them go. 4. Figure out what they did. 5. Institutionalize it.

Make your chickens hatch so you can eat your cake and still have it!

©2001. DAY Communications. All rights reserved.

star ideas

Here are some idea starters to help you revive your business.

Send a survey to customers and employees. If possible, send the sales team out to get the score on your business performance. Find out what customers value most.

Ask yourself: "What is the news about our product?" People want to know the news.

Create news by devising a new application. Brainstorm the possibilities with us.

Discover the online implications for your industry; do online research to see what your competitors are up to.

Do reverse brainstorming. Make a list of negative attributes to serve as a basis for discussing improvements.

Think of your offering as the profits it offers the customer's business. Sell it as such.

Adopt a new service mark or slogan. Then make sure everyone knows it.

Introduce a contest. People love getting something for nothing. Have a drawing and then add the names submitted to beef up your database.


Remember how to REAP rewards:
Respect your clients. Customers today are better educated and more demanding. Stop seeing prospects as targets, and consider how you might best engage them. Your aim is to connect. One message probably isn’t enough. Respect differences.

Explore media opportunities or find an agency that is enthusiastic about doing so. The proliferation of media can be viewed by marketers either as an overwhelming maze or an exciting challenge. Choose the latter. Seek out new ways to advertise. Consider sponsoring a special event, advertising on video games or bus wraps, or participating in a trade show or convention of a group you are not familiar with. And what about SMS (short “text” messages) among staff, along with every other internet and telecommunications advance, to stay on top of your marketing mission?

Audit your marketing program– A marketing audit will enable you to: 1. Evaluate your current situation; 2. Identify marketing opportunities 3. List some marketing objectives, leading you to: 4. Outline strategies and action plans, and 5. Develop budget estimates. Those five items comprise a one-year marketing plan. See The Zer0-based Marketing Audit.

Provoke people, but in good ways. To stand out, don’t forget what people respond to: rhyme, alliteration, musical jingles, colors, and of course, your genuine concern. Pique their curiosity, evoke emotion, but DON’T manipulate. Remember, respect!

woman taking a quiz

Circle one:

T F 1. The focus group is a respectable research method for collecting input to guide product or marketing decisions.

T F 2. A good way to grab attention in advertising is through alphabetic acrobatics.

T F 3. In 2000 the definition of marketing changed.

T F 4. Couponing is a helpful gimmick for increasing sales.

T F 5. The four components of marketing are: Product, Place, Price and Promotion.

Answers:

1 - False. Since a typical focus group has eight to 10 members and normally four groups are polled on a given topic, the total sample is 32 to 40 people. It is too small to offer stable results, and it is not representative of any particular segment. Dominant voices can affect the group, and the moderator's ability can temper the responses. Focus groups can be helpful to explore a topic, get some suggestions or provoke opinions, or they can be used to pick up the language of consumer behavior.

- from The Marketing Revolution by Kevin Clancy and Robert Shulman

2 - True. Alphabetic Acrobatics, that is, "playing on words" --is! Other techniques of "stopping power" include:

- Open minded narrative (picture or thought) in which the resolution is not presented
- Ironic twists on ordinary behavior
- Incongruity of visual elements and/or words by unusual juxtaposition of elements
- Exaggeration
- Simplification
- Shocking visual or headline
- Participation visuals (tests, games)

- from The Young and Rubicam Traveling Creative Workshop

3 - False. It was in 2004 that the American Marketing Association issued a new definition of marketing... "Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders." Not all marketers like this definition, but –simply put– it underscores that “Marketing is everyone’s job.”

4 - False. There is no evidence that couponing increases sales in the long run. Any sort of discounting tends to educate customers to buy only when they can get a deal. A "sale" says to your prospect that your regular prices are too high. Like so many other areas of life (spending money, taking drugs, having sex) the long-term effects of your actions are often the opposite of the the short-term effects. Why is it so hard to comprehend that marketing effects take place over an extended period of time?

- from The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

5 - Traditionally True, but one marketing maven says its four components are: Advertising, Promotion, Publicity, and Contesting. He defines advertising as the purchase of exposure in mass media, promotion as an event requiring attendance or some form of participation by those invited, publicity as free media coverage, and contesting as a promotion that creates excitement for your entire marketing program. Everyone wants to get something for nothing, so contests are a fabulous lure.

- from Creating Demand by Richard Ott

shopper

"A bridge over troubled waters is better than burning your bridges after you've crossed them."

Companies tend to stop advertising in times of economic downturn or at a point when it just doesn't seem like the program is working. The troubled waters could be a recession or they could represent a time of year when people don't buy as much of what you sell. But at those times, what will happen if you drop your advertising? Will people forget you? Will someone steal your customers? Possibly.

Picture this: You have built a bridge, that is, a communication link to your customers. You have built up a certain amount of awareness. If you stop advertising, that will be lost. You will lose your investment. As one marketing guru has put it, "The bond of communication is too precious to break capriciously." Remember, it does take time for a program to show results. So be consistent in your efforts; regard them as an investment and be committed.

You need one bridge or program to reach, retain and cross-sell customers, and another to reach prospects. Often, people think of advertising only as a way to reach prospects, and that is unwise. In today's marketplace, retaining your customer base is a key to survival. To retain customers, do simple things like reinforcing purchase decisions with a "thank you" or with an elaborate brochure that celebrates the benefits of the purchase.

We usually court the customer with a brilliant website and gorgeous printed materials to sell the product, but once it's sold, we think all is well. However, that may be the very time when the customer begins to doubt his decision especially on large ticket items. At this point he needs a congratulations or other positive reinforcement. That will assure positive word-of-mouth advertising.

To get new customers, you need a creative advertising program which features a simple message touting customer benefits, not product attributes. Remember, a benefit is what a product or service attribute does for the customer. Make that clear to capture their attention and awareness. Then repeat the strategic yet simple message with as much frequency as your budget will allow.

©2014. DAY Communications/fastzone.com. All rights reserved.

nervous man

"Nothing ventured, nothing gained" is especially true in marketing. Successful programs require calculated risk taking. We are in business to help you develop communications programs that will target the right audience--grab attention--relate your message--and be remembered. Achieving that level of impact requires planning, creativity, and a willingness on the part of the client--you--to take some risks.

One agency executive has said: "An advertising agency that shows you work that does not contain some sense of the unexpected - at least a few surprises - is simply not doing its job the way it should. I am quite serious when I say that one of the main responsibilities any advertising agency has is to prepare, propose, and fight for ads that make clients nervous!!"

If you feel nervous after your agency has made a presentation, ask yourself: Is my reaction based on a valid intuition that these creatives simply won't achieve my goals, or am I timid about really making an impact?

Would customers and others consider the program under review refreshing-- inspiring-- meritorious-- clever-- thought provoking-- innovative? Would your competitors wish it was theirs? If so, your nervous feeling is a good sign. And if the program has no breakthrough qualities, why consider it at all?

Breakthrough programs are the way to go in marketing, so relax, and take a risk!