Completing 2017, Creating 2018

How did you like your past 364 days?

How do you intend to create your next 365 days in 2018?

In a few more days will be a brand new year waiting for you and I. Here’s some questions from my friend, John Stamoulos to complete 2017 and create 2018. You may find some of the questions really tough to answer, however, it will help you to have clarity in your life.

Versa Creations and I wish you a happy new year.

Completing and Remembering 2017

What was your biggest triumph in 2017?

What was the smartest decision you made in 2017?

What one word best sums up and describes your 2017 experience?

What was the greatest lesson you learned in 2017?

What was the most loving service you performed in 2017?

What is your biggest piece of unfinished business in 2017?

What are you most happy about completing in 2017?

Who were the three people that had the greatest impact on your life in 2017?

What was the biggest risk you took in 2017?

What was the biggest surprise in 2017?

What important relationship improved the most in 2017?

What compliment would you liked to have received in 2017?

What compliment would you liked to have given in 2017?

What else do you need to do or say to be complete with 2017?

Creating 2018

What would you like to be your biggest triumph in 2018?

What advice would you like to give yourself in 2018?

What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in 2018?

What would you be most happy about completing in 2018?

What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2018?

What would you most like to change about yourself in 2018?

What are you looking forward to learning in 2018?

What do you think your biggest risk will be in 2018?

What about your work, are you most committed to changing and improving in 2018?

What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2018?

What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2018?

Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving in 2018?

What one word would you like to have as your theme in 2018?

Have you given up on email marketing?

no email

no email
By now, most of us have experienced email fatigue. That is the point at which we wish we never had an email address to begin with.

Yet, ask anyone today if they were willing to give up their email address, for real; you would get an incredulous look. How can you survive in the modern world without an email?

It is precisely the fact that emails have become so much a part of our lives, that email marketing is and will always be, an important marketing channel. The real problem comes from the mis-use of email marketing, and that has really destroyed the market for many.

If someone came up to you and offered you something that you wanted, you would be interested to learn more. However, if you are repeatedly confronted with junk that you do not want, and you cannot seem to stop it, that is when you have a problem. What can you do as a marketer?

One good way is to ensure that you do proper segmenting and have a coherent strategy to find your target market. If you sent an unmarried woman information about diapers and baby clothes, it’s junk. Send the same information to an expectant mother or to a lady with young kids, and you are providing a valid offer. Same information, totally different effect. Stuffing your flyers into the coat pocket of every passer-by might seem really clever, but you will not see much results, if you don’t get beaten to a pulp first.

Once you have got your target segment, how then are you going to get a list? This is tough. There are basically two ways to get a list.

The first is to simply buy one. It is tempting to just buy the largest list you can find at the cheapest price. That might not be the best strategy (see paragraphs above). Or, you could find a reputable list provider and purchase a truly targeted list.

You can take a look at List Giant. The fact that they run their list through the NCOA (National Change of Address) information provided by the USPS, is an indication of the quality of the information that they keep. However, as with all things, test first. A good way to test is to purchase a small list, and monitor the results. If you are running your own small business, one good thing about List Giant is that its services are available 24/7 and you can get your lists any time you are ready to send out your marketing pitch.

The second way to get a list is to do it yourself. In the course of running your business, you will have many opportunities to collect information from clients and potential clients. Most businesses do not bother to keep track of this information. They are missing out on a goldmine of opportunities.

The best approach would be to combine both of these strategies. Use reputable lists to kick start your email marketing or list marketing, and at the same time, begin collecting your own lists from customers, potential customers and other interested parties.

Can you think out of the box?


Here is an interesting topic. No matter where you are, in school or at work, you will hear talk about “thinking out of the box”?

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it – how did we get in the box in the first place?

Unfortunately, the reality of you being in the box, does not change the fact that your bosses probably prefer you to think “out” of the box.

One common misconception is that to think out of the box is to break all the rules. On the surface, this makes sense. You read about the rule-changing innovations like Fedex’s hub-and-spoke concept, and about the Macintosh innovations, and many other examples of how, by ignoring conventions, companies and individuals have managed to achieve amazing results.

Yet, all these innovations, once created, form their own rules, essentially creating a “new box”. So, the real question is not about thinking out of the box, rather, it is about designing a new box. When you are able to transcend the boundaries of your current situation, you will be able to develop an innovative solution.

Often, designers are faced with this challenge. They need to conform to many rules. These rules are important. They are real. Things like Corporate Style Guides, Logo Usage Guides and in the areas of product design, you have safety guidelines, usability guidelines and many more. The boxes seem many and varied. It is not easy to rise above all these.
There are no rules for thinking out of the box. Sometimes, vast experience and knowledge provides the foundation from which the innovative ideas spring. Sometimes, totally naiveté spurs the brave (and foolish) to persist on their path to glory.

Can you think out of the box? Most certainly, anyone can. Yet, being able to tie those wayward ideas back to reality in a way that will render them useful, relevant, practical and innovative; that is really a skill that will most likely come with experience.

So, if you want to think out of the box, stop thinking about it and just, well, think.

Inspired by this article at Thinking out of the box

How to handle a video or television interview

For most small companies, the opportunity to appear on TV is not high. However, with the Internet becoming a part of everyone’s lives, there is definitely a good chance that you will have the opportunity to be interviewed and be on video.

Here are some tips:

1. Plan your time. Make sure that you are not scheduled for anything stressful before or after your interview. Rushing to the interview really does not help, and being anxious for it to end is probably worse. You need to be relaxed and at ease. So, be early, and make sure you have plenty of time “after”.

2. Be groomed. Check with your interviewer if there is any specific dress code. Also, this is a bad time to have a “bad hair day”. Make up, hair, clothes; you need to be immaculate.

3. Equipment check. Make sure that the people doing the interview check the equipment. Camera, lights, microphone, even the chair. You really don’t want it squeaking each time you move. And of course, your cell phone need to be OFF or completely SILENT. Really. Vibrate mode can be quite loud if you are in a quiet studio.

4. Always on. Make sure that you are always on your best behaviour. Never assume that the camera is off. Even if they tell you “you’re off the air”, the camera might stil be rolling. Don’t be the next YouTube sensation, flopping onto your knees after an exhausting “filming session”.

When Advertising is only a Marginal Factor in their Marketing Mix …

I avoid clients for whom advertising is only a marginal factor in their marketing mix. They have an awkward tendency to raid their advertising appropriations whenever they need cash for other purposes.  ~ David Ogilvy

Perhaps I was unfortunate to meet such clueless clients.

Advertising is seen as a marginal factor in their marketing mix. These people just do the bare minimum (from understanding their own product and market place to briefing and allocating marketing communication budget to folks like us) and then conveniently lay the blame on us when they do not receive massive returns. Sure, there are incidents where clients reap abundance for peanuts but that’s a rarity rather than a norm. If it were so easy, top companies wouldn’t pay big money for marketing research, creative, media planning, PR, etc! Unrealistic demands plus unrealistic expectations spell disaster to a fruitful working relationship. I can understand that all clients want us to create miracles for them. However, how to make solid, hardy bricks with a few straws? I’d be all ears if someone will teach me

These clients don’t really know which direction their company is headed and totally clueless of their SWOT against market competition. Sure, they produce lots of PowerPoint charts to tell their bosses what’s happening in the market place. Yet, they stop short of deciding the marketing direction they should sail to rise above the tide. They say to their bosses, “We’ll discuss with the agency”.

I suppose I ought to be appreciative and say “thank you” for their business. And, yes, I do appreciate the cheque when it comes in. However, I dd not like being the convenient scape goat. They are a conservative bunch who prefer to stick to whatever that were done previously. On top of that they have an equally conservative boss who is simply afraid to take baby steps into the new frontier. In the big corporate world, sticking your neck out could be equal to having your head on the chopping board when things go south. When everyone is moving towards online and mobile advertising, they adamantly stick to the traditional mode. They say no to online advertising, no to mobile advertising, no to social media marketing and rather lukewarm in making their website mobile compliant. Not that they have unshaken faith in traditional media, they are more afraid of doing the new things (which could be the wrong thing) and be blamed if results are lackluster. I’m certainly not against traditional marketing. In fact, I am still actively campaigning for it. LOL, we still encourage certain clients to adopt fax advertising as it does bring in results from some niches.

So, OK, we’ll stick to traditional media since our advice are not deemed appropriate. Like it or not, the client is the boss if we choose to keep the account.  While we do our best to work smart, and hard, on marketing traditional media, they decided that the economy hasn’t really recover from the heydays hence spending wisely is a must. Now, I agree with that. Investing wisely with whatever marcom budget a client has – lean or fat. You don’t necessarily have to borrow  money to market and promote your wares. Fighting guerrilla warfare when others are doing a full fledged war is certainly acceptable. Well, Mao won China. The Viets did not let the Americans have their way. However I cannot agree on cutting out copywriter to use their trashy ad copy. I’m not apologetic at all in calling their copy “trash” because that’s what it is.  And no, I cannot agree on repeating the same old TV commercial that’s has been aired for the last few years. Come on, that celebrity we used has aged just like all mortals. How can they say with conviction that their cream and potion are effective when I can see fish lines at the corner of the celebrity’s eyes now?

All I’m asking is for the client to do their homework and have the guts to take a stand. And we’ll do our best to get them the results they desire and make them look really cool before their bosses. When advertising is seen as a marginal factor in their marketing mix, when the agency is conveniently made a scapegoat, rest assured that the client will not smell as a rose either.

Give your Facebook password for a job?

I just read this article and have been hearing a lot about this topic from various sources. In essence, this is a case of trust. If the company does not believe what you say and want your passwords to verify, then it begs the question: why are they hiring you?

If the interviewer asked you to undress to “verify” that you are male/female, would you do it?

If the interviewer asked you for your bank PIN codes so they can “verify” you are ask rich/poor as you claim, would you do it?

Everyone knows that an interview process and background checks do not guarantee that you will end up hiring a top notch employee. There are just too many factors. Even a top-gun coming into an environment where he cannot get along with other colleagues, will make him a mediocre performer at best and a destructive force at worse.

If you entered an online contest and it asked you for your Facebook password to win $1 million – will you do it?

Asking for passwords to delve deeper into a person’s private live is not really ethical. It is called prying. So, why is it wrong in your neighbourhood but becomes right when a prospective employer does it?

There is a word for doing something in return for the hopes of getting paid… let’s not say the word out loud…

New Year, New Resolutions – Excellent Customer Service

Welcome to 2012. Happy New Year. It is that time of the year where many people reflect on what has taken place in the year before and what they want to achieve in the following year.

Yes, it is the time for a New Year Resolution. For businesses, many people think about this in terms of key objectives. That is good. But there is one “management objective” that gets to me at this time of the year. Yes, you see it in the title “excellent customer service”.

You hear the head honchos, the chiefs, the GMs; the boss – they say this, “This year, our key strategic focus will be on a) profits, b) growth and c) excellent customer service.”

You know, if you have excellent customer service as your focus this coming year, what were you doing last year? Lousy service?

Let us not confuse what would amount to the essentials with the differentiating factors that set your business apart. A business is always about profits. Growth, maybe also true in many instances, but excellent customer service is not a strategic thrust. Really. It is actually, surprisingly, a fundamental expectation from your customers, of your business.

As a small business, most of us have no time for fluff. We need to focus on the essentials and then, try to identify the one or two defining qualities that set us apart from our competitors. What do you do for your new year’s resolution?