Completing 2016, Creating 2017

What Would You Do if You Weren't Afraid

How did you like your past 364 days?

How do you intend to create your next 365 days in 2017?

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 2016 and create 2017. 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 2016

What was your biggest triumph in 2016?

What was the smartest decision you made in 2016?

What one word best sums up and describes your 2016 experience?

What was the greatest lesson you learned in 2016?

What was the most loving service you performed in 2016?

What is your biggest piece of unfinished business in 2016?

What are you most happy about completing in 2016?

Who were the three people that had the greatest impact on your life in 2016?

What was the biggest risk you took in 2016?

What was the biggest surprise in 2016?

What important relationship improved the most in 2016?

What compliment would you liked to have received in 2016?

What compliment would you liked to have given in 2016?

What else do you need to do or say to be complete with 2016?

Creating 2017

What would you like to be your biggest triumph in 2017?

What advice would you like to give yourself in 2017?

What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in 2017?

What would you be most happy about completing in 2017?

What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2017?

What would you most like to change about yourself in 2017?

What are you looking forward to learning in 2017?

What do you think your biggest risk will be in 2017?

What about your work, are you most committed to changing and improving in 2017?

What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2017?

What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2017?

Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving in 2017?

What one word would you like to have as your theme in 2017?

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.

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”.

Coupon Deal Sites in Singapore

Did you hear that Groupon might be in trouble? Did you also hear that a lot of coupon sites are still coming up?

Isn’t that strange? For example, in Singapore, there are more and more coupon sites and deal sites coming up. Of course, many of them come and go. Some last a while and disappear, while others tend to stay on for a bit. Some have even been expanding.

Why do some coupon sites fail while others succeed? Why do some deal sites have so much activity while others are like ghost towns?

Niche.

Yes, proper appreciation and understanding of your marketing niche is critical. If you are able to understand your customer’s needs and wants, if you are able to identify them and them position yourself correctly, you are in. Otherwise, you are out.

Take a look at these sites from Singapore and see if you can spot those who will be still around in a year’s time!

Go Get Business, Go GREEN – Part 1

Let’s face it, we are living in a world that is more than just competitive, competition today is so intense that it is no longer enough just to be “good enough”.

Most of us must have heard that in order to be noticed, we must have a USP, a strong Unique Selling Proposition. Much easier said than done. But there is an alternative. Rather than try to aim for a single big-bang, hot potato type of advantage, you can build your value by incorporating smaller values.

We would like to share with you a simple, mini-series on how to “Go Get Business”. In this first part, we want to incorporate a very simple, low cost, and yet high impact approach – Go Green.

Many people are becoming more and more conscious of the importance of preserving the delicate balance of our environment. Going green is becoming one of the checklist items for many people. Most people understand that for small business owners, it is going to be hard to be “green certified”. But people appreciate every effort that is put into this.

Take for example the business card. Today, with email, websites and even Facebook, many people don’t really exchange business cards any more. But no matter what, a business card remains a staple for businesses. It is just a fact of life, for now. Imagine, if your staff carry eco-friendly business cards, how will that affect the way your clients and business partners see you?

Immediately, there will be a positive attitude towards you. They see you making an effort to make the world better. Yes, it is a small gesture. But it is through such small actions that great things can be achieved. People understand that, and your contribution in this way means much to concerned people. Even those who are not personally concerned by green issues will give you the thumbs up.

This is one nice way to put a little distance between yourself and all your competitors. After all, if you are able to take time to bother about something as trivial as using a green business card, your clients will feel that you will put even more care in handling their needs.

While it is true that we can never eliminate all business cards today, we can do a small part in at least making sure we don’t add to the ecological burden.

In our next installment, we will be talking about how you should go mobile. Meanwhile, go green!

Burger King Retiring it’s King Mascot

The Burger King’s King Mascot is supposed to lure young men into the stores to eat more burgers.

I am not a man. Still, I wonder if the men really resonate with the King? Seriously, guys, will you respect a weird bloke that puts on a creepy plastic mask who enjoy lurking outside you window or next to your bed? For sure, a woman will not find him at all desirable.

Using a mascot to represent your brand is great. Just look at the contribution of Mickey Mouse from Disneyland, Tony The Tiger from Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes Cereal, Great Root Bear from A & W Root Beer & Restaurants Burger and of course, Ronald McDonald from McDonald’s. But the King mascot of Burger King? While I have no evidence, I seriously doubt His Majesty has enriched the vault or the image of Burger King since 1955.

The King was first spotted on the sign at Burger King’s first store in Miami in 1955. During the last 55 years, the King has undergone various makeover including going animated in ads and running with a crew of other food-themed royalty like “Sir Shakes a Lot.” So far, he was most distinguished in the NFL broadcasts. His Majesty was digitally included in the real NFL footage and of course, he must be seen scoring touchdowns. The King even performed the “Lambeau Leap”. Real cool for a king eh?

Not so cool when Burger King announced the retirement of the King in August 2011.  Reportedly, Burger King has been badly lagging behind its main competitor, McDonalds’, both in popularity and sales, as well as Subway and KFC for many years. Targeting just the men doesn’t work anymore because lots of them are out of jobs or tight with money during this economic tsunami period. So mums and kids are the new target audience. Immediately, this calls for a different ball game with the King being booted out unceremoniously. It is a wise move as I’m pretty certain mums and kids don’t like scary looking man bouncing up and down around them. Eeeek!

Anyway, let see how long the King will get to enjoy his retirement. This is not the first time the King has gone for a holiday. In 1989, Burger King got him to take a vacation so that the “Kids Club Gang” can have the playing field. The King returned in triumph in 2004 when the company hired Crispin Porter + Bogusky, known for its edgy work, in 2003. CP+B dolled up the King and gave Burger King an edgy campaign, just look at the “Wake Up With the King” TVC. Sadly, it just didn’t help capture market share from it’s competitors. Still, Burger King keeps its faith in it’s King, until now.

Over the years, we have not seen Ronald McDonald touting burgers nor have we seen Energizer Bunny making lots public appearance. Perhaps , these companies are just letting their products do the talking. And Burger King decides to take a leaf from there. They intend to let the freshness of their products do justice. That’s good. I always prefer Burger King’s burgers to McDonald’s, though I wouldn’t say the same of the french fries. Anyway, I doubt Burger King, and its customers, will miss the King very much. I won’t at all. However, I’m eagerly looking forward to see what the new agency, McGarry Bowen, come up for Burger King in 2011 and beyond.

Snail Mail Promotion is Not Dead Yet

Do you read all your emails? Not all, I expect.

A typical answer from those who receive tens or hundreds of emails from all kinds of people everyday will be: “I just read those emails from friends, colleagues and networks I’m with and delete the rest.”

Plus, spam filters don’t work all the time. I’m sure you get your fair share of Viagra, penis enlargement, breast enlargement, replica watch offers in your InBox every day. I’m certain you just delete them without reading. And sometimes, even when the title is rather inn0cuous like “A Proposal” or “Staff Recruitment Offers”, you would choose to delete the email because you don’t recognize the name on the email address, yes?

It is not surprising that response rates for email based marketing campaigns are hurting, especially when marketers only have one line of text in the subject field to make an impact. Having said that, email marketing is far from dead. Imaging if you have a 25,000 database and this is a click rate of 10%, you still have 2,500 pairs of eyeballs attracted by your offers.

What I like to say here : Don’t ditch email marketing, however, supplement your campaign with good old direct mail. In recent years,  many marketers choose to re-connect with those consumers who don’t read e-advertisements  in their InBox, and this has resulted in the resurgences of physical (or snail) mail. A flyer left on the table gets seen several time a day, usually unintentionally, and effortlessly; not the email. Naturally, marketers who have deep pockets and are willing to splurge on creative copy and design and huge print-run stands to gain lots.

In short, snail mail promotion need not slow down just because we have modern communications methods online.

Marketers, We Sell Hope and Lots of Hopes

In the factory we make cosmetics; in the drugstore we sell hope.
~ Charles Revson

Yet many marketers failed to understand that it is hope that we are selling, not the features of the products.

I couldn’t said it better than Seth Godin‘s

The magical thing about selling hope is that it makes everything else work better, every day get better, every project work better, every relationship feel better. If you can actually deliver on the hope you sell, there will be a line out the door.

Hope cures cynicism. Hope increases productivity. Hope needs no justification.

Having that said, selling hope can be tricky, like walking on thin ice.

While Charles Revson has succeeded, President Obama has not lived up to his promise.

Charles Revson’s Charlie fragrance was the first perfume to feature a woman wearing pants in it’s advertising campaign. What is Revson’s selling actually here? That Charlie can make a woman looks better and feels even greater? And, even dressing up like a man will not discount her femininity ans sensuality at all? Some women buy cosmetics and fragrance to look better, however, I would dare say ALL women are hoping that these creams, lotions, paints and pleasantly smelling water will actually make them look better. Hope needs no justification. Hope certainly increases productivity as  Charlie raised Revlon’s net sales figures to $506 million for 1973 and almost $606 million in 1974.

In a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004, presidential candidate Obama rallied the party with the challenge: “Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?” With economy still faltering, there is an increasingly feeling that the change that USA has experienced since 2008 is a downhill trend. Does that mean the President has to talk less about change and more about hope to secure a 2nd term?

Marketers, when you write your advertisement copy, don’t bother to list the features of your TV set using big 14-point font size. Save for the fanatics, the average Mr Smith and Ms Jones are not going to catch your technical jargons easily.  You are much better off painting  a vivid future picture of the outcome, benefit or results of buying and enjoying your product. Tell them their ROI, “You can really feel that you are in a movie theatre even when you didn’t install any surround sound system.” Share this with everyone in your team especially those sales consultants on the ground. Too often, I heard many well-rehearsed speech that might as well be Latin to me. Give me benefits, outcome and results anytime. If not, at least sell me the hope of being nearer to them.