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Lyrically Speaking

March 30, 2010. Posted by johnf

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Writers learn a lot from reading, writing and observing the world as it happens. I’ve always admired song writers because they can put so much into such a short time frame. Plus there’s the whole rhyming angle.

I write down lyrics all the time and refer to them when I’m stuck or need some creative inspiration.

My all time favorite lyric, just for the way it’s sung and the rhythm of the line is from REM’s “King of Birds.”

Here goes: “A thumbnail’s sketch/a jeweler’s stone/a mean idea to call my own”

And I don’t really care what it means, or what Michael Stipe was thinking when he wrote it.

It just is - and that’s why it’s perfect.

Cornering an Egg-Shaped Market

March 29, 2010. Posted by johnf

So Easter is almost here and once again I’m faced with the task of coloring eggs – and as always I’ll plunk down my money for the Paas kit. Who else do you go to for this product?

I dimly remember a contraption that would hold the egg in these clamps, and you’d spin the egg and a marker suspended above it would give you a plaid egg. Great. A plaid egg.

There was also something called Shake An Egg that gave you a plastic bag and some glittery type stuff. The resulting egg looked like a mutated growth that came back attached on the wings of the Space Shuttle.

Paas it is, and always will be. Get this, they’ve been around 125 years! Selling dye that you mix with vinegar – and not much has changed: little wire egg holders, some decals, a wax crayon, and the carton turns into an egg holder.

Not many companies in America have that kind of staying power, especially those dedicated to a niche product. Sure, their website shows that they have branched out to other products, but only a handful. As far as I can tell, there’s no Paas Facebook page, or Twitter feed or LinkedIn account.

Seems they found success the old fashioned way: quality product in a niche market and not making many changes to the formula. And notice that they cross market with the one key partner that would benefit them: The American Egg Board.

No Health Care Here – Just Marketing

March 23, 2010. Posted by johnf

This blog entry, unlike 98% of all others posted this week, is NOT about health care. Politics is best left to those without souls, morals or brains.

End of soapbox rant.

Let’s talk about what you want from your marketing and communication materials. Everyone will say, “I want them to work!” Simple enough. But how?

Should they educate the consumer enough to make them want contact you? Maybe they should exist as a resource you’re providing in the name of good will.

Do these marketing pieces talk to a wide audience, or are you part of the long tail? If you are, then those pieces need to function like a sniper rifle, not as a shot gun.

What’s the best way to disseminate your marketing materials? There are the traditional mediums of print, television and radio – still very effective – the majority of Americans get their information this way.

But what about the internet? Now that it’s as common as bus stops, the internet presents a new way to reach consumers, but if you’re a newcomer to the medium, it can seem as daunting as astrophysics.

A step beyond the internet is social marketing – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a thousand and one others are excellent ways to reach your audience. But how?

And what about a blog? Does your company need one? If  you have one, who is going to write it every day, week or month?

Maybe this post raised more questions than answers – that’s good. Asking questions is how you gain knowledge and information. Keep asking until you get the answers, and then get started, your competition might already be!

(By the way, Frizzera Ink loves helping out with these questions!)

First Day of Spring – Been Sprung!

March 20, 2010. Posted by johnf

The windows are open and the snow has vanished. Spring has got to be the all time season – with fall nipping at its heels.

Spring in our part of the country means two things: playing lacrosse and watching lacrosse. So this first day of spring was the oldest boys’ first day of practice.

Once that fun was over it was time to head inside and start cranking on our ongoing projects – but with the windows open and an awesome breeze blowing through the office – it’s not so bad.

Tonight, looks like the grill will be blazing away – hope you all are enjoying your first day of spring!

Adios!

St. Patrick’s Day Green All Over

March 16, 2010. Posted by johnf

J Joyce

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to write a quick blog about one of my favorite writers: James Joyce.

His short stories inspired me to write and his master works: Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake blew me away when I was in college – I even took a class that was dedicated to this guy. Every time I go to the beach, I still remember my favorite line from Ulysses, “Oh great green mother.”

It’s been said that Joyce wasn’t a writer, he was a wordsmith. I think artist would be a better description. Every sentence of his was built word by word, but they still retain a rhythm that resonates with you long after the sentence is over.

So raise your glass – Guinness, Harp, Jameson’s, whatever – to James Joyce. One of Ireland’s greatest exports.

Julius Caesar Succumbs to March Madness

March 15, 2010. Posted by johnf

March 15 is also known as the Ides of Marches, a key line in Shakespeare’s epic play Julius Caesar. An old soothsayer had warned Julius about this day – a warning he ignored.

The result? He was turned into a human pincushion by Brutus and his crew. March Madness indeed!

Julius was too busy to listen to crucial information. That’s still a common occurrence today – how many people still smoke cigarettes despite all of the warnings?

Consider this: if people willingly engage in a dangerous act, how do they ever accept a marketing message delivered directly to them? Think of your marketing message as advice that you’re giving to your audience – they’re hearing messages every day, and once in awhile, they’ll filter out one or two and act on them.

So how can you make sure you’re speaking the loudest when delivering your marketing message? Here are some handy tips that even could use.

Be Brief: No one has the time to digest a lengthy description of your product or service. Hit the high points and be gone.

Be Smart: Sell the benefits and forget about all the flowery, fancy descriptions. Leave those words to Shakespeare.

Be Honest: Consumers know that if it’s too good to be true, it usually is. Your product won’t solve world hunger – or win over the judges on American Idol – so stick to the truth.

Be Creative: Tread carefully in this area – you want to stand out, but you don’t want to STAND OUT. An overly creative marketing message is like a bad joke – if you have to explain it, then you’re doing it wrong.

Be Persistent: Studies show you have to inundate your audience with your marketing message. So don’t give up after the first two or three ventures. Stick with it and stay faithful to your message. (Remember to budget your marketing dollars accordingly.)

Skulls Beneath the Snow – Seriously

March 8, 2010. Posted by johnf

Spring’s arrival has decimated the mounds of snow around my business and I’m amazed at what’s turned up. Sleds, mittens, old toys, one or two wayward snow shovels and a few bleached skulls. Quite a neighborhood.

As I noticed this, I invariably made the leap to marketing– I know, I know I’m a weird guy. And it got me thinking: when all of the snappy snazzy window dressings are stripped away from your marketing plan, what remains?

Nuggets of wisdom and executable strategies, or old soggy newspapers, lumps of dirt and the occasional bleached skull?

The problem people face when they write a marketing plan is aiming entirley too high. “Never mind about the delivery of all these promises, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” That time always comes, and when it does, it can get grim around the office.

The solution to a successful marketing plan lies in preparation. Create a plan that’s executable and that doesn’t stretch your resources. Compile a budget so you know what you can afford in terms of hiring contractors, buying media, etc. Get input from other departments about their needs. (Hint: make no firm promises, they can haunt you later.)

Remember that strategy is the highway, tactics are the souped up jalopies that get you from one goal to another. Finally, don’t worry about length – it’s not a fourth grade essay – worry about what’s inside.

When you create a marketing plan using these steps, there is substance underneath all of the flash and window dressing. You’ll need it, because when the sun warms up, and the snow melts away, you want to see blooming flowers, not bleached bones.

Battery Life

March 2, 2010. Posted by johnf

The tube was on as I was getting dressed this morning and I noticed one commerical for a national chain of hotels. Why? Because they used the battery icon we all know so dearly from our cell phones. The icon floated above the head of a weary businessman, inching towards the dreaded red zone as he went about his busy day – and recharged when he entered his hotel room.

Genius!

Co-opting a branded idea like the battery icon immediately makes an impact with everyone who owns a cell phone – add to that the business traveling angle and you’re definitely attracting the eyes of your audience.

Oh Cheeseburger! Where Are You?

March 1, 2010. Posted by johnf

A local fast food chain that opened 20 years ago decided to give themselves a face lift. New interior, new exterior complete with faux rocks. They even resurfaced the parking lot, complete with fresh yellow lines. They kept the menu just about the same – great idea since their cheeseburgers qualify as food of the gods.

What was a local eyesore and grease pit had new life breathed into its meaty lungs. Except for one critical thing: they haven’t changed the sign that sits on one of the busiest roads in my city. That’s like serving up a cheeseburger without the cheese and the burger. Just some plain old bun, sitting there as lonely as a rib roast at a vegan grocery store.

How does this happen? A business owner builds a brand over many years and goes through the long decision making process of revamping it ­ – maybe changing colors, logos and slogan. Everything has changed at this local burger joint, but their business identity won’t change as long as the sign remains the same.

I drive by that sign every day, and I can’t help but shake my head. I want to go into the owner and say to him, “Change The Sign! I’ll help you pay for it! It’s crazy that you’re doing this!”

Brands can be tricky – they’re like a child. From birth to the teenage years and beyond, you want to make sure that its reputation and image are top notch. Sure there will be bumps and scrapes along the way, but the identity that brand represent never wavers.

When you think about your brand, rememberit’s an all encompassing subject – don’t let one aspect of it be left out in the cold – you’re not going to sell a lot of cheeseburgers if you do.

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