Creative Content Development and SEO Copywriting
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Shades of Gray

May 24, 2010. Posted by johnf

Art Appreciation at my college was taught by one of the coolest profs in the world. I don’t remember his name, but one day late in the semester, he walked into class and said, “I don’t feel like teaching today. Go outside and take a look at the sky. Tell me on Monday how many shades of gray you noticed.”

That’s what we did – before going out and getting drunker than Lindsay Lohan at Mardi Gras – and I was amazed at how many shades of gray actually exist. The exercise was to teach us how many variations can exist in one set of ideas – colors, words, music, etc. It’s a lesson that I’ve remembered well after all the others.

So how many variations potentially exist in your marketing plan? Have you ever taken the time to observe them? There’s a spectacular chance you haven’t, but don’t run out into traffic just yet.

If you take one facet of your plan, and try and observe it from multiple angles, you’re going to find slight variations that might pan out into new directions. Those paths might not go a country mile, but a slight deviation can perk up your audience – and maybe grab a few new eyes, if you’re lucky.

Remember that when you find a variation, that it’s crucial keep the main message consistent. When you add new windows to your house, you don’t tear down the entire frame, right? When Lindsay Lohan goes on a binge, she doesn’t crash every car she owns, right? (Sorry, Ms. Lohan was the subject of a rambling conversation I had with a client this morning.)

Flying Unfriendly Skies

May 17, 2010. Posted by johnf

Frizzera Ink took its show on the road and got a first class brush with the airlines. Here’s an industry that makes billions of dollars a year in business and has a market guaranteed to never go away.

So why does it suck so much to fly?

The security question should have been handled about 5 years ago, but our government continues to stumble on this process. I watched a TSA employee miss one of those fake bags, her response was, “Oh, shit.” Great, I feel real safe having witnessed that!

The customer service you get from government employees is nonexistent anyway, at best you get a surly “thanks”. Like they were doing you a favor.

So let’s move on to the actual flying experience. Tough times call for stupid measures, and now that we have to pay for our bags, flying has become even more expensive. You would think that the airlines could use some of that money to maybe, just maybe, expand their overhead bins.

More cost cutting measures has impacted the entire experience once you’re in the air: no food at all, just pretzels and a complimentary soda with half a scoop of ice. (ICE IS EXPENSIVE! IT COSTS MONEY TO FREEZE WATER!)

Hell, they even cheat you on the live action demonstration on “what to do in case of an emergency.” A video tape takes the place of a live human being, probably more cost cutting measures. Don’t you kind of want a sentient organism demonstrating how to save your life?

However, judging by the attitude of the stewardesses on my flights, I’d just as well watch the video tape, and be serviced by a trained monkey or dog. At least they would be happy to see you, maybe jump up on your lap.

Seriously, when did airlines decide that their service people didn’t have to do their job with a smile on their faces? I actually heard a stewardess talk back to a passenger. It was brutal.

But you can forget about fixing any of these problems – why should the airlines dedicate money or time when they have a captive audience?

Until we figure out how to transport ourselves like they do on Star Trek – or we find an alternate fuel source – looks like we’ll have to deal with it.

Of course, there’s always hitch hiking your way to Las Vegas . . .

Dealing With a Colossal Oil Spill at Work

May 10, 2010. Posted by johnf

If you have a heartbeat, you know about the oil leak in the Gulf. A truly terrible thing to happen, and it’s been made worse by the ineffectiveness of BP and our government.

How can you operate a machine the size of an oil drilling platform and not have a tried, and tested, method of dealing with a major catastrophe? (We’ll let the political stooges and corporate greed heads figure that one out – good luck.)

Your company may not own oil rigs, but do you have an emergency public relations plan? You can’t predict the future, but you can help yourself with a few strategies.

Bad things happen, when they do, what’s your plan? (Running around in circles and screaming like a five year old is not a plan.)

Here are some questions to get you started:

Is there a press release template that is 100% accurate and ready? (You can insert the critical information and get it out quickly, without having to circulate to everyone for their okay. Speed rules in this scenario.)

Are you going to publish press releases via your company blog, email, Facebook account, Twitter, etc?

If you are, who’s going to do it and continue to monitor any comments and feedback?

Who will speak to the press?

Does everyone in the company know what’s going on and what to say, or not say, if they happen to be contacted by the media?

Are your corporate officers comfortable with talking to the press?

How are you going to counter news stories?

What about your competition, how are they going to react?

There’s a great chance you’ll never have to explain a gushing oil spill that’s threatening the environment, but the impact of an event is relative to your industry. What may seem like a ripple to an outside observer could be a tidal wave in your world.

Three’s A Charm

May 5, 2010. Posted by johnf

Your marketing plan is: a roadmap, a treasure map, a road map you will always treasure, and any other analogy you make in your presentation to the suits.

Regardless of how clever the analogy, your plan has to contain three important things for you to be successful.

Those three things are: A beginning. A middle. An end.

These periods can be determined by the fiscal year, your latest product release, or built around the busy time for your industry. Choose whatever works best for you.

Each stage should have several milestones. In addition to their obvious advantages, milestones help outsiders viewing your plan to immediately gain a sense of time and place.

Be careful of the middle of your plan – there might be a temptation to fill this space. Remember that anything you put here is your responsibility –don’t let your reach exceed your grasp.

The end of your plan can be a major milestone; a sales goal achieved; or a gain in market share. That’s your decision. By having a clearly marked endpoint, you’re going to force yourself and team to achieve their goals and work within a time frame. Plus, the end of one project signals the beginning of another, and that’s an excellent motivator.

You’ll need to play around with this idea, but it does work. Remember to monitor metrics, track sales generated by the plan, and make notes for the next plan – there’s always another one.

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