CherylLogoFINAL

Critical Skill Sets

A Career Perspective

Proven Results

google+ twitter linkedin blog

Welcome to my random musings!

 

The information and opinions contained on this blog pertain to my experience and background in communications and marketing. While I hope that the articles posted will be of interest to those in my profession and to anyone who happens to stumble across them, I respectfully request that any and all information taken from my work be referenced back to me and that you provide your thoughts and opinions in the Comments area.

 

My intent is to share and create a healthy dialog — hey, you don't have to agree with me, just be able to counter anything you read with your own experience and be open to my response —  it will always be written respecfully.

 

Thanks for taking time to check out my posts —

I know your time is valuable!

By Cheryl E. Walters, Jun 1 2016 04:00PM

While the U.S. has made a steady climb out of the 2008 recession, a slowing Chinese economy, collapsing commodity prices, and massive layoffs recently within the oil and gas industry due to low oil prices are making many companies skittish — especially when it comes to marketing and advertising budgets. During tough economic times it makes sense to reign in spending, right?


When it comes down to how and when to spend your marketing budget, here are a couple of thoughts to consider: When times get tough, competition is getting fierce and if you’re planning on cutting your marketing budget, how will your customers find you? And if your customers are out there, shouldn’t you be? Here are a few pointers for getting the most out of your marketing dollar:


Hold your marketing budget steady


It's imperative to stay on track with your marketing efforts when business is down! A series of six studies conducted by the research firm of Meldrum & Fewsmith showed conclusively that advertising aggressively during recessions not only increases sales but also increases profits. In fact, even a modest investment can reap big rewards — once the economy brightens and competitors who pulled out come rushing back, customers will already be familiar with you.


Invest in your current customers


When customers make purchasing decisions in a downturn, they’re more likely to go with a company they trust. If they’re more likely to go with you, then you want to make it easier and more obvious to them why they should. Market to them — and ask them what they need from you. In short, when you care about your core customers, they’ll care about you and stay loyal, during good times and times that aren't.


Kick it up a notch online


According to We Are Social's global report, Digital in 2016, a comprehensive study of digital, social and mobile usage around the world, 71% of Web users in the U.S. went online within the past 30 days to research products or services before they buy and 66% purchased a product or service. Wth so much "noise" online, you need to get in front of your customers with more focused and effective search and online advertising campaigns. Online marketing is “trackable” marketing that can provide you with real-time consumer data and sales leads.


The results? You’ll be reaching your customers when they need to hear from you most


It's time to get savvy about your marketing dollars and spend them to reap the rewards of your efforts. The key is to look at your marketing budget as an investment — not an expense. Use the customer knowledge that you have and implement SMART marketing during these times of economic uncertainty:


S – Strategize

M – Maintain market spend

A – Assess and allocate the budget

R – Research your customer thoroughly

T – Target and reach out to them


If your customers don't see you on a regular basis, you can bet your competitors have noticed and are knocking on their door. By coordinating your marketing efforts, establishing a communications plan and aligning your budget to a set of prioritized deliverables, you'll maintain your position in the marketplace and receive the most "bang" from your marketing budget.

By Cheryl E. Walters, May 7 2016 04:06PM

Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.” – Warren Bennis


A company's employer (internal-facing) brand needs to be tied with external branding efforts, yet also focused on the organization and individual. The more organizations become decentralized and experience increased market reach, the demand for a comprehensive internal communications program has grown in tandem.


The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel.” –Sybil F. Stershic


As the need for inter-office communication rises, progressive companies channel energies to ensure their core values and brand are “evangelized” throughout the organization. How are they doing this? By tying all of their internal communications into their core values and brand.


Internal branding and communications helps employees and stakeholders (such as sponsors/suppliers, franchise teams, external call centers, etc.) to understand the organization's mission, vision, values, and culture. It's important for any company with multiple departments or multiple locations to have an internal branded communications strategy in place. There are many valid reasons for an internal branding communications strategy, and I've listed three here:


1. Cost effectiveness

2. Consistent messaging

3. Brand Awareness | Employee engagement


1. Cost Effectiveness


Inter-office communications is an integral part of any organization. Employees need to communicate with each other both within their own department and with other departments and locations. It is much more cost effective to have consistent templates, imagery and communication tools for company-wide use than it is for each person or department to develop their own look, graphics, design and messaging. It saves time and resources to have branded tools readily available, not to mention the consistency they provide.


2. Consistent Messaging


In order for a brand to resonate both internally and externally, the entire organization must understand the mission, vision, values and culture. It is inherent to the organization’s way of doing business – from customer service, direct marketing, to the treatment of your employees and partners. Development and communication of an employer brand throughout the organization is key. A company’s employer brand needs to be tied with external branding, yet focused on the organization and individual. The employer brand has value and delivers commitment to the employees and stakeholders. Initiatives, policies and practices must also align with these values.


3. Brand Awareness | Employee Engagement


Consistent messaging helps develop employee engagement, which is the process of forming an emotional and rational attachment between an individual their employer brand. The attachment is built through visual, written and experiential messaging. Communication vehicles, (new-hire orientation packets, corporate newsletter, emails from executive leadership and on community causes, training videos, intranet, blogs, etc.) when branded together, generate greater employee awareness and brand engagement.


“Create caring and robust connections between every employee and their work, customers, leaders, managers, and the organization to achieve results that matter to everyone in this sentence.” –David Zinger


It all boils down to this: Employees are the heart of any business. When they feel a connection to the brand, are motivated and more willing to evangelize for it, there is not a more powerful advertising campaign that can compete.


By Cheryl E. Walters, Apr 28 2016 04:00PM

A Brand is More Than Than The Sum of Your Marketing + Advertising Efforts


Marketing and Advertising are inherent to the success of a company’s positioning within the marketplace. Marketing is the study of consumer behavior, positioning, distribution channels and sales management. Advertising introduces products to the consumer. Both, however, are only tools to connect customers and businesses — they are not “experiences." Branding is more than a logo, product, service or company — it’s a relationship-building process. A brand is what happens when all of these elements are combined to form a complete picture. When this happens successfully, every aspect – logo, product and perception of a company - will resonate with the brand’s message and everything it stands for.


To a Customer, Your Brand Is a Promise


Your brand impression rests in the minds and hearts of your key audience: customers, clients, partners and prospects. It is the sum of their experiences and perceptions of working with your company or using your products. You've heard the phrase, "Perception is reality for the person holding it," right? So how does your brand stack up?


Many of these impressions you can influence, and a strong brand is invaluable in the battle to attract and retain customers. When designed and leveraged correctly, your brand will position you as a leader in your industry.


To an Employee, Your Brand Is Who They Say You Are


As organizations decentralize and experience increased international reach, the demand for a comprehensive internal communications program has grown in tandem. As the need for inter-office communication rises, progressive companies focus their energies to ensure its core values and brand are “evangelized” throughout the organization. How are they doing this? They tie all of their existing communications around their core values and brand so every employee understands and believes in the message behind the brand.


What are Your Company's Core Values?


Before beginning any marketing and advertising campaign – internally or externally – it’s important to define your core values. Core values are attributes your organization has determined as most important to the way you do business, such as:


• Integrity,

• Dependability,

• Superior knowledge of product or service,

• Innovative, etc.


Core values may not be revealed tangibly, but they are expressed as your organization’s way of doing business – from customer service and direct marketing, to the treatment of your employees and partners. Your core values should be understood and believed by all members of your organization – from senior executives, sales team, customer support, and administrative staff, even your strategic partners and stakeholders. In essence, if your organization believes in them, so will your customers.


If you have the time, let's take a few minutes together and write down the values you believe are most important to your organization.


Your Core Values Defined – In A Word, Sentence & Paragraph


Now that you have identified your organization’s core values, you can then define them further using a "one word, one sentence, and one paragraph" approach. Let's try honing in on three words first. If you were asked to define your company’s core values in three descriptive words, what would they be? Once you have these three words written down, how would you define each one in more detail?


Let’s say you wrote down “Innovative” as one descriptive word. Write down what “Innovative” is and isn’t. For example:


Innovative is:


• Creative

• Forward-Thinking

• Inventive


Innovative is not:


• Indecisive

• Frivolous

• Reckless


Once you have defined each word, describe how each word defines your company. As an example:


“We’re innovative in our quest for ideas and our creation of new business.”


Next, explain this further in a short, 3 to 5-sentence paragraph. For example:


“We challenge conventional thinking by looking to the future – not the past – for answers to today’s challenges. This is how we are able to find the right solution before others have even asked the right question. We believe that if you refuse to be in a box, you don’t have to think outside of one.”


This content can now be used to assist you in the development of a comprehensive marketing plan.


The Road Less-Traveled


Defining your brand is a journey of business self-discovery. It requires that an organization take a good, hard look at how it currently serves its customers and how it could do it better. Internalizing your core values within your organization will help to strengthen employee engagement, increase productivity, gain and retain customers. In the end, isn't this why strong brands are successful?


RSS Feed

Web feed

MyFirstNameSignature Logodropshadow

Cheryl's Blog

Me_nobkgnd_shadow