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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.

 

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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.


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