Beat the Decompression Blues – Up The Game!

I recently had a friend who told me she thought she was feeling depressed and felt this was strange since it started AFTER the holidays were over. I told her that I thought instead of experiencing depression, it might be Decompression.
Being one who travels almost every week, I experience this phenomenon virtually every time I have a little time at home. I will wake in a panic – not sure where I am or if I have over-slept. I feel uncomfortable and anxious. After a while of experiencing this – only when I am home in a safe environment, I realized that it was decompression I was experiencing. My mind becomes accustomed to waking in a hotel room and navigating around strange cities that it begins to feel uncomfortable when it I am in a familiar environment.
The Holidays create a similar situation where we are scurrying to get all of the shopping for presents completed in time. We have parties to go to – which can create another kind of discomfort for some of us, decorations to put up, family to visit and cooking meals that we do not cook but once a year.
Then, on January 2nd, everything goes back to normal. No more panicked shopping excursions with thousands of our closest strangers. No crazy meals to cook. None of this – just an ordinary drive back to work to face the same tasks to complete and the same problems to solve.
One way I have learned after years of experiencing this decompression, is to use it to my advantage. Instead of coping with the discomfort my mind creates until I get back into the routine, I instead find something to learn or a project to accomplish. In essence, I “up the game” of my routine. I add to what was my normal routine, new challenges that meet my minds new expectations. By doing so, I keep from experiencing the decompression blues while expanding my horizons and gaining new skills and experiences.
I challenge you to start this new year with a new project and goal that will up your game. I am curious what challenge will you take.

The Central Nervous System of Business Communication: Can You Stay in the Conversation?

As boring as it sounds, money is the central nervous system in how businesses communicate. In 2017, Your Clients will understand financial implications better – shouldn’t your staff? Will you and your team be able to keep up with the conversation?
Companies are now expecting their marketing staff (your clients) to be responsible for the entire financial impact of their decisions – not just blanket guestimates. In the past, marketing has been able to make statements to the effect of “spending ‘x’ amount on advertising will bring ‘y’ amount of money back to us.” While accountability has not been a wide spread concept in the past, 2017 will be a year in which people will be held accountable for their decisions.
According to a study by Northwestern University, companies are now asking marketers to relate marketing things to what the business is trying to do. A challenge for marketers in 2017 will be knowing how to sit down with their CFO and answer financial questions and deal with the financial issues affected by marketing.
If your clients are going to be expected to understand what their financial numbers mean and be able to justify their decisions based on real dollars and cents, shouldn’t your team? I’m not saying everyone should know that debits are on the right and credits are on the left. I am suggesting that everyone provides more value to the company and to your clients if they have a basic understanding of where the numbers come from and what they mean. Additionally, this knowledge gives you the ability to understand your costs and emphasize both your value and that of your team to your business.
Here are four important questions to ask yourself:
  1. If you bring in a new client, or grow an existing client, do you know what the incremental costs will be?
  2. When you are selling ideas to your clients and prospects, can you explain the financial benefits for your plan – not just tell them they will reach more people with great creative execution?
  3. Can you define your value to the company in real facts and figures?
  4. Are you able to rationalize your need for additional resources other than making a vague statement that your staff is ‘just stretched too thin’?

If you answered “No” to just one of these questions, I highly recommend you attend a 2-Day Workshop Money and Finance for the Creative Industry. You will get the Yes answers to these questions and Much, Much More! The Workshop will be held at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, NV on April 5th and 6th. You will leave with a wealth of information, real life applications of the knowledge you will gain, and a lots of ideas and concepts to share with your company. The first 10 people to register can do so at close to HALF of the normal registration fee. There are still some of these available – so be sure and register now!

I hope that I will see you in Vegas this April!

Are You Ready for 2017? Take This Quiz and Find Out!

I am not a superstitious person, but I did eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day – as I do most years (when I remember). This tradition – handed down to me from my Southern-born parents – is supposed to bring luck and prosperity.
Another tradition I practice at the beginning of each year is to reflect on where I have been and then look forward to where I want to go. Doing this allows me to establish a plan of action for reaching my goals. You can do the same for your business – just take this quick quiz and see where you have weak spots. These are the areas to work on for the next year which will prepare you for success in 2017.
1.    What makes you different from the competition? I ask this question first because the answer is important. If you reply it is your creative ideas, then join the other thousands who are answering this question right now. You are in business in a Creative Industry. If your ideas are not creative, you are not in the right business. So, what makes your company different? Dig deep and find what makes you REALLY different?
2.    Have you reviewed your end of year “Analytics” – also known as your Financial Statements? Think of these like the SEO analytics of your business health. Just as you would look at site statistics and trends, the new year is a time first to review how your business fared last year. Then, you can set goals for 2017. Click here if you are unsure how to understand the data these reports provide and what your financials are telling you.
3.    Have you created your Sales Plan for the upcoming year? Using your analytics and financial data from last year, you should be able to plan your sales pipeline for 2017. Creating a sales plan will allow you to track your sales and compare your results against your goals and prior years.
4.    Have you established your profitability goals? A simple way to calculate and set this target is to review the details of your revenue sources over the past 3 – 5 years. Then, create a budget for the upcoming year where you foresee your income should come from.  Here are some of the benefits of creating budgets!
After answering these four questions, celebrate all of the “Yes” responses you gave. If you answered “No” to any of the above questions, take a few moments and expand on what you can do to make the answer yes. Sometimes, getting the unbiased and honest feedback from a professional can help with this.
Remember that a Goal without a Plan is just a Dream. Moreover, a Plan without Action will always just be a Goal.
Are you ready to take Action in 2017?

Your 2017 Business GPS

Creative business owners often need management tools for running their shops. These tools help relate the financial information with the overall performance of the agency. One of these tools are financial budgets. Budgeting may be one of the most important accounting tools you can use in your business.

Creating and tracking financial budgets provides many benefits to your company such as letting you adjust spending, increase sales efforts, and know how to react to an unexpected drop in revenue. While there are many benefits to budgeting, this tool can be damaging to your agency if not prepared correctly. For example, budgeting just to put limits on spending might keep you from being able to react early on to market fluctuations.

Some of the benefits to budgeting include:

Creates Financial Roadmap

Budgets act like a financial GPS for your company. They let you set your goals and priorities telling you when and where to turn along the journey. They will quickly identify bumpy roads and show you where to make adjustments to get back on the right course.

Establish Pricing for Profitability

More and more often I hear my clients say they decide what to charge their clients based on what they think the client will pay. Not only does this approach leave money on the table, it may put you out of business. Budgeting is a valuable tool that helps you set pricing based on financial facts, not gut guesswork.


You get an RFP from a client that is a perfect match but can you afford to spend the money to stay in the fight with your competition. Having a budget not only provide the answer to this question, but it makes sure you have planned and are ready for the moment. Budgeting for future growth opportunities ensures that companies have enough funds on hand to make quick decisions for expanding business operations.

Some people see budgets as a way to give departments their allowance for the year. While this is one of the benefits of budgeting, there is so much more that budgeting will provide your company.

Not sure the best way to create and/or take full advantage of your budgeting processes?

This is one of the areas covered in our upcoming two-day workshop “Money and Finance for the Creative Industry” where attendees will not only learn the how’s and why of financial budgeting, but you will leave with an actual budget for your agency.

 Click here to find out more and to take advantage of early bird discounts.

Register Now!

If you are not sure if these two days are worth the investment, give me a call. —(623) 825-3827—
I am looking forward to seeing you in Las Vegas in April! Don’t miss out on the Special Pricing for the first TEN registrations!

Start Thinking Outside the Box and Stop the Cliche Madness!

Clichés are defined as overused phrases or ideas. The do have their place in business and professional writing. They are not always a bad thing because sometimes they just – work.
In Advertising, saying a lot with a little tends to work best. So, we use clichés to quickly communicate a common idea.
But, when phrases become so over used, they not only begin to lose their meaning and emphasis, but can actually become white noise or worse – a distraction.
Avoiding the worst of the worst clichés helps your creative to stay fresh, contemporary and meaningful. With that in mind, here are some examples of the most troublesome offenders I see most often.
“Outside the box.”
In reality, thinking outside the box is like being inside a black hole of the universe. It is a vacuum with nothing to feed creativity. If you want your client to know you for your original thinking, Seth Godin has a great idea to think on the edges of the box. If you are on the edges of the box, you can see the clutter inside the box and the unexplored area outside the box.
“This is a 360-degree campaign.”
You do realize that when you do a 360, you wind up right where you started? Even if you say the campaign will result in a 180 degree turn, you are only stating that they will be headed in the opposite direction from where they are now.
If your intent is to tell the client the campaign is designed to increase their sales, say that.
“We wanted to do something impactful.”
Let’s consult Urban Dictionary on “impactful”: “a nonexistent word coined by corporate advertising, marketing and business drones to make their work sound far more useful, exciting and beneficial to humanity than it really is.”
Is this really the kind of impact you are trying to make? You may find you have more impact if you choose a better – and real – word!

“One-stop shop”

One-stop shop began in the United States in the 1920 – 1930’s. It’s purpose is to describe a business as the only place shoppers need to visit to fulfill all of their purchasing needs. In the Advertising world, it has become a way to identify a shop as full service – offering all aspects of the advertising world. These shops offer graphic design, public relations, web design, social and traditional media, and on and on.
I think we have evolved over the past century and understand that we cannot be great at everything. Focus your business on what you excel at and then let the world know what you offer!
“Paradigm shift.”

This reminds me of my last ‘real job’ almost 20 years ago. I had just finished reading “The Dilbert Principle” that discussed the overuse of the word “paradigm” that has begun in the world of academia. During a company-wide meeting with all of the big-wigs and head-haunchos, the word was mentioned by five of our leaders at least 20 times. I couldn’t help but laugh knowing that they were already being cliché – and again, that was almost 20 years ago.

“Results-oriented or results-driven.”
What to say instead?  Anything else. Because who wants to work with a company who offers anything less?
Clichés are defined as overused phrases or ideas. The do have their place in business and professional writing. They are not always a bad thing because sometimes they just – work.
While cliches have a place and benefits, they are not always the best choice.
Share your favorite Cliche you Love to Hate!