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?

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!