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Atonal Compositions

Posted May 2nd, 2017 in blog, copy, marketing, social media by Gary

With the rise of social media and the growing need for companies to have a coherent online personality, the importance of tone and voice cannot be overstated. The problem, such as it is, lies in the fact that establishing consistency is equally important no matter the size of the company.

In smaller companies, the problem is a lack of resources. The person  generally responsible for posting on the web, maintaining the blog, updating Facebook and keeping the Twitter account  going, is often the same person that oversees the creation of collateral materials like the PowerPoint presentations, the one-sheets and whatever else the company deems necessary for success.

In larger companies, the challenge is staying on top of all the activity that is relevant to the various outlets now available. This creates issues of internal communication, oversight and the control of copy.

In one case, there is too much to do. In the  other, too much to stay on top of.

How can one achieve success facing these difficulties?

For the smaller company, it is about establishing priorities and making sure that they are respected. This assumes, of course, that the company has executed it’s value proposition and values coherently so that those priorities make sense to everyone. The fact that one needs to have a solid foundation to establish a coherent strategy is a recurring theme on this blog and something that generally gets short shrift as fires keep popping up.

For the larger company, the challenge is to get the entire team to understand the importance of these new media. In many cases, the benefits are not tangible right away so different departments are apt to push the importance of these internal communications down the ladder. This is where leadership needs to step in and explain how important it is to maintain these avenues of communications consistently and over time so that the bond with the client or customer can be deepened as the opportunities present themselves.

This represents one of the biggest challenges marketers face right now as our profession adapts to the evolving technologies that keep bringing us all closer together. And communications occur at a faster and faster pace and can last forever.

Addressing these new challenges has ledme to the conclusion that these modern communications tools rely on talents that are harded and harder to quantify. Defining a good writer has never been easy.

And finding one is often hard to do in the first place.

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Posted February 7th, 2017 in blog, marketing, social media, strategy, thoughts by Gary

Another meeting comes to an end and I am awestruck by the number of brilliant ideas that have been suggested. The VP of sales kicked things off by mentioning a competitor’s event that he had recently attended.

“It was packed. They had a whole slew of sponsors, a vodka company, an interactive agency that had set up a bunch of screens, a music label, a vodka company. The place was rocking. They had these hostesses who were giving out free passes. We should do something like that.”

While everyone else was nodding, I was noting a possible time frame to execute this kind of project, the budget required, the assigning of responsibilities. Then someone from HR mentioned a charity drive that was done at her last company. Loads of fun. Great press. The clients ate it up.

Everyone around the table thought it was a great idea. But which charity? The sales reps, the HR department, accounting, all had their favorites and the number of charities shot down in under five minutes was amazing: Too controversial. Doesn’t make sense with our brand. Too obscure. Then somebody, I think it was a customer service rep, said “And we could use social media to promote everything. Have people tweeting, put announcements on Facebook about the amount of money raised. It’s going to be awesome.”

Note: we still hadn’t decided on a charity. Or a date. Or exactly what kind of drive. Believe me when I say there are many different kinds.

The meeting continued, only now everyone was adding something new. A giveaway. A loyalty program. I thought to myself life is a beautiful thing when ideas are all that matters. And I smiled at how far I’d come since I got into this business, remembering the words of an old pro at which I had scoffed just a few years ago: “A good marketing executive has four good ideas a year, a great one, eight. What they have in common is flawless implementation.”

Have you ever sat through a meeting that resembles the one described above? How many times?

They always adjourn without anything actually being done. Or, more precisely, without anything being decided in a way that would enable things to get done. No one is assigned any responsibilities. No deadlines are set. Nothing is broken down into executables. Messaging is almost never mentioned. Neither is media, other than the now ubiquitous social. I won’t even start discussing how these different tactics are supposed to fit in with the overall strategy (see last week’s post). And, when it’s all over, everyone is always thrilled at how well the meeting went. At all the great ideas that marketing should be working on.

I hate to say this, but ideas are easy.

They’re out there for all of us to see. Taste tests. Giveaways. Strategic partnerships. Promotions. Discounts. Raffles. Coupons. Ads. Commercials. And a lot of them are fantastic. Cool. Edgy. I wish that I’d thought of some of them. And then I wonder if they came out of meetings like this one.


But I am certain that someone was asking the real questions: What will it take to get this done? How much money will it cost? How does it benefit the company or product now and in the future?

I am not registering this as a complaint, nor as a criticism. I LOVE getting ideas from all over the place. I am acutely aware, as every marketing exec should be, that I cannot know everything nor be the source of every idea, and that good ideas originate in the strangest places. I just think it is important to remind everyone from time to time that there’s much more involved.

I have worked as a freelancer, for a start-up, in a small company, as well as in a corporate environment. The evidence is overwhelming: the most important quality of a marketing professional is the ability to recognize which ideas are both great and executable given the resources at one’s disposal.

The rest is just talk. Fun. But just talk.