The Costs of Doing It Yourself

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The Do It Yourself (DIY) movement is part of our culture. The DIY Channel focuses on do it yourself projects at home. In the workplace, saving money by doing tasks “in house” is appealing. Employees think they can score points and increase job security by showing how they reduced costs with their own DIY activities.

When it comes to Marketing, PR, Communications and Selling, many companies subscribe to the Do It Yourself (DIY) approach by:

• Having “creative” work attempted by in-house staff who are not creative professionals.
• Failing to augment internal Sales Training & Coaching with outside expertise.
• Thinking that writing and sending a press release is doing PR.
• Lacking the confidence to have others involved in developing strategic goals and initiatives.
• Ignoring market research by thinking they already know what they need to know.

But how much are we really saving? What are the costs of doing it yourself?

“Your Time” Cost
Decision makers often don’t accurately assess the value of their team’s time. While these are sunk costs incurred anyway, that time could be spent elsewhere. Estimate the time you and your team will spend on the DIY project and put a real dollar value on it. Your DIY out of pocket savings might not match the value of your team’s time.

“Opportunity” Cost
You don’t have the experience and talent of the experts, so it will take you longer to finish the work. The more time it takes to complete a project, the more the value of that activity is reduced. Your competition might be first to market and exploit an opportunity.

“Quality” Cost
Unfortunately, the end result of DIY activities is often a lower-quality outcome. Think of what you and your company do. When your prospective clients follow the DIY approach, is their quality as good as yours?

“Brand” Cost
Your personal brand and your company’s is impacted by just about everything you do. You risk hurting those brands if the DIY approach leads to a lesser-quality outcome.

“Leadership” Cost
When you have the confidence to utilize an outside expert, you show leadership. Strong leadership involves informal and formal guidance of others—inside and outside your organization.

Sometimes doing it yourself can work. Just make sure you have done a true analysis of the many costs so you can evaluate whether or not there really is a DIY ROI.

Coaches Need Coaching on How to Communicate

5 Ways to Win Over Your Target Audiences

 

We learn about winning and losing at an early age. Our first experiences of both are often through sports, as a fan, casual observer or player.

We are influenced by our early teachers and coaches, subconsciously forming our own views of leadership, management and communication. Coaches, players, parents and fans have opinions on what coaching is or what makes a good coach.

Some level of expertise in the sport is an obvious prerequisite. Time management is crucial because coaches have a limited amount of time with their players. Motivational skills are important to coax the most out of different team members. Leadership and accepting responsibility are other necessary traits.

Yet the area where most coaches fall short — from youth sports to high school, college and even the professional ranks — is the lack of consistent, effective communication.

5 Ways Coaches (and You) Can Win Over Target Audiences

Identify and Understand. Coaches have to reach and influence multiple audiences. For example, high school coaches should target parents, media, alumni, students, players and local businesses. Average coaches typically ignore or neglect a few while successful coaches focus on each group. Where are they coming from? How can you reach them?

Admit You Are Selling. Average coaches sell the audiences they think are important.  Successful ones admit they are selling all the time. It doesn’t mean being manipulative or caving in on every complaint. It means explaining both your big picture vision and your tactical approach.

Communicate clearly, early and often. Tell target audiences your message. Tell them again. Then tell them a few more times. Don’t assume they heard or understood the first time. Remember, they’re busy living their lives.

https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gifUse the VCR. Not the outdated video technology but rather be vulnerable, compassionate and respectful in your communications.

Hold yourself and your target audiences accountable. We all fall short on our responsibilities at some point. Communicate when you recognize you were off your game and point out constructively when others are off theirs.

As a coach, I’ve struggled at one time or another in each area. I’m guessing most youth, high school, college and professional coaches have as well. But the peak performers in sports and the workplace strive to improve in each area over time.

One of my favorite examples of a coach forgetting about his target audiences is NFL coach Dennis Green’s infamous Monday Night Meltdown. Green lost his cool when the Arizona Cardinals allowed the Chicago Bears to come back after being down 20 points. He’s now remembered by many (including his key target audience of Cardinals fans) for this memorable (and profanity-laced) YouTube clip.

What’s your favorite coaching communication miscue? Let us know on the MASSolutions’ Facebook page.

MASSolutions Featured on National Show

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MASSolutions President & CEO Dave Mastovich discussed marketing tips from his latest book with Angel Tuccy and Eric Reamer on the Experience Pros Radio Show, which airs daily in Denver on AM 560 KLZ.

 

Four Plays the NFL Should Make to Stay on Top

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The National Football League kicks off its 2014 season Thursday after an offseason filled with bad press. Sports analysts, notable economists and even billionaire Mark Cuban are predicting the league’s downfall. Theories on the NFL’s impending demise include:

  • Mishandling the Ray Rice domestic violence case and subsequent two game suspension will hurt the NFL’s image with women, a key target market.
  • Drug, alcohol, assault and murder charges involving NFL players will alienate casual fans.
  • The concussion issue will result in more lawsuits, a reduction in the NFL’s talent pool and a smaller fan base as people turn away from the sport.
  • The NFL will oversaturate the market with additional weeknight games just as our TV viewing habits include more streaming and on demand viewing.

So is the NFL really on a downward spiral? Not exactly.

Pro football is the most popular sport in America for the 30th straight year according to a Harris Poll. More than 100 million people watch football every Sunday. The past two seasons have each had the highest TV ratings in the league’s history. The NFL playoffs create a nationwide buzz and the Super Bowl is a worldwide event.

Yet the league still has a lot of work to do.

Here are Four Marketing and PR plays the NFL should make:

  1. Embrace Fan Focused Decisions—Whether hiring replacement referees, prohibiting most purses and bags at games, or doling out player suspensions, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is perceived as ruling with an iron fist. He took a positive step admitting he “didn’t get it right” with Ray Rice’s suspension. Now get it right on future issues by thinking about the fans first.
  2. Tell the Safety Story—The NFL has spent nearly thirty years changing rules to limit contact, reduce injuries and increase scoring. Concussion research is leading to changes in equipment and treatment protocols. Continue the focus on player safety and tell that story.
  3. Target Moms—Youth football participation is down almost 10% since 2010. Many say the drop is related to fear of concussions. The NFL needs to convince Moms that youth football is safe.
  4. Take It to ‘Em—Make it easy for fans to watch, wherever they want—smart phone, tablet, TV, in person. No blackouts. Better streaming. Affordable options.

The NFL is still number one in sports entertainment. Focusing more on their fans and their messaging can help the league stay there.

 

 

 

How PR & Social Media Met the Ice Bucket Challenge to Raise Millions

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The Ice Bucket Challenge, a campaign to raise money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, shows the impact of PR and Social Media Tactics you can use to grow your business organically.

It goes like this: People post a video on Social Media outlets like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter of themselves dumping a bucket of ice on their heads and challenging friends to do the same or donate $100 to ALS.

On July 15th, golfer Chris Kennedy challenged his cousin Jeanette Senerchia of Pelham, NY, whose husband, Anthony, has had ALS for 11 years. Senerchia’s Facebook network connected with Pat Quinn of Yonkers, NY who was diagnosed with ALS in March of 2013. Quinn challenged friends and family and his network overlapped with Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who has ALS. Frates posted a heartfelt video of him bobbing his head to the song Ice Ice Baby because he can no longer speak due to ALS.

Frates’ video and follow-up posts on Twitter caught the attention of celebrities ike Lebron James, Taylor Swift, Sidney Crosby and J-Lo who joined in the campaign. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg challenged Bill Gates who posted a self deprecating video of himself building the most efficient process for dumping the ice. 

The power of PR followed as Frates was featured on ESPN’s Sports Center, media outlets like the Huffington Post picked up the story and talk show hosts such as Jimmy Fallon accepted the challenge on the Tonight Show.

Since July 29th, the response has been huge: More than 1.3 million videos shared on Facebook, 2.3 million mentions on Twitter, 260,000 new donors and more than $13 million in donations – compared with $1.7 million during the same time last year.

The Ice Bucket Challenge leverages 4 PR & Social Media Success Tactics:

1. Keep It Simple: Anyone can relate to, implement and use their own creativity on The Ice Bucket Challenge.

2. Show and Tell Your Story Through Video: Whether it’s Bill Gates or your neighbor, people are watching.

3. Focus on Multiple Outlets: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other Social Media networks combined to create a viral campaign.

4. Reach Mass Markets through PR: Local and national news programs, talk shows and major sports networks spread the word to the masses.

What’s your favorite Ice Bucket Challenge video? Share it with us on our Facebook page today.

Don’t be The Lone Ranger: Make Your Campaign a Summer Blockbuster

The Lone Ranger

Image courtesy of http://reviewfix.com

Since Jaws in 1975, blockbuster summer movies have become pop culture staples. Today, studios integrate social media, PR, retail promotional tie ins, event marketing and advertising into massive campaigns that culminate with the traditional July 4th weekend release.

Positive results are far from certain. For every Transformers or Pirates of the Caribbean smash hit, there’s a bust like Speed Racer or Green Lantern. The most recent big time bomb was last year’s The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp as Tonto. It’s a good example of how understanding your target audience is critical to success in movies — and in business.

Four Ways to “Make It About Them:”

  • Find out what they know, think and want. Brand awareness of the Lone Ranger among younger audiences was low. Building a brand takes time and marketing resources which meant the Lone Ranger was doomed from the start. Find out what your target audience knows and perceives. Build your plan based on what you learn.
  • Focus on One Big Idea: The Lone Ranger marketing campaign included four different trailers. If you’re not sure what your major takeaway is, your target audience surely won’t know. Ask yourself: “What’s the Big Idea?” Then build your messaging based on it.
  • Set Realistic Expectations: The Lone Ranger budget was nearly $250 million, which is similar to the budget for Spider Man 3, a successful franchise sequel. Conduct an honest assessment of where your product, service or company stands in the market. Wishful thinking and over spending won’t overcome low brand awareness and inaccurate positioning.
  • Measure Marketing ROI: The Lone Ranger’s budget meant the movie had to hit record box office numbers, which is like planning to fail. Instead, begin with clearly defined success metrics and a realistic Marketing ROI goal. Manage and adjust your budget based on target market responses to your campaign.

Try these tips and watch your Integrated Marketing campaign become a blockbuster success.

And check out this infographic featuring the top Summer Movies of the past 40 years. Let us know which one is your all time favorite.

Will Lebron Communicate His Next “Decision” Better This Time?

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Four years ago Lebron James jilted his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as the Miami Heat’s Big Three and the NBA’s team to beat.

Back then I outlined the Five Good Reasons Why “The Decision” Went Bad and how Lebron mishandled the process:

1. He didn’t communicate with Cavaliers management prior to the national announcement.

2. The decision was announced via an overhyped, over produced show on ESPN.

3. Tying the Boys & Girls Clubs to the program came across as self serving.

4. He talked about himself and all that he had done for the city he was leaving.

5. Lebron even went third person on us a bunch of times while explaining how Lebron made Lebron’s decision.

The Heat went on to play in four straight NBA Finals, winning two and losing two. Their four year run could be considered exceptional yet doesn’t match the expectations Lebron set when he said they’d win 8 titles during another PR debacle, the Big Three’s first press event.

Whether he chooses to stay in Miami or return home to Cleveland, how he conveys the message might be as important as the actual decision. He has a chance to get the messaging right this time either way.

If he stays in Miami:
“We came here as a group to make history. We’ve had a great run but we want to do even more. We’re staying together and the goal is to win more championships for the organization, the city and the incredible fans of the Miami Heat.”

If he leaves Miami to go back home to Cleveland:
“Miami has been great to Chris, Dwyane and me. We’ve had an incredible run. The fans are amazing. But we all have special memories and ties to where we grew up. It took being away to realize how important those things are. That’s why I’m going back to where it all began. My hometown of Cleveland.”

If he’s learned anything from “The Decision” of four years ago, he will make the announcement in an understated, humble manner. Let ESPN and other media outlets create the video montage of highlights and his hometown connections rather than providing video fodder for years to come.

Do you think Lebron’s messaging will be better this time around? Go to our Facebook Page and vote now!

Ketchup, Mustard and Messaging

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Americans will eat more than 7 billion hot dogs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 150 million on the 4th of July holiday alone. If you have one, do you top it with ketchup or mustard?

According to a YouGov survey, the most popular condiment for hot dogs is mustard (72%) followed by ketchup (59%), onions (51%) and relish (47%).

Age has a big impact on our choice. 73% of 16-34 year olds ate their hot dogs with ketchup while only 41% of those 35 and older did.

Makes sense. Kids love ketchup. Children have different taste buds than adults and notice bitter tasting foods more. Plus creative commercials help create long lasting habits like adding ketchup to a hot dog. Remember the Anticipation theme from these two classics?

But sometimes one organization’s message hurts a complimentary product. The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council’s Do’s and Don’ts of Hot Dog Etiquette surely caught the attention of ketchup companies with this one:

Don’t…
Use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18.
Mustard, relish, onions, cheese and chili are acceptable.

Whether you like your hot dog with ketchup, mustard or some other way, you can benefit from these Messaging Do’s and Don’ts:

Do…Focus on creative promotions to tell your story. Just like the hot dog industry promotes National Hot Dog Month, you can promote your anniversary, new equipment, locations and hires in a creative way.

Do…Make it about your target audiences. Why does it matter to them?

Don’t…Miss opportunities to promote your uniqueness. Develop a content calendar to tell your story throughout the year.

Don’t…Make messaging, branding and PR decisions by committee. You’ll end up with a little bit of what each person wanted and a lot of wasted advertising dollars.

If you’re still not sure about ketchup on your hot dog, Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry makes it clear.

Telling your story

My name is Kecia Bal. I am delighted to be able to introduce myself as part of the MASSolutions team because the firm takes an integrated, holistic approach to marketing that incorporates my passion: Storytelling.

As a newspaper and magazine reporter, I have spent the past 10 years learning the art of storytelling ─ finding the authentic spark or specialness we all have and uncovering that and sharing it so others can appreciate it. It’s not always easy or obvious, but the work is rewarding and uplifting. Sometimes, it is easier for us to see and express that shimmery part of the story in others than it is for us to tell our own story. Being able to share your own uniqueness and strengths is a critical part of success, personally and professionally.

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I recently interviewed Breitling Energy’s President and CEO Chris Faulkner, an unconventional drilling industry leader who is so outspoken and active he has been dubbed the “frack master.” Faulkner has made the rounds on national media networks and knows how to tell his company’s story by positioning himself as an advocate for energy independence. In his interview for Energy Executive Magazine, he summed it up:

“We need to do a much better job telling our story and getting community buy-in at every step.”

For ideas on how you can get community ─ and customer ─ buy-in, MASSolutions President Dave Mastovich offers a new book: Light Reading Top 10 with tips to make your story more engaging and compelling. This is a quick, easy-to-absorb read so you can start improving your storytelling and messaging today. Right now, he’s offering this guide as a free download at www.massolutions.biz/top10ebook/.  Thanks for your time! I look forward to learning your stories and hearing how storytelling has helped you connect with your clients.

How Do We Read Today?

We don’t.

Even though you might have found the question interesting, a third of you are already moving on to something else.

Whether reading (or should I say skimming?) online or print, we rarely finish a story or article.  And we don’t move smoothly from left to right as we follow the words across the page.

Eye tracking research from web guru Jakob Nielsen shows that we sweep our eyes across the page in a pattern that is shaped like an F, starting in the upper left corner. We tend to take two horizontal swipes across the page, then swipe vertically down the left.

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Uh oh. We are now past the point (around 100 words) where more than half the original readers are gone. Wish you were here.

When it comes to scrolling, most people don’t even bother.  Of those that do, 80% of their time is spent looking “above the fold” (the part of the web page visible when users first land there or the part above the fold of a newspaper) and only 20% below the fold or after the scroll.

If you’ve stuck with me, it’s time to help improve your messaging:

  • Put the most important content first. Review some of your recent emails. Were the first two sentences powerful or did you fumble your opening?
  • Avoid claims and exaggerations. If it sounds like an ad, skimmers ignore it.
  • Feature bulleted lists like this one.
  • Focus on one idea per paragraph and tie each paragraph to the main theme.
  • Use memorable images to help tell your story. Photos of products or real people work better than stock photos.

Since only friends and relatives are still reading, I can get away with a shout out to my Grandma, the most voracious reader I know.