Word of Mouth – December 8, 2011 – Personal Branding

December 8, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – December 8, 2011

Personal Branding

On our recent whirlwind tour of the United States, we met with an established company to explore their marketing expansion needs. But they really needed our help more than a year ago – when they weren’t in the cross hairs of a takeover by a larger company looking to expand its own reach.
 
The smaller business, full of energy and entrepreneurialism, had grown beyond it’s two founding partners in ways neither had expected. Now in its 11th year, the company faced a crisis that should have been addressed months, if not years earlier. Ramping up outreach and marketing efforts now didn’t make any sense for them in the face of an attractive offer (aka: no other options) from an organization whose social media, traditional marketing and messaging machine is well oiled and steaming along.
 
They came to us too late. Perhaps our earlier assistance would have propelled them into the same league as their devourer. Perhaps we could have turned them into the ones doing the acquisition. Instead, a larger company with the foresight to turn its resources to expansion saw them as an attractive morsel. And despite everyone’s good intentions, no one can guarantee that vision of the two partners will survive the consolidation. Or whether the two partners and/or the staff will have a place in the new venture.
 
Marketing and branding isn’t just about growing your business. It’s about keeping your company on track and alive in the face of competition. It’s about bringing out the flavor of your personality to promote your service or product. It’s about enhancing your ability to, and creating strategies and channels for, facing and outpacing your competition.

Could your brand withstand a possible buy out by a larger company who sees your potential? How would you or your employees brand themselves when the business no longer exists or is swallowed up by a different one? Is your identity tied into a business that no longer exists? What have you done to separate yourself and your brand from the crowd?
 
Fortunately, Hamptons Creative Group is your co-creator in success. We recently saw a segment on 60 Minutes about how “alchemists” develop flavors that mimic, produce and promote products to a level that captures attention. That’s what we do in telling your personal and business story so that it resonates with your customers.

We explore and identify opportunities, then guide you through them systematically with strategy sessions, project management, full time marketing and branding guidance – just what you need to propel your business to success.
 
Let’s begin our co-creativeship today. You now have support from a planet-wide company of experts with your Marketing Partnership and Hamptons Creative Group.
 
Fill out our easy, no obligation enrollment form.


Read all this week’s blog posts:

Got a Book? Why Not? 
Are You Still Questioning Facebook?

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Word of Mouth – December 1, 2011 – Eye on Your Big Picture

December 1, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – December 1, 2011

Eye on Your Big Picture

Thanksgiving was last week in the United States (and in October for our Canadian friends). And though we’re the only two countries (that we know of) with official holidays that encourage reflection, many people around the world use the end of the calendar year to evaluate the year.
 
Which makes this the perfect time to reflect on what’s happened in the previous 11 months, and think about where you’re going in the next 12. And sometimes it takes a collaborative partner to figure out just what’s going on and what the future holds — someone who keeps the focus on the big picture. Someone who can help you figure out if you’re on the right path to realizing the dream for your business.
 
That’s where Hamptons Creative Group comes in. We strategize with clients by using co-creativeship. We hear their stories and help them communicate in ways that resonate with them AND their customers. There is nothing worse than feeling like your marketing doesn’t speak from the heart and soul – that it doesn’t represent who YOU are. No one wants a business that’s “work.” Why not aim for a joyful expression of your true essence and desire?
 
As we explore and identify opportunities, we then guide you through them step by step. This is co-creativeship. It’s beyond collaborative, beyond being partners. Nothing we do can be done without our clients’ feedback, ideas and desires.  It’s the culmination of understanding what makes your heart sing as an entrepreneur, and coupling it with the elements that make us shine: design, promotion and marketing.
 
So consider these four questions in this time of reflection:

  • What has your experience been marketing your business?
  • What would you change about your current business?
  • What are you doing to ensure your business grows in alignment with your goals?
  • How are you addressing your existing and future competition?

These are the questions we’re pondering as 2011 winds down. The most important question for you, of course, is: how can Hamptons Creative Group help you answer them? The answer: By joining us in co-creativeship.
 
Fill out our easy, no obligation enrollment form. Let’s begin our co-creativeship today, with access to and support from our planet-wide company of experts ready to sing along with you.


Read all this week’s blog posts:

Co-Creativeship Keeps You Moving
Sometimes It’s the Management
Facebook Proves Linda was Right

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Word of Mouth Daily – November 29, 2011 – Sometimes It’s the Management

November 29, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth Daily – November 29, 2011

Sometimes It’s the Management

When we start working with clients, especially in a co-creativeship, sometimes it is apparent (to us) that there’s a management concern in addition to a marketing need. Management and leadership are difficult skills. They require just as much thought, planning, and execution as any marketing plan.

While Hamptons Creative Group is not a management consulting firm in the traditional sense, we do provide aspects of such services to small businesses.

Some of these include marketing project management, competitor and market analysis, and working with other groups — like customer service specialists — to train employees.

When we think about leadership as it relates to marketing, it’s interesting how they each have the same core characteristics. In a recent New York Times interview with Electronic Arts’ CEO John Riccitiello, Riccitiello makes some key points about leadership that we make about marketing.

The CEO shares the following success factors to leadership (and Hamptons Creative Group shares the comparative elements in marketing success):

  • Paint a picture of the way it’s supposed to work (have a marketing vision and plan)
  • Be incredibly consistent (brand ubiquitously across all channels)
  • Really listen to the people (know the market and your customers through research & analytics)
  • Be absolutely genuine (heart-felt products and services resonate in a marketing message)
  • Be passionate about greatness in your products/services (have something worthy of marketing)

Can you think of any other similarities? Share them with us and Hamptons Creative Group can help fuse your leadership and marketing success.

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Word of Mouth – October 27, 2011 – Part II: Guest Blogger Sharon Wolf

October 27, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – October 27, 2011

Part II: Guest Blogger Sharon Wolf

 

Last month, guest blogger Sharon Wolf, Managing Director of QualiData Research, Inc., started sharing valuable advice we knew would take two posts to cover! Read Part I here.

Here’s Part Two of her generous contribution.


Seven Tips for Marketing on a Shoestring Budget – Part II
 

4. Join association committees and become part of your industry’s leadership. Being an attendee at conferences and seminars is important for networking and professional development, but brand-building for your company typically happens more intensely at the leadership level.

5. Set aside some time each week to touch base via email or phone with your most valued customers and high potential prospects with the goal of reinforcing a trusting and congenial relationship. For service providers such as attorneys, consultants or medical practices, establishing and maintaining trusting relationships with clients and prospects is critical because customers of services buy largely on the basis of trust with the service provider.

6. Categorize your clients and prospects by strength of relationship with your company. Focus your follow-up efforts among those with the most potential.

7. Step back every six months or so and evaluate the results of your marketing activities. Eliminate the tactics that failed to produce any new business. Moving forward, focus on those brand-building and marketing activities that yielded the best results.

Go for it!
Shoestring marketing can be as effective as more elaborate and expensive advertising and marketing communications campaigns – as long as you are in control of your company’s brand image and are willing and able to invest the time and effort to continually reach out to your customers and prospects.


Sharon Wolf, M.A., M.S. is a brand and product innovation consultant at QualiData Research Inc., a consultancy that provides growing companies with business-building advice grounded in marketing research findings. Sharon and her partner, Hy Mariampolski, Ph.D., operate QualiData from East Hampton, San Francisco and Park Slope. QualiData and Hamptons Creative Group often collaborate on behalf of mutual clients.

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Word of Mouth – October 20, 2011 – Preparation

October 20, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – October 20, 2011

Preparation

Last week, we talked about Linda’s trip to San Francisco for a spiritual marketing seminar. That seminar was another milestone in a fall season filled with exciting happenings in store for Hamptons Creative Group (and you). As we look back at that the plans we made, we begin to marvel at how everything we’ve planned is coming together.
 
It hasn’t been without effort. In fact, we’ve augmented our already terrific team in order to make new elements coalesce, and prepare ourselves to meet our clients’ needs as we grow and as they grow.

Meet Judi Cogen, our newest Social Media Strategist who works with us virtually (as several ofJudi Cogen, Social Media Strategist our team members do). She’s helping us provide top-level service to our clients on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. Some businesses relied on their summer interns to handle their social media marketing efforts. Once those interns transitioned back to school, business were stuck asking now what?

Because we have pr ofessionals on our team focused on helping your business grow (not on getting college credit) Hamptons Creative Group helps take what you might have thought of as a time-drain and turn it into a business booster. Donna Amos, our Inspirer of Possibilities, identified Judi as just the right person to help our clients. 

When we explore bringing new people in, we first identify the role we want them to play, and the unique expertise they need to do the job right. That’s part of the preparation to ensure they are successful, so that we can be successful as a team.
 
What are you doing to prepare for your next big happening? Are you adding staff for an event or promotion? Bringing in experts for a quick consult? When you spend time planning, your rewards are that much sweeter because you’ve laid the groundwork for success.
 
If your next big thing is still floating around your head, talk with us. We’re prepared to help you with things like custom Facebook and LinkedIn pages, marketing plans, and in-depth relationships through our Marketing Partnership

Don’t let the opportunity to prepare for success pass you by.
 

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Word of Mouth – October 13, 2011 – San Francisco

October 13, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – October 13, 2011

San Francisco

As you read this, Linda’s in San Francisco for a spiritual marketing seminar. No, she’s not learning how to market to ghosts – although that would fit our October theme of trick or tweeting, Suzanne Falter-Barns and Jeffrey Van Dyk. Image © Siddiqi Ray, LLC.wouldn’t it?

Rather, she’s on a spiritual marketing quest, led by the esteemed Suzanne Falter-Barns and Jeffrey Van Dyk.

These soul-guided entrepreneurs ask participants to surrender more deeply to their innate gifts, wherever they are at in their business. It’s like a spa visit for your soul!

Special thanks to Marie Guthrie for the invitation. Linda met Marie at a mastermind event a few years ago, and she has been part of the Hamptons Creative Group extended family ever since. Marie’s a Career & Life Change Strategist who brings clarity to the goals of her own clients, just like Hamptons Creative Group brings clarity to the goals of our customers.

One thing Linda’s never been afraid of is delving deep into her own marketing mission to discover how to better serve those who need our help.

But if you’re afraid to take the first step into the sometimes scary work of social media, try our free Guide to Twitter for Marketing Managers and Small Businesses. You’ll learn to apply some simple rules you already know (really, you do!) to your Twitter marketing.

So click on the link and get started on your own marketing quest!

 

 

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Word of Mouth – September 29, 2011 – Guest Blogger Sharon Wolf

September 29, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – September 29, 2011

Guest Blogger Sharon Wolf

 

This month’s guest blogger is Sharon Wolf, Managing Director of QualiData Research, Inc. Sharon has shared so much valuable advice that it’s going to take two posts to cover it all!

Here’s Part One of her generous contribution.


Seven Tips for Marketing on a Shoestring Budget – Part 1
 

Getting Started
It is a mistake to invest any time or money in marketing before you have created a strong brand image that separates your products and/or services from your competition. Your brand image combines all of these elements:

  • Your product or services offering – its features and benefits
  • The company’s unique selling proposition
  • The firm’s logo design and all print and online marketing materials
  • Customer experiences with every aspect of your product or service – from product performance, to solving customers’ problems, to billing procedures, to follow-up customer communications, etc

Marketing on a Shoestring Budget
Once you have clearly defined and created a written description of the brand image you want customers to think of when they see your logo, marketing materials and when they visit your website, for example, you are ready to plan marketing activities.

Here are the first three low-cost but high impact ideas:

1. Write articles for a trade press and volunteer for speaking engagements at professional conferences and seminars. These activities position you and your company or firm as experts and leaders in your profession or industry. The only cost is the time you’ll need to invest in preparing articles and conference presentations. If you publish articles, post them for downloading on your website, send them to clients and prospects and also post these publications on your business’ Facebook page. (see #3)

2. Review all of your marketing materials to be sure that they all communicate a consistent and strong brand image for your company. Invite a graphic designer to evaluate your existing logo, business cards, website, brochures and all other marketing materials against your brand positioning statement. Under the guidance of a professional graphic designer, revise and update marketing materials and graphics, as needed. For advice about graphic designers, contact Hampton Creative Group’s Mission Controller Matthew Iscoe.

This is the only step of the seven steps described here that is likely to involve a financial investment. This investment, however, is critical to the updating of your brand image and is one that typically offers a great deal of value-added to your marketing efforts.

3. Consider setting-up a business Facebook page so that you can invite your customers and important prospects to become “friends” of your company. One caveat – don’t waste your time setting up a Facebook page unless you have the time and people resources to post useful content on a consistent basis or work with a company that can do it for you.

Meaningful Facebook content can include postings of such information as:

  • Industry trend tidbits
  • Brief case studies about ways you helped customers or clients
  • “How-to” advice of interest to your customers – for example, restaurateurs can post recipes, attorneys can discuss popular legal issues, physicians can offer health advice, etc.

The goal of a Facebook presence is to keep your customers and prospects involved with your brand and your company – it’s a relationship-building and relationship maintenance strategy. The same rules for meaningful content apply to the use of Twitter for brand-building.
 


Look for Part Two of Sharon’s Tips for Marketing on a Shoestring Budget in next month’s Word Of Mouth Guest Blog post.

Sharon Wolf, M.A., M.S. is a brand and product innovation consultant at QualiData Research Inc., a consultancy that provides growing companies with business-building advice grounded in marketing research findings. Sharon and her partner, Hy Mariampolski, Ph.D., operate QualiData from East Hampton, San Francisco and Park Slope. QualiData and Hamptons Creative Group often collaborate on behalf of mutual clients.

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Word of Mouth – September 22, 2011 – Intentions

September 21, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – September 22, 2011

Intentions

We all get up every morning with the best of intentions. Earlier this week, we had the intention of greeting a full day of client consultations, in office marketing magic, and networking fun. To keep us on track and on time, we even set the alarm on our phone to ring minutes before we had to leave for the next event on the schedule.
 
But you know what they say about good intentions, right? Man makes plans and the universe laughs. We’d created a strategy for ourselves and Murphy’s law took over. One of our cell phone screens smashed, another alarm failed, a meeting ran long, and people who normally would be in a certain place and at a certain time just didn’t happen to be that day.
 
As a result, we arrived at a new client meeting just as the town church bells were ringing us tardy. Our preparation was for naught because we missed the meeting. We’re human, and we messed up.
 
So we learn, right? We create back up plans for the back up plans. We now carry a watch and a phone alarm. We brainstorm strategies to ensure we meet our client expectations and our own, too. We’re present in the moment while keeping an eye on the future and remaining flexible enough to seize opportunities when they arise.
 
Take, for example, the recent changes to Facebook. How will you approach the service now that it has changed? One thing is for sure: the new changes will mean more businesses will need help making Facebook an effective marketing tool.
 

Because, when it comes down to it, we only have the present to think about our business and set our intentions. It’s the plans we make now that influence the future months and years. But with all the hype (Christmas displays in September, anyone?) that has us always thinking 3 to 4 months ahead, it’s sometimes hard to focus now to plan for those future months.
 
That’s where our Marketing Makeover Ultimate comes in. It helps you focus NOW, on where you’d like to be in the months and year ahead. It sets your intentions NOW, and gives you concrete action steps to implement NOW that will take you into future.

So don’t let the universe laugh at your good intentions – make them real. Here’s how


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Word of Mouth – August 25, 2011 – Guest Blogger Neil Brownlee

August 25, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – August 25, 2011


Guest Blogger Neil Brownlee

This week’s guest blogger is Neil Brownlee, an advertising copywriter and creative director who had made a successful career by branding new businesses and re-branding existing products and services. He has received a Telly, Clio and other advertising awards.


“In This Economy?”

Being a Creative Director for an advertising agency, I regularly make advertising and marketing presentations to clients so they can ignite their sales, make customers happy, get rich, and retire early. Sounds like fun, huh?

So what can go wrong?

Sometimes I’m asked: what’s the key to a successful presentation? First, you have to believe in what you are presenting. Nothing falls on its face faster than a tepid, your-heart-ain’t-in-it pitch.  If you don’t get a client all pepped up then you’re dead in the water because clients get cold from 

snow jobs mighty fast.

So what does this have to do with the economy? Just think about what is going on daily. The stock market plummets, then climbs, and people can’t decide whether to take a Xanax or hide in the closet.

Unemployment sits and stagnates and no one has a clue how to get things moving again. One statistic I recently read made me stop and think – 75% of American consumers make 95% of the purchases. So you have a huge audience. But here’s the catch: That 75% either doesn’t have any spending money or they’re just afraid to spend it, preferring to hide their cash under the mattress, save it or, if they have real chutzpah and like roller coasters, invest it in the stock market.

So along comes Mr. Creative Director with his plans to storm the market and seize market share with the ferocity of Viking pillagers and plunderers. You stand there and pour your heart into the pitch. You generate so much energy that the air in the conference room tingles with electricity. Your client starts to sweat and just can’t wait to get your creative efforts on TV, the internet, the radio, in the newspapers or in magazines. The client even starts preparing his bragging speech for his golf course buddies.

You stand there knowing that you’ve just knocked ‘em dead and the deal is done. Then the client asks the dreaded question, “Great work. Terrific. So how much will all this genius cost me?”  

You take a deep breath and give the client the dollar amount. The client takes a deep breath, looks at you and says, “You expect me to spend that in this economy?”

Today, more than ever, advertising and marketing people have to be conscious of budgets and more creative than ever in how that money is spent. With less dollars being spent that means the selling message has to be more provocative and persuasive than ever.

What advice do I give to clients and marketing people? They have to think of each and every marketing message as a one-time proposition. You have one shot at making a sale and it had better be good. So do your homework, find the need that the target market craves to have satisfied and show them how your product or service satisfies it.

Getting someone to open their wallet and spend money is the #1 challenge facing businesses today. In order to be up to it you have to know the market, the product, and the media where the message is appearing and make sure that message is more than just some catchy, cutesy phrase.  

Do that and the electricity will flow from the presentation right to the customer.



Neil Brownlee is the Creative Director at Avalanche Creative Services as well as an Adjunct Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. He oversees the development of strategy and creation, in addition to the writing and production of advertising materials in all media formats — TV, radio, print, and online. Neil works with clients on a daily basis to ensure the highest quality and most effective creative product. His mantra is: I believe in results for clients. Anything else is simply conversation.
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There are only a few days remaining in the month. After that, our Comprehensive Guide to LinkedIn will no longer be available without cost. In “this economy” why not get yours now?

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Special Tuesday Word of Mouth – What I Did on Summer Vacation II – August 23, 2011

August 23, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – August 23, 2011


What I Did on Summer Vacation Part II

Last time I hinted that part two of my summer vacation story would involve “hail storms and top-secret tomatoes.” Were you curious as to what I could possibly mean by that?

Well, read on!

Lady Liberty newly restored, I headed to up state New York to visit family. At least that was the initial plan. Mother Nature has her own summer plans, which that day included a hail storm wicked and wild enough to bring interstate traffic to a standstill.

In fact, two lanes on the highway shut down completely. It amazed me how, with the thousands of drivers that needed to pass through the single remaining lane, we were able to navigate as a unit. Taking turns merging into the funnel can cause quite a headache when someone tries to sneak ahead of the line. But, with the onslaught of ice balls from above, everyone played nice.

I was worried to see what kind of new dents Lady Liberty would sustain in the storm. Low and behold, she stood up just fine. It goes to show that when you take care of the things that drive you — whether that be literally like a car, or figuratively like your marketing goals or your family values — those things will protect you as well.

Safe and sound up state, the family and I decided to have a special lunch at the Culinary Institute of America (C.I.A.). We checked their website to see which of their eateries would be open and headed over to the campus. Wouldn’t you know it, it was the first day of their new trimester and students and families were swarming the grounds. In fact, to our dismay, all the great dining options were closed to the public that day!

So much for their website. It made me think about how people find information these days and the need for businesses to be consistently accurate 24/7. We decided to stroll the campus a little bit and ran into the groundskeeper. She was sympathetic to our misadventure and produced a freshly picked tomato.

This was no ordinary tomato. The groundskeeper gave it to me as a gift, and it has, dare I say, not changed one bit in two weeks. This tomato seems to be more of an invention of the C.I.A. in Washington D.C. than an organic fruit. Well, you never know who’s listening in these days!

I did get to participate in the 16th annual Ellen’s Run in Southampton this summer as well. The run supports the Ellen Hermanson Foundation, which provides breast cancer education, support and research. My Hamptons Creative Group team will also hit the sand for Have A Heart’s 4th Annual Beach Volleyball Bash at the end of the month. Have A Heart provides immediate relief to East End residents in times of crisis. We’re looking forward to sunshine and not hail for that event…

I’m not writing off summer yet! There’s still a whole month to go and a lot to enjoy. Tell me what YOU did this summer. Or, tell me what you didn’t get to do because you were too busy adjusting your marketing efforts when you could have been on vacation.


I can help you tell your success story so next summer will be nothing but fun in the sun.

Linda Miller, CEO
Hamptons Creative Group

Remember to sign up this month to receive our special Comprehensive Guide to LinkedIn!

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