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Why should I hire a Marketing or Ad Agency?

Why should I hire a Marketing or Ad Agency?

A few years back we all got a kick watching Kate from “Jon & Kate plus Eight” trying to dance on Dances with the Stars…and if you missed that, let me tell you that Young Frankenstein dancing to “Putting on the Ritz” cut a better rug than poor Kate did. The fact of the matter is we can’t all be good at everything but the good news is, each of us is usually good at something….and if your business is accounting or sales or manufacturing….then that’s what you should focus on and hire someone else to do everything else. When it comes to business, getting the right people in place to perform each function is critical to success, and that applies to advertising & marketing as much as sales and production.

You can’t afford to use “do it yourself” marketing for your business (and forget the marketing your niece or nephew does as well). Don’t make the mistake of looking at an ad or sales piece and thinking “Hey this looks easy”. Just like any other professional skill, people study marketing and advertising for years to understand what makes people buy products. And in business you only get one or two shots at success, so do it right the first time (and if you’ve already done it wrong the first time, do what you have to do to hire a pro so you can at least make things right from here on out).

Do what you do best and let the advertising and marketing pros do what they do best. By hiring a marketing pro, I don’t mean to use the free layout services from your local newspaper or magazine that they give you when you buy an ad. If you can’t afford to hire a pro, then perhaps you need to get some funding or take on a new partner with those skills? I know it’s frustrating to have a great product that no one knows about….but too many failed businesses made the mistake of developing great products and setting up well-oiled production and accounting departments, only to leave their advertising and marketing to a recent art school graduate. OR worse yet, trying muddle through the job themselves….FORGET THAT! Don’t underestimate the value of a well-planned, coordinated and consistent advertising campaign created by an experienced professional.

Do yourself a favor….you’ve gotten this far and invested this much, so don’t drop the ball now. Take your business all the way to the goal by hiring a talented advertising and marketing firm to ensure the world knows who you are and what great products or services you have to offer.

Update:  If you do hire an ad agency to do some work for you – TRY to listen to them.  There’s nothing worse from where I’m sitting than being hired by a client to do some work for them and then never getting the chance to do what I’ve done for THIRTY YEARS!  It seems I either end up with the client who insists they know better OR I end up with the client who delineates each job down to excruciating detail BEFORE we do anything.  That just causes a whole other boat load of problems.  TELL ME what you think and what you WANT to tell me, of course – but TRY to listen to me if I push back a little or advise you to go in a different direction. I may not know everything but I do know a lot when it comes to getting customers to NOTICE and BUY, and it would be better for you if you at least considered what I have to say.   Once you do, it’s your prerogative to VETO it but at least hear me at least one time (and I mean HEAR me out not just be so intent on your own ideas that you don’t hear a damn thing I say!!!!)


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Your Website Checklist

You’ve just hired someone to design and program your new website and they’re asking you Checklistto give them all the things they will need to create the site. The problem is you don’t know the first thing about it, so what do you do?  You can start with this list of  things that most if not all website designers and programmers will need in order to create a new website:

 1)      Unformatted digital text – be prepared to give your development team all of the text for your website in one UNFORMATTED, Microsoft Word or Word Pad document (or other digital word processing file).  Be sure to label each section of text with the page names that the text goes on (so put “About Us” at the top of the text for the About Us page and so on). Make sure that the headers for each page in this section match the names of each page.  These page names should correspond to and match the primary navigation tabs on the home page and any sub tabs or links that may be included with your site. Don’t forget to include all the headlines, sub headlines, and other text that you want used through the site (you may want “pull quotes” to be used on side bars, for example or quotes or captions to be used on photos; also include all the contact information, copyright dates, email addresses, names of employees.)  To ensure you don’t forget anything use your initial “site outline” that you should have created when you asked for the quote for the job, as a guide for the text you need to write and prepare.

2)      Website Instructions – First let me say that there’s nothing more dangerous and confusing than receiving 35 emails each with a snippet of text or a photo with a name like “25944GP.jpg” or other files that are not properly named and prepared to be handled by the development team.   Be sure to include any and all instructions for the website in the above “Digital Text” document (these instructions can be before or after the text for the site). Be sure to make a clear differentiation between the web text and your instructions, perhaps by writing the instructions in colored text or a different font.

3)      Correctly prepared and formatted Images – The exact size of photos that your team will need won’t be clear until AFTER the design phase of the web development is File format imagesdone.  For that reason it’s just better if you give your team the biggest, highest resolution images you have. If you have those images on your computer, do not try to email them to the team by embedding them into a word document or an email.  You CAN send them as an attachment to an email OR better yet use a service like “drop box” or see if your team has an “FTP” server that will make it easier for your to transfer files that are very large.  If you try to email these images they may clog up your email software’s outbox and even if they go out of your own email system, you won’t have any way of knowing if the client can accept files that are that big.  For that reason it’s just better to upload them to an FTP server or use a system similar to Drop Box.(to use an FTP site, someone from your development team will have to send you the instructions and log-in information separately).  Be aware that not all images are “ready to go”…and your design crew may have to do some photo retouching, cropping, resizing and other word that may or may not be included in your initial website quote.  If you have a choice to send your images in a variety of different file formats, most designers would prefer .jpg images (pronounced J-peg).

4)      Image and file Naming – Be careful how you name the files and  images that you give to your development team because it’s REALLY hard and very confusing when they get files or images that are named “qap239r809.jpg”.  If you could name the photo or file WHAT it is……that is very helpful and avoids unnecessary delays.  If the image you are sending is a photo of “Mary Smith” then you could just name it Mary Smith.  It would be even better if you could add the name of the page where you’d like that photo, for example marysmith_pricing.jpg  (don’t forget you can’t ADD a period in the text name…. you CAN add an underscore OR a dash, without a problem – no other characters can be inserted into a file name and the .jpg part is added automatically so you don’t need to worry about that part…just name the first part of the file name (before the period) as I’ve explained here.

5)      Captions – if you would like a caption on or above any of the images, please provide the information to your team by creating a list using the Image file name (see above instruction about naming your files) plus the text that goes with that image next to the name. You can include this list with the text for the website (with the instructions, before or after). If your website is going to have a series of photos with captions, you’ll want to consider how those photos will look next to each other and try to keep any text or captions that go with the photos in a similar style and length.  It’s better not to have one photo with a big, long sentence under it while another photo has two words.  Also remember that if your site is going to have any moving images or text, which are usually programmed with FLASH instead of HTML, for example, you will want to have those captions of similar length and style as well.

6)      Forms – if you plan to have a form on your website, be sure to include the text for the form (or the field names, in other words) with the unformatted digital text that you’ll be providing to your development team.  Also you’ll need to include the email address where you want the form information to be sent to (so for example if you have a form on your “contact us” page, then whenever someone fills out that form, your team will need to know what email address you’ll want that information to be sent to).

7)      Logos – you development team will also need any and all logo artwork that you use for your company and possibly the name of the font that goes with your logo and business package (some companies have a typeface or “font” that they use for all of their outgoingfavicon 1 materials and some organizations even have instructions or rules that go with those fonts & logos, that a marketing team would have to have in order to use those items correctly).  Be sure to send your logo in the highest resolution possible and if possible send the version that’s color and the one that has a clear background or no background.  If you are not sure which logo to send, then I’d suggest that you send  them all the logos you have (you can include these files with the images you will be emailing or posting to the FTP site or putting into “Dropbox”).

8)      Social Media Links – if you want social media links on your website please send 20-social-media-iconsthe links or web addresses to each of your social media webpages.  Try to avoid telling your programmers “can you link my website up to my Facebook page?” because this opens up a whole new can of worms and a number of opportunities for the programmer to connect your website up to the wrong Facebook page.  If you want your site to be developed quickly and correctly, make it as easy and clear as possible for your team so that you minimize confusion and maximize the chances of things being done right the first time.

9)      Contact info – Don’t forget to include any and all current contact information with the content for the website including all the email addresses you want listed on the website (and where you’d like those items to be listed or located).

I often hear horror stories of companies who have hired someone to work on their website, only to have that person drop off the planet or stop working on the project abruptly with no explanation.  I’d wager to say that these people get frustrated asking for materials, waiting for them, asking for the next thing, then waiting for that item and so on….only to lose time and money and ultimately any and all profitability on the project.  This isn’t inevitable however and you’ll greatly reduce the likelihood of having any major issues if you will take the appropriate amount of time on the onset of the project in order to prepare the materials that your team is going to need.

Finally, don’t forget that your development team is most likely made up of a number of people – you may have a marketing person who is helping you plan and outline the site, a copywriter who will help you to write the text, a designer who will develop the design of the website, a programmer who will program the basic site (an HTML programmer or WordPress Programmer, for example) and possibly other programmers who will do specialty programming such as FLASH, database or E commerce programming.  Finally you may have someone to help you after all that’s done to market your website and get it listed on the quality management teamssearch engines.  You may not need to send all the above information to each person who is working on the site, but it will be helpful to you and certainly the initial people working with you to be able to see all the information in one place – well-organized and clearly thought out – before they start on your web development project.


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The Secret of the Sales Cycle: REVISITED

The Sales Circle

The 4 secrets of the sales cycle

I’ve rewritten this article and elaborated on each of the points for a more comprehensive article. I hope this will help you to determine how and where to spend your advertising & marketing dollars and the importance of supporting your sales cycle.

Not everyone knows this but there is a secret formula to success when it comes to marketing: Every business MUST follow 4 basic steps in order to be successful.

First you must create & establish a memorable corporate identity. A corporate identity, also known as your brand, is made up of a consistent look and feel and a cohesive message, both of which contribute to your target market’s ability to remember you and your product or service name. A potential client has to be able to remember you when it comes time for them to purchase your product or service and a memorable, unique and consistent brand helps them to do just that.

Second, you must have a way to bring in leads. A famous entrepreneur once said “you won’t even be able to sell $10 bills for $5, unless someone hears your message”. In order to sell anything, you have to be able to present your sales message to someone and for that you need leads. A lead is simply someone who’s willing to listen to what you have to say (your sales message).

Third, you have to qualify and sell those leads (or sort out the bad ones & keep the good ones). In any group of potential customers there will be some that are interested but not ready to buy, some that are interested that are ready to buy and others that aren’t interested at all. To move your potential client through the sales funnel, you need to present your message and then sort out those that are interested and ready to buy from the rest of the pack.

Finally, you have to build relationships with those qualified leads…i.e., you must put some effort into keeping your name or brand in front of your potential & existing clients, so they don’t forget you. Whenever you push a lead through a sales funnel, they will need to hear your advertising or sales message more than once (aka frequency). During that time, you can build a sort of “business relationship” with that lead that will hopefully develop interest in your offering, cultivate trust in your product & brand and eventually lead to them recalling your name at the time of purchase.

It’s my job as a marketing & advertising professional to encourage our clients to invest in some advertising activities that support each of these four areas. If any one piece of the above “cycle” is missing or weak or unsupported by your marketing efforts, then your sales cycle will collapse and you’ll miss or lose sales. I could write a book on each and every one of the above “rules” because I’ve made a career out of understanding and implementing tactics that will achieve results in each of these areas, but that’s not the focus of this article. The main message of this article is to help you to understand that you can’t pick some advertising tactic arbitrarily out of thin air and then depend on that one thing to bring in fantastic advertising results. People do that frequently and that’s one of the reason’s why I always hear clients say “I placed an ad once and it didn’t work.” Whenever you embark on an advertising campaign, it’s important to recognize the steps that potential clients go through to locate and get familiar with a brand in order to make a purchasing decision. Then it’s up to you to make sure that your advertising efforts support the entire sales process to best support and encourage your target market to consider & select your product.

Here is a list of advertising tactics divided up by the sales area they will best support. Not all ad tactics are mutually exclusive….they often support more than one area of the sales cycle. When deciding how to spend your advertising dollars, make sure you have some “tactics” or projects in each of the following areas:

1. Corporate Identity/Brand DevelopmentCreate a unique & memorable brand

  • Marketing, Advertising, PR & Social Media plans
  • Name & Tagline creation
  • Logo
  • Campaign/look & feel
  • Business Package – letterhead, envelopes & business cards
  • Web URL – get your web address and host it so you can use that email account
  • Email signature
  • Uniforms
  • Signage

2. Lead Development Get leads coming in the door and collect basic lead contact info

  • Web Advertising:
  • Pay per click
  • Landing page (for banners & PPC ads)
  • Banner Ads
  • Web listings
  • HTML Emails
  • SEO/Site Submissions
  • Print Advertising:
  • Direct mail
  • Magazine Ads
  • Newspaper Ads
  • Broadcast Advertising:
  • TV Commercials
  • Radio Commercials
  • Theatre Ads
  • Trade shows/Trade show booth/promotions

3. Lead Qualification & Sales Once you’ve got leads, tell them who you are and sell them!

  • Website
  • Brochures – print or digital
  • Flyer/Product Spec Sheets
  • Product Packaging
  • Point of purchase displays
  • Presentations/PowerPoint
  • Product photos
  • Product samples
  • Client Bio Sheet
  • Corporate Background Sheet
  • Referral sheet
  • Quote/Proposal presentation format/design
  • Folder
  • Sales Pitch
  • Giveaways
  • Pricing Strategy

4. Relationship Building/Brand Promotion Keep your customers coming back for more

  • Social Media
  • HTML Newsletter
  • Referral Program/package
  • Promotions/Sweepstakes/Contests
  • Customer Loyalty Programs
  • Public Relations/Press Releases
  • Sponsorship of local sports teams
  • Join Chamber/Networking events
  • Uniform
  • Signage

Ok that’s it for today.  I hope this little article has helped you to get an idea about what has to be done to have a successful advertising campaign.  Of course the issue is way more complicated than this but this is a start.  Please feel free to contact me any time – we are here to help you and I am more than glad to spend a little time helping you figure out what you need to do to market your business.  Email me at emily@mdept.com.


Why should I hire a Marketing or Ad Agency?

A few years back we all got a kick watching Kate from “Jon & Kate plus Eight”...
article post

Your Website Checklist

You’ve just hired someone to design and program your new website and they’re...
article post

The Secret of the Sales Cycle: REVISITED

I’ve rewritten this article and elaborated on each of the points for a more...
article post