Vol. 10, No. 12 – August 30, 2010

August 30, 2010


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information
for managers, leaders and entrepreneurs

1. Shattering Five Branding Myths

Many organizations hurt themselves by succumbing to a belief in five branding myths, Consultant Maria Ross warns on MarketingProfs.com:

  • Branding Is Hard: Marketing is not simple but it also isn’t rocket science. “It simply requires focused thought about what you want your business to stand for and to whom, and then a commitment to communicate that message through everything you do visually and experientially,” she writes.
  • Branding Is Expensive: She has worked on $12 million budgets and $1,000 budgets. Effective branding can be done on any budget. The key is to make sure you have defined, in detail, your ideal audience and that you present consistent, strong messages that speak to their needs.
  • Branding Is Just Fluff: Brand translates into bottom-line sales when done effectively. “Brand equity can make or break a company. And if you think branding has no financial impact, just ask private-equity firms that ‘buy’ brands for billions of dollars, all for the brand cachet or loyal customer base,” she asserts.
  • All Designers Are The Same: Good designers understand how imagery, font, color, and spacing affect the subconscious. She urges you to beware of a designer who does not ask who your target audience is or what you are trying to convey to them through your visual elements but merely asks what colours and concepts you like.
  • Branding Works Immediately: Branding is not direct-response marketing. People need to experience your brand message multiple times before it sticks with a strong understanding of what your brand means.

2. Dealing With Opportunities

When faced with opportunities, often we want to run and hide as our fears get in the way. On Dumb Little Man, blogger Cath Duncan recommends dissolving your fears before making a decision to pursue an opportunity or not.

Start by shining a light on your fears, getting them all out on a piece of paper through brainstorming or mind-mapping techniques. Now, circle your biggest fears. Then play devil’s advocate, questioning those fears:

  • Would this scary thing really be likely to happen?
  • What assumptions of mine led me to think it will happen?
  • Are those assumptions true?
  • How would I know if those assumptions weren’t true?
  • What assumptions am I making about the scary thing happening that makes me fear it?
  • Are those assumptions true?
  • How would I know if those assumptions weren’t true?

“As you question your fears and your assumptions that you had been making about the situation, you’ll start to feel less certain about them,” she writes. “Now they can no longer have a grip on you.”

As well, get in touch with your resourcefulness and potential with these questions:

  • What resources do I already have which would serve me well in each of those situations?
  • What have I survived that was difficult in my life so far?
  • What resources did I use to get through that?
  • Who else do I know who has gotten through a difficult or scary thing like this?
  • What resources did they use?

3. Listen To Your Audience

When giving a presentation, the expectation is that your audience will listen to you. But Presentations Coach Nick Morgan, on Harvard Business Review blogs, says it’s also vital that you listen to your audience.

Put breaks into your speech, preferably every 10 minutes or so, in which you take the audience’s temperature. Ask if anyone has any questions, ask for reactions, or ask how what you have been talking about relates to their experiences.

And give them a chance to respond, he stresses. Too often, with adrenalin pumping, the speaker moves on after a nanosecond, deciding no one will speak up. Pause, and wait for responses, indicating with your body posture that you are eager to listen.

4. Try The Flip To Beat Your Competitors

Conventional wisdom says you have to one-up your competitors to beat them. Do more. Offer more. But on ChangeThis, the founders of 37 Signals, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson suggest the opposite: Do less.

In the world of bicycles, for example major brands have been focusing on the latest in high tech equipment. But recently, fixed-gear bicycles — with only one gear — have been booming. “The advantage: They’re simpler, lighter, cheaper, and don’t require as much maintenance,” the writers note.

The Flip is another example: This ultra-simple, point-and-shoot camcorder has taken a significant percentage of the market even though it doesn’t have a big screen, memory card, special effects, or optical zoom. An obvious loser, some would predict — but in fact, it’s a winner. “The Flip wins fans because it does a few simple things and it does them well,” they note.

So how can you flip your competitors?

5. Zingers

  • When you hit a roadblock and seem bogged down, try a tip from adventurer John Goddard: Focus on one goal you can finish in the next seven days — something simple. Don’t think about anything else. It should help to restart your momentum. (Source: The M.A.P. Maker)
  • Consultant Judith Kallos warns you to avoid excessive informality in your business e-mail. Treat e-mails with the same formality as if on company letterhead. With new contacts, initially assume the highest level of courtesy: “Hello Mr. Anderson, Dear Ms. Jones,” until the person says “you can call me Diane.” (Source: The Sideroad.com)
  • Ten ways to be a good mentor: Commit to your role. Be approachable. Be a good listener. Empathize. Encourage… don’t intimidate. Act as a sounding board. Don’t mollycoddle. Provide the company perspective. Play devil’s advocate. Remember how you felt. (Source: Management Today)
  • Television used to be the big time waster in our lives, but these days it’s the Web, as we look at a page, click another link, and get lost. Try scheduling your web time, in order to limit it. (Source: MichaelHyatt.com)
  • A new patient might be worth $2,500 to a chiropractor over a lifetime, yet marketing consultant Seth Guru notes that spending $50 on courting that client might seem like a lot. Instead of comparing what you invest in marketing to the benefit you receive from the first bill, the first visit, or the first transaction, it’s important to recognize the lifetime value of one more customer in terms of what they will spend and what they might additionally generate in referrals. (Source: Seth’s Blog)

6. Q&A with 8020Info:
Fundraising Basics

Question: Can you explain some basics for planning a non-profit fundraising campaign?

8020Info President and CEO Rob Wood replies:

Aside from fundraising events or earned income, there are many approaches you might consider for your fundraising effort: annual campaigns, capital/building campaigns, sponsorships, government or foundation grants, planned giving, endowments, and fundraising partnerships.

Prepare Your Case Statement: Early on you should prepare your case statement, which makes the argument for what you are attempting to accomplish, how you intend to reach your (reasonable) fundraising goal, and inspire and motivate donors to support your cause.

Build Relationships: Effective fundraising especially depends on close relationships with donors, which take time to develop. Understand what features of your campaign, organization or program really appeal to the individual. Also learn what personal concerns must be addressed.

You can begin engagement with a small ask, as simple as “can I send you some more information?” Significant relationships often take 18 months or longer to develop. And be prepared for the donor to be engaged in your project beyond simply writing a cheque — this has been a growing trend.

Just as many people never volunteer their time, many never make a charitable donation. A small percentage of households (typically 3-5%) give two-thirds or more of all charitable giving. So when identifying potential donors, think in terms of three key attributes:

  • Linkage: Do you have a contact or some other method of personal introduction to the potential donor? Cold-call letters or phone calls tend to be less effective.
  • Ability: Does the prospect have the ability to give? Do they have the financial means, and are they also psychologically ready to give at the level requested?
  • Interest: Does the prospect have a significant (preferably passionate) interest in your organization, activities or cause? Otherwise, gifts (if any) will be small.

Some other useful rules of thumb:

  • Plan on raising at least one third of your goal from 10-15 donors, a second third from 75-100 donors, and the final third from the general prospect base.
  • In a U.S. study, wealthy donors indicated they were most motivated to give by the notion of meeting critical needs (86%) or giving back to society (83%) compared to leaving a legacy (only 26%). More than six in 10 said one of their reasons for giving was “being asked”.
  • In the same study, nearly 60% also indicated they would give more money if they were able to determine the impact of their gifts.

Careful focus, strong relationships, a compelling case, well-structured campaign and follow-through will all do much to get your fundraising off to a great start. The rest is mainly hard work!

7. News From Our Water Cooler:
Change Readiness

Are we ready for change? That’s an assessment clients find worth making before undertaking any major change project: Will managers and staff engage with the project? What support will be needed? Are there major areas of potential resistance?

Some of the key factors that influence success are well known:

  • Vision (a clear understanding of the vision for the change, what it is attempting to achieve, the anticipated benefits and what it will mean to daily work)
  • Culture and Leadership (a culture that embraces change and welcomes engagement; active information-sharing and visible support from leaders)
  • Communications (to make the case for change, generate a sense of urgency, and identify/clarify the actual impacts of the change on staff)
  • Training/Support (assistance needed during the transition, and the skills, competencies and/or orientation staff will require to do their work)
  • Competing Priorities (other issues that may pull attention away from the project and weaken commitment to the change effort)

Whether the method is a staff survey, one-on-one interviews or small group discussions with stakeholders, these assessments are well worth the effort to plan effectively and bring your change initiatives to success.

8020Info helps teams develop, communicate and implement their communications, research and strategic plans more effectively. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries at (613) 542-8020, or by email at watercooler@8020info.com.

8. Closing Thought                                                                 Top

“Listen long enough and the person will generally come up with an adequate solution.”

— Mary Kay Ash