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Rallying Around the Claus

9 Dec

Santa Claus

by: Thomas Nast, Harper's Weekly, 1-1-1881

by: Larry Roy

For most of us, this is the time of year when we tend to draw closer to those around us, to be less intense and more forgiving. Do you buy that? Truth is, I don’t know if that’s true for most of us or not. I can only speak for myself, and simply hope that’s the case for everyone else. It does feel good, however, to believe in the ideal of a more connected, less cruel society, even if only once a year.

Why is it that we draw closer? For many, it’s about faith and what the Christmas holiday represents. For others, it’s simply about the joy of giving (and receiving). Still others want to believe in Santa Claus—or at least the idea of Santa Claus, a jolly old chap who brings gifts to all the world. For me, it’s all of these things. Whatever one believes, the holiday season should be comforting, inspiring, joyous. I hope it is for you.

Sadly, this is also a season where many find themselves more hurried and frantic, or more depressed. Perhaps it’s the weight of another year of unfulfilled wishes coming to a close. Maybe it’s rooted in a magnified sense of loneliness or distance from friends and family. Whatever the cause, it is my hope that those who feel this find some connection to the world, to the season and all its wonder.

There’s that word again—hope.  Ben Franklin said, “He that lives upon hope shall die fasting.” Perhaps he was right. Simply hoping for the best for others doesn’t make it so. That requires action. So for those of us who find ourselves in a giving spirit, let’s make the effort in some small way to touch those who are struggling through the season. It may be no more than a smile to a stranger, a cup of coffee and a conversation, a donation of time, money, clothing or toys. Just do something. The action is its own reward.

Now where was I before my plea to you to be charitable? Oh yes, that inescapable yearning for connection to one another during the holiday season. I think much of it is fueled by the pervasiveness of the season. It becomes the center of attention—in the news, in advertising, in our own little worlds of holiday parties and mall traffic. It reminds us that we’re all in this together. We all rally around a cause or event that affects us as a whole. That’s why movies about alien invasions are so inspiring to me. They unite the world against a common enemy. It’s why there is such a pouring out of help and support when natural disasters strike anywhere in the world. We realize that the event is bigger than any of us.

So whether you believe in Santa Claus or not, I implore you to believe in what he represents. Don’t dismiss the power of the myth of a jolly, white-bearded chap being whisked across the sky by tiny reindeer just because you’re a grownup. Let that giving spirit and sense of unity draw you closer to those you know, and those you don’t. Be a kid. I promise it doesn’t hurt. Just ask a kid. They’ll tell you.

Original Thinking in a Template-Driven World

3 Dec

By: Larry Roy

Improving Your Brand Template #4What happens when you hire a company to help you improve your brand, or increase the flow of traffic to your website or your business? What’s their process? Do they go in the back room and grab “Improving Your Brand Template #4” off the shelf, rename it and say, “Here you go?” I hope not.

We can’t tell any company exactly what should be done to accomplish their goals through marketing and advertising until we thoroughly understand a few things. Let’s start with who they are–meaning who they think they are, who they want to be, how they are really perceived by the public, and do any of those match. It takes some significant probing and prodding to get a sense of this, but our clients appreciate it. They get what we’re after.

There is much more we need to learn before we can devise a real plan of attack and the necessary weapons to employ, but let’s skip that for now and jump to the process of brainstorming. What a cool word—raining on the brain or, I guess, from the brain. In any case, it’s fun and challenging at the same time. In our group, we tend to take the information we’ve extracted from our clients’ heads, then sift through it independently. Allowing individual thinking first, without the influence of others, pushes our team to think for themselves. That’s a good thing.

When we do come together in a brainstorming session, it’s a free-for-all by design. I don’t want us hung up on the how-to or the inherent silliness of an idea, at least not at first. If we’re not laughing hysterically at some point during a brainstorming session, then we’re probably not unearthing the best ideas. When you let diverse minds interact with a singularity of purpose, but with total freedom to dream up anything they want, it’s amazing what comes out of it! Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” and I listen to what he says.

So after the frivolity of a brainstorming session or two, we switch sides of the brain to zero in on the best, most feasible ideas for a client. Then we fine-tune them, and organize them in terms of priority. Next step, present to the client.

“You think we ought to do what?” It’s not an unusual first comment from a client when we sit down to review our ideas. That’s okay. If we don’t surprise them with something they haven’t considered before, then we haven’t earned our keep. That’s not to say that our sole objective is to shock the client with some crazy idea, but they’re paying us to think differently than they do. They ought to get their money’s worth. Besides, there’s always a method to our madness, a strategic logic behind our crazy ideas, and typically some precedent of prior success.

This is phase one of the process we follow with our clients. Phase two is defining budgets and timelines for implementation; more on that in the next installment. In the meantime, my advice to those seeking brand enhancement or advertising help is to look for a company that isn’t afraid to ask you hard questions, and then tell you what they think. It helps if they’re a little off their rocker, too! Just a little.

Review: Accelerent (Business Development Platform)

16 Nov

Accelerent LogoPoint 3 Media decided to get involved with a business development platform earlier this year called Accelerent. It’s a significant investment of both time and dollars, but we felt it was worth it for one main reason: we wanted to do more local business to build the economy in Middle Tennessee. We spent many years building our client list outside of the state, but are now focusing on helping businesses close to home.

So far, Accelerent is exactly what it says it is: a business development platform. I know that Larry, Sheilah, Jessica and I have had a fun and productive time going to the various events, and meeting all of the different partners and their clients. I’ve met more people in the past two months of being involved with Accelerent than in the past two years of living in Nashville. It’s been great on a personal and a professional level. Plus, what a great way to distribute your business cards!

The events encompass everything from one-on-one meetings to wine tasting events. There is also a monthly breakfast where Accelerent brings in a speaker to educate business leaders. They’ve included: Merril Hoge, Peter Vidmar, and Vernice Armour. They’ve all been great and so inspiring. I really learned a lot from Peter Vidmar – he’s a US Olympian and motivational speaker. He can still even do his pommel horse routine and he’s over 50! Peter spoke about motivation – ROV (Risk, Originality and Virtuosity) – and how those three elements should insure that your business outperforms the competition. You should definitely read about his story here.

All of this networking would not mean much unless there was measurable ROI. One of my tasks is to track how many meetings we have, how many proposals we deliver, and how many clients we do business with because of Accelerent. Utilizing the Accelerent platform there is a longer term prospecting process, however, the potential return on investment is great. That being said, now that our Accelerent partners are familiar with what we do, business is steadily flowing. We have many appointments booked each week, which is great, but it can be overwhelming and that’s why I’m here to help. I’m excited at a new opportunity for Point 3 Media, and am looking forward to expanding our family of clients.

Networking…. It’s Elementary

27 Sep

By: Sheilah Griggs

Networking

Copyright Health Care Leaders: http://www.hclabc.bc.ca

The word “networking”, while creating an orgasmic flurry of excitement in some, can often cause an otherwise mature adult to roll their eyes like a teenage girl. Why such extreme reactions? The one panting thinks he will meet someone at the next meeting that will make him a millionaire and the other sees it as a waste of time because the guy living from event to event is doing so over a garage.

Networking alone does not put food on the table nor does being a hermit help grow your business. If you are fortunate enough to have a team where the introverted workaholic is balanced by the gifted socialite, then your chances for success are good. But what if YOU are the team?

Regardless of the scenario, everyone can find their balance if they stay networking neutral. How do you do that? Well, first of all, stop looking at it as “networking” and start looking at it as making friends. Now, what did we learn about making friends in elementary school…. Be nice, don’t interrupt and share your toys. Things really aren’t that different – our clothes are just bigger.

Nobody liked the pushy bully in school and now he’s grown up to be a salesman – no matter what he’s selling, people will go hide in the corner to escape his mouth. Selling should not be your goal. Building a relationship should be. You can’t expect a deal to close on the first night…. people who do that are called sluts, if you recall. So, be patient, be charming, and be liked.

Arcadia Playground

Copyright Arcadia Playground: http://www.plioz.com

Nobody really liked the snotty “soch” that wouldn’t share her Aqua Net and talked about, well, about herself. So focus on asking questions and give your elevator pitch in a conversational way and when solicited. Don’t worry, people will ask what you “do” because it’s more comfortable than asking who you “are” on a first date.

The shy girl always on the sideline at the high school dance probably grew up and created something amazing like the windshield wiper. But, at a networking event, she’s probably still waiting for someone to smile her way. Be the one who does it! Bring someone out of their shell and they’ll never forget you. If you were the star quarterback, probably by now your waist line is higher than the number on your jersey but all of that attention probably gave you quite a bit of confidence. Use your powers for good – help someone feel part of the action. Be helpful to someone else and you will be remembered.

Of course, if we only knew back then that the “nerd” would grow up to run a Fortune 500, we might have said yes when he asked us out. So, when someone who doesn’t seem like your “type” wants to chat or grab coffee, take the half hour to do so. You’ll still have friends the next day at the lunch table, trust me.

In a way, all this “networking” stuff is really very old school. In all of this over sharing and electronic communication we’ve seemed to have forgotten the art of conversation…. but that’s for another blog.

5 Ways to Improve Your TV Commercials

23 Aug

By: Larry Roy

Point 3 Media_TOA Campaign

Point 3 Media production still from TOA Commercial Shoot

It’s often said that bad publicity is better than no publicity. When it comes to television advertising, however, that’s not necessarily the case. Sure, “bad” commercials are often talked about more than “good” commercials, but they don’t motivate consumers to do what you want. In fact, they often repel them and—by virtue of all that talk—they can repel their friends, and their friends’ friends!

As much as we complain about them, television commercials still heavily influence our perceptions and our decision-making. They prompt us to form an opinion about companies, products and services. That’s not surprising when you consider that TV commercials, unlike any other medium, are able to utilize sight, sound, motion and emotion to convey a message. As an advertiser, the trick is to convey a message that produces a positive response, not a “have you seen that awful commercial for so-and-so?” response.

So what makes a “good” commercial? Is it simply the dollars spent? No, there have been many high-cost commercials that have produced miserable results.  Is it because they are funny? Sometimes, yes, but humorous commercials often entertain people but leave them completely oblivious to what product or service or company was advertising. So what works and what doesn’t? Well here are just a few tips that may help ensure your television commercials hit their mark.

1. Know Your Audience – Television advertising by design speaks to a wide audience, but your message should cater to your primary audience—those most likely to buy your product or service. Are they men or women? Are they under 30 or over 60? Are they upper income, educated consumers?  Are they selfish or cause-oriented? Families or single people? Of course, your audience can be a mix of some or all of these, but you can draw intelligent conclusions about your primary potential customers from  your current customers. If you want to reach women in the 30’s that are likely married with children, then a commercial that uses bathroom humor as its premise is probably a mistake. Target your message to talk to whom you want most to reach.

Point 3 Media_CMI Vein and Laster

Larry Roy and Sheilah Griggs getting ready for the commercial shoot for CMI Vein and Laser Clinics

2. Define Your Purpose – When I ask a client what they want their television advertising to accomplish, the typical answer is “increased sales”. That’s understandable, the ROI needs to be there. However, often times, the purpose is really something else—it may be a means to an end. If it’s a new product or company, for example, the first objective may be to simply increase awareness, to brand a name and create a good feeling about it. If it’s not a “need right now” product or service, then the objective may be to plant the seed that “we’re here when you need us.”

Maybe the purpose is to drive the consumer somewhere else. The goal of much television advertising today is to move the consumer to a web site, where they can really learn about what the advertiser has to offer. In this instance, the TV commercial does not need to communicate everything about the product. It simply needs to create the want or need to investigate further.

Remember, unless the ONLY advertising you ever do is television, or the ONLY way the consumer can get your product or service is from your TV ads, then don’t view the sole purpose of your TV commercials as increased sales. Clearly define what you want to accomplish first.

3. Streamline Your Message – A television commercial goes by fast. Most are 30 seconds, some are 60 seconds, and many today are only 15 seconds long. As a result, it’s critical that the message you want to get across is concise and well defined. Often times an advertiser will try to cram way too many facts, figures, options, ideas or messages into a single commercial. The typical result? Nothing is remembered. Decide what is the most important thing you want the viewer to remember first, and build around it.

Obviously, the name of the company is assumed to be the most important, but a web address may be even more important if that’s where you want them to go.  If you’re selling a specific product, then focus on that product and avoid the temptation to “throw in” several other offers that dilute the message. If the most important thing you want to impress on the viewer is a feeling, then the entire mood and message should convey that feeling, and nothing else.

4. Quality Over Concept – Television commercial production can be expensive. If the vision for a commercial involves multiple actors, multiple locations, lots of special effects, props and sets, that’s great—if the budget is there to do it right. However, many times the dollars simply aren’t there for the proper execution of a grand concept, and the result is disappointing—to the advertiser AND the consumer. When budgets are limited, I always advise the client to focus on a simple concept, well executed. This starts with the writing. A well-written commercial, like a well-written screenplay, can more than compensate for budget limitations. The same is true with talent. A good actor or voice talent can deliver the message far more effectively—and affordably—than a slew of special effects or action scenes designed to cover up a bad script.  So when dollars are limited, keep it simple, and focus on quality over concept. The consumer knows and appreciates quality when they see it—and they have little tolerance for a lack of it.

5. Don’t Hide – As mentioned earlier, there are lots of clever and humorous commercials that people remember and talk about to other people. The conversation can go like this:

Bob: “I saw this great commercial the other day.”

Sally: “Really, who was it for?”

Bob: “I have no idea, but there was this talking chimpanzee…”

Large advertisers with large ad budgets that can seemingly “be everywhere” with their message can get away with this. For everyone else, it’s the kiss of death. Don’t be so swayed by a clever commercial with high entertainment value but leaves the viewer clueless as to who you are or what you are selling.  This doesn’t mean you can’t be clever, or entertaining, or funny, but don’t allow the story line to completely overshadow your identity. Integrate the product or service or company name into the message throughout the commercial—whether spoken, or on screen, or both. Don’t relegate identifying your company or product to the last five seconds of a commercial, thinking that the last thing they see is what they’ll remember. No, what they’ll remember is what entertained them the most, or what was impressed on their brain throughout the commercial.

Other factors certainly come into play when planning and launching a television campaign, such as where and when it runs, what other media will support it, how much competition there is and what they are doing, but these five tips should serve as a guide to where to start, what to focus on and what to avoid.