Emerge Bigger, Better, Stronger

Remember the bionic man? In a fatal crash that should have killed him, he survived. And the key to his survival – technology. Technology may also allow you to become bigger, better and stronger in this extremely difficult economy. If you haven’t looked at how technology can help you be more impactful in your marketing efforts, now would be a good time to evaluate just that. Internet based marketing efforts, be it a website, blog, social network, email marketing, online advertising, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, viral or any of the other internet marketing means, can give you a boost when traditional means have maxed out or proven less than effective. It’s cost effective, measurable, and best of all, can be truly “inter-active.” One of the main reasons that the new wave of web based communication platforms have taken off so quickly is because it’s the only means that allow you to converse with your customers. Want to learn what they think of your product, service or company? Ask them. And then listen, respond and react, even if you don’t like what you hear. Integrate technology into your overall marketing efforts. You’ll wonder why you didn’t sooner.

Connecting with your customers and clients, and understanding and addressing their ‘wants and needs’ is critical when times are tough, budgets are tight, and spending is extremely discretionary. Those who build client loyalty will survive, and thrive. Those who do not connect with their customers will be weeded out. In this kind of market, Darwinian principals are extremely evident. Just watch CNN for a couple hours and see just how quickly a corporation can fall apart.

Don’t be paralyzed. Keep moving. Use this challenging economy to strengthen your organization. When times are great, mistakes and weaknesses are masked. When times are tough, they are magnified. Now more than ever you need to have the right people, focused on the right things, utilizing the right resources. Right? If your executive team is out of alignment, time to get them working together or make some changes. Have some product lines or services that aren’t building customer loyalty or driving profit, may be time to shift those resources elsewhere. Make the tough choices that you know are right. If you don’t have the right talent, there has probably never been a better time to get it. In a down market, talent is abundant if you can go out and get it. If you need a fresh perspective, go to someone on your board or outside the organization completely to work with you on evaluating effectiveness of your team, your operations, and your marketing.

Identify areas of weakness and opportunity and react appropriately and aggressively.
Those who do will come out ahead. Those who do not may not survive.

If you want an objective perspective on how to strengthen both your marketing efforts and relationship with your customers, give me a call.

Seven Things You Should Never Say in a Branding Brainstorm

By Walt Jaschek, Branding Brainstormer and Guest Blogger

Branding brainstorms. Mike and I love 'em and lead 'em, for clients large and small, often together, in the form of one-day Perfect Your Pitch sessions. ("Perfect Your Pitch: it's not about baseball.") As in any brainstorm, participation is encouraged; there are no bad ideas; and NOTHING YOU CAN SAY IS WRONG. Well, almost nothing. There are seven exceptions.

1. "Sorry I'm late: I had to catch the end of Regis and Kelly."

(Come on, WE were all there on time, even though we were in our car, glued to the NPR pledge drive. Don't make us repeat the situation analysis; it was agonizing enough the first time.)

2. "Can we work the word 'excellence' in here somewhere?"

(No. 'Excellence' is one of the empty words now bankrupt from overuse, like quality, integrity and choco-licious.)

3. "I agree with everything our CEO is saying in this meeting."

(Most of the CEOs we work with prefer authentic reactions and well-reasoned push-back. Needless pandering is unnecessary. By the way, these CEOs are quite charismatic and handsome.)

4. "If my brand was a tree, what would it be?"

(This question didn't make sense when Barbara Walters invented it, and it still doesn't make sense. Everybody knows you'd be a sturdy, mature oak with beautiful fall foliage.)

5. "These are juicy, original concepts. I like them, I'm excited by them, but our audience will never get it. We should do something safer."

(This is the ubiquitous, idea-killing double standard: assuming the audience won't share the same delight as you in the authentically new, different and involving.)

5. "I'll take these ideas home and run them past my spouse."

(Please don't. Your spouse doesn't have the context, probably isn't the target audience, and will have a looooong memory if his/her favorite ideas don't end up on the website. Yeah. You know what I'm talking about.)

7. "The logo is too big."

(Well, that's just crazy. As we all know: the LOGO IS NEVER TOO BIG.)

Everything else, you CAN say in a branding brainstorm. So we'll see you in the conference room at 9 a.m. sharp. We'll be there early, sniffing the markers! Dibs on the red one.


Behr Strategies: A Look Back at 2008

How quickly a year goes by. 2008 was a very good year for Behr Strategies. The biggest highlight was the culmination of a 15 month effort with the Saint Louis Science Center called SciFest 08. It is a 3+ year BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal as defined by Jim Collins) meant to change the perception of the Science Center as far more than just a great place for kids, bring the science community and the public together in an innovative way, and raise the visibility of St. Louis as a global center of excellence in science and technology. It started as a vision and ended up as a 5 day International Science Festival with over 20,000 attendees from 19 states, nearly 100 presenters from all over the U.S. and U.K. and an international partnerships with Cheltenham Festivals of England. Doug King, CEO of the Science Center described the festival as “A home run” to the media. And oh yes, there will be a SciFest 09 and beyond.
Read more about this in the December 2008 issue of St. Louis Commerce Magazine

Another highlight was developing a brand and putting together a marketing plan for a new bank called Parkside Financial Bank and Trust. My talented partners on the project were Walt Jaschek of WaltNow, Michael Kilfoy of Studio X and John Edwards of EZ Email Marketing. I also had the opportunity to lead a two day strategic workshop on a go-to-market strategy for an innovative new product introduction for Nestle. The cross function team included executives from California, New Jersey and Switzerland.

Other projects included some branding and key messaging work for the St. Louis IT Coalition and Innovate St. Louis, a strategic plan for a bold and exciting new initiative at KETC – Channel 9, and the development of a new marketing agency business model for the CEO of a public holding company. And lastly, we started and continue to work with an entrepreneurial St. Louis based exploration company called Arlan River, on marketing strategy, branding, Public and Investor Relations, and the development of a website and blog. It was a busy but very fulfilling and productive year.

A special thank you to my wife and business partner Cynthia Behr, who is VP, Finance and Operations. I could not have been as focused and effective on the client engagements if she wasn’t able to manage every other aspect of our small but growing company.