Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Section 1.4.2 from The Value-Based Fee Manifesto

"While the hourly fee allows the client to receive an estimate based on the amount of time the marketer will spend, the number is not written in stone. Furthermore, it is a variable that has the semblance of being an even exchange--hours for a task being completed--without respect to the importance of the task or how successfully the result meets the client need. In fact, if the results are off the mark, and more time must be spent to complete the project to the client's satisfaction, that time is billable. When a client selects a project fee, (s)he is not charged for additional time."

This is one reason why I create a custom proposal for each client that includes a project fee, not an estimate of how long it will take multiplied by an hourly rate.

What is your take on the subject?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Microsoft Strikes Back!

In its new TV ads (view here), Microsoft finally delivers its answer to the "coolness" factor, of which Apple has so deftly commanded ownership. By taking everday people and some huge celebs (Tony Parker, Eva Longoria, Deepak Chopra, and more), the Microsoft ad opens the range of Apple's proposed polarized user definitions. What can small business take away from this marketing effort? While perhaps competition is not as fierce, if someone is going for jugular in your industry, find the loophole in their logic. Address it after a period of reflection, but don't wait too long. It takes calm, calculated thinking to strike back in a meaningful way so assemble a good team of strategic thinkers. Now that Apple is on the defensive, it will be interesting to see what their next move is.

P.S. I'm not debating which product/platform is better, only exploring the brand strategies. In fact, the Microsoft ad isn't about the product but the people who use it, which is really at the heart of the Apple campaigns. If you have seen the movie "Thank You for Smoking," you might recall a scene where father and son debate about what ice cream flavor is better--chocolate or vanilla. Aaron Eckhart's character says, "If you argue correctly, you're never wrong." It's the same thing. Here's a trailer for the movie.
P.P.S. I don't think the intent is to sell more computers, oddly enough. It's simply about making PC owners feel good about their decision and shaping a better image which in the long run may prevent defection to Apple based on identity issues.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Learning from Failure

While there are many resources out there to tell the small business owner how to be successful as well as chronicles of success, we don't hear as much about failures in order to learn from them. (Unless of course they are huge in terms of impact and/or scandalous, such as Enron.) But what about the downward spiral of the off-the-radar businesses who make simple mistakes we can all avoid just by being aware of them? As I attempt to compile these, I was happy to find in my inbox today that someone has at least published a soundbyte about this called Five Dumb Mistakes. It is the Reach Group who has developed a "Free Agent Formula," and while I'm not a big fan of this type of thing usually, the article is worth reading at http://www.marketingprofs.com/small-business/index.asp?nlid=545&cd=dmo121&adref=NsbW398.

Although chasing rabbits (see previous post) didn't make the list, I can say that the first item--which I imagine happens when folks go into business just to escape the 9-to-5 by opening a franchise or buying into some MLM or affiliate marketing without loving what they do--is just as dangerous.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Inspiration

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Rabbit Hole

There's an article worth noting in Jacksonville's Business Journal by Ray Attiyah. His premise is that managers should not chase more than one "rabbit" at a time and he offers a very clear analysis based on experience of why organizations lose focus. I like that he draws to the surface a substantial list of contributing factors but wish he offered a clear-cut systematic plan to avoid chasing two rabbits—or even chasing one down its hole, only to disappear. So, here is the systematic plan that I'd like to offer to small business owners and executives who feel overwhelmed by frequent changes in direction and its compounding problems:

Step 1: Be willing to look squarely at the state of affairs. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to admit errors, bad decisions, barriers to success, market challenges, and customer complaints. If you can silence the ego long enough to examine the environment without blame or judgement, you can overcome any obstacles.

Step 2: Identify root causes (as hard as they may be to admit), again in a way that rises above finger-pointing and blame-laying. However, do not shy away from crucial conversations. Be honest with yourself and others.

Step 3: Make gradual steps toward improvement by eliminating root causes. Enlist support where you need it and focus on what contributing factors must be minimized to foment change.

Sometimes this all of this is easier with the help of an outside, objective observer and facilitator, particularly in organizations rife with political battles. Scary as it may seem, the rewards of these steps are well worth it for those who truly want to lead a successful company.

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Visit my site for upcoming events and additional resources: www.tracydiziere.com/learn

Monday, September 1, 2008

Free Small Biz Marketing Seminar in Phoenix: Sept. 19, 2008

Upcoming Seminar!

Title: Writing Stellar Copy: A DIY Marketing Seminar
Type: In-person
Date/Time: Friday, September 19, 2008 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Location: Burton Barr Library, Meeting Room A, 1221 N Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ
Cost: Free
Description: This seminar is for anyone who wants to take a "do-it-yourself" approach to writing ads, brochures, or any written marketing materials to effectively speak to their prospects and customers.

Click here to register