Archive for September, 2010

It’s not Business. It’s personal.

Posted on September 30, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Communications, ecommerce, Human Business, Jazz, Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This post is about human business. The musical post isn’t directly related. It’s a song I love, Don Quixote, a beautiful song by Brazilian composer/singer Milton Nascimento. I guess I hope that the concept of human business isn’t tilting at windmills. Hope it catches on.

I want to share with you a current project of mine that will be the role model for all of my future business development. And I hope for yours, too! The project is incredibly challenging and complex from the standpoint of strategy and implementation. It is joyous from the standpoint of trust, collaboration and respect among my client and business partners.

I launched this client’s bricks and mortar business 16 years ago. Her successful business model was based on quality, service, community and charity. Since the launch we have both evolved. I am now helping her to expand a spin-off division of her company online. We’re building an ecommerce site and planning a robust online and traditional marketing kick-off.

My partners in this endeavor are Bernadette Nelson and Dave Lostracco. Bernadette is a highly talented graphic, brand identity and website designer who codes as well as designs her sites. This is pretty rare. She was born in Paris and is a fearless sportswoman and good friend. She and I co-author a monthly column, Working the Web, for the Fairfield and Westchester County (Conn, NY) Business Journals.

Dave is a Renaissance Geek. (My new coined phrase.) He is a sublime techie, a veteran high-level operations guy for Group W, a musician, a recording studio owner, an SEO and Google AdWords expert and an incredible human being.

As a marketing team we are intensely focused on creating a seamless experience for our client. We want her to feel that we have her back so that she can relax and enjoy this new chapter in her business.

Our client, who will go unidentified so we don’t spill the beans before the launch of her site, is the perfect collaborative client. She is extremely excited about the expansion of her business and the opportunities it brings – albeit with a touch of normal anxiety. She recognizes that she has a role to play in the success of this project. Certain things can only be done by her. And she does them in an engaged and timely fashion.

We vendors so appreciate that our client appreciates us and trusts that we have her best interest at heart. We do! Her overt recognition makes us even more dedicated to her success.

We have communicated to each other – client and vendors – that we feel like friends. This makes the quality of our interaction so enjoyable. There’s a lot of positive emotion that we’re all putting into this. Personal makes business so much more rewarding – and successful!

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Bury the Lead at Wounded Knee…NOT!

Posted on September 21, 2010. Filed under: Content, Entertainment, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , |

This post is about starting your content with the right message. Musically…Listen to jazz singer Mark Murphy tell us that “This Could be the Start of Something Big”!!!

Dear readers, when you’re creating content for your website or blog, start with what’s of most interest to your audience. This will help you win their attention and positive actions.

I just read some posts and content in preparation for a meeting with a potential client. In most of them, the prospect buried the information of greatest interest to readers below a bunch of facts that were more about his objectives.

We’re all subject to this pitfall – me included. I constantly monitor my own writing for whether I’m considering my readers more than my reasons for writing the content in the first place. I don’t always succeed. Sometimes I just want to make a point and trust the readers to trust that I have their interest at heart.

But not everyone reading our posts has enough history with us to give us the benefit of the doubt. That’s why we more often have to opt on the side of appealing to what interests them.

In the example that sparked this post, the writer, describing a seminar service, did rightly identify the audience – who it’s for – at the top of the post. However, the post then gave information about the schedule and the requirements for participating. It would have been better to first state the benefits to participants. Once they buy in, they’ll tune in to the where, when and how much!

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How to Succeed in Magazine Publishing: A Winning Formula

Posted on September 17, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Communications, Content, Entertainment, Jazz, Marketing, News, Nonprofit, Not-for-profit, Public Relations Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

In honor of Moffly Media’s inaugural A-List Awards (read on) today’s musical post is “Shaking the Blues Away” sung by Doris Day. eMail readers need to log-on to listen.

The other evening I had the pleasure of attending an inaugural awards event created by Moffly Media, a local magazine publishing company here in Fairfield County, Connecticut. It turned out to be one more step on a successful path that is keeping the company growing as other publishers are shedding titles and even closing their doors.

The A-List Awards brought back a touch of glamour that hasn’t been seen or felt around here since the onset of the Great Recession. It was done just right; not over the top. And, the awards were perfectly targeted to the advertiser and subscriber base of Moffly’s décor title, atHome Magazine. The well-produced program recognized the top area talent in interior and landscape design and architecture.

It was a great strategic move. And it was handled with sensitivity given the fact that we’re not quite sure we should be celebrating yet. But it sure felt wonderful to all who packed the landmark Westport Country Playhouse. The event benefited a fitting organization – Habit for Humanity of Fairfield County – which made us all feel better about feeling good!

The evening aptly demonstrated the concept at the core of Moffly Media’s success – local community. The family-owned operation began in 1987 when Jack Moffly retired from a 33-year career with Time, Inc. He and his wife, Donna bought the 40-year-old Greenwich Review and ran it as publisher and editor respectively.

They changed the name to Greenwich Magazine. They made it a beautiful glossy dedicated to the upscale Greenwich lifestyle and the singular people who populate the town. Most of all they contributed to the fabric of the community through their personal involvement in its life.

 

Using the same uber-local approach, Jack expanded into other towns with Westport Magazine, New Canaan-Darien Magazine, Stamford Magazine, as well as atHome. In 2007 he stepped down as publisher and turned over the reins to son Jonathan Moffly, who had joined the family business in 1998. Jonathan was involved in the expansion of titles over the years and since becoming publisher has added online, events and custom media divisions.

Moffly Media has been bold in trying new things, yet it’s grown in measured steps that maintain its basic values and leverage its capabilities. If something works, they apply it elsewhere. For instance, a larger-format private label magazine it developed for a client was so stunning that it led to a re-design of atHome in the same mold.

The company hires top people who are knowledgeable about the towns in which they work and/or their areas of specialization. For example, it tapped Camilla Herrera, longtime features writer for the Stamford Advocate, as editor of the new Stamford Magazine when she became available after newsroom cutbacks at the daily. And James M. Gabal, another Time, Inc. vet recently joined to head Custom Media.

The Moffly’s are terrific business people. They know how to add value for advertisers. The A-List Awards are a perfect example, as are the quarterly DesignDistrict evenings they run to showcase advertisers in the towns they serve. Print and online advertising and sponsorships are another way. They understand PR, too, and the behavior required to maintain a stellar reputation.

The Moffly team seems to share a sense of humanity and respect for all its constituents – readers, advertisers and the advertising/PR/marketing agencies who interact with them. They’re good folks. And it’s nice to see good people succeed!

Other publishers – even those who put out national titles – can learn from Moffly Media’s model. Each audience is, in essence, a ‘local community’. Treating them as such works in print, online and in person everywhere.

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A Word to Wise Nonprofits: Avoid the Pro Bono Trap

Posted on September 13, 2010. Filed under: Communications, Jazz, Marketing, Nonprofit, Not-for-profit, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The music accompanying this post is about the inspiration I’ve received from everyone I’ve ever met who has committed to a career in the nonprofit sector. I get chills and tears listening to the lyrics of “If I Ruled the World” by Leslie Bricusse and sung here by the spectacular Tony Bennett.

Over the years, I’ve worked with many nonprofits on their marketing and PR programs. The work that nonprofits do is essential to meeting our society’s needs in ways that neither the government nor the private sector can do as well. I consider having non-profit clients a very meaningful part of my practice. I’m writing this post not to be in any way self-serving, but because we need our nonprofits to succeed more than ever!

Although my fees for nonprofits are at a lower rate than for commercial clients, I do not provide my professional services pro bono. I will volunteer in many other ways. However, I believe that marketing is such a mission critical function that I do nonprofit clients no favor by offering a pro bono arrangement. This is a drum I’ve been beating since the stock market crash of 1987 and again in the recessionary aftermath of 9/11.

The topic came rushing back to mind again last week when a respected colleague of mine told me that she had agreed to provide some pro bono web and graphic design services to a local arts group. However, she gave the executive director one condition: No deadlines. She would have to implement the project when she had time, as she owed first priority to her paying clients. This is reality.

And that, my nonprofit friends, is the pro bono trap. You may need a service performed pronto to meet a grant deadline or to announce an important fundraising event. But as the adage warns, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

When the economy went into the tank in late 2008, many nonprofits immediately cut back or completely curtailed their paid marketing and development activities. So did many for-profit companies to be clear.

During 2009, there were many out-of-work marketers offering free help as a way to keep busy, keep their portfolios fresh or reposition themselves. Admirable that they wanted to turn lemons into lemonade for a good cause.

In 2010, many have either gotten permanent jobs, or transformed themselves into consultants with paying clients.

 As the economy improves, nonprofits that have been relying on board members and volunteers to get the word out about their missions, their successes and their funding needs may very well find that they’ve fallen dangerously behind. Pro bono services are generally provided piecemeal in the best of cases. Overall or longer term strategy takes a back seat.

In addition, the world of marketing and PR has changed drastically in the past couple of years. Just putting up a Facebook page – as some organizations have done – does not substitute for preparing to attract meaningful support using online channels. But doing some serious planning and working with professionals – in- or out-of-house – on execution can create never-before-possible efficiencies of scale.

Savvy nonprofit Executive Directors/CEOs need to make a strong case to their boards of directors that marketing is a specialized skill that can’t just be dumped on a volunteer or junior staffer to ‘make it happen’. It goes hand-in-hand with successful development efforts and needs to be in the budget at a serious level every year.

Likewise, foundations and other grantors must recognize that solid and appropriate marketing can help nonprofits leverage funding and improve service to their constituents. Marketing grants need to be more numerous and more generous.

Mind you, I’m not talking about over-the-top direct mail campaigns that, frankly, I find offensive and have written about in the past. Just don’t regard marketing as a frill. Nothing could be farther from reality. As the funding pie shrinks, when it comes to generating revenue it’s the NFP that thinks and acts like a business that will survive to help those who need its services.

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