Trimmin' the Fat in Lean Times

Many Freakin' Genius Marketing Clients are facing very lean times this quarter. Not like tax season isn't hard enough, so many businesses are looking at downsizing and streamlining expenses in an effort to run at break even.

As a business strategist involved in many different areas of our client's business I am often asked how to prioritize cuts. It is a complicated question that really has a different answer for every individual business. Certainly if your company carries middle management whose main purpose is delegation, cut away. Accountability comes with hard times and those in the delegated areas need to stand up and take responsibility for takin' care of biznezz'. As for management positions that are more in line with Account Management and often times are heavily involved in Business Development and Customer Relationship Management, think "WHOA" before the cutting begins.

I always suggest looking at each line item of the cost of doing business before sending anyone in your company to the unemployment line. Why just last month, by assessing our household line-items we were able to save over $300.00 a month by bundling services alone. One client I was involved with reevaluated their shipping service and saved $800.00 a month by switching providers.

Take some time with your staff, and sit with excel sheets and assess monthly expenditures. Bundle, meet with alternative providers, prioritize, and remember that job responsibilities can be shifted to increase productivity of employees whose jobs need redefining vs. cutting. I have another client who realized they needed to rehire one of their recent layoffs just a week after the layoff to cover new responsibilities as they strategize their future. No one wants to treat people like commodities. Those companies that can be successful in lean times will be the shining stars in fattier times. Which, with some luck, we will see again in the coming years.

As Linda Richmond would say, DISCUSS

Is it ethical to use one's children to increase brand exposure?

Marching Orders: March Marketing Tips when you NEED em'!

Your competition is toast when you know who your bread and butter are.
Seriously, it’s time to reprioritize customer segments!

What the heck is a customer segment you ask?

It’s your customers by definition and purchasing priority. Identify core existing and secondary, then tertiary prospective customers. Assess your product line, your price points, your distribution channels and the customer targets and strategize a plan of action for increasing the amount of business you get from your non-core customers. Shore up your strategic insurance by building a more diverse customer base!

Make your own Damn Headlines!

Public Relations is one of the best tools to use in a slumping economy because it increases word of mouth. It’s simple to use as a marketing tactic because it generates free media coverage. Think about interesting angles for your business and the services you offer, then write press releases and distribute to a targeted list of media contacts. There are a boatload of free press release submission sites on-line too! This will generate links galore all over the web increasing your SEO at the same time! Integrate public relations into your total mix. PR enhances the credibility of everything else you do.

It’s not Touche to be TOUCHY!

Look at all of your customer touch-points and turn them into positive, brand-building opportunities. Tear down the lead generations touches, sales touches, service touches, delivery touches, follow-up touches, transaction touches, and billing touches and make sure that every single one of them is a performing a killer marketing function for your business.

For more ideas, come to our Seminar on March 31st. The CEO of Plum Grove Printers, Peter Lineal, and Freakin' Genius Marketing Chief Freakin' Genius Lori Gertz, will be presenting a fun lunch seminar in conjunction with the Palatine Chamber of Commerce. Have a bite to eat and hear a slew of great, easy to execute actionable tactics you can put in place RIGHT NOW to shore up your business!

There’s a “whole lotta awful” out there, don’t join the chorus! Challenge yourself to try something new, and risk SUCCESS!

Join us! It’s lunch and a “whole lotta fantastic!” at a great price! For registration or more information, click here.

Avoid Fall-Through-the-Crack Leads with effective email and website driven marketing

Effective email and website driven lead generation attract prospective customers to you in ways you might not realize!

Here are a few hints on how to spice up your digital marketing to get better responses and real live leads!

Hint #1: Grab them by the leg

Did you know that one of the most valuable pages on your website is the page that appears after the visitor has signed up for your email list, newsletter, or webinar? So…if you don’t have one of these yet, GET ONE. And if you have one, DO SOMETHING with it! Many marketers do absolutely nothing with this page!

This "Thank You" or "Success" page is incredibly valuable because your visitor has just expressed a high level of interest by having just taken action on your website. This person is much more likely to take more actions, if only asked. So ASK! Some sites redirect the visitor back to the home page, and some sites just leave the visitor hanging there until they hit the back button or bail out some other way.

Holy Cow, don’t let the opportunity to put another offer on your "Thank You" page, or link to more about your firm or services, at the very least.

Hint #2: Land Ho! Maintain Your Landing Pages long after your Campaign

Have you ever gotten an email offer that really interested you, but you didn’t have time for? Those single emails get clicks long after their original release date. Some of the customers you will send an email to will save the email (if it's a really good offer) so they can consider it at another time. Other subscribers pass them along to colleagues. (I do this all the time with my Barnes and Noble and Borders gift certificates).

So, if you send a solo email, remember to keep your landing pages up for a long time, and don't forget to check for new leads long after the campaign ran its course.

You can follow your click thru’s in your email service providers analytics…and you will see for yourself. There is definitely a cycle to the responses, but don’t be shocked if months later you receive a latent response. Why? With newsletters for example, it happens simply because many subscribers hold on to back issues in a separate email folder for future reference.

Hint #3: Short and Sweet!

Patience is a virtue but highly overrated when it comes to digital communication. You've probably noticed that you receive more and more messages every week. The frequency of the messages has increased, but the length of each gets shorter. Texting only allows for 160 characters while Twitter allows just 140.Every word has to work hard. Response rates tend to be higher for ads using bulleted, hardworking points that convince readers to jump from the newsletter to the landing page. It's always easy to write more; the hard part is writing less.

Hint #4: Consistency and Branding, Ever Important!

You always want to send someone from your email to a particular landing page on your website. Action! Action! Action! But, does your landing page reinforce that the user has come to the right place? Does the title bar match the message in the viewable HTML?

Let's say a visitor signs up for a newsletter on your site. The site often tells that user to expect an email with a link to their first issue. Does that email, which you subsequently send out, use the same type of language and have the same look-and-feel as the landing page where your visitor signed up? For continuity and branding purposes, it needs to, and it will help the recipient connect the dots back to how it was he/she came to your website and to want your newsletter.
Don’t assume that the recipient of that email containing the download link for your newsletter will take immediate action. The recipient may hold onto your email for days, weeks or months before actually downloading your newsletter. So, you want to reinforce the value of that download within the email containing that link.

Hint #5: Blogging for Lead Gen

Did you know that blogs can be lead generators? As you create content for your blog, be careful not to stray off topic and make sure to keep it updated to avoid the “ghost” label a blog gets when it is left unattended for too long.

If you offer consistent value in your blog, robust topics and dynamic content, your blog will draw a lot of attention, people will link to it and visitors will find you that may never have known you were there.

Does the Tweet have business applications? Heck yah!

Great Ideas on Using Twitter for Business

First Steps
  • Build an account and immediate start using Twitter Search to listen for your name, your competitor’s names, words that relate to your space. (Listening always comes first.)
  • Add a picture. We want to see you.
  • Talk to people about THEIR interests, too. I know this doesn’t sell more widgets, but it shows us you’re human.
  • Point out interesting things in your space, not just about you.
  • Share links to neat things in your community. ( @wholefoods does this well).
  • Don’t get stuck in the apology loop. Be helpful instead. ( @jetblue gives travel tips.)
  • Be wary of always pimping your stuff. Your fans will love it. Others will tune out.
  • Promote your employees’ outside-of-work stories. ( @TheHomeDepot does it well.)
  • Throw in a few humans, like RichardAtDELL, LionelAtDELL, etc.
  • Talk about non-business, too, like @astrout and @jstorerj from Mzinga.

Ideas About WHAT to Tweet

  • Instead of answering the question, “What are you doing?”, answer the question, “What has your attention?”
  • Have more than one twitterer at the company. People can quit. People take vacations. It’s nice to have a variety.
  • When promoting a blog post, ask a question or explain what’s coming next, instead of just dumping a link.
  • Ask questions. Twitter is GREAT for getting opinions.
  • Follow interesting people. If you find someone who tweets interesting things, see who she follows, and follow her.
  • Tweet about other people’s stuff. Again, doesn’t directly impact your business, but makes us feel like you’re not “that guy.”
  • When you DO talk about your stuff, make it useful. Give advice, blog posts, pictures, etc.
  • Share the human side of your company. If you’re bothering to tweet, it means you believe social media has value for human connections. Point us to pictures and other human things.
  • Don’t toot your own horn too much. (Man, I can’t believe I’m saying this. I do it all the time. - Side note: I’ve gotta stop tooting my own horn).
    Or, if you do, try to balance it out by promoting the heck out of others, too.

Some Sanity For You

  • You don’t have to read every tweet.
  • You don’t have to reply to every @ tweet directed to you (try to reply to some, but don’t feel guilty).
  • Use direct messages for 1-to-1 conversations if you feel there’s no value to Twitter at large to hear the conversation ( got this from @pistachio).
  • Use services like Twitter Search to make sure you see if someone’s talking about you. Try to participate where it makes sense.
  • 3rd party clients like Tweetdeck and Twhirl make it a lot easier to manage Twitter.
  • If you tweet all day while your coworkers are busy, you’re going to hear about it.
  • If you’re representing clients and billing hours, and tweeting all the time, you might hear about it.
  • Learn quickly to use the URL shortening tools like Tiny URL and all the variants. It helps tidy up your tweets.
  • If someone says you’re using twitter wrong, forget it. It’s an opt out society. They can unfollow if they don’t like how you use it.
  • Commenting on others’ tweets, and retweeting what others have posted is a great way to build community.

(Excerpts take from an original article by Jennie Gearhart at

Palatine Chamber invites Freakin' Genius Marketing and Plum Grove Printers to Present A Seminar on Tactics for Business Survival in Tough Times

Isn’t business awful? What are you going to do different and better to survive in these tough sales times? You need some red-hot ideas alright! You need novel approaches to get you and your staff motivated and closing new business and this fast paced seminar will give you 45 great ideas to put in place at a rapid fire pace. Being fired-up with enthusiasm isn’t always enough, especially in these tough times. Attitude is vital – but will not ensure success. You need to do something different! Now! Join a seminar hosted by the Palatine Chamber of Commerce at the HOTEL INDIGO (920 E. Northwest Hwy., Palatine, IL) on MARCH 31st from 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. This event costs $25 to members and $30 for non member attendees.

In this high-speed session you will get 45 unique ideas on everything from maximizing your marketing dollars and guerilla marketing across the full range of marketing concepts from price points to branding to distribution strategies, event marketing, and electronic and print advertising.

This seminar is for EVERYONE who is in business. Everyone including salespeople, business owners, retailers, marketing executives, and anyone feeling the pain of our nasty economy who is not willing to sit back and let the “whole lotta awful” win.

Your presenters are real people running real, successful businesses -- including landing over 30 new clients to date in 2009. Lori Gertz is Managing Partner of Freakin’ Genius Marketing – a sassy new division of Plum Grove Printers. She has been helping clients in consulting and sales for over 25 years. Peter “the Printer” Lineal is founder of Plum Grove Printers, Inc. – a print, mail and design firm with a staff of over 35 and a top 100 Business Printer in Hoffman Estates. He is also the CEO of Natural Golf – a golf instruction/club company.

Let’s push the dime and try to get to more than 45 ideas! Come with questions and challenges!

Freakin' Genius Marketing - Used as source for article on Social Networking Sites

Social networking sites offer free marketing

For Jim Haisler, Facebook is a way to personalize his Realtors association. Megan Osterhour uses MySpace as a way to keep in regular contact with restaurant patrons for free. And Lori Gertz likens LinkedIn to a "constant source of focus group results." To read more click here