Marketing Mistake #12: Marketing is the same as sales

December 23, 2010 by

The mistake: Believing that a sales strategy is the same as a well-planned marketing program


Marketing’s purpose is to set the foundation for sales, to design a long-term approach that supports every sales call and presentation—by qualifying leads; establishing recognition of your organization, products and services; by generating interest; by differentiating you from the competition; by creating higher perceived value.

Marketing provides the continuity that generates interest, distinguishes you from the options and then continues to support the conversation while your audience chooses to engage with you—enroll, refer, inquire, join, click through or purchase.

An ongoing branding and marketing program accelerates your sales activities. It provides the foundation needed to grow the organization. Good marketing clearly defines your audiences and how to reach them, while crafting the key messages—the messaging architecture—that will separate you from the competition and resonate with those you need to reach.

It’s time to optimize your brand for 2011

Messaging architecture—establishing the key messages that differentiate you—is just one part of an optimized brand. Beginning with the critical point of choice—the setting, situation or context where your target audience chooses to respond—our brand optimization process generates higher impact at a lower cost. It delivers accelerated sales and bigger results, whether you’re looking for more inquiries, more members, more online activity, higher enrollment or bigger dollars.


My iPhone can make phone calls?

December 7, 2010 by

Last week I sent well over 100 emails (slow week). I Skyped with three people, chatted with more than ten people on a variety of platforms, text messaged at least twenty people, and Facebooked and Tweeted with more people than I care to count. Guess how many phone calls I made? One. And it technically didn’t even count as a call, because I was automatically put into voicemail.

There has been a lot of buzz lately about whether or not the phone call is dead – and I think it’s safe to say that while it might not be dead yet, the phone call is definitely dying.

A recent report by Nielsen, sums it up with the title “U.S. Teen Mobile Report: Calling Yesterday, Texting Today, Using Apps Tomorrow.” Read the full report here.

The report states that voice usage is decreasing by all age groups except those over the age of 54. “78% of teens recognize the functionality and convenience of SMS and [consider] it easier (22 percent) and faster (20 percent) than voice calls…” 43% of teens claim that texting is the primary reason for getting a cell phone.

When we’re really honest with ourselves – what do we use our smart “phones” for? Facebook, email, texting, foodie apps, navigation, Googling, Pandora, etc. Our smart phones are becoming less and less phones, and more and more mini-computers.

Teens and young adults might not be the reality of the current business environment, but as we all know, these age groups are reliable predictors of what is to come. I recently heard a woman who works in HR talking about how fewer and fewer candidates will return her calls. Everyone is emailing her to communicate throughout the interviewing and hiring process. It might sound taboo, but according to research, it looks like this is the future.

Gary Vaynerchuk sums it up better than I can. “The phone call is the new handwritten letter.”

How are we as business owners, marketers and communicators preparing and/or paving the way for this communication shift?

Ten brands we are thankful for!

November 24, 2010 by

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we at Creative Company want to give thanks to some of the brands that inspire our marketing brains, AND possibly our Black Friday shopping lists. From around the globe, as well as some from right here in the Willamette Valley, here are the ten brands we are most thankful for this year.

1. Apple

Thank you to Apple for the iPhone, the iPad, the iPod, Mac computers galore and … for ongoing leadership in establishing and maintaining true brand DNA. The Apple brand experience is consistent in everything from product use and beauty, to marketing, to retail experience and packaging. Branding at its very best.

2. Nordstrom

We are thankful for so many things at Nordstrom, but mostly for a brand that represents the epitome of great service and the ideal shopping experience – good people, great sales, wide selection of products, and a no questions asked return policy.

3. Downtown McMinnville

For developing a main street (which towns across America want to emulate) that showcases unique, unusual shops, bistros, wine tasting and more! Other brands we love include: Golden Valley Brewery, La Rambla, Thai Country, Wednesday Wines, the Sage, Accessory Appeal, Mes Amies … and the list goes on!

4. Dutch Bros.

For nailing the drive through user experience – fast, energetic, lively – plus good coffee!! And for creating a brand that lends itself to citizen marketing. We’ve all seen the bumper stickers, antennae balls, clothes, mugs, and other miscellaneous Dutch gear. We want to be a part of Dutch Mafia!

5. Google

Because it’s fun to say, easy to use, and offers free solutions for just about anything you want to do in life. But mostly because it’s hard work owning a category and becoming the generic term (think Kleenex and Tylenol). You don’t  search it, Yahoo it, or BING it … you Google it.

6. Dr. Martens

For developing a brand that remains relevant across decades, social groups, and continents. Originally intended for police and postmen, and today worn and loved by rock stars, politicians, teachers, hipsters, models, artists, and possibly a few production managers and graphic designers.

7. Salem Health

For being true to their brand and ensuring “the Heart of Healing” is experienced not just in the quality of patient care and treatment, but also in the quality of staff, the environment, internal and external communications, and the visual brand. (Disclaimer: Salem Health is a client, but their dedication to excellence inspires us!)

8. Travel Oregon

For developing a brand that sheds light on all the best kept secrets Oregon has to offer while personifying our state’s wild, rugged and adventure-filled personality.

9. Costco

Or is it the $100 (or more) store … or shopping for giants? You know what to expect at Costco, and that’s free samples and quality – the very best avocados anywhere, amazing meat and seafood, big bags of Starbucks French Roast coffee beans to keep us going, lots of books and CDs, great gifts, essentials like toilet paper, and prices you just can’t beat on high-end home goods. Costco, we love you!

10. Gap

And last, but definitely not least! We are thankful for Gap, who in the face of brand disaster, listened to their customers instead of forging ahead with a logo we are very thankful not to have created. Although for the record, we never would have designed anything that … inane.

From all of us at Creative Company: Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Marketing mistake #13: Social media is the answer

November 24, 2010 by

The mistake:

Believing all the buzz about social media means it’s the right choice for your marketing investment


While social media and its rapid growth is getting a lot of press, it is not the be-all and end-all answer for marketing. It’s a fact social media use has grown dramatically across all age groups, and use among internet users ages 50 and older has nearly doubled. But that still means only 42% of 50 and older internet users are accessing social media. (Not everyone, just internet users.) By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 is at 86%.

And keep in mind, it’s called “social” … not “business” media.

So the first thing to consider—let’s hear it again—who is your target audience? The next thing to consider—what is your audience’s primary source of information about your category, your company, your products and services? Where do they interact with you to request information or make a purchase decision? And last—don’t even consider social media until you’ve addressed how the brand-building, communication-inspiring, lead-capturing ability of your website measures up.

Social media is rapidly becoming another communication tool our society uses regularly. And it may be appropriate to support other marketing, and the right fit for some categories of businesses that rely on referrals or “social” communication, but it is not the definitive answer or the best “new” way to build your marketing program. You must first address the scope of your brand, the profile of your primary audiences and how people find out about your products and services.

Messaging that’s inspired … Apple vs. Blackberry

November 19, 2010 by

No one will disagree that Steve Jobs is a brilliant communicator and marketer.

It takes living a brand at the cellular level to create the kind of following … and the kind of business …  that Apple commands and is. His focus on simplicity, clarity and beauty is demonstrated in every new product introduced.

The following excerpt from an article in the October 11, 2010 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek titled “Communication Breakdown” is a perfect example of why Apple, and Steve Jobs, rule.

“When Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad last January, he took the stage … and held his new tablet computer like a precious jewel. The device, he told the crowd, was a ‘truly magical and revolutionary product,’ something ‘extraordinary’ and ‘unbelievably great.'”

Then the competition … Blackberry … discusses their answer to the iPad. The difference in message is incredible.

“Jim Balsillie, the co-CEO of Research in Motion … said: ‘ There’s tremendous turbulence in the ecosystem, of course, in mobility. And that’s sort of an obvious thing, but also there’s tremendous architectural contention at play. … We’ve taken two fundamentally different approaches in their causalness. It’s a causal difference, not just nuance. It’s not just a causal direction that I’m going to really articulate here–and feel free to go as deep as you want–it’s really as fundamental as causalness.'”

Seriously? Causalness?

Wow, I’m really inspired. And now I really want a PlayBook, don’t you?

Steve = Brilliance. Again.
Jim and Blackberry. Painful. And clueless about messaging and marketing. Seriously clueless.

Marketing Mistake #11 – We’re great, that’s enough

November 18, 2010 by

The mistake: believing that doing a good job or providing an outstanding product or service is enough to grow the organization.


Even if your product or service is extraordinary, you have to let people know about it. You have to market. And now it’s more important than ever to be targeted, focused and effective when you communicate about your business to potential customers or clients.

After more than thirty years in the marketing business I have talked to many organizations—from colleges to associations, manufacturers to financial services—that provide an outstanding education, experience, service, support and products to their customers. Yet they still claim “we’re the best kept secret” in their region or category. What’s missing?

Although each company may have a loyal customer base, each also wants to grow and reach new audiences. They have not yet uncovered how to distinguish themselves in their market or category … from their audience’s perspective. They have not identified the most important point of contact, the point of choice, and they have not leveraged or distinguished what their customer’s value the most. In other words, they have not built their brand.

Building a brand is communicating what makes your organization unique and valuable from your audience’s perspective, not your own. What resonates with them? What generates the “wow” response—“wow, I didn’t know you did that, could do that for me, provided that!” What’s the inherent story that people respond to? This is where to start building your brand message, and articulating the value you have to offer.

And … you can’t just hope people will find out. You have to tell them, in a clear, simple and direct manner, and in the channels they are using for communication.

New ways to share marketing expertise – tell us your ideas!!

November 16, 2010 by

We eat, sleep and breathe marketing and branding. With over 30 years of experience in the field, we have a lot of knowledge and expertise to share. And lucky for you, we at Creative Company believe in sharing.

Over the last decade Creative Company President Jennifer Larsen Morrow has been sharing her insights through the one-day BrandACT workshop. Hundreds of participants rave about what they learned at the workshop and how their business has benefitted. But in the current business environment, we realize that the time and financial commitment of a one-day intensive workshop is not always feasible.

And so we are beginning to throw around ideas for new ways of sharing. Yes, we could brain dump everything we know into a .pdf for your downloading pleasure, but we still believe in the power of human interaction. Here are a few ideas we have:

Marketing roundtables: Businesses come together at a local venue for roundtables facilitated by Jennifer Larsen Morrow – either bringing marketing issues to the table or gathering to discuss recent marketing trends.

Mini-BrandACT sessions: Regular, one-hour sessions presented by Jennifer and/or other local marketing professionals on branding and marketing topics with tangible take-aways. (Food and adult beverages could be an option here).

Webinars: On a variety of marketing topics for expanding your knowledge in the comfort of your office chair.

What do you think? Do you have any other ideas??

Online preferences influenced by health condition

November 11, 2010 by

77% of individuals are now turning to online sources of information after being diagnosed with a health condition, second only to the 81% who turn to a healthcare professional. The high volume of web users searching for health and wellness information presents valuable opportunities for targeting content to the preferences and behaviors of individuals with specific conditions.

New research by Kantar Media, which studied online behaviors, found that the types of websites visited and the reasons consumers go online for health and wellness information is strongly influenced by type of ailment, stage of condition, age and gender.

For example, individuals who used the Internet for finding information on diabetes were more likely to revisit sites that provided helpful tools and connected them to a larger community of people also dealing with diabetes.

For people with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions, the most popular sites were those that offer easy access to medical professionals.

In regards to age – 18 to 34 year olds were most likely to go online to find and review healthcare professionals, while individuals over 50 were most likely to go online to find out more information about a treatment or condition after visiting a doctor.

It’s simple. Know your audience. Target your content.

For more on this topic, visit:

Marketing Mistake #9: Drop the price to increase sales

November 10, 2010 by

The mistake: Believing the only way to boost sales is to drop your prices

Although price seems like it’s more important in a rocky economy, it’s still not the most important factor in a purchase decision. And focusing on price as a primary point of differentiation will not build your brand over the long term.

Unless you’re Wal-Mart, hammering on being the lowest price is a losing battle. Instead identify the ideas that provide value to the customer and differentiate you from your competition, then build your sales presentation to focus on those benefits. You will provide more reasons to select your product or service than just price. And when you build your brand to be a leader in your category, you will build market share and generate additional sales.

The default in a sales pitch is to go to price—who has the best price? Yet most people will pay more if they are confident they’re getting more, if they trust the brand, if they feel confident the product or service will deliver as promised. And of course, building a brand is building perceived value.

Think Starbucks. It’s just coffee, right? There was a time when people thought anyone would be crazy to pay $3 or more for a cup of coffee. The Starbucks’ focus on the experience, not just the cup of coffee, created a whole new category and a whole new reason to spend $3 on a cup of coffee … with no free refills.

When you create a context for the idea of your brand, that adds a story and value to what you’re promoting, you’re on your way to building a powerful brand. And a powerful brand allows you to charge more, because you have built in value for the customer.

Where do you start? Start by distinguishing your organization, products or services from others—from the audience’s point of view. What matters to them? What do they need or what do they value?

Marketing Mistake #8: Not focusing on your key audiences

November 3, 2010 by

The mistake: Not focusing your strategy, message and communication style on the audiences you need to reach.


Every business must understand how to target their marketing to the right audiences in order to be successful. It’s easy to be too broad and try to be all things to all people—which costs more and yields a lower response. You’ll see better results when you narrow your focus.

Where do you start? Identify your best customers or buyers first, as the model for those you seek to reach. Who are they? Why do they choose you over the competition? What do they tell you about their experience with your organization, products or services? Look at demographics but also look carefully at lifestyle, the environment in which they live, how they communicate and what purchases they make or services they use. To put it bluntly, put yourself in their underwear.

Once you have a solid picture of the audiences that are vital to the success of your organization—which could be referral sources, or retail buyers, or the parents of students you’re trying to enroll—you’ll be able to understand from their point of view why they should pay attention to your message, your products and services.

Attracting the right audiences then compelling them to respond, inquire, refer, buy or enroll are the results every business owner, manager or marketer expects from their marketing program. The more response the better. Yet many of those responsible for designing and managing marketing programs are struggling with the proliferation of media choices, the challenges of communicating clearly and the continual shifting of the economy, audience perspectives and marketing opportunities.

Marketing Mistake #7: It worked before, it should work now

October 28, 2010 by

The mistake: Believing the marketing program you established five—or even ten—years ago will continue to drive inquiries and sales today.


Not only have your audiences changed in the last five to ten years, but so has the world of communications. Effective marketing is directed at specific audiences, using the channels they use/view/access to communicate, inquire, learn and purchase. There are so many new ways to communicate, to seek out information, to make an inquiry or buy a product or service that your marketing must change to fit.

More than 75% of Americans are online now, with six in ten American adults now going online wirelessly using either a mobile phone or a laptop. The first place people go when they want to research a product, find out about a company or learn more about the services offered is online. And when they’re ready to buy? Most start online. No wonder “google” has become a verb!

Now take a hard look at your online presence, beginning with your website. Is your website an online brochure or an interactive online marketing and communication tool? Your site must support your business position and be in alignment with your brand and message. And it must engage the audiences you seek to reach and provide value every time they visit.

How should you update your website? First look at your sales process and identify where your website fits. Does it back up sales calls? Or make sales? Does it provide customer service or support? Are you providing an easy way for customers and prospects to respond or inquire? Are you making it simple for the right people to find what they need in three clicks?

Marketing Mistake #6: Business is down, stop marketing

October 25, 2010 by

The mistake: Cutting marketing investments when business is down.


Marketing is muscle, not fat to be cut out as an extra expense. Without marketing you will lose credibility in the market, your audiences will forget you and sales efforts will not be supported.

When sales are shrinking and everything you see and read is about economic woes, job loss and the credit crunch, your first reaction may be to cut back spending. Marketing and advertising are often the first to go, yet history has proven this is the wrong move. In fact, companies that continue to invest, or even accelerate their investments during an economic downturn, increase sales and capture a larger market share.

McGraw-Hill Research analyzed 600 companies covering 16 different SIC industries from 1980 through 1985 in a study of U.S. recessions. The results showed that business-to-business firms that maintained or increased their advertising expenditures during the 1981-1982 recession averaged significantly higher sales growth, both during the recession and for the following three years, than those that eliminated or decreased advertising. By 1985, sales of companies that were aggressive recession advertisers had risen 256% over those that didn’t keep up their advertising. One major advertiser summed it up best;

“When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.”

Advertising is just one piece of a solid marketing program that will keep your organization moving forward in tough times and excelling in good times. Being consistently visible in your market and presenting messages that are compelling to the audiences you seek to reach will keep your organization moving forward.

Marketing Mistake #5 I’m right and they should know better

October 21, 2010 by

The mistake: Believing that what you know is true matters more than what your audience thinks they know


Perception is reality. And when you’re marketing, it’s not about your reality—whether that’s how you know your business works or how your product is made/grown/manufactured/packaged — it’s about what your audience thinks they know about how your business works or how your product is made/grown/manufactured/packaged. If your audience thinks something negative about your product or service, you must address that perception from their point of view, not yours, even if you know they’re wrong.

The challenge every business faces today is how to reach their targeted audiences with messages that hit home, that connect, that compel response. If there is a negative perception about your industry or product, you can’t ignore it, you can’t tell your audiences they’re wrong, you must address the positive and provide solid, reliable and factual information coupled with strong benefits to help that audience understand what is real and true. By doing so, you’ll be positioning yourself as an authority in your industry, and that is a position of strength.

Marketing Mistake #4: I don’t need keywords on my site

October 11, 2010 by

The mistake: Not making use of simple page titles, page descriptions and keywords to enhance your website.


Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is easy to implement and one of the most powerful (and free!) methods you can use to generate traffic on your website. Every website has the capability of incorporating “back-end” content that will enhance your visibility online. Yet many businesses, (and web programmers), don’t bother to incorporate this basic level of marketing into a website.

There are many levels to address when optimizing your website—from developing user profiles, to tuning up content, to enhancing page layouts and ensuring there are strong calls to action on each page, yet the simplest is to create a page title and page description for each page that reflects the content on that page, and install Google Analytics (also free!) on each page to track traffic and generate data about search terms and more.

Your website should be an integral part of your ongoing marketing and branding program and more than an online brochure. An effective site will make use of good marketing principles—positioned to appeal to your target audiences; strong messaging to support your unique benefits; an easy to follow “path” that fulfills on what visitors are searching for; graphics and information to enhance your brand.

Marketing mistake #3: I’m telling my story my way

October 5, 2010 by

The mistake: Describing your products and services without considering the expectations of your audiences

The fact:

Your audiences care much more about the benefits you or your products or services offer, not about how products are made, or the company history, or your credentials. It happens a lot. Well-meaning business owners or marketers develop sales materials, websites or ads that tell their audiences what they have to sell, how it works, how it’s made or other descriptive details, rather than understanding and communicating the BENEFITS from the perspective of the targeted audience. The result? Lots of materials and information that no one reads, or that is “over the head” of the audiences you seek to reach. Or worse, your target audiences compare the “stuff” you provide against the same “stuff” your competition offers.

So? When comparing stuff to stuff, price is the only differentiator … or your audience ends up not “getting” what you’re trying to communicate, they don’t see the value your organization, product or service will provide … or worse, they are turned off and dismiss your message. The final outcome is a low return on investment, diminished response to advertising or mailings and frustration on the part of the marketer.

How do you increase your results and response? How do you use your marketing to generate more sales? Focus first on your audience and what’s important to them—in that particular situation, within that touch point, at that stage of the sales process. Put yourself in their shoes and ask “what’s in it for me?”

Did you miss Marketing Mistakes #1 and #2?

Marketing Mistake #1

Marketing Mistake #2

Marketing mistake #2: Move everything online, print is dead

October 5, 2010 by

The mistake: focusing your total marketing budget online and giving up print


Although more than 70% of Americans are online and we all spend an increasing number of hours daily researching on the Internet, Emailing and participating in social networks such as Linkedin, Plaxo or facebook, people still like and respond to something tangible in their hands. And even if your website is incredible, you still have to invite visitors to stop by.

There’s plenty of news right now about traditional media companies (magazines and newspapers) are shrinking because online competition. Large organizations are moving more of their marketing dollars online, too, and away from print advertising. Yet there is still a need to reach your audiences in different ways in order to help them find you and your website.

Of course, if you have a website, it should be promoted and included in every communication, whether it’s a letter going out to a customer or prospect, on your package, in sales literature, at a trade show or on a company vehicle. Most business to business organizations or smaller consumer-focused organizations can still generate good results with carefully planned and targeted direct mail campaigns, interesting advertising campaigns placed in appropriate publications, and innovative formats and content for mailers or catalogs. After all, it’s still about reaching the targeted audience in a way that will generate response.


Multiple media at one time – multi-tasking!

September 16, 2010 by

A recent report from Ad-ology summarizes a new study …

“Fewer people are happy with just one form of media in front of them. Blog reports of 3-screening consumers – TV, computer, and mobile phone – abound. This fragmented attention might mean trouble for marketers who want to pitch their latest products and services.

“Gfk MRI’s MediaDay 2010 survey shows that some consumers enjoy being engaged with multiple media formats while others are still content to devote themselves to one form of media at a time. Using one media form exclusively is somewhat linked to age.

“Consumers over age 35 who engage with one media format exclusively:

  • Magazines 55%’
  • Internet 51%
  • Newspaper 52%
  • TV 50%

The media format that enjoys the highest percentage of exclusive consumer attention is magazines.”

For me (and I’m over 35!) … I almost always have a magazine open or the computer on while I’m watching TV … what about you? This rampant multi-tasking points to a few other issues marketers are having

  • Choosing the best media channel to meet the targeted audiences
  • Creating messages, content, ideas and visuals that grab consumers when they’re not really paying attention.

Thus even more reason to use the power of branding to visually and conceptually tie together multiple channels of communication, helping your audiences to recognize you, your value and your message.

What is this “point of choice” idea?

August 27, 2010 by

We’ve come up with a process and framework that really helps us create more impact from the budget available for each client’s branding and marketing program. Here’s a draft of an article that we’re submitting to SEDCOR, the local economic development membership organization.

Point of Choice – Generating a bigger return from your marketing investment

As a business person, you know it’s a good practice to build your brand by marketing to your target audiences at their various touch points – the places where you connect with and communicate to potential buyers or influencers. But in today’s environment, the number of potential touch points and media choices for even a single target audience can be overwhelming. Time and resources often limit which touch points are addressed. Whether marketing online, in print, or in person, how do you choose where and when to invest your marketing budget to generate response and the highest ROI?

The secret? Market at the audience’s points of choice. Instead of spreading your budget to any and all touch points, prioritize your marketing investment by focusing on the points at which potential buyers are making a decision and taking action to take the next step. Where do you start?

Step 1: Identify your target audiences.

Well-planned marketing must always start with identifying your target audiences—defining who they are, what benefits they’ll receive from your product or service, and what they will respond to. Most manufacturers and B2B marketers have multiple targets, each with different perceptions and expectations.

Step 2: For each target audience, identify the stages in the sales process.

Start at the beginning, when a potential buyer first finds out about your company, then identify the stages involved in this process. What happens if they find you online? What’s the process after a trade show meeting? What about a sales call? Where is the interaction that will move them forward towards a purchase decision?

Step 3: Identify the buyer’s decision points in the sales process.

Next, identify what information and action is needed by each target audience in order to move forward in the process. For example, a buyer might find your website by searching for the products you offer, then visit your website (and others) to conduct comparative research, request more information, or to make a purchase. Or at a tradeshow, a prospect will learn more about what you have to offer, and accept or decline the opportunity to talk further.

Step 4: Develop marketing strategies focused on these decision points.

Not only do you want to encourage the potential buyer to take the next step, but you also must ensure the buyer has the information and tools to make that decision and seamlessly follow through. If a prospect has received a referral to your company but can’t find your website through a search engine, you have a problem … and an opportunity.

For both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) marketers, one of the most powerful points of choice is the internet. Organic search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click online campaigns are critical components to support and drive audiences to your website. Social media is a growing tool, but may not be appropriate for all audiences. Thus it’s vital you have a strongly branded website with distinctive messaging, clear calls to action, and tools and information for taking action. Offline points of choice vary greatly based on your industry, product or service offering, and target audiences.

It’s important to note in a recent survey by GlobalSpec, industrial (B2B) firms cited the best new lead sources are the company website (70%), tradeshows (44%), and e-mail marketing (33%).

This is a quick overview of the point of choice concept. As with all effective marketing—know your audiences, evaluate your sales process, and put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What’s in it for me? For a bigger return, optimize your brand first at the key points of choice for each target audience.

BrandACT 10: Workshops begin in September

May 28, 2010 by

BrandACT 10

Accelerate your marketing

Invest one day to learn fresh tactics to increase your ROI and advance your business

Could a $399 investment help create a $40,000 sale? Yes! Learn where to focus your marketing to reach the right people and compel response and you will drive sales results. Presented by Jennifer Larsen Morrow, Brand ACT teaches you new concepts and fresh tactics that will help you choose which marketing strategy will generate the biggest return. Now’s the time to transform your marketing program.

Profit from experience

Now your business can profit from Jennifer Larsen Morrow’s experience and insight, honed from more than 30 years of brand work with clients in numerous industries. She brings proven strategies and high-impact ideas to every attendee.

Jennifer created Brand ACT to help businesses like yours identify their position in their market, clearly define their audiences, then focus on the point of choice—where each audience makes a decision. Fine-tuning all messages and visual systems at the points of choice yields tactics and tools that will be more effective at a lower cost.

When your marketing is focused; your messages are clear and compelling for each targeted audience; and your brand is memorable; you will generate attention, boost sales and improve your bottom line.

You will learn

  • How to communicate who you are in business and why you’re different from (and better than) the competition
  • 5 steps to defining your audiences so you can reach them more effectively
  • How to uncover the “wow” that captures attention and interest
  • How simple changes at the “point of choice” can make a huge difference to your sales results
  • The power of connecting every contact point you have with your audiences
  • That different generations respond to different media, and what media to choose for your audiences
  • The importance of benefits vs. features, and how to identify your strongest benefits

Lots of interaction

The workshop is formatted for plenty of interaction, with no more than 25 attendees. With worksheets and discussion throughout the day, you’ll be able to to voice your opinion and ask plenty of questions. You’ll learn specific actions you can implement immediately, and you’ll leave with tools you can use for both short- and long-term planning.

Bring your team members to align around a common direction and focus … your brand.

September 2010

All sessions 9am to 4pm

Locations and Dates:


Los Angeles: Saturday, Sept 11


Portland: Thursday, Sept 16

Salem: Tuesday, Sept 21

Eugene: Friday, Sept 24

Fee: $399. Second person from same organization, $200

Register now by going online to or call Creative Company at 1.866.363.4433 for more details and to reserve your place.

Looking forward to 2010

December 31, 2009 by

Just one more post about the upcoming year?

Yes. And from our perspective, we see many changes, and yet much that will remain the same.

2010 will be different than 2009

2009 was not a year that was kind to all. However, it was a year for many companies and industries to discover what was essential, what they’re good at and where the business should be when it is streamlined and focused. We discovered that. And many of our clients did, too. One of the advantages of a business like ours is we have an overview of different industries and how they have been affected by the economy.

The food business took a hit with a drop in foodservice orders, due to the shrinking dining industry. Private education felt the impact of more students looking for ways to save tuition costs by attending public alternatives or delaying entering college. The wood products industry scrambled to just stay in business, to weather the huge reduction in orders and cement relationships with existing outlets and clients. Others just did everything they could to focus their marketing on building relationships and maintaining sales volume.

Yet forward-thinking organizations also took the opportunity to re-examine their positioning in their market, define and refine their messages, explore new market opportunities and create a whole new context for who they are in business and how they’re perceived … with a new brand. An article quoted by a client referred to “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” So true. We’re confident these organizations will see 2010 as the launching of a new level of success, of recognition and bottom line results. And we’re proud to have contributed to their success.

What remains the same?

The essence of branding is understanding your audiences–who they are, where they are, how they interact with you and what their perceptions are of you, your products and services. This will remain the same. It’s critical every organization be clear about who they are from the perspective of their audiences, and that the message and idea of what they offer is defined from the audience’s point of view. Add to that the need to distinguish and separate one organization/company/product from the competition … in the mind of the target audiences … and you have the essence of solid marketing strategy, the foundation of effective branding.

The power of branding is astounding. When the right message, the compelling idea, and visual impact are created to support that organization/company/product, the results can be phenomenal. And we have seen how even the smallest updates and changes can make a huge difference to all audiences, especially the internal audiences.

The last post referred to the power of employees to build the brand. Your employees and staff, those who interact with your customers, must embody the idea of the brand. Their interactions create the brand experiences and cement them in the minds of your audiences. Often the highest impact of a new message and brand will be seen with your internal audiences.

Thus for Creative Company, we will continue to focus on the defining, strategizing, development and implementation of a brand that has power and substance, that represents visually and conceptually what the essence of an organization is and how that organization benefits its target audiences. And with that focus, we will narrow our attention to the top-level strategy and concepts that set the foundation for ongoing marketing.

How will 2010 be different?

We have learned from the crisis of 2009. Numerous articles in business publications also reference how other organizations have become more streamlined, effective and focused as they navigate through the economic downturn. Many say we will never return to “business as usual.” We believe we will return to “business at its essence” by focusing our energies and resources on what we do best. And we believe the organizations that do the same, that reach for a new level of communication and take a stand for their place in the market will also be successful in 2010, whether or  not the economy rebounds in 2010 or 2011.

Best wishes to everyone for a  prosperous 2010!

Employees contribute to brand

December 11, 2009 by

A compelling article by William Arruda on that focuses on how employees help to build the brand brought out a number of good points. In our work with clients we have seen extraordinary results when staff members align with and embrace the brand message and context. You can link to the full article here or read an excerpt below:

Branding During an Economic Downturn
During lean times, talent is often viewed as a liability, not as an asset. But with the current down business cycle, the opposite seems to be true. Sure, unemployment figures are soaring and companies are rightsizing or downsizing or rescaling or whatever they call it; but at the same time, companies are investing in their people. I see this in my own business. Most of my work is focused on personal branding for leadership development in the enterprise, and almost all of my clients are continuing their commitment to their people; many have increased their efforts.

Even as companies cut costs across the board, savvy organizations are investing in their talent – understanding the impact it will have on the corporate brand. According to the 2008 Bersin and Associates Leadership Development Survey, 40% of organizations polled said their spending on leadership development has remained the same and 36% said their budgets were slated to increase this year.

It’s no wonder when you look at the benefit of engaged employees who understand the brand. Committed employees stay at your company longer, work harder and deliver on-brand work every day. So with reduced marketing and branding budgets, harnessing the power of your employees to build the brand is a cost-effective strategy for bolstering the brand. Once your brand is clear in the minds and hearts of these important assets, they become your brand ambassadors and go off steadfastly in support of your mission.

How have we seen this level of communication and training brought to life?

Our recent work for Cascade Employers Association involved distilling their work into key messages that established the context, not the list of “stuff” they do. How they interact with members, the approach to the services they provide, the context of what they deliver for their members is distilled into the brand promise, “Unsurpassed resources for great employers.”

Once defined, we took the messaging into the environment with posters that restate key messages and the organization’s core values. Business cards with different messages on the back (each staff member received multiple messages within their box of cards) help each employee “own” the messages and bring them to life in discussion with anyone they interact with. The results? Despite the challenges of the economy, the staff has looked forward, aligned with the concepts and continues to represent the best tenets of the brand.

President Patrice Altenhofen shared, “We have moved Cascade Employers forward, even in an economic downturn—we have thrived rather than merely survived.”

Our work in 2005 for Western Oregon Waste, while focused on the naming and branding (WOW), had the long-term additional result of aligning staff and bringing new energy and enthusiasm to the different divisions within the company. And it’s still working as a premise for a “WOW level of service” and a measurement of the commitment of every person in the company.

People build brands. It’s not about the logo or the message or the brand promise. It’s about how those elements bring people together around a compelling idea, generate enthusiasm and engagement and build pride and ownership. Amazing results are possible when the brand truly reflects the culture and unites employees.

Online Tactics for Branding and Sales

June 12, 2009 by

Wondering how to spend your marketing dollars online these days? According to a Forbes study as reported by eMarketer, if the goal is to generate sales businesses of all budget sizes should start with SEO.

“Fourty-eight percent of marketers said that search engine optimization (SEO) was the best method for generating conversions online.”

Supplement SEO with email marketing and pay-per-click search advertising. SEO and paid search will both get you in front of people who are already going out of their way online to find information about your industry or products. And email marketing builds a communication stream with folks who’ve said they’re interested in you.

If the goal is branding – building, maintaining, or changing perception – site or page sponsorships were considered the most powerful, presumably because of the high visibility and brand-value communication that this kind of adversiting provides. Next in line for branding? SEO again… everybody’s doing it. Are you?

Video in Inbound Marketing

June 10, 2009 by

Today I attended a webinar by HubSpot describing how to use video in your inbound marketing efforts.

What IS inbound marketing, you say? Inbound marketing is any marketing effort focused on helping people find you. Rather than pushing your message out to “leads” using tools like trade shows and cold calling, inbound marketing makes your content available to people already shopping in your industry. They’ll find you through tools like blogging, SEO and social media, and hopefully make the effort to reach out for the initial contact.

Video can be a great way to draw these folks in and get them to engage with your brand. By creating educational or entertaining videos and publishing them on sharing sites (, YouTube, etc.) and on your blog, or by sharing the link in your email marketing you can educate them on what your brand is about and how they can use your products.

A few tips from today’s webinar:

  • Shorter is better. People’s attention spans drop very quickly after the first ten seconds; give them something exciting to grab their attention in the first few seconds of your video and then keep it moving.
  • Live video makes your message feel more personal and requires no editing, which means it’s fast, easy and cheap!
  • If you’re camera shy, use screen recording to show web navigation with your voice over. This is great for instructional and how-to videos. A couple of software options: Camtasia and CamStudio.
  • Upload your video in Flash, which is compatible for the most people, but also consider an M4V version for use with iTunes, iPods and iPhones.
  • If you don’t have hosting capabilities, upload your videos to a sharing site like YouTube and then cut and paste the html code they’ll create for you to embed the videos on your own site.
  • Don’t embed the videos in your emails, they’ll take up too much space. Instead take a screenshot of the video and hyperlink it to a place where your visitors can watch.
  • To make sure your video gets picked up by search engines, add descriptions, notes or transcriptions below your video. Also make sure you select tags that are going to get you appropriate placement within the sharing site.
  • Be sure you put your URL in the beginning of your video description so it doesn’t get hidden in the condensed description format, which is the default for YouTube.
  • To encourage sharing add things like a “Tweet This” button to your video – you can create this through HubSpot at
  • Don’t forget the call to action – at the end of your video tell viewers exactly what you want them to do next.

And finally, how do you know if your video was a success? For B2B videos, HubSpot considers 10,000 YouTube views a win. But you can also use analytics tools provided by your video hosting company such as YouTube Insights.

Using Video in Email Marketing

June 8, 2009 by

I posted last week about the benefits of combining your email marketing and social media efforts. Today, MarketingProfs sent out an email dedicated to a post at the Digital Marketing blog citing research supporting the use of video in email marketing.

According to Nielsen Online, total video streams in April 2009 were up 24% year over year, streams-per-viewer were up 27% and time-per-viewer was up 58%. And, according to Forrester, a video link in an email can increase click-through rates by two to three times.

So, get to it!

  • Create videos that provide value and entertainment for your audience.
  • Post them in places where they will be easy to find and easy to share, including your own website and social media outlets such as YouTube and Facebook.
  • And finally, send the link to your email base. Remember not to embed the video directly in your email because most ISPs limit the amount of information that can be sent and received; instead hyperlink a screenshot of your video and place that in a prominent position in your email.

Unusual Helmet Designs

June 8, 2009 by


Here’s a collection of interesting motorcycle helmets and unusual helmet designs I discovered this morning. The mellon head gets my vote. Let’s talk about functionality. Can you see out of these things?

Be safe!

Do we need another iPhone ??—Rumors abound about Apple at the WWDC on Monday

June 5, 2009 by

World Wide Developers Conference

As usual, the company is tight-lipped – which, as always, just adds to the frenzy. That, of course, is the way they like it and the way we always play it. At least we all have our roles down pat!

Unsurprisingly, this year’s rumours centre on the iPhone, which has sold around 21 million handsets in its roughly two-and-a-half short years.

Mobile phones

One analyst, Gartner, reports that the iPhone was the fastest-growing smartphone of 2008; another, PiperJaffray, believes that Apple can grow its sales to 45 million units by the end of 2009.

Let’s not forget that it still ranks third behind Nokia and Research in Motion‘s BlackBerry. And let’s throw in the unknown factor of the Palm Pre, which launches in the States this weekend and which some industry watchers have touted as a serious challenger to Apple.

Rumoured iPhone features include better battery life, a video camera, memory upgrades, a speedier processor and a digital compass. There has also been talk of a cheaper handset, selling at around $99-$149.

The previously-announced improvements to the operating system via a software upgrade should be rolled out, adding in-app commerce, live streaming and the ability to cut and paste. There will also be some new numbers on the app store – which, earlier in the year, passed the one billion download mark. But does all this really set the heather on fire?

Well, it would if “you know who” were doing the honours from centre stage. Apple’s founder and CEO Steve Jobs has been on sick leave since the beginning of the year and is due back at his desk at the end of the month.

Naturally, the “will he / won’t he” question of Mr Jobs making an appearance at the WWDC comes down to a fact that nobody really knows, except for the chosen few and his nibs.

The BBC will be there to report on whether or not the rumour mill got it right this time and whether Apple pulls out its famous “one last thing” to wow the crowd.

Thanks to Maggie Shiels of the BBC.

Take Advantage of Some Downtime

June 4, 2009 by

A lot of companies are in a difficult financial position this year and when choosing where to make money-saving cuts, one of the first things to go is marketing and advertising. I’ve always told clients to think about this in a different way – rather than cutting your marketing budget during a downturn, take advantage of the limited competition and make a splash with customers. While they may not be spending right now, seeing advertising from you will reinforce their belief that you are a strong, vital organization. Plus, people will remember your name when their wallets start to fill up again.

Today, posted an article supporting this argument with some research:

  • Fifty-six percent of Internet users who noticed a decline in ads from a retailer saw it as a sign that the store was struggling—15% thought the store would go bust, and soon.
  • On the other hand, frequent retail ads led respondents to feel the stores were committed to doing business, being competitive and—in some cases—healthy. (Ad Overkill May Not Be a Bad Thing During Tough Times by eMarketer, June 2009)

EDIT June 5, 2009 – Just received an Ad-ology report confirming the data above and adding some interesting points about consumer spending habits now versus one year ago:

Ad-ology Report - Reduced Advertising During Recession Negatively Impacts Consumer Perception

Email Meets Social Networking

June 3, 2009 by

Today I attended a webinar by ExactTarget and Forrester that discussed how to use email marketing and social networking together and I wanted to share some of the key points with you.

Three-quarters of US online adults use social technologies, which now includes any forum for sharing information and content online – Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and email are all social. Even with all these other ways to talk to our friends, email is still the most popular way to share online content both in the adult crowd (18+) and with teens (12-17). More than 80% of online adults share content via email.

  • 77% trust content received via email from people they know.
  • 60% trust consumer ratings and reviews.
  • Compare that with only 38% who trust television ads.

So what does this mean to marketers? Use email as the link between your social media efforts and make it easy for users to share your email and other online content. Remember that your emails don’t always have to focus on marketing messages; build user trust and loyalty by sending out fun, interesting and relevant content without the sales pitch. And make sure you don’t wear your marketing hat when working with social media.

  • Use Twitter for short, immediate communications.
  • Use Facebook to keep in touch with fans.
  • Use email for deeper engagement with brand advocates.

The commitment to become an engaged subscriber to your email list is much larger than the commitment to follow you on Twitter. Get to know your customers and their behaviors before reaching out to them in any of these arenas. Reward your brand advocates with in-depth email content and promotions that make them feel special. And again, make your content easy to share so you can build your base of engaged subscribers.

10 Essential CMS Considerations

June 3, 2009 by


Choosing a CMS can be tricky.

What should you look for in a Content Management System (CMS)? Well, here’s a great list providing some very helpful insight into plotting out your CMS requirements. Complements of Paul Boag, contributor, Smashing Magazine. Areas to consider include:

  1. Core functionality
  2. The editor
  3. Managing assets
  4. Search
  5. Customization
  6. User interaction
  7. Roles and permission
  8. Versioning
  9. Multiple website support
  10. Multilingual support

Marketing Mistake #1: Our product and service is outstanding, that’s enough

March 17, 2009 by

We’ve been working on this series and have heard some good response as they’re being Emailed out to promote BrandACT, my one day marketing workshop. So after some discussion … it seemed like it might be a good idea to start posting these! Enjoy. Of course, if you have any suggestions for “marketing mistakes” … leave us a comment!

The mistake: believing that doing a good job is enough to get more customers in the door.

Fact: Even if your product or service is extraordinary, you have to let people know about it. You have to market. And now it’s more important than ever to be targeted, focused and effective when you communicate about your business, products or services to potential customers or clients.

To be effective in your marketing, you must have a clear picture of your target audiences … and every business has multiple audiences, from current customers to prospective customers, a referral base or others in your sales channel. Once you know your audiences, you will have a better understanding of how they buy, what they expect and how you can appeal to them in their own terms.

When you understand who your audiences are, you will also be able to identify the contact points … those opportunities to connect with all audiences or specific audiences. You may have planned opportunities such as a Website, or you may have existing contact points you may not be making full use of, such as signing or vehicles.

Now you can learn dozens of tactics and ideas to help you market more effectively. Discover how to choose the most efficient communication channel and media for your unique business and your targeted audiences. Invest just one day in my marketing workshop, BrandACT™, and you will return to your organization with a fresh outlook, new marketing ideas and a clear direction for marketing your business more effectively, even in these tough economic times.

We’ve already filled one session in Oregon … and have now scheduled another for April 2 in Wilsonville. Would you like to know more? Please go to EventBrite or give us a call at 503.883.4433.

Hope you can join me, Jennifer Larsen Morrow, for another energetic and interactive day … plenty of interaction, and time away to help you focus on marketing your organization more effectively.

And watch for the next marketing mistake!

Additional session scheduled for April 2

March 5, 2009 by
One day marketing workshop returns April 2

One day marketing workshop returns April 2

We’re pleased to let everyone know that our one-day marketing workshop has filled in Oregon, on the March 10 date. So we have decided to schedule a second session on April 2. Same location, same price, same great content! To enroll, please go to EventBrite. And of course give us a call if you have any questions! 1.866.363.4433 or 503.883.4433.

Marketing Mistake #10: Student recruitment isn’t marketing

March 5, 2009 by

Fact: an effective and integrated student recruitment program is based on the foundational principles of good marketing … understanding your audiences; communicating benefits and distinguishing features; integrating all communications for a consistent look and feel; and creating a clear and compelling reason that will generate response by the right individuals. Basically, good branding.

In the world of college and university recruitment, there is a great deal of effort and money expended in searching for potential students, communicating with them through online media and printed materials, personal communication at college fairs and through high school counselors, and through events and open houses. Over the course of time a high school student (sometimes as early as 8th grade) will be bombarded with information from many different institutions of higher learning, all trying to say “look at me! pick me! we’re the one you want!”

In some ways this is marketing at its most intense. After all,  it’s a huge investment of time and dollars for a student to attend college. It’s a major life decision. As such, colleges invest heavily in pushing those decisions towards their institution. Marketing. It’s really marketing. And the most successful programs incorporate the tenets of branding.

We’re amazed when we see “cookie cutter” solutions (think three in a tree) for colleges and universities that are trying to distinguish themselves from the crowd. When the strategy is to do what the other guys do and to look like a college, it’s tough to persuade potential students to dig further to find out if that specific institution is a good fit. Unless, of course, you’re Harvard or Yale and you already have thousands of students clamoring for just a few hundred seats.

But that’s not the case with smaller, interesting, innovative and distinctive institutions. They MUST brand in order to stand out. They MUST have a compelling story,  supported by factoids, proof points, quotes or more to bring their story to life. The photos chosen MUST support that concept and story and reflect the character and persona of the campus.

So it’s time to get off the “we don’t use the term branding” or “it’s not marketing, it’s recruitment.” It is marketing. And to be successful, the principles of marketing and branding must be part of the ongoing conversation, the development of recruitment materials, design and content and management of the Website … and every other contact with potential students or their referral sources.  Integration. Clear communication. Consistent look and feel. Let’s do it!

Salem YWCA captures our attention

February 26, 2009 by

On Tuesday, February 24, in Salem, Oregon more than 700 women gathered for the “Women Helping Women” luncheon, to support and give to the Salem YWCA. This organization is remarkable.  Under the leadership of Carol Green, this local chapter has made remarkable progress in the community. Not only do they demonstrate collaboration and community in the way they do business, they have been key in transforming a portion of Salem that was previously one of the “worst” areas in town. They have built a new building (and were successful in generating the support needed to make this happen), they have provided needed services to women who have faced some of life’s toughest challenges–from teen pregnancy to living with breast cancer–and they continue to provide services that help women and their families achieve a life they never thought was possible. Through showcasing four remarkable stories we were all moved to tears and opened our checkbooks.

This luncheon is a demonstration of branding at its best. The total experience of a tight, focused one-hour lunch, the stories that were shared and the frank ask for money were all designed to have all of us realize the need for the YWCA in our community. It was also an example of social media in its “old school” way … rubbing shoulders with professional women, community leaders and homemakers in the Salem area, all for the sake of one, unifying cause.

It’s an event I look forward to every year. And it’s an event that is truly inspirational for me as a woman, for the community I’m part of, and as a marketer whose desire is to connect with and move people for a purpose. Thank you to the excellent team at the Y who puts on this event, and to Carol Green, the executive director who is retiring this year.

Creative Company takes merit for Umpqua and Linfield

January 30, 2009 by

Umpqua Bank JELD-WEN Tradition Invite


Linfield College Travel Piece

We’re happy to announce that Creative Company was nominated for two merit awards at the 6th Annual Service Industry Awards (SIAA). This accolade demonstrates recognition for work performed by Creative Company for Umpqua Bank JELD-WEN Tradition Invite and the Linfield College Travel Piece.

SIAA is the only advertising awards to specifically recognize the achievements of the service industry. Many other advertising awards are dominated by consumer goods, packaged goods and other tangible products. The service industry is adding a significant contribution to marketing and advertising. SIAA recognizes the creativity and communication accomplishments of the service industry.

Woohoo! Thanks all!

Hurst’s Berry Farm Website is berry-licious

January 19, 2009 by

Husrt's Berry Farm

Hurst’s Berry Farm in Sheridan, Oregon, has a new Website that is simply mouth watering and schweet. Hurst’s Berry Farm is the leading shipper of fresh berries in the Northwest, growing and distributing a variety of fresh berries to grocery stores across the U.S.

It was a good week! (election week, that is)

December 3, 2008 by

Well, it was quite the week, and you can now thank your own God that it’s finally over.

Lucinda Williams has a new CD out, which for once doesn’t make you want to commit suicide, and Shooter Jennings also has a new one, covering some of his dad’s (Waylon) songs, and it sounds real good.

We also have a new Prez-elect and a new American “Brand”–-Obama.
It’s been an experience watching them all–-Obama, Biden, Mac and Palin–attempt to persuade us to “buy in” to any one of them.

If you think of Obama and McCain as two distinct brands, which one do you think maintained consistency with the core values and identity that he represented?

My friends, Mac has always been branded the “straight talk express,” but over the months he really deviated from that persona and went off the rails. In branding terms he went “off brand,” which caused confusion and lost him votes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hey, what’s your story?

October 26, 2008 by

A clear identity can create an emotional connection to a product, service or company. This is not strange as basically everything stems from identity, the individual as well as the artifacts have an identity both from a social and psychological point of view the identity is the core, the material physical objects really don’t exist.

Some have said:

“I like it when clothes and objects have an aura, or a secret story”.

We believe a product won’t be durable before it tells a credible story.

People like storytelling, it’s a part of human history. As soon as something has a story, it becomes important. It gets a soul. And if it’s important it will soon be durable.

So, what’s your story?

Marketing Mistake #10: Different generations don’t matter

November 15, 2010 by

The mistake: Communicating from your own perspective when your target audience is from a different generation


If you’re a baby boomer (aged 46 to 64) and your primary target audience is Millennials in their teens or twenties, you must understand what’s important to them and how and where they communicate in order to be successful.

We all inherently know the generations are different, have different perspectives and communication styles. It’s often called the Generation Gap. But how does that impact your marketing strategy and program?

“Millennials are the first generation to be raised with online media. As young adults, ages 18 to 34, these digital natives quickly adopt new technologies, then adapt them to fit their lifestyles. If something that suits them better comes along, they are quick to move on. Indeed, 24% of respondents in this age group chose ‘technology use’ as the trait that sets them apart from previous generations, according to the Pew Research Center. … it is not only ingrained behavior but practically part of their DNA.” eMarketer, September 7, 2010

Think Starbucks. It’s just coffee, right? There was a time when people thought anyone would be crazy to pay $3 or more for a cup of coffee. The Starbucks’ focus on the experience, not just the cup of coffee, created a whole new category and a whole new reason to spend $3 on a cup of coffee … with no free refills.

You’ve seen communication technology change rapidly in the last five to ten years—from the internet as a primary source of information to the rapid growth of social media to the now ever-present mobile media on smart phones and devices like the iPad. It can be overwhelming!

How do you sort through the options and choose the best one? First get clear about your target audience—generational perspective, expectations, choices they have and preferred communication methods. Local newspapers will still reach an older audience, but a twenty-something will never see an ad in the paper. And a student looking for information about a potential college will look first at the website and then participate in social media to make connections and discover the inside story.

You don’t need to cover all the bases, just choose the channels your audience chooses.