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Friday, January 27, 2012

Can You Do Too Much Marketing?


Are you tired of the ads, direct mail and phone calls from the political candidates yet? Sometimes it feels like the elections never stop; we just roll from one right into the next. At what point do viewers simply tune out the message?

Major political campaigns are big business. The candidates are marketing themselves to the voters, and they spend a big chunk of change doing it. Those candidates without deep pockets must get creative, taking advantage of free press through debates, town hall meetings and the creative use of social media. Candidates with more money rely heavily on TV and radio ads in the major markets, hire services to call voters to encourage them to get out on election day, send direct mail, etc., etc., etc. 

If we add to this money spent by special interest groups and Super PACs in support of their candidates (just under half a billion dollars in 2011[i]), marketing essentially becomes a free-for-all. And because these groups aren’t directly linked to the candidates, the ads and approach can be down and dirty—in some cases influencing viewers and in others causing them to tune out all political ads.
Statistics are out on the amount of money spent on TV ads by each Republican candidate leading up to Saturday’s South Carolina primary. A combined total of $13.2 million was spent on TV ads alone, with Mitt Romney shelling out $4.7 million, Newt Gingrich spending $2.4 million and Rick Santorum $1.7 million[ii]. Yet, spending more than the second and third place finishers combined on TV ads did not guarantee Romney a win.

A political consultant referenced in The Charlotte Observer article (see end note below) believes that there were so many ads being shown that they simply lost effectiveness. Is this a case of too much marketing? And what do you risk if your competitor has a huge presence and you don’t?
One of the basic tenets of marketing is to know your audience and reach them via the channels they use. This is more than TV and radio, it includes online options and social media. Candidates are still figuring out how best to connect on these channels. When the competition is fierce, however, it’s important to see if you can find creative options to reach your viewers and catch their attention. One opportunity is to make sure your ads are not “typical fare” – make them stand out from the competition. Extremely tough—especially in a political campaign—but sometimes your best option to make marketing work for you. We’d love to hear your thoughts on how you would market yourself if you were running for office. Comment below and let us know!


[i] http://www.tvb.org/planning_buying/Political/251654
[ii] The Charlotte Observer, “TV ads didn’t pay off in S.C.,” 1/24/12

Friday, January 13, 2012

Foundations


I was watching a home improvement show last week. The new owners discovered after buying the house that, while the house looked great, some interior walls had been removed to open the space up. Unfortunately, the person who removed the walls had no understanding of structural requirements and a load-bearing wall was taken out, leaving the house and its occupants at risk of harm. This got me thinking about the foundations on which we build.

When you build a business – or a career for that matter – you cannot succeed without a solid foundation. There are certain core building blocks that are necessary and without them you will likely fail. Consider the following questions:

Why does your firm or business exist? What value will you provide to your customers? Consider formalizing a vision, mission and goals.
Who is your primary & secondary target customer? Your product or service will not be a match for every potential consumer. Defining your target will make it easier and less expensive to market.
Do you have a unique sales proposition (USP)? What makes you different from the competition? You must know the answer to this question in order to effectively market yourself.
What does your budget look like? Yup, it’s reality check time. Everyone has budget limits they must adhere to. Know yours and look for the most effective ways to spend your money.
Do you have the support you need? Support can come from many directions. You may need help with specific business skills (i.e., a tax accountant or IT professional) or moral support from family and friends. Build your support network as you go. 

Setting up a solid foundation may take some time, but in the long run this effort is necessary and well worth it. We’d love to hear how you’ve built your foundation. E-mail us at cs@vitalinkweb.com.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fightin' It Off

I don’t know about you, but it seems like everyone I’ve spoken to over the past two weeks got sick over the holidays. It used to be that you called in sick and stayed home until you were well. With the introduction of new technologies that have us “linked” and accessible 24x7 and the current economy leaving employees insecure about their jobs, we tend to work through any illness that doesn’t land us in the hospital! We’d love to hear what you do when you are sick. Do you:
The good news is that many employers are okay with folks working remotely, so at least the germs aren’t shared at the office. From my point of view, I encourage anyone who works at a restaurant I may frequent to PLEASE stay home when you are ill! If you have other ideas on the best way for employers and workers to deal with cold and flu season, please share them! Aaaachooo!!! And get well soon.
 

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