Tag Archives: marketing

Content Marketing

Lavidge expands staff to support growing client base

LAVIDGE, a full-service advertising, public relations, communications, consulting and interactive marketing agency, announced several new hires to manage its growing client base.

LAVIDGE’s be creative, work smart, have fun mantra has been adopted by new and current employees across all divisions. Amy Singer joined the account service team as a senior account executive. Previously, she held a similar position as a global brand marketing specialist for Sebago Footwear at Wolverine Worldwide in Rockford, Mich. In addition to her industry expertise and enthusiasm, Singer brings 12 years of marketing knowledge to the department.

The public relations department has added Jessica Pridonoff as a senior account executive and two account coordinators, Keller Perry and Beth Logan, to support existing and new clients. Pridonoff has five years of strategic public relations and marketing experience from LaneTerralever and Crosby | Wright. Both Perry and Logan are recent graduates from Arizona State University and University of Central Florida.

New Hires:

• Amy Singer, Senior Account Executive, Account Service

• Jessica Pridonoff, Senior Account Executive, Public Relations

• Keller Perry, Account Coordinator, Public Relations

• Beth Logan, Account Coordinator, Public Relations


• Ronda Farthing, Director, Production

• Greg Sexton, Associate Director, Public Relations

• Diego Romero, Account Supervisor, Public Relations

• Liz Andrade, Senior Account Executive, Interactive

• Sabrina Franks, Senior Account Executive, Account Service

• Caroline Montgomery, Account Executive, Account Service

• Jennifer Disbrow, Junior Account Executive, Public Relations

• Jena Coolidge, Junior Account Executive, Interactive

123RF.com, everythingpossible

Put your marketing strategy on a wait-loss plan

Danielle Feroleto is the owner of Small Giants, a full-service marketing and business development firm in Phoenix, specializing in commercial real estate.

Danielle Feroleto is the owner of Small Giants, a full-service marketing and business development firm in Phoenix, specializing in commercial real estate.

As we move tremendously close to 2015, most firms are in the midst of planning. And this planning is getting much more exciting for many as the key indicators of the economy are generally improving.

I will recap the many strategic planning sessions I have participated in over the last six-plus difficult economic years…”We are going to wait on that”….”Let’s wait”…”We’ve decided to wait for now.” Let’s dust off the list of the most commonly mothballed marketing projects that are in desperate need of activation in most firms:

  1. Strategic Marketing Plans—Focus is essential and how do you get focus without a documented plan? The process of authoring this plan is the best part because it is a time to build consensus, energize the activities that will differentiate your firm and dream a little. The structure of this plan includes trends that impact your firm, competitor analysis, baseline measurements, and measured and tracked goals. This is the foundation of any healthy company and the best marketing ideas result from this process.

  2. Client Surveys—Forget the bad economy as a reason to “wait” on client surveys; firms in general are in desperate need of tracking and internally communicating the client experience. There are a variety of ways to measure how your company is performing—it could be based on projects, from a strategic perspective or a perception survey to give insight to better refine their organization or processes.

  3. Website—The average “shelf life” of a website is 1.5 years…Yours is out of date; very out of date! Now that we have established that, you can move forward with creating a fully mobile responsive, fast, social sharing, contemporary website that serves as a resource for clients and prospects.

  4. Photography—These past years afforded many firms the opportunity to diversify and expand their services and your prospects might not be aware of the markets you serve or all of the services you now provide. It is time to schedule your project and people to get photographed and post these in your office, in eblasts, direct mails and websites. Go ahead, appease the visually-oriented society that we are now—don’t just tell them, show them!

  5. Social Media—You have waited long enough, and nope, it’s not going away. Even if the 20-something in your office has “got it covered” a firm’s full engagement is essential. Are you going to create a social culture or not? This requires a policy, training, a plan and consistent execution. It is not difficult and very inexpensive…but it is overdue.

If you are gearing up for a great year and want to shed a few things, we recommend looking at all of the marketing projects that are long overdue and yet so beneficial to the continued success and growth of your firm.


The gamification of marketing

Todd Young

Todd Young

Jason Edwards

Jason Edwards

For centuries, games have been a paramount element of society. Now, marketers have found a way to harness the power of games to change the way businesses engage with customers. Gamification is the application of game intelligence and mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users.

Hoping to capitalize on the more than 183 million active gamers in the U.S., two Valley business owners are utilizing gamification to create a marketing niche. Fiero Agency, founded this year by Todd Young and Jason Edwards, specializes in gamified marketing. They create unique interactive marketing campaigns that motivate consumers to be engaged. Gamified marketing includes mechanics such as points, badges and leaderboards.

Young believes gamification’s effectiveness is rooted in psychology. “People seek out games for the same reason they seek out coffee: to feel different after,” he said. “It’s a place to get your fix.”

According to Young, feelings necessary to human condition can be supplied by games: socialization, purpose and achievement. Gamification allows people to be marketed to without necessarily realizing it because the game provides entertainment.

It seems to be working because gamification is becoming a more mainstream marketing tool. Gartner Inc., an information and technology research and advisory firm, predicts more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one “gamified” application in 2014.

Young and Edwards attribute the trend to the popularity of video games. A gamified marketing strategy is comprised of three key elements: personalization, rewards and pride. Games allow users to choose what they want and provide the opportunity to win rewards. Additionally, users have pride in their success by sharing their achievements on social media. A gamified marketing strategy unifies these three elements to guide the user to have enthusiasm to purchase.

Fiero’s creative process is solution based. First, Young and Edwards define success for their campaign. Each campaign has its own characteristics of success. Success could be defined by getting more customers, expanding market share or increasing consumption of a product. Once success is defined, a solution or game is made.

Fiero’s creative process is a hybrid between the traditional “white board” marketing strategy and the gaming tactical approach. According to Young, the game strategy is about how to make it more interesting every time.

“(The game needs to) legitimately create a compulsion or a new habit,” Young said.

The implementation of the proper elements of a game for the appropriate demographic or product is also key. Not every game component pertains to every campaign. Games geared toward a younger demographic might include more of a story line, while games for older demographics may include scaled down visual and audio. Game mechanics need to correlate with the product being marketed.

Fiero’s gamified marketing is not exclusively digital. Fiero applies traditional marketing strategies to game design, branding, content creation and animation. Then, cross platforms are used for campaigns to apply the game intelligence to a variety of mediums. The mediums include web development, applications for smart phones and tablets and video production. The formula is working. Even though Fiero is a relatively new agency, created successful gamification campaigns for clients including Coca-Cola, TimeWarner and Microsoft.

Samantha Swadish

Swadish named Biltmore’s PR and marketing manager

The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort has appointed Samantha Swadish to the position of public relations and marketing manager, announced General Manager Sheila Foley.

“With her years of experience at a sister Waldorf Astoria resort, she brings the in-depth, insider knowledge and experience to step right in and begin successfully guiding our extensive marketing, promotional and public relations efforts,” said Foley.

She comes to the historic Arizona Biltmore from La Quinta Resort & Club and PGA WEST, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, La Quinta, California. Over seven years at the iconic property, she held positions in several departments, including Marketing and Events & Catering, most recently serving as Marketing Manager.

Swadish earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Bryant University, Smithfield, Rhode Island.


Op-Ed: Think ‘Frozen’ this summer for your marketing efforts

“Let it go! Let it go! Can’t hold it back anymore…”
And in 11 words I have every reader doing one of two things—cringing that they will now have that song in their heads the rest of the day, or thinking of their child/grandchild singing this song with pure joy over and over and over again!

How did Disney’s “Frozen” do it? In addition to shattering box office records exceeding $1 billion in revenue worldwide, holding sixth place for highest-grossing movie of all time, this movie seems to be magical. In my household, an animated girl who shoots frozen fractals out of her hands can make a 5-year-old clean her room, not fuss during teeth brushing and prompt her into the best behavior in order to get yet another chance to watch this movie. In fact, we never even bought a sweater for her this winter because she runs around declaring, “the cold never bothered me anyway!”… Braids are back in style… And the soundtrack, seemingly singing largely about ice, is a billboard chart topper at 2.1 million copies.

Amazing. Or is it? It does not take much examination to see that there are very basic marketing fundamentals at work in this movie that we could apply to our businesses this summer to replicate this contagious attraction.

Here are a few observations I have gathered:

It’s simple: The story is really just about two girls and ice but they create much impact.
Often firms spend a lot of time (and money) attempting to make their marketing such that has never been seen before and in doing so it is not authentic and can even be confusing. Explore the practices you take for granted every day, the stories that live inside your 4 walls that make your firm what it is, and begin with that. What makes your business successful is probably quite simple—the key to successful marketing is taking that simple concept and playing it out creatively, consistently and continuously so it “sticks” in the minds of your clients and prospects.

It’s sentimental: Who doesn’t have a childhood memory of playing with a sibling/friend and then that relationship changes?

Every firm has a history and a position in the marketplace to which they can credit their success. As you change and grow, your marketing efforts need to communicate what has changed—do not assume prospects, or even your clients, know. Also, take an emotional approach to your marketing—play on the sentimental appeal of your audience. Some things to consider are photos that vividly depict what life looks like when your form has been involved (the end result) or a campaign that reckons back to a simple time.

Unexplainable Enthusiasm: Even in the midst of tragedy, a snowman who loves heat can be counted on for levity.
Marketing goes well beyond the website you produce and the collateral you distribute. Marketing is a behavior at its core and that behavior must be clear and consistent to build a “brand” around that. Do you/your colleagues bring energy and enthusiasm to the project/deal/client even when there are issues or conflicts? After the project is completed, true marketing strategy asks, “Was it an enjoyable experience?” and if not, how can we change that to make it better?

Self-empowerment: …Have you heard the song? Clearly, this is the key theme.

Your marketing needs to capture the true talent, possibility, power and strength of your organization. Often, we mistake marketing for sending out an eblast on your latest transaction, getting an up-to-date website and sponsoring an event where our client base is likely to be, while missing the real story that you should be marketing. What makes you an admired company? How are you different? What do you solve for a client? Market that with passion.

Honesty: This movie was filled with honest feedback from friends, family and strangers.

We could use more honest conversations from our internal team, our clients, competitors and trusted advisors. This feedback is great material to build our marketing efforts because we can capitalize on what makes us unique, appreciated and valued. In the absence of these conversations or structured feedback, we are making it up and that never results in authentic marketing.

Lasting things do not happen over night: There is bewilderment that Anna wants to marry a man she just met—it is just not realistic.

And often our expectations for marketing results are not either. After a marketing campaign has been redefined and restructured, let the results unfold as the momentum grows. If you take an approach of analysis of every marketing action and the direct result to sales, it is discouraging and defeating to the entire program. Make a commitment to a timeframe to evaluate the success as a whole, including strengthening your brand, clarity of your firm’s offerings and building your prospecting opportunities.

While I have no expectation of building a snowman in June in Phoenix, I do believe we can take a refreshed approach to our marketing to make it highly memorable and effective. The beauty is that sticking to fundamentals of marketing and being creative with your approach does not cost more.

Danielle Feroleto is the president of Small Giants LLC, specializing in marketing and business development services for the commercial real estate, architectural and construction industries. For additional information please contact her at 602-314-5549 or Danielle@smallgiantsonline.com.


Parsons Acquires Scottsdale-based Martz Agency

Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist Bob Parsons today announced the acquisition of Martz Agency by MP Agency, L.L.C., an organization owned by Parsons. The award-winning Scottsdale based marketing and public relations firm, which will be renamed Martz Parsons, will bring creative firepower to Parsons’ growing portfolio of businesses.

Parsons has said that by looking at and structuring their marketing as a revenue generator that makes money rather than an expense item, businesses are able to not only bring attention to their brand but also increase their revenue streams. Parsons’ numerous Valley based entities, including Harley-Davidson of Scottsdale, Go AZ Motorcycles, Spooky Fast Parts & Engineering, YAM Properties, The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation and Scottsdale National Golf Club, will be using Martz Parsons as their agency of record. The agency will immediately add talent to keep pace with the growth.

Martz Agency, founded by Carrie Martz in 1980, is among the most highly regarded agencies in Arizona. Moving forward, Carrie Martz will assume the title of CEO and the agency will continue to serve its existing clients. Existing and future accounts, including Parsons personal enterprises, will be able to leverage the Agency’s unparalleled talent and newly expanded resources to further develop and empower their brands.

“I am thrilled that someone I consider to be a marketing genius has purchased the Agency,” said Carrie Martz.  “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our agency and for our clients. With Bob Parsons behind us, I believe our Agency will become even more value to the clients we serve.”

Bob Parsons, like Carrie Martz, is well-known for his intense focus on providing an excellent customer experience. Moving forward, clients can expect their accounts to be managed with the same level of personalized care that Martz Agency has delivered for the last 33 years.

“It’s no secret that I am passionate about marketing,” said Bob Parsons. “The formula is simple … great brands that deliver an uncontested customer experience thrive. Martz Agency brings years of experience, professionalism and enthusiasm to the table. Together, we should knock it out of the park.”

Martz Agency’s current client roster includes Yurbuds, Arizona Commerce Authority, Toronto based Pacific Links International, Valley of the Sun YMCA, Fennemore Craig, RLC Labs, One Neck, Mirabel, The Reef Residences at Atlantis, Estrella by Newland Communities, and Olympia Group.


Terrah Hancock Joins D.P. Electric

D.P. Electric, Inc., headquartered in Tempe, recently hired Terrah Hancock as the head of its marketing department and to work closely with the business development team.  In announcing the appointment, Dan Puente President of D.P. Electric said: “We are excited to have Terrah join the DP family and look forward to the value she will bring in helping to promote the awareness of our capabilities and accomplishments”

Terrah has experience in web development, public relations, marketing and graphic design with an educational background in English and computer information systems from Arizona State University.

“As a marketing professional I am sagacious in my efforts and all project development.  I’m particularly pleased to be working for Dan Puente,” said Terrah. “His reputation as an excellent leader and honest business man is absolutely accurate.  He is a great mentor and I am looking forward to see the results of our combined efforts.”


Off Madison Ave Acquires Gordon Galloway

Phoenix-based marketing communications firm Off Madison Ave announced today its acquisition of Gordon Galloway, an integrated agency specializing in the casino gaming and entertainment industries.

This is Off Madison Ave’s second acquisition in recent years – the firm acquired digital powerhouse Mighty Interactive in 2005 – and comes on the heels of a strategic merger with interactive and creative shop SpinSix late last year.

“We are continually seeking out acquisition targets as part of an aggressive growth strategy,” said David Anderson, CEO of Off Madison Ave. “The Gordon Galloway purchase complements our travel and tourism practice, and provides an opportunity for future expansion beyond the Arizona market.”

Founded in 2010, Gordon Galloway works with several premier entertainment, gaming and resort enterprises, including Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Ariz., and the Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Mich. Other notable clients include The Grand Belize Entertainment Group, Capital Processing Network and Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock.

“Joining the ranks of Off Madison Ave affords our clients a full suite of integrated marketing capabilities under one roof,” said Ben Gordon. “With a shared philosophy of great creative driving measurable results, we are eager to become part of the team and produce outstanding work.”

Post acquisition, Off Madison Ave’s total capitalized billings are expected to top $50 million annually.


Facebook Is Top Social Media Site for Marketing Spend

What are the hot spots for social media marketing in the coming year?

According to a new survey by The Creative Group, more than six in 10 (62 percent) advertising and marketing executives interviewed said they expect companies to increase their spending on Facebook marketing in the next 12 months. This is up from 53 percent who planned to boost their Facebook budget one year ago. Executives also anticipate companies will channel more marketing dollars toward LinkedIn (51 percent) and Google Plus (50 percent), up from 38 percent and 41 percent of respondents, respectively, last year.

The national survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm.

Ray Headshot

Artigue Agency Expands Growing Sports Practice

Local marketing communications firm, The Artigue Agency has announced the addition of several new clients to its growing sports practice.  Led by sports marketing veteran Ray Artigue, the firm’s new clients include Junior Golf Association of Arizona (JGAA), Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, former Phoenix Suns star and NBA veteran Eddie Johnson, Patriot All-America at Wigwam Arizona and QR Gameplan.

“The growth of the agency represents the need for additional staff and expanded offices and I’m flattered by the market’s demand for our professional services,” said agency principal Ray Artigue.  “As we evolve and expand our sports offering, our greatest marketplace differentiator remains our people.  Our team comes from a variety of backgrounds, bringing diverse skills and extraordinary expertise in their respective specialty areas, ensuring that we’ll continue to deliver successful PR and marketing programs.”

The Artigue Agency recently moved to a larger office in Biltmore-area of Phoenix to be closer to new and existing clients and to accommodate its growing team.  The firm has also added two new two senior account executives, Casaundra Donahoe and Ian La Cava.

Donahoe brings nine years of experience in brand strategy, creative development, media relations and communications planning. Prior to joining The Artigue Agency, Donahoe worked for Park & Co. where she served as strategic counsel for brands like Goodwill, Girl Scouts, Expect More Arizona, METRO Light Rail, Coca-Cola and many others.

La Cava has five years of experience developing and executing public outreach campaigns and strategic initiatives on behalf of several clients in the sports industry. Prior to joining The Artigue Agency, La Cava worked for Niner Sports Marketing where he managed talent procurement, endorsement deals and social media for marquee athletes.

The Artigue Agency works with emerging and established companies in several markets with extensive experience in the sports, entertainment and lifestyle, healthcare, financial, legal and environmental industries.  Current clients include Arizona Broadcasters Association, Arizona Public Service (APS), Arizona Biltmore Golf Club, Abrazo Health Care, Cardon Global, Gallagher & Kennedy, BMO Private Bank, JDM Partners, Scottsdale Tourism Development Council, Wigwam Golf Club and Waste Management, among others.


Kiehl's Since 1851 Arrives in Scottsdale

The Store

Kiehl’s Since 1851, the venerable New York-based purveyor of fine quality skin and hair care preparations, opened its very first retail store in at Scottsdale Fashion Square. Kiehl’s is proud to offer visitors and the Scottsdale community the opportunity to discover the brand’s efficacious skin, hair and body care products, personalized customer service and 162-year-old heritage.

BB Cream_SPF 50“Scottsdale has long been on our wish list for a new store, and our new space at Scottsdale Fashion Square is the ideal location to fully introduce Kiehl’s to Arizona,” said Chris Salgardo, President, Kiehl’s USA. “Our new store allows us to bring Kiehl’s further into the Southwest and share our New York heritage with a whole new community. Each element of our new store, from the design of the fixtures explaining our skin, hair and body formulations, to the historical photographs, mementos and Kiehl’s icons, helps tell the extensive story of our unique company that began as an old-world apothecary at the corner of 13th Street and Third Avenue in New York’s East Village. From design, to customer service, to the high-performing natural ingredients that are the basis of our products, we did everything possible to bring a modern version of our original store to Scottsdale, and I look forward to introducing our new community to our skin care, our customer service and our story.”

Kiehl’s at Scottsdale Fashion Square mirrors the unique ambiance found in the company’s original New York Flagship, which began as a neighborhood apothecary in 1851. The new store brings a modern New York apothecary to Scottsdale, referencing the company’s original East Village roots and blending vintage and antique apothecary fixtures with a modern neon flare. The interior design advances Kiehl’s longtime commitment to the environment with the use of natural, sustainable materials and energy-efficient light fixtures, while enhancing the overall service experience for Kiehl’s patrons.

Kiehl’s at Scottsdale Fashion Square also utilizes natural, sustainable materials and energy efficient light fixtures – and encourages patrons to recycle Kiehl’s packaging with a specially designed recycling bin, promoted through Kiehl’s Recycle and Be Rewarded! program. The program offers customers the opportunity to return empty Kiehl’s jars, bottles and tubes to the store for recycling, in exchange for complimentary products.
Kiehl’s commitment to education through attentive service is accentuated through a dedicated personal consultation area. The enhanced space provides an opportunity for customer representatives and patrons to converse privately about products best suited for the customer’s individual needs. A separate men’s destination offers specialized educationActivatedSun_LotionSpray_SPF50 tailored to the specific concerns of male patrons.  All customers receive the kind of attentive service for which Kiehl’s is known around the world today. In addition, simple, no-frills packaging allows Kiehl’s to formulate its products with high quantities of the most efficacious natural ingredients available.

Generous sampling through Kiehl’s “try before you buy” program offers the complete Kiehl’s line of skin and hair care for men, women, children and babies with a generous offering of its traditional product samples. To assure its customers always find exactly what they need, Kiehl’s offers a 100% money back guarantee on all purchases, and guarantees that customers will see revitalized skin in 28 days or their money back.
Custom gifting 365 days a year allows customers to create personalized gifts year-round. A Kiehl’s Customer Representative will help the customer assemble a personalized, custom gift box, choosing items based on recipient, theme, ingredient or price, from any and all products in the store.


  • A 6-ft table provides patrons a comfortable station for complimentary Healthy Skin Consultations by Kiehl’s Customer Representatives, which helps them determine the formulas best suited for their personal needs.
  • A  space for specialized shaving and grooming education and demonstrations is designed for men. Specially designed accents such as military-style lockers, black subway tile, and props to demonstrate the perfect shave, bring this relaxing stop to life for Kiehl’s male patrons.
  • Black Nero Marquina marble highlights the shop’s exterior façade, honoring the marble exterior of the original Kiehl’s New York Flagship.
  • Carrera marble tables, counters and trim provide a utilitarian, functional approach.
  • Natural, sustainable materials, such as tabletops made from paperstone, a waterproof material made from 100 % post-consumer recycled paper.
  • Energy-efficient LED lighting illuminates Kiehl’s products in an environmentally friendly way.
  • Reclaimed wood floors and exposed brick walls evoke the old-world quality of Kiehl’s East Village neighborhood.
  • A bronze and crystal chandelier is inspired by the crystal chandeliers that have adorned Kiehl’s Flagship store in NYC for years.
  • A custom-painted motorcycle, an icon of Kiehl’s heritage, will be on permanent display, evocative of the passions and adventurous spirit of Kiehl’s founding family.
  • Antique apothecary glassware and vintage props  reference the company’s early years as a neighborhood apothecary.
  • Vintage photographs and mementos – take customers on an exciting journey through Kiehl’s 162-year history.
  • Pop-art inspired graphics – the late Andy Warhol was a long-time Kiehl’s fan, purchasing Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion in bulk from the Flagship, and special graphics were created in his honor.

About Kiehl’s Since 1851: Kiehl’s was founded as an old-world apothecary in New York’s East Village neighborhood. After years as an ambitious apprentice, John Kiehl purchased the business and began operating under the Kiehl name, serving the burgeoning New York community with unique herbal remedies. In 1921, John Kiehl’s apprentice, Mr. Irving “Doc” Morse, purchased the business and expanded it to a full-service pharmacy, stocking medicines, tinctures, and the first Kiehl’s-branded products. Doc Morse, a pharmacist and herbologist, passed the business on to his son, Aaron, himself a chemist and avid motorcyclist and aviator. Aaron’s daughter, Jami, was raised at Kiehl’s amongst the “family” of employees, who together fostered a tradition of attentive, personalized service for every patron. Over the generations, the Morse family committed Kiehl’s to serving the community uniquely efficacious skin and hair formulations made with the finest natural ingredients in the apothecary tradition.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.  For more information about Kiehl’s, please visit www.kiehls.com.

Whitney Murray

Fennemore Craig Hires Legal Marketing Professional

Fennemore Craig, a full-service law firm based in Phoenix, is expanding its marketing team hiring Whitney Murray. As Marketing Manager, Murray will oversee the firm’s advertising and public relations efforts for Fennemore Craig’s offices in Phoenix, Tucson, Denver, Las Vegas, Reno and Nogales.

Relocating from Boston, Murray led marketing and new business efforts for Prince Lobel Tye LLP law firm. Murray’s areas of expertise, include marketing, business development, public relations, event management and corporate communications. Murray holds a Master of Science in Communications Management from Simmons College.


Making Your Marketing Stand Out: Are You Wearing Your Favorite Snow Boots In The Summer?


So, we collected all of our stuff to head out the door and realized that my 4-year-old was not in tow. I called out to her and she said, “I’m coming. I just needed to get ready!”

That was interesting, as I had already gotten her dressed, hair brushed, shoes on … Out she comes — entirely different outfit than planned — a sun dress with a skirt underneath it, snow boots (it’s 108 degrees), a “handmade” necklace and a pink tiara on her head, carrying a snow globe and a bar of soap to show her friends.

As we were driving I was so mesmerized by the confidence and excitement she had with her outfit and saddened to think about the day that she might trade in a style that is all her own for what everybody else does.

And don’t we often do this with marketing? Our marketing activities replicate one another so much that it really takes very little to stand out from the crowd. If your marketing style is less than memorable, consider a few ways to step out:

>> Know Your Audience

If you do nothing else to energize your marketing, take the time to really consider what your audience will respond to. Take account of who they are, their age, background, lifestyle and personality. Depending on the marketing activity, you might be sending out to 100s, even 1000s, of people who differ in these qualities. One of the best investments of your marketing dollars would be to take the time to segment those people so they only see marketing that matters to them.

>> Don’t Give In To What’s Expected

I sit in on marketing brainstorming sessions that entails reviewing what competitors are doing and discussing what can be done “like that.” Challenge your team to think of messages, mediums and material that is unique to your firm. Build your brand in every marketing interaction you do. The test should be to ask yourself, ‘am I just sending this out to get our firm’s name out there or am I sending out a little piece of our firm?’

It is easy to send an Eblast with a vanilla message, but it is not memorable. An Eblast sent to the right audience, done differently to where it surprises the recipient by standing out, can have a powerful response rate.

>> Medium Matters

While we do business in an ever-electronic environment, something about touching and feeling marketing materials ignite the senses in a powerful and lasting way. As you develop the message for the marketing material consider what everyone else does, even what you have done in the past and try throwing that aside. What would make them talk about your firm after that material arrived? What would stay on their desk because throwing it away feels a little wrong?

And speaking of electronics, there is so much more to be done from a marketing perspective outside Eblasts and websites — interactive brochures, virtual tours, video integration, etc. Firms can do both and build their brand even more effectively.

>> Emotions First, Facts Last

We just sent out a newsletter (you are not thinking this is unique or well received at this point, I am sure), with nothing in it that was self-promoting — instead it was tips on marketing, upcoming events, and client profiles. But here’s what was different; we printed it on newsprint (yes, old style news paper) — almost impossible to find now by the way — and people loved it. It was the best marketing piece response we have ever had. Why? Because they liked the touch and feel of it — at first, it was emotional for them and then they read it. There are ideas like this all around us; it just takes a little time to find something that reaffirms your company character and appeals to your audience.

So, when we got out of the car, she said “Here Mommy, you can wear this crown so you don’t just look like everyone else.” … know your audience, don’t give in to what’s expected, medium matters, emotions first, facts last … what do you think I did? Said heck yes, and wished I brought my snow boots!

If you have any questions about this article or any of the topics I have covered in previous azbigmedia.com posts, please feel free to contact me at danielle@smallgiantsonline.com.



When Marketing and Money Meet


I have found it interesting and disheartening that many firms have an unspoken wall between the day-to-day functions of accounting and the marketing activities.

These are typically the polar opposites in your company — one is analytical and numbers-oriented; the other is people-oriented, set on promoting the firm, the creative side … and never the two shall meet.

This is an unfortunate reality for many firms because your marketing efforts could be exponentially improved by bringing these two critical functions of your company together to benefit your clients, your marketing prospects and your bottom line. Let’s explore the greatest possibilities:

>> Create an annual marketing budget: Every firm creates, updates and projects an operational budget of expenses and revenue. As such, marketing seems to be a grey line item thrown in there based off of what was spent the year prior — this is not a marketing budget. The marketing professional in your firm should meet with the accounting person to outline all hard-cost marketing activities (sponsorships, advertising, client entertainment, proposal costs, photography, etc.) they are planning to do for the year. These costs need to be clearly detailed in a marketing budget and then reviewed regularly.

This will be one of the most powerful practices marketing and accounting can do together— accounting can see the methodology of the marketing expenses and marketing can take ownership of the “overhead” associated with their spending and be stewards of those financial commitments. As the goals and decisions change year to year, so will the costs associated — this is a goal-based marketing budget and it is much more effective than a percentage of G&A or a historical-based budget.

>> Analyze the work: By bringing the information accounting has at its fingertips to your marketing professional, their marketing and business development activities can be better informed. For example, your marketing decisions should be based off of your actual repeat client percentage — who are your greatest clients? What are they buying from you? What markets is your firm strongest in? Which of your services is most profitable? Where are referrals coming from?

Once this information is analyzed, there is hard evidence and confirmation of what needs to be replicated and consensus is built with the team to spend time and money on marketing efforts based on these reports.

>> Marketing ROI is possible: While much of the activities related to marketing are not tangible and yet still produce an important and effective result, there are opportunities to discover a return on investment (ROI). In commercial real estate, construction, architecture, etc., this is the language the principals and owners speak and as a result, this is the way they measure the marketing effectiveness. Marketing professionals often struggle with this demand because there are many activities that are executed to build awareness, not a tangible, quantifiable result.

Accounting can serve as an excellent tool to bring together the costs of a marketing investment while the marketing professional puts measures in place to record the response. For example, if you are doing online advertising, your ROI is likely not going to be a project that walks in the door from that ad, but you certainly can access the traffic to that site, the click-through rate, the response to a creative call to action, and ultimately the number of impressions made to the targeted audience. This information can be overlaid with your website traffic report and now you are talking numbers and return on investment for that marketing activity.

>> Assess marketing soft costs: The marketing department should be proactive about the activities they are responsible for and what is the most profitable use of the company’s marketing time translated to dollars. For example, if you are “shot gunning” your proposals by responding to every project RFQ that seems viable, the soft cost associated with that is research, time to prepare the response, limited time to execute other, more beneficial marketing activities and production time. Track this cost as an all-inclusive effort and your firm’s decision-making process might change. Perhaps your marketing dollar is better spent pre-selling to specific client prospects, anticipating select proposal requests and preparing your marketing efforts to promote your company specifically for this client.

Marketing and accounting can serve as the company’s two best resources to analyze where marketing money should be allocated, measure the success of the dollars spent and assist in replicating what is working in the way of marketing activities by coming together to develop a streamlined structure that works.


Flash Websites

Stand Out in Local Search Directories

A powerful local search strategy for your business is an essential component to a well-developed local marketing plan. Local search directories have improved in recent years, with the integration of Google+ and Google Places as well as updates to directories such as Yahoo, Yelp, Bing, etc. Incorporating local search directories into your marketing mix can improve your search rankings and help your business gain higher visibility online.

Maximizing Google+ Local: The Integration of Google+ and Google Places

Google is one of the most important directories to provide accurate and up-to-date information about your business. Google has recently integrated Google Places local listings with Google+, transitioning to a seamless Google+ Local listing. This new approach to local directories provides a social component and allows businesses to capitalize on this budding social network to improve search rankings, drive more local business, and increase sales.

Tips for Managing Your Business’s Google+ Local Listing

Updating your Google+ Local profile requires just a few steps. The first step is to define the main product or service line that you offer, e.g., furniture company in Scottsdale, Arizona. With this, compile the following information about your business: brief description, photos, place of business (physical address), and link to the business website. You will enter all of these details about your business before submitting your Google+ Local listing. You will also be given the option to select categories that are relevant to your business so that Google can better determine when to display your listing to search engine users. Once you have filled out the basic information requested by the local search directories, you should also update the rest of the information on the form such as service area, payment options, operating hours, and videos.

If this is the first time you have filled out a Google+ Local listing or your address has changed, you will also need to authorize your address. After you submit your information, Google will mail you a postcard with additional instructions. Once the postcard arrives after about two weeks, complete the steps listed on the postcard to finalize your Google local search directory listing.

Claiming and Updating Other Local Directory Listings

In addition to Google, there are several other local search directories such as Yelp, Yahoo, Merchant Circle, Angie’s List, Bing, etc. that you should submit your directory listing. Be sure to use the same information that you used in your Google listing so that all of the information aligns across online directories. Consistency will help you maintain quality and will improve your local search rankings.

Do’s and Don’ts for Managing Local Directory Listings

Finally, there are a few things to remember as you complete your local directory listings.

The Do’s

  • Incentives. Local directory listings are a great place to list special offers or discounts to new customers online. List any specials that you are currently running to encourage prospective customers to try out your products or services.
  • Visuals. Upload pictures that accurately represent the products or services that you offer. This will allow search users to identify what you do quickly and easily, and it will also provide insight into how your business operates.
  • Reviews. Manage your reviews periodically to maintain a positive reputation for your business online. Respond to every review – positive or negative – in a polite and professional way. Being responsive to customer reviews about your business shows prospective customers that you care about the satisfaction of each and every customer.
  • Accuracy. Ensure accuracy across your local directory listings. Consistency is imperative to maintaining a high local search ranking for your target keywords.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t use a non-local phone number. Make sure that the phone number that you use is a local landline and not a toll-free number. Toll-free numbers can make it more difficult for the search engines to track your place of business.
  • Don’t use a P.O. Box. Make sure to use your business’s physical address and not a P.O. box, as this can also make it more challenging for the search engines to track your location.
  • Don’t change your business name. Instead of adding location keywords to your business name, make sure to keep it intact to achieve the best search results.
  • Don’t falsify reviews. Search engines are getting better at identifying false reviews so it is important to ask for reviews from your satisfied customers rather than to create mock reviews that the search engines will notice and eventually de-value.

If you would like to learn more about how local search engine optimization can help your business, please contact Net-Craft.com at 480-563-0558 for a free local SEO consultation.





'Deal of the Year' Recognized at May 7 Event

Maybe it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Or maybe it did. Either way, it’s about to enter the spotlight.

It’s the “Deal of the Year,” an award given by the Association for Corporate Growth-Arizona to recognize a deal or transaction that took place in Arizona in the past year that had a beneficial impact on the companies involved. The award will recognize a deal/transaction in the Arizona marketplace involving established businesses with between $10 and $500 million of revenue that closed in calendar year 2012.

The Deal of the Year Award will be given out on May 7 at a dinner at the Arizona Biltmore. The ACG signature event begins with a networking session at 4:30 p.m. and culminates with the award presentation starting at 6:45 p.m.

The three finalists for Deal of the Year are:

• Alerion Capital Group’s purchase of Apex Microtechnology, a leading designer and manufacturer of high power, analog products with more than 2,000 customers. Apex’s amplifiers act as bridges between voltage sources and precise movements and positions or other accurate functions.

• Endeavour Capital purchased Arizona Nutritional Supplements, an industry leader in a the development of vitamins, minerals and supplements. The sale included an injection of capital that will allow ANS to expand its product offerings.

• The Wicks Group’s acquisition of McMurry, Inc., a leading Phoenix-based advertising and marketing firm. McMurry has a 25-year track record in custom publishing and content, and the sale resulted in the creation of a new company called McMurry/TMG with a strong presence in Arizona.

“Many of the transactions that fuel Arizona’s economy take place under the radar screen, but involve substantial investment in our state and its companies,” said Christine Nowaczyk, Board President for ACG-Arizona. “This award is a way to recognize and encourage investment and business activity involving Arizona companies, and celebrate some of the accomplishments and hard work of the many professionals who are involved.”

The award criteria are:

  • Deal-making that either created or demonstrates a real potential for substantial return on investment
  • Deal-making that evidences the unlocking of value and/or contribution to the strategic development of the business
  • Deal-making that produces a wider business impact, such as the development of new markets, products, services and/or technologies and the creation or retention of quality employment opportunities in Arizona
  • Deal-making that reflects a high level of professional expertise in the design of the transaction and tested creativity and deal-making skills in completing the transaction
  • At least one company involved in the transaction must be headquartered or have a majority of its operations in Arizona

Tickets for the May 7 event are available for $135 for ACG members and $149 for ACG non-members, and may be purchased by visiting www.acg.org/arizona or calling 602-343-6280.


‘Deal of the Year’ Recognized at May 7 Event

Maybe it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Or maybe it did. Either way, it’s about to enter the spotlight.

It’s the “Deal of the Year,” an award given by the Association for Corporate Growth-Arizona to recognize a deal or transaction that took place in Arizona in the past year that had a beneficial impact on the companies involved. The award will recognize a deal/transaction in the Arizona marketplace involving established businesses with between $10 and $500 million of revenue that closed in calendar year 2012.

The Deal of the Year Award will be given out on May 7 at a dinner at the Arizona Biltmore. The ACG signature event begins with a networking session at 4:30 p.m. and culminates with the award presentation starting at 6:45 p.m.

The three finalists for Deal of the Year are:

• Alerion Capital Group’s purchase of Apex Microtechnology, a leading designer and manufacturer of high power, analog products with more than 2,000 customers. Apex’s amplifiers act as bridges between voltage sources and precise movements and positions or other accurate functions.

• Endeavour Capital purchased Arizona Nutritional Supplements, an industry leader in a the development of vitamins, minerals and supplements. The sale included an injection of capital that will allow ANS to expand its product offerings.

• The Wicks Group’s acquisition of McMurry, Inc., a leading Phoenix-based advertising and marketing firm. McMurry has a 25-year track record in custom publishing and content, and the sale resulted in the creation of a new company called McMurry/TMG with a strong presence in Arizona.

“Many of the transactions that fuel Arizona’s economy take place under the radar screen, but involve substantial investment in our state and its companies,” said Christine Nowaczyk, Board President for ACG-Arizona. “This award is a way to recognize and encourage investment and business activity involving Arizona companies, and celebrate some of the accomplishments and hard work of the many professionals who are involved.”

The award criteria are:

  • Deal-making that either created or demonstrates a real potential for substantial return on investment
  • Deal-making that evidences the unlocking of value and/or contribution to the strategic development of the business
  • Deal-making that produces a wider business impact, such as the development of new markets, products, services and/or technologies and the creation or retention of quality employment opportunities in Arizona
  • Deal-making that reflects a high level of professional expertise in the design of the transaction and tested creativity and deal-making skills in completing the transaction
  • At least one company involved in the transaction must be headquartered or have a majority of its operations in Arizona

Tickets for the May 7 event are available for $135 for ACG members and $149 for ACG non-members, and may be purchased by visiting www.acg.org/arizona or calling 602-343-6280.


It's Time For Marketing Spring Cleaning


The weather is giving us top bragging rights to our friends and family in the Midwest and on the East Coast. We live for the open windows, patios, golf and spring training baseball games.

It’s also a great time to do some meaningful spring cleaning — but we sort of get used to our piles, stacks and files. So, when it comes to marketing, let me help you shake some of those cobwebs loose:

>> Dust Off That Prospect List: Give yourself a break from the “I’m so busy” excuse and pick up the phone. How long has it been since you scheduled a lunch, golf or dinner party with a firm you are desiring to get to know? And while your at it, review your database, a lot of those people have changed jobs a few times … clean it up and make some much needed connections.

>> Marketing Material Makeover: It’s a great time to update your marketing material; photos on the wall, awards in the conference room, marketing brochures with old contacts and projects. Remember that while you go into your conference room every day and see an award, when a new prospect sees that the most current award is from 2007, that might not send the most powerful message. Challenge your team to take the time to update the information around you and bring those “to-dos” to the top of the priority list.

>> Refresh Your References: Someone shared with me this week that their firm’s marketing materials have references that used to be strong references, but they are no longer there or they do not have the confidence they once had. This is a common occurrence and one that can thwart all of your project pursuit efforts. Create a reference database and categorize it if you do not already do so. Then contact them personally and renew their enthusiasm about your firm. Also, if you are aware someone might be calling your references, contact those individuals ahead of time, so they have adequate time to anticipate the call.

>> Your Neglected Website: When you consider that your website is the single most important marketing investment, it seems counterintuitive that the website is very often kicked to the curb when it comes to updating. Not only should your website be getting current posts, information, links, photos and news on a weekly basis, but it needs to serve as a powerful resource. Some indicators that you need to go beyond the dusting off stage and into some deep cleaning include:

> Not able to be viewed on mobile devices;

> Not able to be updated by you;

> Search Engine Optimization is not working for you;

> You have too much text;

> People are not commenting on your website as being a great resource or memorable.


>> Polishing Up Promotional Materials: I saw someone wearing a t-shirt of a company that had an old logo, stained and worse for wear. I asked them about it and they told me that they have not ordered new shirts for employees for several years because of budget cuts. Makes sense to be mindful of the dollars, but your staff continues to wear your firm’s brand and it is not conveying a strong first impression. Take a look at everything —stained coffee mugs, inconsistent logos, vehicles, signage, etc. You may need to develop a roll out plan for new items, but it is money well spent.

Spring is such an apparent time of renewal and your marketing activities should be no exception. If you have any questions about this article or any of the topics I have covered in previous azbigmedia.com posts, please feel free to contact me at Danielle@smallgiantsonline.com.

Stealth Software CEO Gerard Warrens.

Software firm picks Valley as U.S. HQ

Stealth Software CEO Gerard Warrens announced Tuesday that the Netherlands-based company will locate its United States headquarters in Arizona, which the company selected over Austin, New York and Silicon Valley.

The software development and marketing company based in Luxembourg announced plans to open its U.S. headquarters and hire 200 people in metropolitan Phoenix.

Warrens said Tuesday that the privately owned company will pick a city within two to four weeks where it will locate its new office.

Warrens says the company considered Austin, New York and Silicon Valley, but picked Arizona because it offered a competitive business environment and a skilled workforce.

The firm is looking to hire software developers, sales people and others.

It also wants to do work in the bioscience, aerospace and defense sectors and collaborate in research projects with universities across Arizona.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says the announcement is a sign that Arizona’s business environment is becoming more competitive.

Marketing and strategy

Make Your Marketing Resolutions Year-Round Successes


While we focus on self-improvement during this time of year, it is a bit discouraging to learn that 88% of all resolutions end in failure, according to a 2007 survey of more than 3,000 people by psychologist Richard Wiseman.

The common reason for the inability to carry through with a change in our behavior came down to one simple detail — taking on too much and, as a result, our willpower is weakened before we start.

This pattern is often what we see firms doing with their marketing efforts — they want to “change things,” but try many little things and rarely continue them long enough to witness, or certainly measure, any results.

I have broken down your marketing resolutions to 5 simple goals that we will discuss and expand on in this regular column on azbigmedia.com through the coming months. Touching on key areas where firms fail in their marketing efforts, these are some high-level changes to incorporate in 2013:

>> Be Committed: The greatest marketing accomplishments come for service-based firms when their marketing is consistent. Start with a plan to lay out regular activities in order to attract and retain clients and execute those activities with predictable frequency. Use a diverse set of activities and tools to build awareness, interest and desire from your target audience. The response will be obvious — though this alone will likely not get you work — the prospect will understand your offerings better and recognize the difference.

>> Be Clear: If you do not know what you are trying to achieve from every marketing activity you deploy, your audience, and even your staff, will not understand either. For example, it seems that every firm wants to initiate an “E-Blast,” but the real success of this activity depends on the thought put in to who should receive it, how often, what is the benefit to the recipient, a clear call to action, etc. One way to approach being more clear is to define your desired audience and set specific goals outlining the outcomes you intend to achieve. From there, you can consider the best way to reach the target audience and creatively convey that message.

>> Be Different: With social marketing and the interactive age, your prospects and clients are bombarded all day with marketing messages and information being conveyed through every device imaginable. We are competing for their attention to tell our story, but is it memorable or compelling when we get 1/3 of a second to draw them closer to our brand? Likely not. When considering the precious time we are given to make an impact and be memorable, it is probably a very good investment in your time to know what truly makes you different and why that is important to your clients. It’s your differentiator and it’s what is remembered and lasting in your marketing efforts.

>> Be Social: The best investment of 2013 might be to consider how you are acquiring work. There are generally two major ways to build business socially — face-to-face and online.

Online: What does your firm’s online presence look like? Is it non-existent? Is it usually a self-promoting marketing message? Is it consistent? Would you keep coming back to your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn pages?

Face-to-Face: Chances are you have been working so hard at getting work and working on those projects that it has been a while since you have picked up the phone and catch up with an excellent colleague who can refer you or made a “cold call” to contact a prospect who might consider you for work. Simple practices of regular coffee and lunch meetings and tracking key contacts in a contact relationship management (CRM) software can yield big dividends.

>> Be Measured: It is shocking how much time and money companies often spend on marketing activities and yet no measurement is put into place to assess the effectiveness of each of the activities. By outlining the activities your firm initiates and setting a date to evaluate the outcomes of each, your marketing efforts will truly come to life. While much of marketing seems to be intangible, there are fantastic tools available to view social media traffic, website page hits, electronic marketing click-throughs, direct mail response, and even passive viewing of traditional marketing practices. Once you have an idea of what your clients and prospects are responding to, you can replicate it and provide compelling information and activities that build brand recognition.

I believe 2013 holds tremendous opportunity for your firm to take your marketing efforts in a direction that will yield positive, measurable results. I look forward to continuing to provide marketing insights that will encourage you throughout the year.



Pope’s on Twitter – If You’re Marketing, You Should Be, Too

His handle is @Pontifex and 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI can tweet in eight different languages on his brand new Twitter account.

On Dec. 12, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church tentatively typed out his first tweet on an iPad. It read, “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.”

(For those of you counting, that’s the maximum 140 characters allowed per tweet. Once His Holiness gets the hang of things, he’ll want to shorten them up a bit so they’ll be easier for his followers to re-tweet.)

And followers he has — more than 1.8 million and counting. The pope is already a hit in the Twitter-verse, which makes one wonder why he didn’t sign up a long time ago. And that thought leads to a more important question: How many of small business owners, entrepreneurs, professionals and authors are not yet using this marvelous social networking platform?

It’s time to take a lesson from the Vatican — whether or not you’re Catholic.

The pontiff took to Twitter for the same reasons anyone with something to market should:

• He needs to generate leads. “Part of the pope’s job description is to spread the word,” Greg Burke, senior communications adviser for the Vatican, has said. “Twitter is turning out to be a very effective way of doing this.” Like business owners, the Catholic Church must generate leads to bring in new “customers.”

According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, while there are 66.3 million Catholics in the United States, the growth rate has slowed in past years, and only 24 percent of those Catholics attend Mass every week.

The church also has a problem with declining numbers of U.S. priests. The shortage has left nearly 3,400 parishes without a resident pastor. And book and product sales? Word of mouth to the world’s more than 1.2 billion Catholics can only help.

• He wants to keep the customers he has. It’s not just about growing his clientele; the pope wants to keep his existing church members coming back. Interacting with them regularly through the give-and-take of a platform like Twitter helps him create a more personal relationship with them. (On his first day of tweeting, the pope responded to three questions posed by followers using his #askpontifex hashtag.) It will also keep him in front of his target audience if he posts tweets regularly, responds to followers, and occasionally re-tweets their messages.

• He has an important message to share. The pontiff had thousands of followers even before his first tweet! Why? Because many people were already interested in his message, and they expect his posts will have value for them. So far, they apparently have. The third and final question from followers that he answered on his first day tweeting was, “Any suggestions on how to be more prayerful when we are so busy with the demands of work, families and the world?” His response:  “Offer everything you do to the Lord, ask his help in all the circumstances of daily life and remember that he is always beside you.” It had been re-tweeted nearly 20,000 times by Dec. 14. The pope has a message he wants the world to hear.  That’s a good sign he’ll be successful on social media.

I find it fascinating, but not surprising, that Pope Benedict XVI is embracing social media. While the Catholic Church is a centuries-old institution steeped in tradition, it recognizes the need to be where its audience is if it hopes to remain visible and relevant in their lives.

For anyone in business, or anyone marketing anything, that’s not only true for you, too, it’s essential.

Marsha Friedman is a 22-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself: The 3-Step Method to Increase Your Visibility and Explode Your Business and she can also be heard weekly on her Blog Talk Radio Show, EMSI’s PR Insider every Thursday at 3:00 PM EST.


Home builder uses social media to attract buyers

Lennar Arizona has just surpassed 250,000 “views” on YouTube, has nearly 5500 Facebook “likes”, and 4,000 Twitter followers.  In fact, social media has become such a critical component of the Valley home builder that it has created a new “I Team”, standing for Information, Integrity and Internet. The five member I-Team is a strategic addition to the marketing department and will dedicate themselves to the on-line dialogue with customers.

In any given day, you can watch 30videos of their YouTube that take the viewer through a visual tour of any number of Lennar model homes available in Arizona, provide insights into the company’s innovations such as the new NextGen Home Within a Home® series, or point you in the direction to clear up a troubled credit score.

Lennar has a number of communities in the greater Phoenix area including Montecito in El Mirage, San Tan Heights and Skyline Ranch in San Tan Valley, Lone Mountain in Cave Creek, Evans Ranch and Layton Lakes in Gilbert and Stetson Valley in Phoenix.

In the era of 24-7, second by second streaming information, the communication begins long before that prospective buyer walks into the sales office. For the uninitiated, social media is a group of Internet, web based and mobile applications that have redefined the way many people communicate.  The user-generated content has put the general public in the forefront of defining the conversation, compared to the traditional methods such as newspapers, magazines, broadcast and websites that were controlled by professional journalists and company marketers.

For buyers Linn and Kelly Shaw who purchased a Lennar home at the Layton Lakes community in Gilbert, the social media presence made their search process easy.  “The ability to look at financing options and view new model homes prompted me to look into Lennar as a builder.  I really enjoyed the YouTube videos of the models.  With my wife’s and my busy schedules, we didn’t have a lot of time to tour model homes or communities, so their social media content streamlined the process for us.  Access to the homes through the videos and online detail description of the homes was a huge benefit to us,” said Linn Shaw.

Mike Lyon of the real estate sales training company Do You Convert says that content is the key in the success of social media.  “If the information a company presents is entertaining or educational, it will spread.”  And that’s the key.  “Social spaces are not about selling; it’s about educating and spreading information naturally, and Lennar was one of the first home builders to really commit to creating and spreading content,” he noted.

A number of the big home builders have embraced social media, but Lennar has taken the communication to a higher level. The company has tremendous visibility online whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, FourSquare, or LinkedIn, Lennar is all over it. The company also has four very active blogs.

“For several years now, Lennar has aggressively pursued the social media path.  “There is no question that our social media initiatives have created relationships that have led directly to home purchases,” said Mike Dowell, senior vice president of marketing for Lennar’s Arizona operations.

Buyers who have utilized the social media connections often pass along those tools to friends. “I watch real estate closely and haven’t seen another builder do what Lennar does on-line.  It was so easy to share the Lennar YouTube videos with our friends who were also looking for a home,” homebuyer Lin Shaw added.

The cultural shift is well underway. For many people of all ages, social media is becoming a preferred communication method. Social media is an effective way to communicate facts. “The customers seem to appreciate the ability to research the home opportunities on their own, and to review comments from current Lennar home owners via the company’s Facebook page, blog and other social media sites,” noted Dowell.

A home builder with nationwide presence, at the national level Lennar has more than 800,000 YouTube views, over 200,000 “likes” on Facebook and over 130,000 followers on Twitter. Additionally, each of Lennar’s Divisions across the nation has a strong and growing social media presence in their respective markets.

Lennar, founded in 1954, is one of the nation’s leading builders of quality homes for all generations. The company builds affordable, move-up, and retirement homes primarily under the Lennar brand name. The company has been building in Arizona for nearly 40 years and owns considerable land holdings in the state. For the latest Lennar information, visit any of the following: Lennar.com, Facebook.com/LennarPhoenix; Facebook.com/LennarTucson; YouTube.com/LennarPhoenix; YouTube.com/Lennar Tucson; Twitter.com/LennarPhoenix, Twitter.com/LennarTucson.


FDA picks Riester for anti-smoking campaign

Adweek has reported that the FDA has picked six agencies — including Phoenix-based Riester, which has previously been involved in youth tobacco prevention advertising — to work on a new anti-smoking initiative, which together have a spend ceiling of $390 million over the next five years. Ending a bidding process that began in September 2011, Grey, Mullen, Draftfcb, Campbell-Ewald, American Legacy Foundation and Riester were chosen for the task.

The group of agencies will now be given assignments or will submit proposals in a competitive scenario.

The focus of the program will target teens with the aim of preventing smoking or getting them to stop while they’re still young. Unlike other more mass-market anti-smoking campaigns, the FDA, which has regulatory oversight of the tobacco industry, doesn’t want to demonize tobacco, sources said. Rather, the marketing will present a more positive image of life without tobacco.

Ways to Boost Financial Performance in Face of Economic Uncertainty

Ways To Boost Financial Performance In Face Of Economic Uncertainty

Here we are in a challenging economic environment that spans almost every industry. Every day we are reminded of this with still high unemployment rates, less than hoped for corporate financial results, bankruptcies and foreclosures, low consumer confidence, etc. With this news constantly put before us, I frequently hear from business colleagues that it isn’t possible to succeed in this environment. However, the one commonality among all of these is that business owners generally cannot control them in the sense of the larger economy.

Instead of crawling into a cave and hiding, a better alternative is to focus on the things that we can control in our businesses. There are many things we cannot control; some of the larger macroeconomic issues listed above are among them. What then can we control? To name just a few, we can control new product development, marketing, internal costs, operational efficiency, reliance on debt to run businesses and the amount of time and money we invest in growth (i.e., resource allocation).

To illustrate a more positive approach, I provide the following example of one of my partners and their clients. Their industry was down about 25 percent in 2009, and the business was definitely feeling the downturn early in the year. During the 1st quarter, a key competitor went out of business and liquidated. Instead of sitting on their heels and letting the poor economic environment hold them back, the owner and his team sprung into action. Together we were able to quickly put together a financial projection for the business.

Based on the projection, the client decided to hire the competitor’s top salesperson, a key customer service rep and a technical expert. We also worked with the client’s bank, presented the financial plan and were able to increase the line of credit to support the several-million-dollar increase in business. By the end of 2009, instead of being down 25 percent and having real struggles, the business was up 7 percent for the year and had increased market share in a very competitive space. This year, the client is expanding his warehouse and office space in anticipation of future growth.

The lesson here is that prudent risk, even in the face of economic uncertainty, can provide the impetus for excellent financial performance. Here are some thoughts that come to mind when I think of ways to be more aggressive in this shaky world:

  • Invest in new equipment that will reduce manufacturing cost and increase gross margin. The financial tools to use to help with this decision are a return on investment and discounted cash flow analysis.
  • Develop or acquire a new product/service that brings unique value to your market or provides access to a previously untapped market. The financial tools here are similar, but in this case, I would also suggest a pro forma P&L.
  • Advertise your product, rebuild your website, or add the ability for customers to purchase from your website to stimulate new sales. Similar financial tools can help bring facts to this decision.

Let’s not allow what we’re hearing in the media and from the government cause us to stifle our businesses. There remains a tremendous number of opportunities in every marketplace. Taking advantage of these opportunities now requires a more analytical approach followed by a good plan of execution. A plan is only that, a plan. However, a well thought out plan with good financial projections can lead to a more certain and acceptable outcome.

For more information increasing your business’s financial performance, visit B2BCFO.com.