Tag Archives: Small Giants

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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 Website—The average “shelf life” of a website is 1.5 years…Yours is out of date; very out of date!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.


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.

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Op-Ed: The problem with prospecting

Admit it. It’s on the “To Do” list. You work on that list, add to it and then turn the page of your note pad and forget it. You will get to it…but then the week gets busy and you move it to next week…and so it goes.
In order to get new business, we need to identify prospects and contact them. Prospecting for work is a cornerstone of any successful sales approach. Whether you are a salesperson, business development representative, president of your firm or any member of the team responsible for bringing in new work to the company, prospecting is essential to the ongoing client development cycle.

Why does this critical practice seem to be pushed aside for all that piles up on your desk and fills your email box? Let me make some suggestions:

Create a Prospect Profile. We can be most efficient with our prospecting efforts if we are targeting the right people. First, identify the type of project you are looking for as well as the qualities of the client you would like to replicate. Perhaps it is a market sector or a service, but it also could be a client who possesses qualities that work best for your staff and/or company structure. Once the profile has been agreed upon, develop a list of prospects who fit these qualities.

Limit the List. If you provide a service such as property management, architectural design or contracting, the list of who needs that service can get very long. Approach the list with some strict parameters, such as prospects for a specific service type which can be repeated in multiple locations. The benefit of this is focus and strategy. With only 10 people on that list instead of 40, you are able to consider creative ways to best approach them and create a follow up plan.

Prospects are Prospects. A lead is already qualified and now an active pursuit to get the work. A Prospect is a step prior to that—they are a company or individual to consider working with, meaning that the prospecting process is designed to learn more about their culture, their need, whether they are a good fit, whether the timing will be appropriate, etc. If we treat prospecting as though it is our lead list, we are not allowing the vetting process to work. Additionally, prospecting is not selling, it is discovering; which means that anyone in your firm can prospect, even if they are not skilled at selling or closing. They are uncovering opportunities, building awareness of your firm and opening doors.

Create Prospecting Time. The act of prospecting will always fall into the “necessary but not urgent” quadrant if we don’t schedule dedicated time each week for this activity. This means researching companies, finding the appropriate contact, establishing mutual connections and reaching out to start the process. And often this is just the beginning of a long-term cycle; one which can result in unreturned calls, lack of response to emails and generally discouraging efforts. DO NOT give up; persistence is key to prospecting. Did you know that most people make two attempts and then give up…and yet, the average sale happens after over eight prospecting attempts?

Why put off an activity that is so essential and critical to continuing a pipeline of future business and building awareness of your firm? Creating a strategy, narrowing down the list, understanding the goal of prospecting and being tenacious in the process can reap tremendous rewards. Happy prospecting!

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.

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Nicole Kadyszewski joins Small Giants

Nicole Kadyszewski has joined the Small Giants team as director of operations and recruiting, focusing on organizational management, process improvement and talent placement for marketing and business development professionals. With eight years of field experience in general contracting and real estate development, Kadyszewski is applying her project manager skills to orchestrate the team’s growing workload and operations.

Her technical understanding of the industry ensures all projects are completed with the highest level of value to the client.  Additionally, Kadyszewski leads Small Giants recruiting, placing marketing and business development candidates throughout the commercial real estate, and A/E/C industry.

Kadyszewski graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in Construction Management. She is a LEED Green Associate and recently completed the Arizona Builders’ Alliance Leadership Development Forum, which strives to educate construction professions and cultivate leadership skills. She is also supporter of Advancing Women in Construction and Habitat for Humanity.


Business Development: No Instruction Book

Many commercial real estate firms are changing the way they do business, as the last five years have forced them to examine how they attract and retain clients. One of the greatest take-aways of the Great Recession is business development—the approach commercial real estate-related firms are taking to expand their client base and engage their staff as a whole to bring in work and attract more customers to fill the pipeline.

The difficult aspect to the “everyone does business development” mentality is that most employees really do not know what that means, what’s required and what success looks like when trying to participate.

As I reflected on this, it came to me that there is no degree you can get in Business Development and, actually, few courses you can take to formally learn this career. This leaves people with no choice but to “just get the hang of it” or recognize that they do or do not have “a knack for it.” Business development is not a particularly complicated process but it does require some essential qualities to succeed. Let’s review a few of the most critical:

  • Knowing What Differentiates Your Firm—When staff members are asked to participate in “selling” and they are not normally in the front line of this process, it can be a quite intimidating and frustrating request. A good place to start is agreeing on what makes your firm unique. Why are clients loyal to you? What does your firm do best? Why are you different from the rest? Once this is clear, make sure everyone who is charged with business development understands the message and how to deliver it.
  • Clarity—What do you mean when you ask a team member to participate in bringing in work? Are they only required to engage in acquiring repeat work with an existing client or are they charged with finding new client prospects? Also, should they represent the firm by attending associations and networking events in the evening, or are they focused on one-on-one activities? These are the details that hang up technical and non-business development staff and limit their success. Develop a specific plan for the team members and give them some measurable goals to achieve and then meet with them monthly to assist them in measuring their success.
  • Listening—What separates an ineffective business developer from an excellent one? Listening. Active listening means you are taking the time to get to know the client or prospect, applying that information to better understand them and how to meet their needs. It means establishing trust and a building a rapport. What are a few things that go a long way to prove this? Remember names of new prospects and master the art of conversation. Most people I speak with who are hesitant about their role in business development are unsure of what to talk about, so take them with you to model some tips you might take for granted when it comes to conversing with a stranger.
  • Timing—Successful business development is 40 percent strategy and 60 percent timing and persistence. You need to be targeted with whom to meet and establish opportunities with, but your list can be perfect and yet be unsuccessful if your timing is not right. Maintain a list of notes from every interaction and follow up appropriately. If they do not call you back, that does not mean the deal is dead; it most likely means they are busy. Conversely, you do not want them to regret meeting you because you are contacting them far too much. There is a pace to every deal and it is beneficial to get a feel for that quickly to succeed.
  • Documenting—All leads/deals should go through an opportunity filter on your firm’s end and likely require several steps to close the deal. If you are managing business development in an organized fashion as a firm, you have a formal Client Relationship Management (CRM) system and every individual responsible for business development is using it. They are tracking opportunities, connecting the dots of other companies who are influencing the deal and tracking personal information and preferences of their contacts.
  • Be Personal—People do business with people they like—it’s simple. They need to know more then that your firm is capable. They need to trust you, value your input and enjoy the process of doing business with you and your firm. Take the time to really get to know them on a personal level and as well as their buying preferences and management style.
  • Follow Up—So as you follow all of the advice above, you are establishing connections, documenting your meetings and gaining valuable information about the prospects and opportunities. Every contact and meeting needs to have a follow up item. It is the business development professional’s responsibility to create a reason for follow up and to understand the business well enough to know the natural timing of follow ups. As an example, if someone tells you that the project is starting the re-zoning process, you would not call them back at the end of the week to see if that is complete, it’s a process and you want to set your follow ups appropriately. But what can you be doing in the meantime to stay in front of them? Constantly think of the next step to follow up.

Business development can be the most rewarding part of your position, even if you are not a trained professional. As professionals grow in their firm and their career, business development is a natural progression of requirements and following these simple steps can assist you in succeeding and actually enjoying the process.


If you have any questions about this article or any of the topics Danielle has covered in previous AZREmagazine.com articles, contact her at danielle@smallgiantsonline.com


Differentiation: What Kind Of Ketchup Are You?


If you are ever looking for a great way to contemplate differentiating your firm, just stroll through the grocery store aisles. I don’t know about you, but I had no idea there were jalapeno ketchup, ketchup in a bag and green ketchup, when all they are really selling is a substance created of tomatoes. These variations give the consumer choices, and choices illicit preferences. They are positioning their marketing to prove their product is the best.

But products have it easy compared to services. The real test of a product is tangible —you can touch it and taste it — whereas a service is intangible, typically highly intangible. So how do you stand out from the very large crowd? Consider a few of these to arrive at your firm’s differentiator:

What makes your service CRAZY different?

When you consider all the services, experience and knowledgeable staff your firm has to offer a client, what is really different? Ask your team and then really evaluate what is being offered as a differentiator. Often, I hear companies say “what makes us different is our people!” or “We have passion!” These are admirable qualities to be but are they differentiators? Stated this way, probably not. But let’s not push it aside yet. Sometimes these are good ideas that need more definition, for example:

>> What is the feeling you are receiving as a client?

>> What does the proposed differentiator solve for the client?

>> What is the behavior the client receives consistently from this?

>> Test it!

Now that you have your short list of ideas, see which ones rise to the top by running each through a filter in these categories:

>> Can it be easily replicated? If yes, it is only a matter of time before a competitor is doing the same thing.

>> Is it interpersonal? If it is a behavior, such as “we respond to all issues within 24 hours or less” is everyone doing it every time?

>> Is it true? Would your clients agree that this is a quality your organization possesses and one that your competitors do not do?

>> Is it worth it? This is where you ask yourself if the differentiator is going to bring true value to your client and if that value translates to client loyalty.

>> Package it!

Once a differentiator is identified and the organization is in sync with it, the time has come to package it to make it come to life for the client. A few steps need to be taken here. First, you need to articulate the differentiator in a way that is memorable and meaningful. Consider this:

>> Create a “billboard” — If your differentiator were going to exist on a billboard, what would the simple, brief and attention-grabbing message be?

>> Write your company obituary — If what makes your firm different is truly something special and something that stands out, it should hold value, have an emotional reaction to what is received when working with your firm, and should be consistent/long-lasting. If you were writing the final words of your loved one, you would focus on qualities that stood out, that people valued and what made them so loved. So do the same; write not only the differentiator, but also the unique approach the client receives and the commitment the employees have to it.

>> Think of it as a gift — Now that you are armed with the clear idea of what makes you different, how do you physically represent it? The possibilities are limitless…push yourself to go beyond the typical brochure or writing a paragraph about it on your website. What can they physically touch and feel that reinforces this difference?

Let’s go back to the ketchup aisle and see what stands out … as service-based organizations we have so much to choose from. Are we the unique option? Are we the all-natural option? Are we the most choices option? Or are we content doing business in the general brand aisle and be available as the low cost, commodity option?

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



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.


Sarah Boddy

Sarah Boddy Joins Small Giants as Operations Manager

Small Giants welcomes Sarah Boddy to the firm as the operations manager responsible for all office administration and client project management.

With six years experience, Boddy offers direct insight as an operations manager within the commercial real estate industry, bringing knowledge and skills to improving business processes.

Her responsibilities at Small Giants include assisting the team with marketing and business development, managing and creating processes to increase efficiencies, event planning, ensuring client quality and consistency, and business analytics.

She has a bachelor of science degree from Texas A&M University, with a major in economics and a minor in business. She worked in the residential mortgage industry, in Dallas before transitioning to the CRE industry.

Boddy has been a volunteer and supporter of The Humane Society, and is an active member of the Junior League of Phoenix. She intends to grow and become more actively involved in industry groups and events.



Have You Encountered a Marketing Blackout?


After years and months of preparation, anticipation and planning, Super Bowl XLVII will be remembered for the 34-minute blackout. More than the always-memorable ads, paying $3.8 million per 30-second spot, the halftime show or the game itself, the “unfortunate moment” was what will be remembered.

Equipment at the venue, feeds into the Superdome … whatever the cause, one thing is for sure: someone dropped the ball in a big way and few want to take responsibility.

What do you do when your company has experienced an issue that will affect your relationship with a client? Here are a few things to consider:

>> Formulate a Gameplan: As soon as an issue seems to have emerged, it is critical that all involved work together to fully discover what went wrong. After the core of the issue is discovered, your team should always set the goal to be the first to suggest proposed solutions. The client will appreciate the issue being addressed with energy and a sincere desire to fix it. If the issue at hand it not the fault of your firm, you still might have more knowledge in the area of the problem to provide experience and counsel to assist them in correcting the issue.

>> Client Perception Surveys: While the blackout analogy above was seen worldwide, many small issues are made bigger with lack of communication. If you have a structured program to survey your clients and trade partners on a frequent basis, issues can become non issues. The hidden benefit to this regular communication is that you also have an opportunity to discover what your team’s strengths are, as perceived by your client — now you know the actions they value most and you can market around those. Finally, you can track trends from one project to the next as you discover trends in the feedback received.

>> Take Responsibility: There might not be anything more destructive to a client relationship than excuses and blaming as a response to a situation that has occurred. As is the case in most issues, there is blame and responsibility to go around. Approaching an issue with culpability and a proactive attitude to correct the situation and move on does wonders for client retention.

>> Improve Communication: Giving your staff the authority to correct situations immediately, without long delays and belabored discussion, has tremendous impact in building confidence with your client. They will remember the way issues were addressed and the level of urgency given to situations. A good rule of thumb is to match your client’s level of urgency to correct an error or miscommunication.

>> Finding Common Ground: None of these tips are intended to suggest that you need to be “walked on” by the client. Even if you know your firm is not to blame, challenge yourself and your team to find an area to improve the process, communication or approach going forward to bring a common effort to improve a situation.

>> Keep an Open Dialogue: Statistically, more than 90% of clients who are dissatisfied never tell you why and discontinue the relationship. They will, however, tell others why they left, solicited and unsolicited. If you create and encourage a culture in the relationship of open dialogue, not only are issues addressed earlier, which makes it easier to make a course correction, but they feel a sincere desire from you and your firm to work as a team and succeed in a common goal.

A bad client experience can be a costly, unnecessary marketing disaster and can work against much of the positive marketing efforts you deploy. Addressing a negative head on can build your brand in a powerful way and strengthen client retention.

Abbey Carpenter

Abbey Carpenter Joins Small Giants As Marketing Coordinator

Small Giants hired Abbey Carpenter as the firm’s marketing coordinator to assist and project manage creative marketing, graphics, social media, website direction, and proposal development for clients.

With 8 years experience, Carpenter brings vast creative experience, but with a marketing in-house mind and point of view – providing new insights and ideas to the Small Giants team from the inside out.

Carpenter earned a Liberal Arts degree from Bismarck State College (N.D.), as well as in Visual Communications from Collins College in Phoenix.

Carpenter has gained great experience assisting with all aspects of marketing, graphic design, business development and managing social media programs; most recently, holding a Graphic Designer/Marketing position at Guidon Performance Solutions, a leading consulting firm that helps clients achieve rapid, sustainable improvements in operational performance and growth. She was also awarded the 2011 President’s Award for her dedication and performance within the company.

Prior to Guidon, Carpenter was the marketing assistant at the architecture firm, TRK Architecture & Facilities Management, where she was in charge of assisting in all marketing initiatives, graphic design, proposal development, and coordination of project leads – Focusing on tenant improvements and renovations, building condition assessments, master planning, and facilities management.

Carpenter was a member of the Society for Marketing Professional Services while employed with TRK. Abbey Carpenter is looking to meet more architecture, engineering and construction industry leaders and marketers in the Valley to help them build business.

Abbey Carpenter can be reached directly at 602-314-5549 or via email at: abbey@smallgiantsonline.com

Small Giants LLC is a Phoenix-based, full-service marketing and business development firm, serving commercial real estate related companies, including general contractors, architects, engineers and subcontractors. As a company, they specialize in marketing, business development, business strategies, recruiting and in-house training. www.smallgiantsonline.com

First Press Fine Wine Auction

First Press Fine Wine Auction Benefits KJZZ Youth Media Project

The 10th Annual First Press Fine Wine Auction will benefit the KJZZ Youth Media Project. All proceeds from the auction go to the youth media program that allows KJZZ reporters to mentor high school students in the areas of journalism and reporting.

The 10th Annual First Press Fine Wine Auction

First Press Fine Wine AuctionThe 10th Annual First Press Fine Wine Auction, presented by Molina Jewelers, will take place on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012.

More than 30 wineries are scheduled to participate, including the Robert Craig Winery from Napa Valley. President Robert Craig will serve as this year’s honorary chair, and Peter Sagal, the voice of the popular NPR game show “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!,” will be the evening’s host presented by National Bank of Arizona.

The evening will have live entertainment by Alice Tatum and the Alice Tatum Band, a gourmet five-course meal and a high-end live auction of rare vintages, culinary experiences and vacation packages.

But the most important part of the evening will be about the fundraising. Funds raised from the auction will benefit Friends of Public Radio of Arizona and the KJZZ Youth Media Project. Last year, the First Press Fine Wine Auction raised more than $170,000 for their benefiting organizations.

The KJZZ Youth Media Project

The KJZZ Youth Media Project is an educational outreach program designed to mentor “at risk” youths in the areas of broadcast journalism and digital media production. The program was started in 2007 and initially worked with 14 students from South Mountain High School. This year the program is expanding to approximately 20 students from all high schools who qualify.

The students complete an application and go through a verbal interview process to see if they can fit the six-month core curriculum into their time frame. The projects curriculum consists of elements developed by the Radio Television National Association.

“[The] kids will work in all aspects of digital media,” says Louis Stanley, the executive director of Friends of Public Radio Arizona. “Then they will specialize and continue to work on content development, while also helping to mentor new kids starting the program.”

The ultimate success of the students is what the program is all about. Stanley shares a success story from Ann Miles, an employee at the South Mountain High School Communications department.

“Ann Miles said, ‘Many of my students who a participate in the KJZZ Mentorship program at South Mountain have gone on to college to study journalism. They return to tell me how much the experience with KJZZ not only prepared them for college journalism classes, but they also feel that they are ahead of their peers,’ ” Stanley says.

KJZZ’s Youth Media Project

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The 10th Annual First Press Wine Auction
When: Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at 6 p.m.
Where: Westin Kierland Resort and Spa
Tickets: $250 per person or $2,500 for a table of 10. Guests seeking guaranteed table seating with a vintner and marketing exposure can purchase a table sponsorship starting at $5,000.