Company culture distinguishes the values, goals, and attitudes of the employees that make up a company. When individual and company-wide values align, workers feel more appreciated and valued for the work they do in furthering company objectives. Productivity, profitability, and professionalism trend upwards when company culture is strong and healthy, as their image of success shines amongst competitors, creating a competitive advantage. Company culture has a snowball effect on the health and well-being of a company. As company culture improves, the productivity of happy employees increases, which then increases the financial health and overall profit of the company. A company’s productivity measures the effectiveness and efficiency of employees within the company, directly correlating to the success and completion of their objectives punctually.

As times change and technology advances, millennials are brought into companies to keep up with the everchanging and updated technology incorporated in company operations. Millennials are the driving force powering the future of the workplace. The discussion of strong, compelling culture within a company can either attract or deter the millennial audience. In this day and age, millennials want to feel like their work matters, like the time they spent accomplishing even the most mundane tasks are furthering the greater good in the world surrounding them. A strong company culture allows them to better recognize the values and goals of the company, drawing the connections to the outward impact it carries into society.

“There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.”
– Richard Branson

The importance of company culture resounds in a business’ success. Company culture weighs tremendously on the productivity, profitability, and professionalism of employees and the company as an ensemble. If the culture is unhealthy or lagging, employees prioritize duties that will meet their own needs, such as moving up the corporate ladder or improving their salary and benefits. This is due to the fact that the workforce does not feel like they or their efforts are valued by management. Appreciating and valuing employee efforts, no matter how big or small they are, in a client project can contribute to the establishment of healthy company culture practices. By focusing efforts on culture, you are establishing a differentiating factor from competitors who foster poor or nonexistent company culture as they focus too much on the success of the business as a whole, not leaving time to motivate or admire the efforts of those within the company. Creating a foundation of positive company culture, one in which employee engagement organically promotes productivity, can make or break the success of your company.

There are many well-known companies who excel in promotion of their company culture. Zappos has become almost as reputable for their company culture as it is for product and customer service. Ten key core values are instilled in each employee as they are hired and trained. Amidst the fast-moving operations of their business, Zappos takes time to budget and plan specifically for team building as well as internal culture promotion. This is done to encourage their employee and assure them of the impact their efforts make on the success of the company. Another well-known example is Google. Not only do they offer employees a fun working environment and substantial benefits to being a part of their team, they prioritize a strong culture of leadership and mentorship to help their employees succeed. By creating a workspace where people can and want to grow, they attract some of the best talent in the industry and express the worth of their efforts. In terms of strong company culture, both Zappos and Google have taken the initiative to hire people with company culture fit in mind.

How will you shift your focus to promote a healthy company culture?

The day after Halloween, I opened my computer to find something staring me in the face: November 1, 2017. That was on my desktop as I started my day, and I said to myself, “I can’t believe it’s NOVEMBER, and soon it will be 2018!” As usual, that was followed by, “Where did the year go?!?”

I think the lesson here is that time goes on, and time goes by quickly. Regarding the marketing of a business, whether services or products or both, you have three choices:

  • Do nothing and let your business thrive or languish, as it will.
  • Wait until marketing “opportunities” show up in your email inbox or a sales representative calls you.
  • Approach the marketing of your business by developing and implementing a solid marketing strategy.

Don’t let the end of 2018 come with you asking yourself, “What did we do to proactively market our company this year?” Now is the time to take the time to work through some standard questions and begin to develop your strategy for 2018 marketing:

  • What are my business goals for 2018?
  • How has the competitive landscape changed (or how might it change in 2018), and what do I need to do to adjust?
  • What marketing initiatives deserve my attention (and budget) in 2018?
  • Am I stuck in traditional marketing avenues, or am I capitalizing on many of the new marketing opportunities that are truly changing the landscape (think digital/online/social media)?
  • What does my marketing budget need to be for 2018?
  • What am I able to accomplish on my own versus what do I need professional assistance with implementing?

We suggest you work through this “reflection and review” as a starting point to nail down a true strategic approach for 2018. If you need help, ask for it! Working with a team like CIM Marketing Partners can put you on a more solid path to growth and prosperity, while at the same time freeing YOU up to focus on what YOU do best (like operationalizing your company’s products and services, providing superior client services, etc.). Early Happy 2018!

Bright lights. Bold risks. Big news.

That has been Las Vegas’ claim to fame for more than 100 years. Millions of visitors flock to the desert oasis each year to try their luck at winning the immense jackpots, dangled like a carrot in front of hungry animals. Mixed with the first-class entertainment, five-star dining and top-tier events, Las Vegas has long been the topic of conversation. But what happens when the topic turns dark? How does the messaging change when the topic turns from joy and merriment to dismay and despair?

It has been one month since the mass shooting that stunned Las Vegas, the country, and the world. From the moment we began to understand the scale of the events that transpired on Sunday, October 1, our messaging changed from our usual promotional messaging to crisis communication.

Crisis communication is defined as a sub-specialty of the public relations profession that is designed to protect and defend an individual, company, or organization facing a public challenge to its reputation. While, thankfully, none of CIM’s clients were directly involved in the shooting, we were all affected by it. As a full service marketing and PR firm, in all we do, we seek to minimize negative impact on our clients by controlling messaging coming out of and about the company. Any messaging we distributed to the public in the days and weeks following the tragedy had to be presented in a sympathetic manner, not triggering or opportunistic in any way. We have to make sure the client is always viewed in as positive a light as possible, while still holding true to the mission of the business while treating the situation with the respect and reverence it deserves.

We’ve seen examples of amazing crisis communications and some missteps in the wake of the shooting. With too much promotion of the business, the company looks uncaring and insensitive. Too much emphasis on the event can cause public perception to view the company as opportunistic. Getting crisis communication right is a science, and it’s not one that comes easily.

Crisis communication has been a staple in marketing communications since the beginning of time. Companies are creating crisis communications plans to ensure they have the direction needed to navigate these critical waters. How a company deals with a crisis could determine the future success of that business. Take, for consideration, the recent sexual harassment and assault allegations against numerous Hollywood heavyweights, like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and more. Each of the accused has their own crisis at hand, and is doing what they can to minimize the lasting impact on their client. However, there are larger companies behind these public figures and they have their own crises to contain.

In the case of Harvey Weinstein, he was promptly removed from his position at The Weinstein Company and the company released a statement condemning his actions – an appropriate response considering the gravity and vile behavior of which he has been accused. On the other hand, Spacey chose what has been called “the worst time to come out” in his statement apologizing for his alleged misconduct. He has since been skewered on social media for his response and filming of his hit television show, House of Cards, has been suspended indefinitely.

Messaging and timing are key, and it can be tough to recover when you get one – or both – wrong.

Crisis communications isn’t an area to be taken lightly or with the guidance of an amateur.Best-case scenario is to have a solid crisis creation plan before anything happens, so when the time comes, you know what to say and when to say it. With 21 years in the communications business, CIM can show you the way.

What a year it has been! 2015 has been one for the books for me, personally and professionally, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

 

Lessons in life are frequent and recurring; just when you think that you know and are prepared for life’s lemons, another lemon comes to find you. One of the earliest lessons that I learned when I opened my business in 1996 is that you have to work constantly to fill your client pipeline. Keeping your pipeline full ensures that you always have fresh, right-fit clients to keep you and your team’s creative juices flowing. I always say that you must profit to service and survive, and that has been made more and more apparent to me over the past several years.

 

Although Nevada is finally showing signs of recovery, we all know just how quickly a change can happen. To keep a successful business alive, it’s imperative that business owners remain proactive and involved in every step in building the business. It is very easy to get caught up in the amount of work that you need to do to keep clients happy that you forget to treat your business in the same manner. This step is crucial to ensure that your business is sound and that you have a strategy in place to survive during months when business may be a bit slow.

 

One thing that we encourage for all of our clients is a yearly strategy session, called the Strategic Marketing Summit ™, where we create a Diversified Marketing Portfolio® or DMP. We keep this document on hand throughout the entire year and refer to it frequently. It specifically outlines whom they are marketing to, where and how we present the brand each month of the year. That way, there are no surprises and we make a concerted effort to constantly move the business forward.

 

The Result: With prior planning, your business is the most efficient that it can be with the resources to gain the best clients because you have strategically marketed to them and identified them as the right fit for the future of your company.

 

In addition to creating a plan to develop your business, put a plan in place to develop your team, including yourself. A strategy is wonderful, but if you lack the right team behind you that also shares your vision for success, no one will be able to get anywhere. Not only are these people the face of your company to clients, vendors and competitors; they are your work family and brand ambassadors. At CIM Marketing Partners, the people working here believe in the company just as much as they believe in themselves. Together, we moved forward.

 

As we head into 2016, I hope that you have done all of your planning. Similar to life’s challenges, the best advise for successful business owners also comes in three’s:

 

Have a solid strategy, a solid team, and a solid execution. With those three things, everything else will fall into place.

 

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

There’s so much information available about business development—books, seminars, personal coaching, online solutions, companies that business develop for you, and on and on. You’ve probably tried multiple things, with both successes and failures. Here are some thoughts in working with many, many companies and individuals in my 22 working years.

Generally speaking, a diversified approach is best:

  • Get your website presence in tip-top shape, preferably operating as a sales tool for you, not just serving as the equivalent of an online brochure.
  • Review your online presence on all the social media sites you’re active with. Most professionals find that a solid LinkedIn profile is their most valuable resource for networking and business development.
  • Develop a business development plan: What are YOU personally going to do on a day-to-day basis to increase the flow of opportunities in your new business pipeline? Options might include social media posts, including articles and educational advice to colleagues, or e-mailing current clients to suggest new projects. Find the ones that fit your personality and that actually generate revenue for you.

All of these efforts can be effective, and you can certainly fill your days with these or similar initiatives. What do all of the above have in common? You’re able to do it all without opening your mouth, and that leads us to the almost lost art, the missing piece of the business development puzzle: I implore you to start talking! That’s right. Make a conscientious effort have actual voice conversations with clients, prospects and colleagues. Pick up the phone and talk to someone. Meet someone for a business lunch and talk. Schedule a time to go to a client’s office and, you guessed it, talk.

You’ll be amazed at how often new business will arise in the days immediately following personal conversations or individualized outreach. People like to connect with people, and they’re more likely to do business with people they feel connected to and like. Give it a try…just talk.

The Internet has dramatically changed the way businesses communicate with their target audiences. As new social networks continue to pop up, businesses must actively stay on top of their game to not be left in the dust. With this considered, businesses must recognize that the Internet is not a cover-all strategy; it is just as important to include a variety of other marketing tactics into the marketing mix.

I define generational marketing as crafting a marketing strategy to ensure that it incorporates the preferred communication methods and preferences of the specific targeted product. Businesses must always determine whothis target audience is, considering the four generations: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y.

With their ease and availability, almost everyone today has access to a personal computer, a smart phone, and of course, an email address. However, not all individuals are using these tools in the same manner. Traditionalists and Baby Boomer’s share many similarities in terms of their preferred methods of communication. Keeping in mind the generational brackets are general trends (not to be interpreted in black and white), members of these two generations are universally much less tech savvy than younger generations. Moreover, Traditionalists and Baby Boomers both tend to prefer personal communication and relationship building in their purchasing experiences, especially with larger purchases, such as buying a car. They would rather shake hands with a sales representative, align themselves with a brand or company, and return to the same company for future purchases.

On the contrary, the Gen X and Gen Y demographics see it differently. These generations are actually quite different from one another in their consumer behavior. However, traits they share are increased skepticism and decreased brand loyalty. For both generations, especially Gen Y, it is all about convenience. Whether it is browsing mobile shopping sites, waiting for a Groupon for 50% off, or utilizing the nearly instantaneous purchasing experience of Amazon Prime, younger generations are quite comfortable switching retailers. Younger generations have no problem bypassing an actual storefront and salesperson in favor of an online shopping experience. As long as these individuals know they are getting a great price from a reliable company, they are on board.

For businesses and marketers, it is important to know who is buying the product. For instance, if one is selling a product intended for use by younger generations, then the strategy must focus on reaching these individuals where they spend most of their time: online. If a business is selling a product and their target audience includes older generations, they must recognize the importance of traditional marketing strategies, such as meeting in-person, telephone communication, marketing collateral, etc.

Despite how the Internet has taken over many aspects of our daily lives (for better or for worse), it is important to use a mix of personal communication and internet marketing to reach your generational marketing goals. As I mentioned, generational groups are by no means black and white, and there are typically going to be exceptions to the rule. One thing is certain, older generations are not spending nearly as much time online shopping, browsing e-blasts, or building their new car with the click of their mouse. That kind of new-age amusement is usually saved for those in younger generations.

Have you ever wondered what would be the benefit of hiring CIM Marketing Partners to manage your company’s marketing, messaging and PR? We are proud to say it’s our Results-Driven Marketing Process™ that sets us apart! Each year, we repeat six brand building and value-based steps, which ensure that we understand our clients’ companies and the industries in which they operate, and that their marketing goals make sense. The process not only takes ideas from theory to implementation, it also ensures that action items and tactics make sense for your business today and are feasible and necessary for your business future.

THE STEPS:

Strategic Marketing Summit® – At the beginning of our client relationship, we like to sit for an in-depth and informative meeting to glean information about the state of a company and industry, and understand the path that CIM should take to position a company toward the next plane of marketing success.

The Marketing Gameplan™ – After the Strategic Marketing Summit®, CIM considers the information and creates a recap and gameplan document that describes the identified goals and labels solutions and marketing tools to address each goal. For example, a goal     of increased media coverage for a specific practice area will usually contain solutions including a targeted ad campaign, bylined and quoted articles on the specific area, pointed social media messaging, and other tactics to put a company’s message in front of everyone who would be the most interested.

The Diversified Marketing Portfolio® – After we have a gameplan designed and agreed upon, CIM will research and create the Diversified Marketing Portfolio®, which serves as a blueprint for the entire year. It maps out the entire marketing budget, and includes a month by month schedule of any advertising, events, mailings, sponsorships, etc., that may come up during the year. This way, we have a detailed map throughout the year for easy implementation and targeted advertising based on issue topics and company announcements.

DMP® Implementation and Management – The DMP® remains an ongoing tool throughout the year, and the DMP® is reviewed at all periodic meetings.

The Client Service Maximizer™ – One-on-one training is an important part of the CIM success plan. As much as we believe in our clients, we believe that each member of the team should believe in their company, as well. We work with each member of the company to identify ways for them to market themselves and the company, using such things as social media (specifically LinkedIn), networking, professional memberships, board positions, etc. These action steps are organized, ranked in order of importance and completed with due dates by using The Client Cultivator®, our tool to track progress and assign accountability.

The Annual Strategic Marketing Summit® – Over the years, we have found that the continued used of these steps has resulted in unparalleled success for our clients. That’s why we encourage each client to participate in a yearly Strategic Marketing Summit® to evaluate what worked in the past, determine their present market standing and plan effective and meaningful action steps for the future.

So what makes us different? Our commitment to creating a strategy that works for your company, your industry, your business and your marketing goals. We are so committed to our process that CIM owner, Darcy Neighbors, and Principal, Don Pursell, wrote a book about it, Marketing Fusion: 7 Elements to Ignite Your Growth.

Since early October, we’ve been actively building our clients’ 2015 strategic marketing plans. It’s quite a process, but one that is useful in so many ways. In this prior blog post, see some of the benefits of having an overall strategy and plan in place for the entire upcoming year.

 

When our team dives in to look at the dozens, if not hundreds, of potential marketing/public relations investments for each client, we look at the anticipated ROI, whether in truly measurable dollars or in a more general way, such as, “Would brand awareness be heightened amongst a particular target audience?” We can look at more passive advertising modes (having a listing in a directory) or more active modes (pay per click ads or remarketing digital ads that reach people specifically looking for what our clients provide or sell).

 

One tool in our toolkit that has actually come back in favor is direct mail. At one point, a rule of thumb was that a successful direct mail campaign would yield a 2-3% response rate. Then, over several decades, people were bombarded with so much mail that a mailing might be considered successful by having only a .5% response rate. With printing and postage costs always on the rise, and the response rate and payback less and less, our expenditures for that marketing line item decreased over time.

 

We have noticed, though, that in the past few years, direct mailings have been extremely successful for certain clients. Recipients of those mailings perhaps are enjoying tangible mail as opposed to the hundreds of e-mails that likely hit their e-mail in-box daily. We literally hear from our clients that business generated from a specific direct mailing has more than paid for itself, and served as a client touchpoint in the process.

 

There are different kinds of direct mailings, such as offering a special product or service, announcing a company change or providing general information (a newsletter). No, direct mail isn’t a right-fit tactic for every business, but you just may want to consider what it might do for yours.

 

If you need help with strategizing an integrated, strategic marketing and public relations plan for your business, reach out to an agency you trust.

Silly question; of course, you’re busy. Most of our clients come to us looking for marketing partners that can elevate the visibility of their business, allowing us to take daily marketing tasks off of their plates. We understand exactly how important your time is.

We also know how important personal touches can be to further a personal brand. A personal note or point of contact could be the difference between gaining a new client or losing to a competitor. The best place for those personal touches is social media, specifically LinkedIn for a business audience. While to many, social media can seem daunting and frivolous, it can be quite easy, as well as critical, for your personal marketing strategy.

Consider this: there are 240 million active LinkedIn users across the world, and that number grows every day. Seventy-nine percent of these active users are 35 or older, which given the usual growth of a working individual, these users are most likely mid- to senior-level employees — also known as your direct targets, either for potential clients or an expansion of your network. Still think that social media isn’t for you?

Making social media work for you doesn’t have to be a long or drawn out process. In fact, according to an infographic by BlueWire Media, all you’ll need is five-minutes or less, each day. Here’s how:

If you’re a beginner to LinkedIn, spend one minute accepting pending connection requests. Make sure that you’re connecting with people that you know, people that you want to know, and people that can help to connect you with people that you want to know. LinkedIn can be used in many ways, including promoting events, recruiting new staff, etc., so a diverse and high-level network can help you reach the audience that you need. While you’re accepting the requests, be sure to take about three minutes and send your new connections a message thanking them for the connection. It might be a good time to catch up with an old college friend, find out what a former colleague has been doing or introduce yourself and your business. Finally, in your last minute, request one person. Use the “People that you May Know” suggestions, and turn those people into real connections.

Once you are, or become, a more frequent LinkedIn user, you can move on to using your five minutes by checking out who has viewed your profile. Send them a message and find out why they’ve recently viewed your profile, and if there is any value that you can bring to each other. You never know until you ask! After that, spend a few minutes sharing some content! Have you written a blog or an article lately? Read an interesting article that you think your contacts would enjoy? Add it to your profile. If you’re reading or writing something interesting, people will appreciate your insight and you’ll become a person that they trust.

For the advanced users, share a piece of content and submit it to the LinkedIn Today editors. This will allow your content to reach all of the active LinkedIn users, spreading your name and company throughout the world. This wider platform will allow you to reach users that you would have never connected with or reached through the earlier steps. Finally, spend a few minutes commenting on the status or content of one of your connections and set up a coffee or lunch with a contact that you haven’t seen for a while.

With a little practice and constant attention, LinkedIn has the power to become one of the most important tools in your personal marketing arsenal. Make sure you’re using it wisely! If you need any help with social media or are interested in learning how to make social media work with your marketing plan, contact us.

You’re probably already feeling swooped up in the rush of planning for all that the last two months of the year will bring. Well, let’s add one or two more things to your Things to Do List, and take them off just as quickly. We’ll use the Who, What, When, Where and Why process.

Who: Think about who deserves to hear from you this time of year. It’s probably a combination of clients/customers and vendors, those with whom you’ve done business and with whom you share a mutual appreciation.

What: Will you send holiday cards? Will you send holiday gifts? Both? Perhaps you’ll break your list of recipients into multiple lists. For cards, you may send the same card to all. You might also consider sending a professionally produced digital or e-card via e-mail, allowing the recipient to click and watch/listen to your holiday greeting. For gifts, you may divide your recipients into several manageable categories—maybe it’s an A, B and C list, with the most personalized gifts going to the A’s, a less customized gift to the B’s and a simple, but nice gift to the C’s. Some companies only send cards that include a message that the company has made a donation to XYZ organization in the name of all its clients/vendors; that’s an option, too.

When: The logical timing is in November or December, but we’ve found that beating the rush by sending cards/gifts in mid-November has a distinct benefit. With that timing, your recipients won’t already be inundated with other cards/gifts, so yours will stand out and be appreciated. Plus, they’ll likely be there, as opposed to already being out for two weeks had your gift been delivered later in December.

Where: This one’s pretty obvious—deliver cards/gifts to the client or customer’s office. Do, though, consider more lead-time for out-of-town deliveries.

Why: To express your genuine concern and thanks for the relationships you have. To make sure they know you value working with them. To stay top of mind. And…to stand out and be relevant, as more and more companies do away with any sort of holiday greetings.

Now what? Talk with your marketing agency to help you brainstorm card/gift options, as well as help orchestrate the process. If you have this discussion in the next week or so, and start compiling your recipient list for cards/gifts, you’ll be able to pull off a nice client touch point that will yield goodwill and potential additional business in 2015 and beyond.

Summer’s gone. School has started. Cooler temps are on the way. Thanksgiving is around the corner. December will be all filled up with holiday activities. That makes now the perfect time to prepare for and lock in an effective 2015 strategic marketing plan and budget.

 

What’s in it for you? By planning now, you’ll…

    • Avoid entering the New Year with no plan, leaving you to only react to opportunities that may appear.
    • Clarify the New Year’s business goals and align them with marketing strategies and tactics to help you reach those goals.
    • Get the whole team on board with where you’re headed, why you’re headed that way and how everyone can contribute to getting there.
    • Save marketing dollars by working with your marketing/PR agency to identify and evaluate opportunities, as well as potentially lock in lower 2014 media rates into 2015.

 

Investing in planning now will allow you to more fully enjoy the remainder of this year and help ensure a more profitable, more focused and less stressful 2015. After reading the next few sentences, switch screens on your computer to see your calendar. Block off several hours with others involved in your marketing decision-making process and plan for a review of your business and the competitive landscape. If you need help getting your ducks in a row, call CIM Marketing Partners to schedule a Strategic Marketing Summit®. Together, you can create your 2015 strategic marketing plan with right-fit strategies and tactics. In early 2015 and throughout the year, you’ll be glad you did, especially as you experience marketing efforts working behind the scenes of your everyday work efforts to improve profitability and ultimately build the value of your company.