Monday, March 30, 2009

Corporate Blogs and Freedom of Expresion

Last week I was at a marketing meeting at the Boston Society of Architects. The presenter, Mike Reilly from Reilly Communications, briefly introduced HOK’s blog, Life at HOK. After seeing the blog the question came up of how to keep everyone “on message” while blogging, an oxymoron in my opinion. If you’re trying to keep everyone on message within a blog then you’re not allowing the true power of a blog to come through – freedom of expression and opinion. A blog is about free communication - no corporate police, no messages to deliver. For HOK it’s an outlet for its employees to express themselves, whether relevant to architecture or not.

Another company may take a different approach where there are parameters around what the content can be. That too is a viable strategy so long as there is no one in the background editing and putting the corporate spin on the posts. Blogs have different voices unique to their writer(s). It’s the personality that comes through in a blog which makes it more engaging for its readers.

The HOK blog is a testament to what a corporate blog should aim to be, an unfiltered collection of messages. It gives the reader a glimpse into the culture of HOK in a way that polished corporate messages cannot.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

April Calendar Ready for Download

Another month in my calendar series is ready to download. I call the design for April Cracked Eggs. As always it's sized to 5x7 and prints great on eco-white card stock from Papersource. Download now.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Creating new products that solve needs

Some of the best (or at least most ingenious) product ideas are born to solve a need that many people don’t realize they have. It’s that ah-ha moment when you see something and ask, why didn’t I think of that? It’s that simple idea you think of that on the surface seems to be common sense. That was my feeling as I read the sponsored ad in yesterday’s morning edition of HARO (if you’re not a member of HARO you should join now – in short its PR leads delivered to your inbox three times a day).

Back to the ad – it was for SmartMom, makers of teethable bling. Essentially it’s jewelry for mom that looks like real stones, but that’s made out of safe materials for baby to chew. Wear it when you’re with your little one and you’ll always have that much needed thing to chew on, a way better solution than whipping out the car keys for baby.

Of course, the real test is does it really solve the need effectively – having something attractive to wear that is durable (no more broken dainty necklaces from chubby little hands grabbing at them) and doubles as a teething ring? Not having any babies in the house I won’t be testing it out myself. But I’ll keep my eyes open as I pass all the new moms strolling along Newbury Street this spring.

One thing that SmartMom can teach us is to pay attention to the people around us. There are new product opportunities all around us. As marketers, we need to tune in and listen. Find the need and create your product to solve it. Then make sure people realize the need exists and that yours is the right product to satisfy it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Setting Goals

Setting goals - the tangible, reachable kind – is one of the most important things you can do for your business. A goal gives you something to focus on and set in varying stages of complexity they allow you to map out a future for your company. Having a mix of long and short term goals helps a company and its employees to stay focused.

It’s easy for a firm to become so overwhelmed with the day to day that everyone becomes a master at production and so when a new project lands on the boards people start working immediately with no though to goals. No one asks – what’s the goal for this project? Is it to produce a 15 percent profit, to break even, but be well aligned for future projects or do you realize you’ll likely lose money on the project but you’re willing to take on the risk because it’s got the potential to be an award winner for your firm?

Starting with a goal in mind will help you to better align your marketing and business development efforts. A firm whose goal is to make a 15 percent profit on all projects will run differently and seek out different clients than a firm whose goal is to line its walls with award winning projects. Goals are individual and fluid; they can be changed or re-aligned over time. The key is in establishing your goals early. That’s what will position you for greater success down the road.

Image from flickr, by quasimondo

Thursday, March 5, 2009

March Calendar Now Available

It's a little late, but the March calendar is now available. Download it today.