Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Effectively Manage Your Advertising

As a small business owner, you most likely don’t have anyone on your staff to manage your advertising. And chances are you aren’t actually managing your advertising as much as you are reacting to the multitude of calls, emails and visits from ad reps all clamoring to get your ad dollars. There is a better way.

By using an outside marketing agency, you no longer have to handle any of those ad calls as that becomes the job for your agency. They are the buffer and will deliver good or bad news on your behalf, while you remain unencumbered. And most importantly, they will make recommendations as to where you should be devoting your ad budget, and when.

Your marketing agency will take a broad look at all of the advertising possibilities and, with your budget firmly in mind, will strategically select those advertising opportunities that will afford you the greatest bang for your buck and that will target those audiences most important to your business objectives. Instead of a shotgun approach, they become the sniper who makes sure you’re hitting only those targets you select.

They are able to examine all of your marketing activities and determine what messaging will be best delivered by advertising and when to do that. They will take into account the frequency of your ads and the sizing, as well as making sure that your ad design is in keeping with your overall branding.

So don’t be overwhelmed when the ad reps start calling. Call your marketing agency - call Creative Vision and let us handle it for you. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer Hours

Ahhhh…it’s almost summer and time for longer weekends. At Creative Vision, we always put in extra hours but in summer, we do try to take half the day on Fridays to extend the weekend a bit earlier and it works for us and those who work for us.

Summer hours have always been a standard at big NYC public relations or ad agencies, as well as other larger businesses and it was a time of year that employees looked forward to. After all of the late hours and even working weekends throughout the year, this was reward time. It meant you’d get out at 1pm on Fridays and have time to catch the early jitney to the Hamptons or try to beat the traffic to your summer house on the Jersey shore.

We’re wondering whether that applies to small businesses. Does your business use “summer hours” to motivate or reward employees? We believe shortened or altered workweeks during the summer months can be a great way to make your staff happier and more productive with no cost to your business.

That’s right…more productive! Summer hours don’t necessarily involve a shorter workweek. Many companies add time on to the rest of the days of the week so that employees can leave early on Fridays, or have every other Friday off. So as an employer, you can think of it more as an exchange of hours. Even if you don’t take this approach, and you actually give your employees every other Friday off or every Friday afternoon off, you’re likely to find that employees are supercharged to get their work done before that magical Friday hour approaches.

If you’re considering offering summer hours, here are some things to consider:

  • Summer hours need to be offered to all employees equally. If that won’t work for you, then you need to figure out a different type of summer reward. 
  • Make it clear to employees that if an urgent or emergency situation arises, you might have to rescind summer hours one week. 
  • If you’re struggling with what type of summer schedule would work for your business, consider getting employees’ input—being on the front lines, they often have more insights into how to handle workflow.
  • Once you create your summer hours policy, be sure to communicate it to all employees so there are no misunderstandings. Make it clear that summer hours are a privilege, not a right, and that your policy will change back to standard hours if workers abuse the privilege.

Summer hours can be a great way to reward your staff, take some time off yourself and save money on utilities and other expenses.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

5 Tips to Tackle Your Small Business Marketing

Every business owner knows they should focus time on marketing, but between doing the daily work, meeting with clients, returning phone calls and emails, it seems it’s 10 p.m. before you sit down to think about it. And who can focus at that hour?

We find this to be the case with many of our clients. They know what they need and want to do, but there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. Here are a few simple suggestions that may help:
  • Create a “to do” list every day and incorporate one marketing-focused item. Just as you would not skip returning a sales call or getting to the bank, DON’T skip your marketing task. Make it a priority!

  • Don’t bite off on too much. We are often overwhelmed because we think we need to do it all at once. Relax. Take a tiered approach. Today, carve out 15 minutes and call your local ad rep to review your ad schedule to make sure it’s up to date. Tomorrow, review your website and give a critical eye to what may need revision or freshening. By tackling one small element each day, you’ll be surprised at the end of the week how much you’ve accomplished!

  • Get out of the office. Take face-to-face meetings. So many of us are overly dependent upon Facebook or email and don’t make a point of getting in front of our colleagues or potential customers. Take a lunch with a business associate. Stop in at a networking function. It doesn’t have to be something lengthy that will take you away from work for hours…just something to maintain your outside connections.

  • Open a “Business Info” file. Ideas come at us from a variety of sources throughout the day. If you read an interesting article – even if you can’t read it in full – copy it into your file to read later. The same holds true if you’re listening to the radio and hear a good interview or learn of a good book. Copy it into your file so that when you do have a greater amount of time to devote to marketing ideas, you have them saved in one place!

  • Look to your competition. There’s nothing more motivating for your own marketing than seeing what your competitors are up to. If they can do it, YOU can do it!
And we’re always here to help!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Broaden Your Network

We've been fortunate in our careers to work with some of the very best along the way. As a result, we've built a network of very solid professional relationships – many of which continue to this day. It is through these contacts and others that Creative Vision continues to grow.

There’s no science to this; you do your best and good things result. You surround yourself with people of integrity and good things result. You gain referrals and more people want to work with you. It’s the nature of business and it is important to note that every person you meet along the way is an opportunity.

That’s an organic process, but what about all of the networking that doesn't happen organically? Most often, networking must be intentional; something that you plan. How do you begin?

First, create your intention. Ask yourself what you hope to get out of an opportunity. Is it new leads, new referrals or a social outlet to talk shop and combat isolationism? Once you know your purpose you can chart your course – whether it’s face-to-face networking groups in your area such as those provided by chambers of commerce, civic organizations, or BNIs, online networking via social media, or more non-traditional opportunities such as some of those found in social settings like book clubs or hobby groups.

Then consider your approach. We’ve found that the “speech” you might prepare in your head often falls flat. People see that coming and may start to tune you out before you’re given a chance. It’s best to open a dialogue and exchange information through conversation rather than something contrived. This goes for online and social media interaction as well. Let it flow.

If you choose to take the face-to-face route and meet people via organizations, be prepared to get involved. There’s nothing worse than being part of a group in name only. These opportunities allow you to demonstrate your talents for a common cause so potential customers get to witness you in your element.

Whatever course you choose to take, approach it with openness and professionalism. And keep putting yourself out there. You’ll be surprised at the results.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Marketing Intervention 2013

New year, new beginnings. It’s the opportunity for a fresh start and for setting out on the right foot. Businesses have the opportunity to re-evaluate their previous marketing efforts and develop a fresh new plan for 2013. Here are some things to consider:

Know where you stand.
First things first. Think about what you’ve done in the past. How has that worked for you? Are you reaping results from your current marketing initiatives?

When you know what has worked and what hasn't worked you can make educated decisions and not be caught off guard with the latest trends. Don’t just stick with something because “it’s the way we’ve always done business.” If you’re unhappy with results from your current ad campaign, give it to the professionals to freshen it up. Maybe try new media outlets or add in cost-effective solutions like social media marketing or public relations. Be ready to discard what doesn’t work and capitalize more on what does!

Have a budget.
Having a marketing budget doesn't limit you, it actually empowers you. When you know how much you can spend on marketing and you stay within that budget it will lower your stress level and help you develop a plan and strategy that will work for you without breaking the bank and not realizing it until it's too late.

That’s what Creative Vision is all about – helping small businesses to find marketing solutions that are within their budget.

Know your target market
As a business owner, you know your customers best. Think about where to reach them. Maybe it’s via conventional media outlets like the local weekly newspaper or maybe it’s through Facebook. It’s important to understand where they are searching for businesses like yours. Know their needs and know how to present your marketing message in a way that makes them take action. And we’re here to help you craft that message!

Review your marketing plan every three months.
Don’t just review your plan every year. If you review it quarterly, you can get an assessment of what is working and be able to tweak the plan accordingly. You want to be diligent about how you’re spending your marketing dollars!