LEADERSHIP LESSONS

I’m going to Colorado this weekend for the National Teen Leadership Council meeting of Adventure Unlimited’s Discovery Bound program. I have mentored a student throughout this program and he is graduating this weekend. This program is a four-year commitment for these kids and is an outrageous way for them to learn about leadership, community service and working together. The young man that I have mentored, along with all the others in his class, are going to do amazing things in the future.

 

As I reflect on the past few years, here are some thoughts that I have:

 

Mentor someone:

You will learn as much (if not more) than they will. I don’t care who you are — you have something valuable to offer to someone. Being a mentor means being a cheerleader-encouraging someone to keep going, even when things aren’t going the way they thought it would. How can you cheer someone on if you are feeling down yourself? You can’t! So mentoring someone will automatically put you in a more positive frame of mind (something we could use more of in this economy!). In addition, a mentor is a teacher. If there is something you want to learn, try to find a way to teach it. You will have to know it well enough to really understand it.

 

You can learn to be a leader:

Think back to what you were like at age 16. Were you awkward? Full of bravado? Smart? Smug? Shy? Or maybe all of those things. The kids that I have come to know in this program have decided that they WANT to be leaders. So they are putting themselves out there, learning what leaders do and how they act. If they can learn it, so can you. The next point tells you how:

 

Continue to Build Your Leadership Skills:

In this program, these kids were learning about leadership skills. We talked about vision and confidence and passion and servant leadership. If you are in marketing, chances are you are leading in some capacity. Maybe you lead of team of people at work. Maybe you lead your clients to the proper marketing execution. Maybe you are leading a task force in your industry. Leadership skills are universal and can be applied to anyone in any situation. Take the time to brush up on your leadership skills. There are several books on the topic which I highly recommend:

  •  The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
  •  Essentials of Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf
  •  Authentic Leadership by Bill George

 

Be confident

One of the key skills that these kids had to build was public speaking. They had to stand up in front of each other (about 100 people) and often in groups of 500 people to talk about a topic that they cared about. They had to be prepared, they had to have the guts to get up in front of all those people and give that talk. That is not easy, especially at age 16. Add to that the idea that you should try to captivate your audience, and it’s really not easy! 

 

Be Prepared:

I have found that one part of leadership (and public speaking in particular) is being prepared. Yes, it helps if you have a sense of comic timing. But gathering your thoughts ahead of time makes a big difference. 

 

Be Passionate: 

Another part is giving in to your passion. If you are talking about something you care about, you are much less likely to be nervous. In addition, you are much more likely to have a vision about something you care about.

 

This weekend is a reminder to me about being a leader, what leaders do, and what leaders are — something every marketer should stop and think about every once in a while.

STRONG, BRANDED, DIGITAL, CONSUMER-BASED RESOLUTIONS FOR 2009

Happy New Year! I wish all a prosperous and productive 2009, filled with increasing client lists, growing market share, and stronger brands. To that end, I have been thinking about my own New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s what I have come up with: 

I am committed to promoting strong personal brands to everyone I know. I recently asked a VP friend of mine, “What are you doing to build your personal brand?” Watch out, because if you see me in person, I’m going to ask you the same question! 

I will deepen the consumer insights for my clients and share the general learnings and consumer trends I see with all whom I am in contact with. Your consumers are interesting and uniquely qualified to help you realize new business opportunities in this coming year. I love to help people uncover those opportunities, and Beacon Marketing will do this joyfully in 2009. 

I will focus more on leveraging the power of digital media in the promotion of my clients’ (and my own) branding efforts. I am dedicated to revamping websites, focusing on SEO, and being a stronger proponent of digital branding programs.

I’d love to hear your New Year’s Resolutions. Let me know what you are focused on in 2009!

SPIRITUALITY IS ON THE RISE

I love to get proof of trends that I sense, and so, I am heartened by an article that appeared in MediaPost’s Online Daily that talked about how spirituality was of greater interest this holiday season. According to someone from on-line advertising company Kontera, “Santa letter” ranked at the top of the most clicked-on holiday keywords for 2008, followed by “Christmas wish list,” “Christmas spirit,” “secret Santa,” “gift idea,” “Christmas decoration,” “Christmas stocking,” “Christmas,” “Christmas Party,” and “gift.” In 2007, “Christmas present” topped the 2007 list, followed by “advent calendar,” “secret Santa,” “Christmas shopping,” “Christmas gifts,” “Christmas necklace,” “unique Christmas gift idea,” “holiday gift guide,” “Christmas gift,” and “Christmas gift for her.” 

The article explained that, “Kontera’s technology finds the most clicked-on keyword terms and ranks and matches them to the most relevant contextual ads, content, and information.” Using technology on search terms, we are seeing a shift away from crass consumerism to a more spiritually-motivated purchase pattern. The article discusses how more people were really thinking about what they wanted to get for someone and how they were going to create meaningful moments over the holidays, rather than just buying the latest “soon-to-be found-in-the-unfinished-part-of-the-basement, never-even-opened-out-of-the-box” gift of the season. Even thought this increased thoughtfulness may have been born out of economic necessity, I’m delighted to see the shift.  

This is a shift in consumer thinking that every marketer needs to be aware of.  What are you creating in your company that is adding to the emotional value of your customers’ lives? Â Are you helping to create meaningful experiences, or create more harmony for them? What is it about your product or service that enriches their lives? Answer this question clearly, and you will thrive in this new economy!

 

1 + 1 = 3

Today, I talked with a client who wanted to hire me as a sounding board for development of his marketing plan for the coming year. He has a basic plan, but would like to test the ideas and strengthen the thinking to make sure the plan is supercharged. It’s a smart idea. He’s a marketing department of one, and realizes the power of the old adage that two heads are better than one. 

 

How many times do we forget to bring others into our process, to seek help and advice from others? Brainstorming works because the collective consciousness of many ideas, building one on top of another, brings a richness that one person alone cannot bring. Mastermind teams are used in all areas of business, and I highly encourage them!

 

Who can you bring on that will enhance your thinking and stretch the boundaries of your brain?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Today is the wonderful day of Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for the client’s “problems” I’ve been able to shed light on. I am blessed to have such a supportive cirlce of friends and family to share my ideas, my excitement, my interests and my challenges with. I consider myself so fortunate to have mentors and colleagues that stimulate new creativity and perspective on so many aspects of my life.

I hope that you, too, have tons to be thankful for. Be grateful, grateful, grateful for all the opportunities you have to let your unique skills bless your world. Think of all the business challenges that you encounter as opportunities to scale the wall and enjoy the view from the top! The creativity you express in your daily life impacts others in ways you cannot even imagine. You are truly blessed!

98% CAN BENEFIT FROM SOCIAL MEDIA RESEARCH

There are some who have not taken me up on the offer of a Social Media Audit for their businesses. I understand that you are not sure whether this information would REALLY be relevant. I can tell you that in 98% of the industries selling products or services today, it would be.

How do I know this?

Because I have seen the results given for other clients’ actionable, usable information that can drive marketing decisions.

But don’t take my word for it; look at what others are saying. Ad Age today had an article about how social media is changing the face of research. http://adage.com/article?article_id=130964

The article talks about conversations taking place with the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) that “signal a shift in paradigms, and most likely budgets, away from surveys and toward mining insights from blogs, social networks, consumer comments to websites and more, said Joel Rubinson, chief research officer of the ARF”

I don’t believe traditional research will go away, but I do believe savvy marketers need to know about, and take advantage of, all the research options available to them.

And the other 2%?

You will notice that I say that 98% of companies should be using Social Media Audits as a research tool. What about the other 2%? Well, I say that because there are a few companies that probably don’t have that much conversation going on on-line. If your consumer base is not computer-savvy and not inclined to on-line networking and discussion, you won’t find rich enough information to guide you in decision-making — but that is a small percentage of people out there!

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

Tonight I am speaking at the first meeting of the inaugural meeting of the National Association for Small Business Owners. This is an organization that is dedicated to giving small business owners the resources and the education they need to grow their businesses. 

Everyone knows how important it is to network; finding the right people that can help you with your needs. Everyone needs a place where they can go and talk to others who have worked out some of the challenges that they are struggling with. 

If you’re a small business owner in the CT area, I strongly encourage you to join this terrific organization. The key benefits for you are:

  • Opportunities for highly targeted business to business advertising
  • Strong networking marketing opportunities 
  • Profit-generating Â education

 

They offer tele-seminars, free reports, lots of information on all the different aspects of small business ownership, from legal to accounting, to marketing to website management, to dealing with employees. 

As a matter of fact, on September 23rd, I’ll be conducting a seminar called the “Top 10 Secrets to Digital Branding,” followed by a three-hour class on Digital Marketing. The one hour tele-seminar airs September 23rd and the three hour course is October 10th. If you’re a member of the Small Business Owners Association, your admission to the teleseminar is free.  Non-members can come for a small fee. 

If you want to join, click here to find out all the great benefits and sign up right away.

ETHICS IN ADVERTISING CONTINUED

I had a discussion recently with someone from an advertising agency regarding choosing the accounts that one would or wouldn’t work on. The gentleman said, “I don’t think we can be picky about the work that comes to us.” This agency does mostly on-line work, including websites, social media campaigns and on-line advertising campaigns. I explained that I chose not to work on the “sins” (tobacco, alchohol, gambling) or medical advertising. I have definitely lost business by choosing not to work on these various categories, but truly, my heart would not be in the work. It wouldn’t be fair to the Client, and frankly, I couldn’t do it.

The leader of this agency reminded me that I forgot about “Sex” which it had not occurred to me to mention (given my recent trip to Las Vegas, how could I have forgotten?!). I suppose there is a lot of money to be made in on-line advertising of the flesh, but what this conversation reminded me of was this: There are so many different degrees of ethics. 

I worked for Texaco, highlighting America’s love affair with the car in Havoline Motor Oil advertising. I suppose there are those who would not work for an oil company due to their environmental stance.

The question is this: Where does a marketer draw the line on having his values drive his business decisions? For me, the moral compass is ever-present. I got into huge arguments with my husband about why I wouldn’t advertise on Imus or Howard Stern, despite the great ratings. Did I miss out? Did I do the right thing by the shareholders?

What do you think?

ETHICS IN ADVERTISING

I usually don’t slam a lot of negatives on this blog, but honestly, I just have to express my opinion about the McDonald’s chicken sandwich advertising during the Olympics. Ugh. The ads feature athletes announcing early a.m. times (5:30 am, 6 am, 6:30 am), the implication being that you need to get up early in […]

ARE YOU CHACHA-ING?

Have you heard about ChaCha? There is an 800 number you can call (800-2ChaCha) or text a message to 242242 to ask any web-searchable question and within minutes, they will send you a text message answer for free.  The call goes somewhere in Indiana, where the question is farmed out to a team of 10K people (“Guides”) waiting for you to ask a question.

 

The Guides definitely have a sense of humor, too, as I know of some college kids who are asking outrageous questions like, “Who would win in a battle of superheroes?” or “Which would be better, to have nails instead of hair on your legs or have fire come out in your nose when you say the word ‘the’?”

I have not thought of any ridiculous questions to ask but I did find it helpful when I needed to quickly find the best subway train to take in order to get to a meeting in downtown NYC.  How they are going to make money is still in development (deals with cell phone carriers, etc), but it will be interesting to see how it unfolds. Their intent is to keep it free of charge for consumers. 

Let me know about your ChaCha experience. You can find out more about ChaCha-ing at ChaCha.com.