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Marketing Campaigns Must Hit The Sweet Spot
Valuing Employees
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March 2011
Cropped 2011 head shotGreen Green Green

Ah, sure and begorah! On the 17th of this month, everyone is Irish! Even me! My visit to Ireland, almost 3 years ago, made me appreciate that culture even more. So if you are actually Irish, or just take on the mantle on March 17th, Happy St. Patty's day!
Do you like free stuff? Do you have Kindle? Here's a special offer from my friends and IABC colleagues, Claire Meirowitz and Natalie Canavor: Their book, "The Truth About The New Rules of Business Writing," is available FREE on Kindle download until March 5th, so you should take advantage of this right away! Just type the name of the book into the search function of and click on the Kindle version. The publisher is Financial Times Press. 
Marketing Campaigns Must Hit The Sweet Spot
The Offer Must Appeal to the Customer, Not The Marketing Team 

Have you ever looked at a marketing or promotional campaign devised by a company's marketing team, and wondered what flavor of Kool-Aid they'd been drinking? The brilliant campaign seemed quite logical and appealing to the executives and managers who designed it, and it was therefore green-lighted. Then the offer is put out: it could be deep discounts on volume purchases, or pay-to-play promotions that offer referrals to businesses. But too few people respond. Or the wrong people respond. And then, the few people who did respond drop out or don't return. What happened?


Whether your targets are consumers or businesses, any purchase decision, these days, is based on value. What am I going to get out of it? What is my Return On Investment? It's never the price, it is ALWAYS the value. And most people are impatient. They want to see that ROI as soon as possible. Or even sooner than that. Sadly, once these customers have been disappointed, they may never give you another chance.


So what is a marketer to do? Talk to your audience. Find out where their "sweet spots" are. It may not be strictly financial.

  • In a consumer context, it has often been shown that the cheapest item may not be the best selling. Consumers routinely pay more for something if they perceive it to be better quality, more durable, or even more fashionable. In addition, if a shopper has to buy 10 to get the best value, she or he may not have the space to store all of these things, and then the price appeal evaporates.
  • For B-to-B efforts, the bottom line is often, but not always, sales. Instead, it may be acquiring new customers or increasing market share. Forward-looking business people will often sacrifice immediate revenue for long-term gains in the customer base. That is especially true if the newly acquired customers are ones that can and will spend more. 

Understanding one's customers is the greatest challenge for any marketer. You take them for granted, or make assumptions about their priorities and values at your own risk. And if you imagine that you don't have the time or money to find out where their "sweet spots" are, you could end up wasting both time and money on a plan that goes nowhere.

Valuing Employees

A Worthwhile Investment


We all know that times are tough. The unemployment rate remains disturbingly high. But that is not an excuse for employers to take advantage of workers who need the job to pay the rent. History is full of economic cycles--some worse than the current downturn--and as sure as the graph line is to turn back up, unhappy employees will leave as soon as they can.


Management surveys consistently show that one of the top challenges to senior managers--and often THE top challenge--is recruiting and retaining talent. This was the excuse given by Wall Street firms for distributing huge bonuses in 2009, after accepting government bail-out money to stay afloat--retaining their talented workers. (Of course, many of them are the ones who got those companies into trouble in the first place--but why be picky?) That line of thinking rarely filters through to employees who do not generate revenue. It ignores the contribution of managers and creatives, line workers and many field workers, much less teachers and civil servants. Hence, the stand-off in Wisconsin.


Why is there so much antipathy toward teachers? Is it jealousy because they work 10 months out of the year? Or because they go home at 3pm? Or is it because their salaries come directly out of the pockets of taxpayers, rather than indirectly through the rise in gasoline prices or changes in fees for things like checked baggage on airlines? Are we being manipulated by demogogues who want to destroy modern industrial and societal institutions, taking us back to the 1930s? (What a good idea!)


I think it comes down to something very simple. If private sector companies can retain talented workers through financial incentives and benefits, why shouldn't school districts and municipalities? Who do you want teaching your children: highly educated people who really want to be there (yet still maintain a decent standard of living) or inexperienced, inarticulate people who can't get any other job? And what will happen to your real estate values when your school districts decline? The old saw, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach" went out when the unions came in. Do you really want to return to those days?


And what about other municipal workers? Michael Bloomberg is threatening to cut maintenance staff for buses and subways--since he says he won't cut service, and won't raise fares, what's left? How much revenue will the Transit Authority lose if people are afraid to get on poorly maintained buses or trains? What will that do to traffic and air quality, much less to people who do not own cars and have no other way to get to work?


Milton Friedman said, "You may not get everything you pay for, but you pay for everything you get." We need to think about what we are getting for our money--both in the private and the public sectors. Should we be cutting waste? Of course! But I guarantee you that the people who are ripping us off will continue to do so, at the expense of those who serve us, educate us, and help us navigate governmental systems. Moreover, we have allowed some folks to set one group against another, rather than trying to get people to work together for the greater good. This is not only bad for society. It's bad for business.

Upcoming Events
March 16, 5:30-7:30pm

We all need to negotiate nearly every day. Whether it's a vendor, a client, a colleague or boss, or our families, negotiating skills are important. This month's meeting of International Association of Business Communicators- Long Island features Linda Berke of Taylor Performance Solutions, speaking on "Professional Negotiations: Strategies and Skills for a Win-Win Outcome."  For more information or to pay online, go to If you prefer to pay at the door you can sign up at for the same cost. Walk-ins pay $5 more, so sign up!
Now through March 31st

It's Awards season! IABC-LI is now accepting nominations for four Achievement Awards: Achievement in Communication, Achievement in Digital Communications (new), Student Achievement, and Achievement in Community Service. Go to to download the applications and find out where to submit them. Nominate a client, a colleague, a friend, your boss, or even yourself! If your nominee wins, you can attend our Awards Luncheon as our guest.
March 9, 8-10am
If your light is under a bushel, it's lost something kind of crucial. SMPS-LI will help "Getting Your Story Told: Meet The Media." Go to for more information, and to register.  

March 8, 6-8pm 

New York Women In Communications, Inc. (WICI) is presenting "Letters To My Younger Self" at Sony Wonder Technology Lab, 550 Madison Avenue (at 56th St) in New York City. Go to  to register.
This practice is dedicated to helping companies become knowledge-driven, rather than assumption driven about strategic and tactical decisions concerning lines of business, branding, communications, and various marketing activities. For more information about how we do this, case studies, frequently asked questions about marketing research, and testimonials, please visit our web site:

Ann Middleman