“I may not understand what you do – but I’m proud to say I was smart enough to hire you to let you prove what you could do for me.” Continue reading
The Christmas Season is once again upon us and advertisers are in full swing for your attention and your dollar. To the left, Santa is pushing new cars, to the right a flock of elves are telling you which brand of clothing must absolutely positively be under the tree.
Christmas-themed ads are everywhere we go.. some strictly promoting their product or service, a few attempting to balance a holiday greeting while spreading brand awareness. This is all fine, so long as it’s genuine. Have a holiday-themed sale and promote the heck out of it – no problem. Spread your company’s well wishes to everyone and raise your brand awareness – also completely fine. However, whatever you do, invest in it completely and ask yourself – is this a message you’d feel okay with telling your grandma?
During American Thanksgiving, I saw a tweet that absolutely floored me: A generic “Happy Thanksgiving”, followed by a shortened link. That was it. No description of where the link went, no effort put in to use up the remaining 100 or so characters of their tweet. This company wouldn’t be so insincere, would they? My curiosity got the better of me.. I had to click on the link. Please, surprise me. Please send me to a custom holiday card or greeting to put a smile on my face and let me go about my way. Please, don’t be The Twit That Tweeted..
Sigh. Twits indeed. The link had sent me to a page listing some of their products. Someone had taken all of 8 seconds to add an extra line of red text under the price on a few items to show that they were on sale. Nothing more.
I closed the page, more than a little disappointed with the whole experience. This was like giving someone an unsigned Christmas card, still outside of the envelope. “Hey. I thought about trying.. but……. Here.”
Had they put even the slightest bit of effort into their message, things would have been a whole lot better. Imagine this: “Happy thanksgiving! For the next 48 hours we’re holding a special sale on widgets and gizmos. Click *here* to see. Enjoy your weekend!” Hey. Awesome. You’ve shared a greeting, told me of your sale and wished me on my way. I can handle that. Then, clicking on the link leads to a page where you’ve spent, oh, an hour creating a custom design for your themed sale, again making me feel more welcome and like you perhaps give half a damn about the experience your customers have with you. Nice. Instead you give me someone selling designer watches from their coat pocket. No thanks.
I suppose we’re lucky in that we’re not selling a product or special service over the holidays. We don’t have to stand on the corner, yelling louder than the next guy why our doodads are better. We’ve been working on Christmas materials for our clients since October (which made for some interesting office playlists), but we don’t have to take part in the whole seasonal rush. As such, please take it with all of our sincerity, from everyone at the Ambition Team and all of our extended families… Merry Christmas.. And don’t miss the SALE SALE SALE on thingamabobs over on aisle three! (Joking!)
Be excellent to each other.
Founder at Ambition
I was recently reading an article questioning if conferences were still effective. It went into great detail about the cost of hosting and attending, man hours, conversion rates.. all very important figures to consider in business, but the one factor it didn’t consider was an organization’s willingness to accept change or embrace new ideas.
Some time ago while working for a different company, I attended a conference on Social Media. Prior to the conference, the boss of this company had seemed very excited about it and my desire to attend. His children were on Facebook, he explained, and he knew it was a Big Thing. He reviewed my itinerary a few dozen times prior to the conference, gave me a list of industry people also attending that I must meet, and reminded me to write summary reports of my every action.
I attended the conference, its various workshops and speaking engagements, learned a lot, taught a bit, made many great connections (both during business hours and after), and returned with an energy that was busting at the seams to implement what I’d experienced. I wrote multiple reports on the various social media platforms, success stories, business opportunities, and a suggested action plan.
I made sure that my report was on the boss’s desk bright and early upon my return. I was pumped. Beyond ready to really kick things into gear. A few coworkers asked how the conference went, and I was more than happy to speak about what had happened and my ideas going forward. They too, began getting excited and seeing the opportunities.
A week passed. The boss had not found the time to go over my report, and had only a few minutes to speak about it when I tracked him down to talk. Yes, it was all very exciting and it was great that I’d arranged possible business partnership opportunities with some of those people he had suggested I meet.. but he would need to take some time to read it all when he had a minute. Very busy. Very, very busy. Busy time of year. Everyone needed him. Couldn’t take time away from others to discuss this “internet thing”.
Do you see where this is going? Stop reading ahead.
Another week or so passed. My enthusiasm for implementing the ideas with the company I was with began to wane. I stopped bringing it up whenever I would see the boss, knowing it wasn’t going anywhere. Finally, late one afternoon, he had time to speak with me about it. It was all very interesting, he said, all very new and exciting.. but maybe not for us right now. We could perhaps do a few bare bones things, but our, and specifically my energies would be better spent on other things.
I was gutted. Frustrated. What had been the point of attending this conference in the first place if we weren’t doing anything about it? It took me a while to realize, but it had been about keeping up appearances. If our competition was going to be there, so should we. We weren’t apparently doing anything about it – but people knew we were in the conversation.
This is only one specific example – and maybe it’s not so much about conferences, as it is about businesses themselves. For a conference to be successful to a company attending, the ideas learned from this experience must be embraced throughout the organization. Change, no matter where it comes from or why, must be embraced on every level – and welcomed, if it’s realized to be for the greater good.
Anyone who’s been in business will have stories of company retreats or shareholder meetings where Great Things were discussed and Things Were Going To Change Right Away, only to have it be business as usual come Monday morning. Whether it be a lack of communication or a fear of the unknown, things don’t always move forward. In my example above, the boss of the company had not felt ready to make the changes, while his competition went ahead with the ideas learned from that conference to do some really wonderful things.
Let’s go back to the original question: Are conferences still effective? The answer applies to this question and everything else in life: You get from them what you’re willing to put into them.
Founder, Ambition Branding Inc.
I wrote this wonderful, lengthy blog a little while ago about sales, and how I’m not a salesman. I recounted the various stages of my career and how work has always seemed to find me. I admitted to not having the slightest clue about how to sell, but felt fortunate that I’d always had work. However, during a coffee meeting with one of our crew, I realized what I already knew: We could and should be a lot busier. It really bothered me. To try and fix this, I proudly told the story of how I went to one of the better sales people I know and asked for tips and help; only to have him tell me that I don’t need to sell, I only need to speak about my passions and more work would come. I’m fairly certain that I almost dislocated my shoulder reaching around to pat myself on the back for having such great passion and loving what we do here; neatly concluding that I don’t need to work on sales to grow this business.
I took a deep breath, re-read the blog to myself, and nearly broke my leg trying to kick myself in the behind. What a load of self-righteous malarky.
Yes, I have been incredibly fortunate that almost all of the opportunities I and we have received have been either from people liking our work and tracking us down, or from referrals. It’s very flattering. That being said, it’s also not enough. I had a good laugh as I thought about all of the various marketing campaigns and annual budgets I’ve created for other people’s companies and other people’s dreams. Thought of the thousands of print ads I’ve created for other people, the radio ads, social media campaigns and websites and search engine optimizations… to build other people’s goals. All while my own business grew at a pace completely unsatisfactory for my dreams.
I know – poor me. Poor me who always had people find me and want me to work with them. Poor me who had clients waiting the second we turned on the lights on Ye Olde Ambition Website. The thing is, it’s enough to get by, not to get ahead. While I love my cars with the intensity of a hundred suns, I’m no closer to adding that elusive Ferrari 458 to my fleet than I was three years ago. We don’t have the Ambition logo up in lights on the side of the beautiful building I’ve dreamt about for years. Heck – we don’t even have a sales person, because that’s not in the budget yet.
I took a few moments with my unhappy thoughts and realized, I could either embrace the definition of insanity and keep doing the same thing over and over again, and in 20 years still be wondering when my goals were going to come knocking on my door, or I could give myself (another) hard kick to the nether regions and step outside of my comfort zone. Do I know any more about sales than I did yesterday? No. Do I know a heck of a lot about marketing and promotions? Yes, I do. It’s time for me to apply everything that I’ve learned and done for other people to my own dreams, a thousand times more than I ever have. I have my skills, and I have some amazing people working alongside me. I’m not waiting for opportunity to come knocking – I’m getting behind the wheel and chasing it down as fast as I can.
Maybe I don’t know about sales. What I do know is my goals and dreams, and what we’re great at here. If it’s up to me to get that word out for now, then I’ll step out of my comfort zone and get it done. Ambition. Time to embrace it.
– Jason Toma
Founder, Ambition Branding Inc.