Why Are Branded Pens a Popular Promotional Item?

Why is the use of branded pens making headway as a fantastic way of promoting business?

Giving away branded pens as promotional merchandise helps with the branding of your business more than you realize. It can stand alone as a marketing strategy but the advantages increase manifold when it is coupled with some other marketing schemes.

Surveys bear out the good that using promotional merchandise does to your business. Promotional items are popular with companies which join trade shows. However, the good that these items can bring a business goes beyond just trade exhibits. Recipients put these products to good use – with about half of those surveyed saying that they use the items almost daily. Items are also usually kept for at least a year before being thrown out. A hefty 76% of those surveyed say that they remember the name of the company advertised on the promotional item. A good half of the respondents say that they tend to look at the company that has given them a promotional product in a more positive light after the receipt and that they tend to do business with the company.

Surveys show that giving out branded pens as a promotional tool helps strengthen your business in a lot of ways. It heightens brand awareness. It improves people’s perception of your business or company. It makes people remember you and makes them more likely to seek you out should a need for your particular product or service arise.

Your target customer will use a pen every day. If he uses one which bears your company’s name and logo, your business will be at the top of his mind should there be a need for him to look up a product or service that you are selling.

The use of branded pens as a promotional tool is not only effective; it is also much less expensive than many other forms of marketing and advertising programmes.

Branded pens are promotional merchandise that keep on giving and giving. Every single time that a recipient uses the pen, the results are almost the same as when a television program airs your advertising spiel and reminds the listener about your business – but this time, without the astounding cost of television commercials. Other people who borrow the pen or sees the owner using it also get to be reminded about your business. This is truly getting your money’s worth from your investment.

What You Can Do About Our Dysfunctional $3 Trillion Medical System

Introduction

U.S. medical spending, already at $3 trillion, grew 5.5% last year, according to a study cited in The Wall Street Journal (Louise Radnofsky, “U.S. Health-Spending Growth Jumped to 5.5% in 2014”, WSJ, July 28, 2015). Soon, one of every five dollars spent in the U.S. will be on medical care. One likely consequence: employers will continue investing in wellness programs while offering only high-deductible insurance plans with steep out-of-pocket copays. If you’re going to get sick, and who isn’t, you better be well off.

America’s medical bill is higher than the tabs run up by the next ten top spending countries-Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia-combined.

Where does all that money go? Not to prevention or wellness-spending for those services could only be measured with a magnifying glass, or perhaps a telescope.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Hospital care – 31%
  • Physician and clinical services – 22%
  • Prescription drugs – 10%
  • Dental/other professional – 10%
  • Other – 10%
  • Nursing/home care services – 09%
  • Administration – 07%

Not everyone loses sleep over our outsized system. Not CEOs of non-profit hospitals, for example, like Steve Corwin, who makes $3.58 million a year, or Jeffrey Romoff, another hospital CEO, who makes $5 million annually. Probably not those who sell MRI machines-we have 31.5 per 1 million people in the U.S.; the UK has 5.9 per 1 million. Probably not the hospitals that bill patients $77 for a small box of gauze pads and all other items used with patients as well as services rendered to them. (Source: Steven Brill, “What I Learned From My $190,000 Surgery.” Time Magazine, Jan. 8, 2015.)

What Can A Person Do?

Well, let’s assume you’re living a wellness lifestyle, not because you dread the loss of health, the physical and financial pains of medical care or the breakdown of essential organs-or even the end of everything, better known as death. No, if you are like most pursuing a high quality of life, these are not what animate your disciplined lifestyle. Rather, you live this way, in your own fashion, because your experience has convinced you that doing so is a richer way to be alive, an approach that daily enables you to have more energy, to look and feel better than you would otherwise and to enjoy countless other positive, worthwhile returns that make life good. You are polite about it and you almost always avoid hurting other peoples’ feelings, but when you think about it, you have to admit to yourself that you consider those who eat crappy food, who ignore exercise and who otherwise engage in high risk behaviors as victims of conditions and circumstances (i.e., dreadful cultural norms). Within reason, you do what you can for the well being of your fellow men and women.

Summing up, the cost of health care in the U.S. is $3 trillion and you can’t do a thing about it. All you can do is stay out of the system as much as possible and the best way to do that is to live a REAL wellness lifestyle.

Wait – there is one more thing you can do, if you are very wealthy and give huge sums of money to powerful politicians or run a PAC. You can direct the politicians who do your bidding in return for these contributions to support a single payer system that eliminates the middle man – health insurance companies.

Of course there are other ways, but you can’t do much about the two big ones-have good genetics and enjoy random good fortune. So, put your trust in you-learn as much as possible about REAL wellness and live accordingly, in ways that fit your unique circumstances and possibilities.

Be well and best wishes. Look on the bright side and live a WO-filled life.

A Myriad of Mountains, Metropolises and Mysteries

Asia is a spectacular fusion of differing cultures and stunning landscapes. It has important financial and economic hubs as well as beautiful holiday resorts. Add to this a good amount of ancient history, culture and adventure. It is a continent where mysticism and modernity go hand in hand – there is so much to explore that you’ll be spoilt for choice; trek on one of the world’s most dangerous paths as you try to reach the monastery on Mount Huashan in China, visit the ultramodern Tokyo in Japanese or relax on a heavenly beach in Bali. Here are some of the top countries to visit in Asia.

Maldives

Known throughout the world for its picturesque beaches, Maldives is perhaps the most famous holiday destination in the world. Its islands are the definition of beauty with their white sandy beaches, lush greenery and calm clear waters. World class facilities are provided to those who visit, the islands have the ideal weather for water waters which include swimming, waterskiing, scuba diving and windsurfing. If you want adventure as well as paradise, look no further than the Maldives.

Japan

Visiting Japan means seeing a unique clash of modern and ancient, a mix of shrines and skyscrapers.It has a rich history, the Samurai and Shogun being the center of it, along with a wealth of culture within its lands. Cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto offer plenty for the tourist as well as its lesser populated islands. Rural Japan is also a great place to explore. The people are friendly, the sushi is great and the overall atmosphere is second to none.

China

The Great Wall of China looms into the mind when you think of China. Besides this fantastic wonder of the world, China has other great attractions to offer to the world and they are no less intriguing than the Wall. The Terracotta Army, the Forbidden City, Huangshan, Jiuzhaigou are some of the great marvels to see in this vast country. These combined with the food, a history spanning back millennia, some truly breathtaking landscapes and helpful locals makes China an unforgettable tourist destination.

Malaysia

Malaysia is a popular tourist location located within Southeast Asia, it encompasses great beaches, rainforests, spectacular cities and a population which mixes Malay, Chinese, Indian and European people. All this makes it a truly unique place to visit. Its capital Kuala Lumpur is one of the most visited cities in the world.

Pakistan

While Pakistan’s image is marred by unfortunate incidents, those are localized to a particular area of the country. In fact Pakistan is a wonderful place to visit with a beautiful landscape featuring deserts, mountain ranges, lakes, forests and serene valleys. Besides the cultural hubs such as Lahore, tourists go to famous valleys such as Hunza, Gilgit, Skardu and Naltar. It has several famous mountains which mountaineers like to climb including K2 and Nanga Parbat. Its northern areas are among the most beautiful places you’ll see anywhere.

What Are the Key Elements in a Sports Website?

Designing a sports website is no cakewalk and highly experienced web designers should be employed for the process. Sports lovers are more inclined towards and updated and carefully managed website rather than the one with age old news and ineffective design. In the exciting world of sports, everything can change within a second. This fact is more experienced and acknowledged by football lovers who knows that anything can happen in any moment. That is why your sports site should essentially meet the following criteria:

– Mobile responsiveness is must- A mobile responsive design is absolutely indispensable to any sports related website. As it is Google have announced its preference for mobile-friendly sites and designers all over the world are working hard to comply with this. But only being mobile friendly will not do for your sports site. It should be jet fast in loading speed irrespective of the kind of device that is being used. This will enable users to pick up relevant information like live scores and sports stats as, when and wherever they please.

– Using a multitude of font colors is a big no-no – Yes, some sports websites I have come across try to make their content attractive by using a myriad of font colors and styles but this is a huge mistake on the part of the designers. You should make your content readable with relaxed eyes. Why the users have to strain their eyes to read your content? They will automatically leave your site and go to your competitors’ sites for a clearer and more comprehensive display. Hence, it is unwise to use multiple font colors on your sports website. Dark fonts on a lighter background is the best way you can present your sports content.

– Completely updated content- Yes, this is the most essential quality that your audience are going to rank you on. They will see whether you are the first one among your peers to update the live scores or push old content lower on your web pages, thus making space for fresh ones. Maintaining a sports website requires immense skills and you have to prove your worth and keep up the good performance consistently. Hence, make sure you have proper resources before you plunge into it. If you don’t then it is better to ask for it instead of suffering later.

– Easy navigation- Navigation is a crucial element of any kind of webs design and sports websites are no exception to this rule.on the contrary, they need to employ top-of-the-market strategies to enhance user experience. If the users cannot find what they are looking for, they won’t even take a microsecond (of course depending on the speed of broadband) to bounce off. Make everything easily available to them. Try and save their time as much as possible. Come on. They have a live match to catch.

The above mentioned features are some of the basic requirements of a sports website. There are other areas that calls your attention as well like the installation of attractive sports widgets showing live scores and football data, mini videos showing live matches, text commentaries and live sports stats if possible.

These are some of the key elements that can help your website to stand out from the rest. Everything depends on how you are ready for your visitors to have an enhanced experience on your site. Be it content, widgets or live commentaries, you should make sure your website has all the tools ready to bind even the most causal visitors. Football lovers are crazy people. They prefer everything perfectly arranged and well organized. It is wise to keep in mind that many of are missing on a live match for work or other personal/professional reasons. Your website should be able to compensate for it. Otherwise there is no point investing in something that may not get you the results you deserve.

Booklet Tips – Forms of ROI

When purchasing something, especially for your business, you probably want to know what the return will be on your investment, the ROI. Your clients want to know what their return will be, too. Unless you consider and communicate the likely returns they will experience, you are missing a crucial piece of communication with them, making their decision more difficult. More importantly, you need to present the ROI in terms that matter to the decision maker.

Having a wonderful tips booklet or other form of bite size brilliance is not enough. It must have value to someone or it simply doesn’t matter. They measure value in various ways. These are among the more common approaches.

Financial ROI

How much money will using your bite size brilliance products as a marketing tool or a direct income stream generate directly or indirectly? Certain decision makers measure their return on profit only or gross revenue or the amount of increased market share or some other industry calculation. The only way you know what matters and how they calculate it is to ask. Certain buyers require a multiple of their investment. If they expect less than 5 or 10 times what they invested, for instance, they are not inclined to spend their resources on your offer. It may also need to be within a certain time frame for them to proceed.

Percentage ROI

While one company measures ROI in specific currency, someone else will be very content with a percentage of increase in their practice. A consultant, practitioner, or coach seeks a “full” practice by their definition that generates many fewer dollars than a big company product launch or a non-profit membership drive. Success is defined differently in each environment, equally valid for the person measuring the return on their investment.

Promotional ROI

Your products can help a company or organization uniquely spread their name in a local or professional community, doing good work by sponsoring the creation and distribution of information that is valuable to people they want to serve. Measuring the return on the investment in this situation can be more difficult if even possible. It is also usually longer term and not immediate. Yet the culture of the company or organization is willing and able to invest in your information to support their overall purpose.

Delayed ROI

Whether mathematically calculated or positioned in the “feel good” realm, it is also possible your products are positioned by your buyer as an intended initial loss that later prompts revenue or engagement of some kind. Rather than a bonus to prompt sales, it might be completely free as an introduction, with no obligation. It could be a gift to “test drive” anything from a vehicle to a membership to some sort of service or product. The decision maker builds in a certain amount of loss as a cost of doing business, with an expectation that sales will be made sooner or later with those who test drove what was offered.

ACTION – Anticipate various ways your prospective buyer can enjoy a return on their investment in your products and services, regardless of what format you deliver your bite size brilliance. Capturing and citing results of prior clients or others in your industry can put your buyers at ease even though you state that the results others have had are examples and will vary from situation to situation.

“Turn Your Tips Into Products, Your Tips Products Into Moneymakers.TM”
© 2015

Investment Resources: An Easy Way to Earn and Become Successful

Generally speaking, based on its basic definition as the way people comprehend the word, investment is the process of putting money into a business or an organization to earn money in return. It is one of the most popular methods of increasing your finances in a very easy way. In fact, as many people projects it, investing is always better than saving or depositing your money in the bank as investing can acquire less tax and higher revenue.

The process of investment starts with the different investment resources, especially for people. The money collected is processed to work or move on a specific business to earn. The investments may give a certain position or share in the company where the returns or the revenues are given back to the investors depending on some their investments. That means that if you invested a higher amount, then the returns are higher than others.

What is good in investing is that you don’t have to work to earn. All you have to do is to invest, and wait for the earnings to come. Good examples of investment methods or practices are a stock market and cooperatives.

There are several factors you need to consider when investing. These factors are important to ensure best results on your investment. Check the following factors below.

Company Background

The first important factor is to check the company background where you want to invest your money. The company should have a strong foundation and stable income with a forecast to exist in the next 20 years.

Investment Resources

You have to make sure and be certain that you have the right and accurate investment resources to invest. Do not put all your money on the investment. This consideration will give you security if there are problems that will arise.

Always Observe

The last factor is to be observant. Earnings may be easy with no efforts, but you have to observe the amount that you earn, and the rate of its earning. This consideration will help you decide if you have to continue the investment or back it out immediately.

Conclusion

Investing may be an easy way to be successful, isn’t it. But before putting your resources, you have to be knowledgeable about what are the pros and cons of investments. If you fail to do so might lead to a waste of money, time, and effort. The question is, are you ready to make investments now?

How to Plan Energy Efficient and Practical Kitchen Lighting

When it comes to designing your kitchen space, it is sure that there are several elements that you want to include in your creation, including practicality and energy efficiency. On top of this, it is important that your lighting solutions are also aesthetically pleasing, especially since you may be spending a considerable amount of time in this space.

It is first of all worth noting that perhaps the best lighting solutions for your kitchen are LED ones, as this is a technology that may require a little expenditure upfront, but will pay itself back a hundred times over throughout the many years that you and your family will use your home.

Whether you opt for LED GU10 bulbs or MR16 lamps, one thing is for sure: you can save a great deal of money on your energy bills if you invest in this lighting solution instead of more conventional lighting options.

It is also worth considering that this lighting option can also be a particularly aesthetically pleasing one; with dimmable LED and CFL on the market today, it is now easier than ever to enjoy high quality and flexible lighting solutions throughout all of your property, and only for a reasonable upfront investment for incredibly beautiful results.

Good kitchen lighting also needs to be practical, however, which is why you need to take into account a number of other factors when choosing your lighting options in your kitchen space. One thing you will need for sure is efficient task lighting, so whether you opt for LED GU10 bulbs or dimmable CFL, make sure that your choice can live up to the job you assign to it.

Several places that you are sure to need lighting in are the areas that you frequently use to prepare food or carry out other important kitchen tasks. These areas include worktops, sinks, stovetops, island counters, dishwashers, washing machines, areas used to operate coffee machines and blenders and other spots around your kitchen of a similar nature.

You can opt for spotlight LED GU10 bulbs or MR16 lamps here for bright and efficient light, or instead go for some other choices that are increasingly popular nowadays. One of these is sensor-operated lighting, which only switches on when you need it. Another choice is a track of tiny LED lights that provides great down lighting on the underside of cabinets to illuminate a worktop.

Whatever you choose, make sure that all these key work areas are sufficiently illuminated at the darkest times of day or night, in order to ensure the safety and security of you and anyone else in your household.

Many people also want to make sure that the lighting in their kitchen looks good, as well as provides the efficiency that they need in order to prepare food. The good news is that it is simple to add attractive lighting touches to your space; one popular solution is to use gorgeous pendant lamps over island counters and in the centre of a room.

It is also possible to add LED strip lighting in a variety of different colours to the underside of your cabinets and around the perimeter of the kitchen. This can make for a stunning contemporary look, especially when paired with the bright and modern overhead MR16 spotlights and LED GU10 bulbs.

Whatever you choose, remember that having the light fixtures put into place and wiring installed is the first thing that needs to be done when creating a new kitchen. It is therefore important to make your decision early on in your decoration project before all other elements – including plastering and installation of kitchen furniture – are put into place.

Sustainable Social Responsibility

I just counted the number of times the word “sustainable” (and its close cousin, sustainability) appear in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the U.N. has endorsed. I got 14.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals plans to end poverty, end hunger, promote sustainable agriculture, healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, inclusive and equitable quality education, achieve gender equality, availability of water and sanitation, access to sustainable and modern energy, promote economic growth and employment, sustainable industrialization, reduce inequality, safety, sustainable consumption, combat climate change and its impacts, conserve marine resources, protect terrestrial ecosystems, access to justice for all and global partnerships for sustainable development among few others.

The SDGs, as they’re called, aim to improve life on earth, especially in poor countries and the designers of the goal clearly wants them to be sustainable. However, I wondered about the exact meaning of the word “sustainable” with respect to development goals. You would get a different definitions from different analysts on any given day.

It can mean an end to the aid programs run by governments of developed nations

If the Sustainable goals are achieved, aid is not necessary in perpetuity. Local governments will begin to kick in financing and set up ways to deliver food and medicines. The idea is, the country that benefits from the initial round of aid will eventually build on it and become self-sufficient. Then it can be called a sustainable effort.

It is an indication that short term fixes is not as good as a long-term solution

The Ebola crisis exposed that we may get caught flat-footed if we do not have a strong and resilient health care system in place. We need a strong health work force, quality clinics, quality medicines and financial infrastructure for constant improvement of this infrastructure. In every country we need a system designed to bend but not break and bounce back from those big shocks in an increasingly unstable world.

It can also be called vague

The designers of the goals wanted to cover everyone and everything on the planet all of which has unique solutions. That is good for instil motivation but it is a bad news for those who want to implement. The sustainable goals are a vision which needs more actionable definitions and more specificity. We cannot define well-being, let alone measure it.

It also implies that we need to spend money to change the world

To create strong health care system we need a strong infrastructure and food security. In a report on “A Grand Convergence in Global Health,” the forecast was that one to three percent of GDP is enough for “a universal reduction in infection” and a drop in maternal and child death rates to “universally low levels”. Governments need to raise money and spend it systematically to build a sustainable ecosystem.

It can make governments think about the consequences of their actions.

Douglas Beal, managing director of the Boston Consulting group, gave a Ted talk about sustainability. Before sustainable became an eco-buzzword, he says, it was a business term. And it simply meant “loongevity, something that can continue.”

Hence the word sustainable puts governments on notice. When the government ignores good governance, the environment and ignore civil society the people and society is harmed. This defeats the purpose of the sustainable goals.

It adds a positive spirit to the goals

The word “sustainable” is trendy, cool and has a positive connotation. It’s a nice word we feel better about buying a product or doing an activity if the word ‘sustainable’ is in it.
Sustainability goals can be compared with Moses’s 10 commandments. Only if the SDGs could be so concise.

It can mean that we really care about the earth.

When the Millennium Development Goals were constructed in the late ’90s. Their focus was around social development issues and didn’t give much attention to climate change. The word “sustainable” indicates that poverty and climate change are intimately linked. Take for example something as small and simple as a plastic straw. Its cheap (less than 1 cent per straw) and accessible to the poorest of the poor. However a plastic straw outlives us by 900 years in a landfill.

Afterthoughts

The word sustainability has become so overused that it is becoming fairly meaningless. The truth is something we don’t want to face. Our modern life is not sustainable. Recycling, hybrid cars or reclaimed building supplies may help to turn that around. Either we undertake a radical change in our collective lifestyle, or a huge wake-up call will force that change. Reducing our footprint is not just about someone in Silicon Valley making an algorithm to reroute the energy of mars into our car batteries or a sustainable vision. Every little decision we make to be conscious of the waste we leave behind can have an impact on our planet’s future.

500-million plastic straws are used in US every day, which can fill 127 school buses.

Can we move to an alternative that is reusable, biodegradable and durable enough for your drinks?

The 7 MUST Do’s When Pitching Your Company for Funding

  1. Be prepared. In the initial pitch you have a limited amount of time to cover all aspects of your deal. Highlight all essential elements, preferably in a structured sequence. The more solid the framework, the more it appeals to seasoned and professional investors. No need to re-invent the wheel, you can use a proven pitch structure. I personally always hawk pitches for covering the 4 pillars of their foundation. These are Team, Market, Financial and Corporate structure and governance. If you clearly ‘miss’ one of them – I’m OUT.
  2. Raising funds for your company and managing the process is (almost) a full-time job. Help yourself and the prospective investors by professionalizing this. Use a streamlined flow of information through various stages of the due diligence. You must have a Data Room where you can direct, manage and interact with stakeholders. Just by raising the level of professionalism, you increase the chances of receiving funding. Money likes to follow professional, meticulous and prepared CEO’s. Don’t tell me, show me.
  3. Even the concept of bringing in outside shareholders changes the game. Many entrepreneurs, especially start-ups, do not clearly understand the ongoing implications. It’s okay to be inexperienced, but I will pass when I sense ignorance in this department. Because ultimately, my fate as a shareholder is directly related to the CEO’s comprehension of this. Please address this as it is important to (prospective) shareholders you’re asking for funding.
  4. Understand it’s a numbers game for you. One of the biggest miscalculations I’ve witnessed over and over again is that entrepreneurs overestimate the ability to raise funds. Lots of competition as we said earlier. No matter how GREAT your opportunity, you will be rejected by at least 90% of the prospective investors. One of the best tips I can give to the CEO’s I’m working with, is to generate a PIP-list (Professional Investor Prospect List). I recommend you spend a considerable amount of time here. Categorize by geography, size, and their investment focus, stage. This becomes your central working document. Secondly, please budget for your fund raising round. Invest some dollars, even if you don’t have many, in order to set yourself up for success in completing the financing. As a rule of thumb, budget for 2-3% upfront and 7-10% at the back end of your round (depending on the size of the round of course).
  5. Avoid the Biggest Turn-Off pitfall. One of the hardest parts in Direct Investments is VALUATION. Countless entrepreneurs have (in my eyes) ridiculous expectations in regard to their company valuation. Often solidified by sharp ‘hockey-stick’ financial projections (always in the future). It’s perfectly fine to be optimistic and somewhat opportunistic when evaluating your equity. As a professional investor, I always assess for risk-adjusted calculations. Your valuation should be a fair and realistic derivative from your plan and numbers. Not an arbitrary number.
  6. Every beginning has an end. You’re asking me to invest alongside with you to make your venture a success. Not the operational success is what matters to me, but a financial success. You’re proposing to invest cash in, so at some point it must lead to cash back out (to me the investor). You’re entire pitch should ultimately revolt around that concept. Show me your plan HOW, WHO, WHEN and what’s in it for the investor.
  7. Not all investments are necessarily cash. In the majority of cases I’ve been directly or indirectly involved with, the best investments are combinations of cash and other resources. Many investors, certainly our Inner Circle, have tremendous experience and connections. When put to work for your venture, you might be propelled forward further and better than any cash amount could ever do. Keep your eyes open and value each prospective investor for all possible resources, not just cash. And even if not every investor is able to contribute beyond money, just the sheer proposition of you thinking about it, makes a great case for YOU as the ultimate entrepreneur I want to back.

5 Ways Marketing Departments Help Salespeople Catch Butterflies

Let’s Face It: The Market Is Much Different Than It Was 20 Years Ago

In this day and age, it’s important for businesses to stay competitive. To do so, they must understand what it takes to remain relevant, top-of-mind, and respected by their audience. Cold-calling and brochures alone won’t do the trick anymore. Whether you’re selling products, services, ideas, or technology, your company represents solutions to the problems of prospective customers and your brand can satisfy a want or a need, compelling them to make a purchase. Depending which industry you’re in, the length of a typical sales cycle may vary and, it’s up to your company to nurture prospects along that journey by fostering awareness, creating interest, building a case for why your brand meets their needs, presenting solutions, following up, and winning the customer.

Enter Stage Right, Marketing

Today’s sales people have many methods of closing deals, and for some it’s easier than others. A lot of it depends on the quality, price, and demand for your product or service, all of which can be amplified with the right tools. More companies than ever are turning to the continually evolving world of marketing to create resources for their sales teams and to generate or increase brand awareness. Marketing – and its parallel relationship to sales – are about so much more than creating fancy flyers about your latest product or promotion. Marketing does something that a sales team alone can’t do: create opportunities where there were none by increasing brand visibility on all fronts and then supporting the sales team with the resources necessary to enrich the selling process by speaking to the needs of the customer on a personal (or organizational) level. This requires insight, data, the ability to relate and identify with consumers, story-telling skills, and the creation of compelling content that will lead to conversions.

And what many companies don’t understand about this process is that it often works as much (if not more) behind the scenes as it does outwardly and in-your-face. So much of the marketing world is measured by its effectiveness in capturing leads that convert to sales in an immediate way; however the unseen, intangible results (the part of the iceberg that is under the water) are just as crucial to a business’s success. For every opportunity captured there are multiples more being born, and the length of time it may take to nurture those opportunities into full-blown customers may depend on the prospect’s budget, company initiatives, workload, decision-making ability, and the effectiveness of your company’s sales team.

The Lifecycle

So think of marketing like the lifecycle of the butterfly. Most people would equate victory with only the emergence of the beautiful monarch, not recognizing that the butterfly wasn’t born looking so regal and enchanting. While the finished product or end result is what most companies focus on, the formative stages that often go unseen for weeks or months are what a marketing department is continually working to build.

Many sales-focused organizations miss or fail to recognize the metamorphosis that is about to occur while the “butterfly” is in its caterpillar or chrysalis (cocoon) stage, equating ROI only to spikes in the sales forecast.

This can make marketing impact and metrics a little more complicated to measure – it’s not always so black and white. Much of the transformation of opportunities to sales also depends on the relationship between sales and marketing and how well strategies are communicated and executed. A well-supported marketing program hands-down makes your sales team more effective and helps them catch more butterflies.

Here’s How to Nourish, Preserve, and Grow Your Butterfly Population

  1. Use original content – Always!

    An investment in a team member with a strong background in writing, an understanding of your industry and subject matter, and a creative spirit is one of the wisest and most profitable investments your company will ever make. Nothing will stunt your growth faster than failing to invest in the marketing of your company. Without a copy writer or a team of marketing professionals, some companies try to take the DIY approach to branding and communications and don’t understand the risks involved.
    No one would ever set out to deliberately plagiarize or steal another’s intellectual property, but many people intending to paraphrase or quote a supporting source don’t know how to properly do so. Whether the error is made in print or a digital format, anyone who picks up on it will immediately have a compromised opinion of your company. It can seriously damage your credibility and reputation and, furthermore, if it’s brought to the attention of the original author, you could be sued and fined for copyright infringement and intellectual property theft. There are laws and regulations governing the written words and creative efforts of artists and writers which transcend the print world and include digital works as well. So be sure to lean on someone with a strong writing and marketing background who can tell your story in a compelling way and give a nod to original sources when outside information is used.

  2. Have your finger on the pulse of the industry and market

    Your marketing team will keep market research and industry news on their radar screens by subscribing to various newsletters, scouring the internet, monitoring social media, and scoping out competitors and partners. Collecting data, stories and headlines that support your vision through other sources and creatively weaving that information into your communications will augment your authority, make you multi-dimensional, and increase your audience and your reach.

  3. Give credit where credit is due

    Of course, giving credit where credit is due is something that all professional marketers must learn and embrace. Point 1 emphasized the importance of accurately citing sources when using outside content as a point of reference, but this doesn’t just apply to written copy: it’s important to credit the creators of images, too. In many articles the image source is listed in order to give credit to the artist or photographer. Even when a company pays for the use of stock images, they will (and should) often indicate the image’s original source by naming the photographer or artist (which is provided in the stock image account subscription).

  4. Start a conversation

    Don’t let your brand or your customers exist in a vacuum. An effective marketing team balances brand development with promotion and audience engagement. Marketers aren’t supposed to just be all about their efforts to market and promote their company: many marketers make waves for their company by becoming avid readers of other companies’ marketing material!
    That’s right – consuming other content styles, seeing what’s out there, and commenting on posts to correspond with other writers and audiences is one of the smartest ways to stay current and known. Not only is it a way to glean inspiration and ideas, but it shows the world that your company and brand is one that interfaces with others and is interested in being a part of the local market, instead of living on an island.
    If your company owns an island and the only inhabitants of the island are its company’s employees, then you will not do very well. Another way to facilitate engagement is to invite feedback and offer incentives for the sharing of your content. Interaction beyond your target customer base is a necessary part of getting your name out there and attracting people to build a bridge to your island.

  5. Trusted partners and finding balance

    If your company outsources its marketing efforts, it’s important to know who you’re working with. You don’t have to pay the biggest and most expensive agency there is – quality marketing support exists for businesses of all sizes and at all levels on the price spectrum. But certain due diligence should be conducted before trusting your company and your reputation to a third party:

    a. Ask for examples of work done for other companies and make sure it doesn’t all look the same. You want a company who has demonstrated the ability to make its customers stand out, not give them all the same look and feel but in different colors.

    b. Opt for a company local to you so that their representatives are available for the occasional face-to-face concept meeting. So much can be lost in translation when business is only conducted over the phone or through email. Another benefit to choosing a local partner is that you’ll be more able to evaluate their work and reputation, whereas it may be more difficult to look into a company from another region.

    c. Look for a company who takes a consultative approach to marketing your brand. The right partner should be eager to work with you and take your vision into consideration, helping you develop your ideas while guiding you through industry standards and best practices with strategic advice.

    d. You want a partner with a plan. Much like a property design team could give you multiple options for how to maximize your home’s design and function within your renovation budget, a marketing partner should be able to do the same. If they really listen to your goals and needs, they will probably present you with a list of marketing strategies that they could employ at various levels within your budget, showing you the allocation percentage for each area. Ask for these combinations of strategies to be presented in packages, so that they can help you interpret the information and understand where you’ll get the most bang for your buck, short-term and long-term. This will help you achieve balance: hiring a company to build your website may not be a worthwhile investment if you have no one to regularly update your blog, do email marketing, and conduct outreach on your company’s behalf. Outbound needs to be tied to inbound, and vice versa.

    e. Last but not least, you want consistency. Marketing is a living, breathing entity that needs to be constantly fueled and energized. Ask your marketing partner to present their ongoing plans so that you can keep track of your progress. Things like content calendars, a publishing schedule, and monthly or quarterly development initiatives that align with your budget will all help you get the most out of your spend and capitalize big time. There should be a written agreement as to how many times per week or month this partner will be creating and promoting content on your behalf, as well as a calendar of scheduled updates to the website, with approximate ETAs in place for any larger campaigns or initiatives.

All of these points apply whether you’re outsourcing your company’s marketing or keeping it in-house. But having the right team in place and knowing what to ask for is crucial to marketing success, whether you’re in retail, financial services, the hospitality industry, or professional services. It’s true that B2B and B2C marketing are different, but in either case, originality, engagement, collaboration, and consistency will help you fill that butterfly net.