Tough Love Lessons – Are You Just the Life of the Party….


I attended one of my client’s events last week – a baseball outing for employees and top clients. My client went all out and got a skybox complete with beautifully catered for and a hosted bar for this event. Needless to say, one or two people took too much advantage of the hosted bar. What resulted was not pretty and may end up as a marketing hurdle that my client will need to overcome.

Imagine my surprise when I read the following blog today and realized that this is a good message to pass on: Tough Love Lessons – Are You Just the Life of the Party…..


Off the Marketing Track


Although most of my blogs have some sort of a tie-in to marketing, I’m taking this opportunity to write about something that has personal meaning to me. Hopefully, this will inspire someone reading it to do the same.

We all see homeless people, or people in desperate need at the side of the road with signs asking for assistance. Although they are hoping for and expecting cash, I have never felt good about giving cash in these circumstances. I guess it’s the cynic in me that knows that some (I’m sure a very small percentage) make lots of non-taxable income in this way and actually live quite well; or that I can’t be sure that the money will be put to good use rather than drugs or alcohol.

By the same token, I can’t simply turn my back completely on these people. After all, there, but for the grace of God and family, I could very well find myself in similar circumstances one day.

My solution is to carry what my family calls a “tzedakah bag” in my car. The work “tzedakah” is Hebrew and means righteousness; although it has come to take on the more common meaning of charity. In Jewish tradition, acts of charity are acts of righteousness.

Each tzedakah bag has an assortment of non-perishable foods (granola bars, non-chocolate candies, small boxes of cereal, microwaveable cup meals like ravioli, raisins, etc…).  In addition, I include whatever personal care items I have on hand (shampoos, lotions, lip balm, suntan lotion, razors, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc…). If I have any books I don’t want anymore, extra socks, t-shirts, puzzles, promotional product samples, etc…, these are included as well. All this goes into the gift-bag sized paper bags that I get when I buy things at department or specialty stores. Each one of my family’s cars has one of these bags on the passenger seat floor ready to give out.

I always tell the person I’m giving it to that I don’t give cash, but that I have a bag of food and personal care items they can have if they want it. In over ten years of doing this, I’ve only had one person refuse it outright, saying all he wanted was money and one person who wasn’t sure, but took it anyway. I’ve seen many people peek inside and have their faces light up. The last one I gave out was to a woman who was so excited to get a toothbrush – all her belongings had been stolen while she was sleeping the night before.

I don’t spend a lot of money on this. I request product samples, use coupons combined with sales to get freebies, and occasionally buy inexpensive multi-unit boxed items at WalMart. I am blessed to have some of my vendors willing to give me samples at the end of trade shows (personal care items, tote bags and more) for this purpose.

My challenge to you is to try this. It doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment like my family has made. Just do it once. Pass the message along to your family, friends, employees, clients and more.

If you need advice on getting started, or on how to set up a program like this for your business, school, or organization to make available to its employees, students, or members, just let me know.

For those of you who take the plunge, God bless you.

A Solid Infrastructure Is Crucial to Successful Marketing


I’ve been working with several start-ups recently who are looking to put together a marketing plan. Their goals are lofty, but they have the willingness to work to achieve those goals. The problem is that they are not yet ready for the type of strategic marketing plan that will actively attract prospects.

A business that is in its infancy is usually not ready to act on an aggressive strategic marketing campaign. Much as the owner would love to get business rolling in the door so they can pay off debt and put money in their pockets, care must be taken to ensure that effective systems are in place to handle product orders and/or requests for service and that there are sufficient resources available to deliver on marketing promises that are made.

The first marketing plan should develop the marketing infrastructure of the company. The four basic marketing P’s (product, price, place and promotion) along with procedures for production and delivery should be explored, defined and planned for.

Not having a solid framework in place may lead to a pie-in-the-sky structure of products and/or services that cannot be supported based on where the business is today and what the actual available resources are. Any promises of products and services to be delivered must be kept. If you don’t have the resources to do so before offering them, put them on the back burner. You can’t depend on future sales to fund your current production line and delivery capabilities. Keeping your clients waiting beyond what they (not you) consider a reasonable amount of time will result in loss of business and angry customers.

If pricing is not well-thought out and based on actual production costs, a fair profit margin and perceived value to the consumer, than a situation may arise where pricing either needs to be reduced to encourage sales or raised in order to keep the business open. Either situation results in customers feeling distrust and possible anger towards the company. They may feel ripped off if prices come down after they’ve made their purchase; on the flip side, they may be hesitant to invest their loyalty in a company that raises prices in a seemingly unreasonable fashion. The worst one is when a company raises their prices, sees a drop off in business and then lowers them back to their original levels – gives a definite perception of bad business planning.

Of course, if where your product (place) is offered and how you market (promote) it so that you most effectively reach and appeal to your primary target market is not well-thought out, then you may be spending all the time, effort and resources you have to no avail.

All-in-all it a good business plan (infrastructure) which includes the four basic marketing P’s, will give the business a solid basis on which to build a marketing plan that can be carried out to the business’ success.