Posts tagged ‘small business marketing’

Zag’s One Year Anniversary

On May 11, 2009, Zag IMC officially opened its doors, operating with myself, four interns and three clients.

As GCG Marketing’s sister agency, Zag IMC was created to be a full-service, professionally managed integrated marketing communications agency that employs up-and-coming talent (a.k.a. interns) for the execution of various projects.

The purpose behind Zag was to have the opportunity to reach out to small and mid-size businesses, as well as non-profits in the DFW community, that have a need for marketing. In many cases, these types of businesses don’t have a need (or budget) for a traditional agency like GCG. However, we are able to offer competitive rates for these smaller businesses by relying on student talent to execute the work.

I like to think of Zag as an incubator of sorts, not only for our interns, but also for our clients. The goal is to have our interns become familiar with agency life and gain real-world experience that may later help them in choosing the best career path. As for clients, the basis of marketing is to grow a business. Theoretically then, if Zag does its job well, those clients will one day become GCG clients.

At the onset of creating the business plan we didn’t want to have a specific niche. For example, GCG Marketing has many accounts in the healthcare industry as well as in oil and gas. I must say though, we’ve tried very hard to maintain a diverse group of clients, and the primary reason behind that is to give our interns as much varied experience as possible.

In order to emphasize the diversification of our client base, I’d like to introduce a few of our clients: Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery, an equine hospital in Weatherford; McKinley’s Bakery and Café; DKJ Tool Grinding; Little Jack Horner’s, a furniture restoration/custom fabrication shop; Kincaid’s Hamburgers; ECX Team, an energy-commissioning company; A & D Pharma, a custom labeling firm and Chadra Mezza and Grill. All of our clients have been an absolute blessing due to their trust and readiness to try new things. We couldn’t have done it without them!

Now, a year later, we have grown into an agency, with more than 19 clients and nine interns, we are still chugging along and enjoying every minute.

Thank you GCG for giving us the space to learn and experience all of the amazing things this industry has to offer!

06/02/2010 at 11:04 AM Leave a comment

To coupon or not to coupon…

…that seems to be the question everyone is asking these days. Companies are wondering whether or not they should discount items and services in order to bring more people through the door. When asked this question, my typical response is – “Why do you want to coupon, and what are you planning to discount?”

Here’s my theory when it comes to using coupons. Businesses should not rely on coupons to completely turn around a falling clientele. There are two purposes of this type of promotion: (1) to get people to try your product and (2) encourage customers to come back. Utilizing coupons in your businesses’ marketing plan can be extremely useful, especially when you’re coming out with new products, opening a new location or simply moving into the next season.

To me, the biggest faux pas in couponing is when businesses discount their major items. Now, for some businesses this is nearly impossible, but for others it can be done quite easily. For example, if you own a burger joint, don’t necessarily discount the burger – instead have customers buy a burger and get a free order of fries.

Another important note to remember: don’t forget loyal customers. Loyalty programs are a must. It’s easy to get in the rhythm of the “traditional” coupon strategy, but always remember that it costs about nine times more to bring in a new customer as opposed to retaining a current one.

There are several advantages to coupons (e.g. measurability, time limits to cause action and building segments), but there are also several disadvantages (e.g. more work for employees, repetition – it typically takes 7-10 impressions before a consumer is ready to take action – and  the possibility of consumers misusing the coupons). My biggest advice would be to take your time and not rush in to a promotion like this. It can be a great opportunity for your business if executed properly.

03/16/2010 at 11:04 AM Leave a comment

Style versus subtance

AlexScott Porter, copywriter for GCG Marketing, loaned me a book titled “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads” by Luke Sullivan. In the opening pages, the author posed the question, “If an advertisement is memorable, does that make it good?” Think about that for a moment while I write a memo.

(Note to self: return the book to Scott, you’ve had it since July.

Okay, back to the question.

To me, Sullivan’s thought relies heavily on the context and placement of the advertisement. An advertisement can be memorable, but there is a big difference between ‘establishing’ and ‘established’ brands.

At Zag, we serve a lot of clients that are still new to marketing themselves, so the number one goal for any of the projects I execute is to inform and create awareness for the brand or product – in this case, the advertisement has to balance information and attention-grabbing visuals to serve its purpose: battle the clutter of today’s fast-paced, attention-deficit society.

When a brand is already synonymous with the product it sells, I believe they is much more leeway to make an advertisement that has little or nothing to do about the product. It won’t necessarily be a good, informative advertisement, but market leaders are there for a reason. Here is an example by Levi’s. I love the visuals and presentation, but a clear message is tough to identify:

For the businesses we cater toward, the main struggle is achieving the right balance of style and substance to make their advertisements and collateral materials shine. We live in a era where the average American sees 3,000 advertisements a day and an acceptable return rate on direct mail campaigns is two percent.

There are established brand leaders with deep pockets and there are budding businesses that want exposure. This is what makes the creative process exciting for a writer and an art director of a small agency. We have to make the most with what we have, and to me that requires the resourcefulness of McGuyver. Who doesn’t like McGuyver?

10/19/2009 at 12:48 PM Leave a comment

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