Pick Three Words for 2012

Let’s be honest, resolutions don’t have the best reputation. If you’re looking for a fresh start this year, one great way is to rethink the way you create your resolutions. Ever since 2006, bestselling author and speaker, Chris Brogan has been “challenging people to forego the idea of a resolution, and instead, come up with 3 words that will help you define your goals and experiences for the coming year.” Rather than creating a vague or specific goal, these words will start to define your actions. Here are mine:

Organize
Since I graduated from college, I’ve worked full time during the day and coached a lacrosse team at night. I leave the house at 7:30am and come home at 8:45pm, eat dinner, rinse, and repeat. That first year was admittedly a messy one. I would constantly fall behind on groceries and laundry. Year two was better, but I was still disorganized, not packing enough food for the day or accidentally bringing two left sneakers to practice.

Even though I’ve improved since then, the first word of this year’s resolution is “organize.” Now, I do laundry and grocery shop every Sunday, pack my week’s worth of workout outfits prior to the start of the week, and I don’t watch TV during the workweek. I’ve also said goodbye to canned foods in favor of fresh produce, thankfully.

Create
Someone recently asked me if I still write for fun since I write for work. I consider the work I do fun, but I understood what they meant. There’s a difference between writing a brochure under a tight timeline and writing a whimsical blog about the glory of bowties. I recently read that one writer wakes up every morning and writes for 30 minutes before she starts her day. Not only has she noticed an improvement in her writing, but she also is able to overcome day-to-day obstacles with a clear mind.

Motivate
This third word was an obvious choice for me. Without motivation, there would be no organization or creation. And I mean it in the simplest sense, like finding the motivation to make my bed, write when I’m at a loss for words, and keep pushing when I’m tired.

This type of resolution can also apply to your business. What do you hope to accomplish this year? Set up a brainstorming meeting (add food for creative inspiration), and determine the three words that will serve as your resolution for 2012. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can focus on four and incorporate them into the four quarters of your marketing plan.

If you’re looking for added inspiration, here are the words shared by a few of my SMCO colleagues:

Sue: Family, Friendships, Finances
Jen: Boldness, Hope, Peace
Angi: Determination, Learn, Focus
Marta: Listen, Commit, Renew

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What is Movember?

When it comes to groundbreaking fundraisers, a month-long event called ‘Movember’ created a worldwide marketing movement to promote and raise money for men’s health. What began in a bar in Melbourne, Australia is rapidly growing into an international charity raising upwards of $174 million since its inception in 2003. Inspired by the women’s health movement, Movember uses key strategic components (and the glory that is the mustache) to raise awareness and funds from around the world. Here’s how:

Building a Solid Brand. Creating a consistent and recognizable logo and imagery have been key pieces to the Movember branding process. Visually, these components have an old-world, masculine feel that tie in with their message promoting men’s health. When it comes to their verbal standards, the tone is clever and concise and directly speaks to their target audience (community members dubbed Mo Bros and Mo Sistas). Plus, their website is easy to navigate achieving three primary goals: it informs the audience about the cause, persuades the community to get involved, and encourages interaction through games, tips, and more.

Social Media Strikes Again. According to Donny Killian, the US manager for Movember, the organization actively assists the community to spread the word, he explained, “We support our Mo Bros and Mo Sistas throughout their Movember journey by providing the tools and resources for them to have meaningful conversations, educate others and above all have remarkable experiences throughout the month. Our community is very active on Twitter, Facebook, forums, blogs and, of course, in-person.” As men start to grow their mustaches, they use these social media outlets to raise awareness, track progress, and to ask for donations.

Unleashing the Power of the Mo. Going beyond wearing a pin or a t-shirt to promote a cause, the mustache itself turns Mo Bros into walking-talking billboards. Killian went on to say, “Our research found that each Movember participant speaks to an average of 61 people about men’s health and our cause during the month.” This means that during the 2010 campaign, the 448,000 global participants personally informed 23 million people about Movember and its key health messages.

Thanks to solid branding, social media outlets, and providing a unique way to spread awareness, Movember is changing the perception of men’s health, increasing chances for early detection for prostate cancer, and creating a new model for organizations of its kind.

Click here to find out more or to make a contribution to Movember!

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Holiday Food Drive Exceeded All Expectations

3 weeks
8 teams
3,000 lbs of goods
$5,000 cash
33,500 meals

A lively and highly competitive challenge to collect donations for the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance took place at Sherri May & Company and Prisma Graphic recently. And the results were phenomenal.

Organized in teams with animal-themed names, employees embraced the challenge to see which team could collect the most donations during this 3-week challenge.

The contest quickly became a fierce competition between The Monkeys and The Big Cats, but The Tortoises slowly and steadily collected enough donations to win the race.

Thanks to the competition-style approach, the overall results exceeded all expectations. In less than three weeks, 4,046 items were collected for a total of weight around 3,000 lbs– nearly equivalent in weight to a Honda Accord! In addition to these contributions, just over $5,000 was raised, which adds up to roughly 33,500 meals for hungry families in the Valley.

Event organizer, Ed Bazzy said “The success of the Food Drive was beyond my expectations, but I wasn’t surprised because I know we have a group of people here with big hearts, who are caring and generous, not to mention very competitive. Also the support from Bob and Simon and all the management team, helped tremendously in making this a huge success.”

Visit firstfoodbank.org to make a donation to the St. Mary’s Food Bank today!

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The Top 5 Uses for Augmented Reality Technology

A recent trend in the world of smart phone technology is the sudden emergence of augmented reality (AR) applications. These state-of-the-art apps give users a futuristic and highly interactive way to experience the world around them. Not just for fun and games, these apps can help you find your car in a crowded lot, locate a bank within walking distance, and give your next marketing campaign a serious boost.

Here are the top 5 ways you can use augmented reality:

1. Travel – Getting your bearings in a new city isn’t always easy. When traveling abroad, use Word Lens to translate signs, or check out Wikitude (voted best augmented reality app in 2010) for an information overlay that tells you a variety of information including where to find the nearest ATM, restaurant, and Wikipedia articles that pertain to your surroundings.

2. Daily Life – When you’re looking to buy a couch but you’d like to see how it looks in your family room first, when your car is lost in a sea of sedans, or when you’re craving exotic food with high reviews, augmented reality comes in handy. Apps like SnapShop Showroom, Yelp, and Augmented Car Finder could likely become your trusted guides.

3. A Big Budget Marketing Promotion – Augmented reality will likely change the face of marketing, but this technology doesn’t come without a high price. Expect to spend anywhere from $30,000 to $200,000 for an augmented reality marketing promotion from top companies like Ogmento and Metaio, or as much as $700,000 from AR leader, Total Immersion.

If that’s not in your budget, your business can live vicariously through a few notable AR campaigns from Starbucks, BMW, and my personal favorite, RayBan’s Virtual Mirror that lets you try on sunglasses without leaving the house.

4. Transportation – For the directionally challenged, certain AR apps (like New York Nearest Places and London Tube) can help you navigate big city subway systems and get your bearings when you’re lost.

5. Games – Finally, even though it’s not an entirely practical use, AR technology is constantly changing the gaming world. Check out AR Basketball or AR Soccer to use your surroundings as the backdrop for an impromptu sports game, while apps like SkinVaders lets you use your own face as a battleground.

Whether you use augmented reality for virtual gaming, or use the apps in a time of need, the common theme here is that these applications use innovative technology to bring a new generation of interactivity to our fingertips. As the technology advances, it will be fascinating to see how AR will be integrated into future marketing campaigns and our daily life.

Image: Turkletom via Flickr

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The Next Big Thing for 2012

After recently discovering my new favorite website, Fab.com, I realized the sites that are booming in our sluggish economy all share a common theme. Daily deals, deeply discounted prices, and quality products are just a few of the ways companies like LivingSocial and Groupon have raked in millions – if not billions – of dollars in profit seemingly overnight. With these components in mind, here are the next big things for 2012:

Discounted Furniture
Okay, before you start yawning, hear me out. One Kings Lane sells home décor through 72-hour deals at roughly 70% off. With daily notification emails, the company remain in steady contact with customers, and according to one source, boasts “over 2 million registered users on the company’s website. Last year, revenue came to $30 million and is expected to exceed $100 million in 2011.” Ever since the economy aggressively impacted the housing market, furniture stores have suffered in the wake. This begs the question, will online furniture companies like One Kings Lane make traditional furniture stores obsolete? It might be too soon to say, but it seems like there’s a strong chance.

Then comes my new favorite, Fab.com. This modern design site also sells discounted deals for a limited time, but it has a flair for all things eclectic. T-shirts, toys, and printed posters are featured from up and coming artists at extremely discounted prices. You have to be invited or join a waiting list to sign up, but it’s quickly growing in popularity thanks to this supply and demand strategy.

Threads … For Rent
We’ve all been in this situation. We have an upcoming event but don’t feel like spending $200 on a dress or suit we’ll only wear once. What’s the solution? Renting designer duds at a quarter of the price from RenttheRunway.com. Consumers are buzzing about this site that allows them to rent Diane von Furstenburg and Vera Wang without spending a small fortune.

If you notice the common thread in these cutting-edge companies, it’s that people like getting more for their money. It’s one thing to visit a department store and spend $50 on a new lamp– but it’s another to drop $50 for a $100 designer lamp. What will be the next big thing in 2012? It’s hard to say, but chances are strong it will be a site that offers consumers unparalleled savings for high-quality products.

Image source: nyconvergence.com

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SMCO Joins the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Saving lives from breast cancer starts with one team, one walker, and one dollar at a time, which is why Sherri May & Company is teaming up with Prisma Graphic to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. Join us by walking and/or raising money with our team in our local American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event.

Saturday, October 29, 2011, Tempe Beach Park
Registration 7:00am, Event Program 7:30am, Walk 8:00am

While there is no registration fee or minimum fundraising amount, people of all ages are welcome to participate and help raise funds. If you, your friends, or family would like to sign up to walk with our team or make a donation, please click here for more information.

Donate $35 or more and receive a limited edition t-shirt.
Shirts must be ordered no later than Monday, October 17 and will be distributed / sent on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

Join us, and together we will create a world with less breast cancer and more birthdays.

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5 Tips to Keep Your Clients Happy

From the moment you start working with a new client, you have the opportunity to start building a lasting relationship. Check out these 5 tips to learn how to keep your clients happy and to ensure your partnership is lasting one:

1) Welcome New Clients
Landing a new client can be grounds for celebration, but it’s also a time to welcome and introduce your new clients to the team. John Remsen, Jr., the President of the marketing consulting firm, TheRemsenGroup, explains, “In addition to a well-written cover letter from the [manager], include your firm brochure, a client service pledge, a current list of contacts with direct dial phone numbers and email addresses, and a nice gift.”

2) Improve Your Clients Lives
In the words of Sherri May, it’s important to “improve your clients’ lives by helping them achieve more than they could have achieved without you.” This translates to building a creative partnership with clients rather than merely providing a service. And this goal can be accomplished when you exceed expectations on every project, with every client, every time.

3) Stay in Touch
This is fairly basic, but part of being a reliable partner involves promptly responding to phone calls and emails. Even if it’s just to respond to say you received the email or you’re just returning their phone call. Remsen explains, “You may not think a return phone call is all that important (especially if there is nothing to report), but your client sure as heck does. Adopt a policy to return all your calls on the same day. It’s a darn good habit.”

4) Provide Cutting-Edge Service
Like a good surgeon, it’s vital to take the necessary training to stay up to speed in your specific field. Your clients look to you for cutting-edge solutions, and by bringing new strategies to the table it shows you’re not afraid to try something new.

Take individual responsibility for your professional development by attending seminars, watching webinars, or traveling to conventions (if it’s within your budget). Your clients will know if your work starts to feel dated or stagnant, and they’ll appreciate when you start bringing state-of-the-art techniques to the table.

5) Say Thank You
It doesn’t have to be the third week in November to say thanks to your clients. Finishing a large job, acknowledging the holidays, or “just because,” are all valid reasons to say thank you to a client. If you’re not sure how to say thanks, consider taking clients out to lunch or dinner, inviting them to an upcoming event like a banquet or sporting event, or by sending a gift basket or handwritten note.

In the end, when you look after your clients, they’ll look after you. Provide cutting-edge service that exceeds their expectations and you’ll set the foundation for a mutually beneficial, long-term partnership.

To find out how to build a creative partnership with Sherri May & Company, call 602-547-7020, or email us at sue@sherrimayco.com.

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Google+: To Join or Not to Join

Google’s latest social media blitz is an all-inclusive “suite of networking tools” called Google+. Sending out a limited number of invitations employed the basic strategy of supply and demand, which helped the site reach approximately 5 million members in less than a month. But now as the dust has settled, users keep asking themselves “how do I use Google+ and what’s the value?”

The service itself integrates Google Profiles and Google Buzz while providing new features like Circles, Hangouts, and Sparks. In terms of functionality, it can be confusing, so here’s a breakdown of the main features that differentiate it from other sites (namely Facebook).

Key Features
Circles. According to Google, Circles are “The easiest way to share some things with college buddies, others with your parents, and almost nothing with your boss.” When you post links, pictures, and videos you also click the corresponding Circles who will have access to your post. In terms of control, Google+ has an edge over Facebook’s confusing privacy settings that appeared as an after-thought to compete with G+.

Hangouts. These live web chats immediately connect you with friends, family, and colleagues for a (digital) face-to-face interaction. In this respect, it can be a great tool to collaborate on projects. While Facebook is known as more of a personal social networking site that lets you stay in touch with friends, Google+ can be a great way to also share content and schedule meetings in your industry.

Sparks. We’ll resist the urge to break out into song, but Sparks is basically a feed of your favorite things. If you love fashion for example, click the Fashion category to read popular posts about Fashion Week, the latest trends and more. It’s the Google equivalent of Twitter’s hashtags and is especially helpful if your friends keep posting irrelevant articles to their feeds.

Should You Join?
Google+ is valuable for those who are looking for another outlet to communicate with friends, family and colleagues while retaining control over content. If you’re not quite sold, keep in mind that it’s a work in progress. According to Mashable: There’s a reason why Google “calls this a ‘project’ rather than a ‘product’ — they don’t want people to think of this as the final product, but as a constantly-evolving entity that permeates every corner of the Google empire.” Our best advice is to try it out and see if it works for you.

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Marketing Makeover Helps Non-Profit Get an 81% Lift in Donations

Results are important to every organization whether it’s a local non-profit or a Fortune 500 company. Over the last two years, Sherri May & Company has been redesigning the brand for The Welcome to America Project (WTAP) from start to finish. As a result, this non-profit organization has seen a surge in donations, and is able to communicate with its audience in a consistent, streamlined way.

Thanks to a new marketing strategy:

  • The Annual Appeal letter achieved an 81% lift in donations over the previous year and raised $26,467 in donations
  • The most recent cultural dinner raised $6,300 compared to the previous average of $2,000
  • The new website had a 200% boost in unique page-views in the two weeks after the initial launch
  • The Welcome to America Project campaign materials won two Spectrum Awards

Starting from Scratch

WTAP, which helps furnish apartments for newly arrived refugees to the Valley, first needed an updated logo. Since an organization’s logo is the most consistent way to define its brand, this was a great place to start.

In this case, WTAP’s previous logo was overly complex (pictured below). By simplifying the image, adding the core values with the imagery of helping hands, and revising the color scheme, the logo became a better reflection of the organization as a whole.

Online Component Engages Audience

The next task was larger in scope and involved building a new website. The new website layout is easier to navigate, while the added functionality allows donors to securely make and track contributions, and conveniently sign up for events.

The sleek navigation and additional features let browsers…

  • Log-in to track donations and volunteer history
  • Submit a secure payment to the donations page
  • Sign-up for events and volunteer opportunities directly
  • Browse photos in the new Gallery

Streamlined Communication Materials

The ongoing success of The Welcome to America Project is based on the contributions of its dedicated donors and volunteers. This means marketing materials must be clear and timely to ensure effective communications with the audience. This effective communication in turn raises awareness – and funding – to help the organization accomplish its mission.

For example, various print materials were created including a Mission Card, Annual Appeal, and Annual Report. These materials had a targeted audience and a specific message to ensure maximum results.

Boost Your Brand

By building an effective brand campaign for The Welcome to America Project, Sherri May & Company was able to strengthen WTAP’s brand, build a reliable website with increased functionality, and raise much-needed funds for newly arrived refugees to the Phoenix area. Imagine what we can do for you.

Even if your company’s brand doesn’t need a complete overhaul, there might be components that could use an upgrade. If your logo no longer reflects your company’s voice, if your website could benefit from increased functionality, or if you’d just like a second opinion, call Sherri May & Company at 602-547-7020.

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The Impact of Social Networking

At first, it might have seemed like a fleeting trend, and while the specific outlets are constantly changing, one thing is for sure: social media is here to stay. After taking a critical eye to social networking, here’s how it has impacted businesses, individuals, and society in general:

On Businesses: Providing a new way to connect
–Social networking sites are allowing businesses to connect with clients, customers and other industry professionals on a more personal level.
–Customer service is improving thanks to Brand Monitoring—this describes the practice of large companies and financial institutions listening to what customers are saying about their brand on sites like Twitter and Facebook and responding immediately.
–Social networking sites are changing the way new businesses get off the ground. For example, Kickstarter.com lets you make a pitch for your business idea, while other users provide the funds to start it up.

On Individuals: Unparalleled Communication
–These sites have changed the way individuals interact with each other. Users are able to communicate, stay in touch and stay up-to-date on trends and events on a daily basis.

On Society: The Birth of a Revolution
–The recent revolution in Egypt used Facebook as a primary communication tool. Using this site as a way to organize protests, a group called “We Are All Khaled Saeed,” gained hundreds of thousands of followers and brought international attention to the civil unrest in Egypt.
–Social networking sites are providing scientists with data and statistics that have been unavailable until now. Facebook is being called “The Human Catalog” because it’s providing unparalleled insight on identity, trends and youth culture all over the world.

Fast Facts

  • Facebook has more than 500 million active users, and these users spend over 700 billion minutes per month on the website.
  • [Infographic] LinkedIn has recently surpassed 100 million users.
  • Phoenix is #34 on a list of top socially networked cities in the US.
  • Facebook overtook Google and became the most visited website in 2010.
  • This map shows the connectivity of 10 million Facebook users (roughly 2% of all users)

Additional Resources
Mashable
The Social Path
Social Networking Statistics
Impacts on Modern Business

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Services

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  • Writing

Clients

Even though we’re best known for our work with financial services companies, we work equally well in these areas:

  • Bio-Technology
  • Consulting
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Financial Services
  • Retail
  • Insurance
  • Legal
  • Manufacturing
  • Medical
  • Real Estate
  • Mortgage
  • Non-profit