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:

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.

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.

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


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.


A Warrior’s Guide to Success

I recently participated in the Warrior Dash in picturesque Florence, Arizona. The Dash is basically a 5K on steroids; it has a series of obstacles that runners must overcome before getting deemed with the distinguished Warrior status (and a stylish furry, Viking helmet). With my intimidating face paint ready, I quickly learned this race wasn’t for the faint of heart…

The obstacles involved crawling under barbed wire, over barricades, through a car junkyard, rappelling down steep walls, jumping over fire and finally crawling through a graveled mud pit to the finish line. I knew this day would be a memorable one, but I had no idea it would also pack a few life lessons under its brazen belt.

What I Learned
Life is constantly throwing obstacles at us. Sometimes they have a little more subtlety than a flaming mud pit, but at times, they can feel just as daunting. Here are a few tips to handle the toughest challenges:

1. Keep calm and carry on — this is one of our favorite quotes here at Sherri May & Company. When the going gets tough, just take a few deep breaths and know you have the strength to take on anything (including but not limited to, bounding over a junkyard of cars).

2. Just like eating an elephant – As the old adage goes, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. We’re not recommending you hunt down a lumbering pachyderm but when you’re faced with an intimidating task, don’t get overwhelmed by the bigger picture, just take it one step at a time. Click here for more tips on this.

3. Find support — Unless you’re planning on living a life devoid of human contact (I’m looking at you, Henry David Thoreau), it’s important to find your support system and use it. Whether it’s your significant other, parents, distant cousin, or your Yorkie named Charles– it’s not a bad thing to fall back on your safety net every once in a while.

My next challenge will be running the Tough Mudder in January. This 12-mile race was designed by British Special Forces to “test all-round toughness, strength, stamina, fitness, camaraderie and mental grit.” Obstacles include a 12-foot Berlin Wall, monkey bars suspended over a freezing lake, and hanging live wires that give runners a shocking surprise.

No matter how intense this seems I know I can succeed if I work hard, take it one step at a time and find support in the process.


The Secret to Beating Writer’s Block

Every so often, I’ll come face to face with my archenemy– Writer’s Block. I’ll sit and stare at the blank white page and blinking cursor (its evil side-kicks), desperately seeking inspiration that never comes. But thanks to a recent post on Copyblogger, I finally discovered the ultimate kryptonite to my writer’s block. Here’s what I learned:

Quit Multi-Tasking
In order to battle writer’s block, I’m taking cues from renowned copywriter, Eugene Schwartz. This author and writer produced countless ads and 10 successful books. So what was his secret?

He created a schedule that required intense focus for shorter periods of time, which meant cutting out the multi-tasking. According to the article on Copyblogger, he would sit at his desk with coffee at hand, set his timer for 33.33 minutes and follow these simple rules:

He could drink coffee
He could stare out the window, or at the wall
He could sit and do absolutely nothing for 33.33 minutes
He could write the ad
He could not leave the chair for any reason
He could not do anything else

After 33.33 minutes, he would stop writing, even if he were mid-sentence. He’d take a 10-15 minute break, reset his timer and continue. After following this schedule 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, Schwartz became an acclaimed author and copywriter.

The Experiment Begins
Even though I’m only on the first day of following Schwartz’s Writing Regiment, I’ve already noticed the time I’ve spent staring at a blank page has drastically diminished.

Although, I admit it was a struggle at first. My first attempt to reach the 33.33-minute mark lasted a whopping 6 minutes before I broke a rule by getting up to grab a bagel. My next attempt lasted 16 minutes, but as I finish this blog, I’ve proudly reached the 33-minute mark (twice).

Keep in mind this effective strategy isn’t just for writers; it can be used by anyone who needs to tackle a daunting project. Just sit down, coffee ready, and devote 33.33 minutes of uninterrupted time on your project. Take a quick break. Repeat as necessary. And give the multi-tasking a rest.


It’s a Calendar, It’s a Mousepad … It Could Be Yours!

Our calendar slash mousepad puts the fun back in functionality. It’s the perfect tool to stay organized with a weekly calendar, and enjoy a momentary escape from reality with fun doodles and delightful distractions. Is it the best of both worlds? We thought so. Keep reading to find out how you can get one of your very own…

Here’s what one of our clients had to say, Thank you SO much for the fabulous 2011 calendar! How clever and useful! I always look forward to receiving your most creative calendar at holiday time, so thanks so much for keeping me on your list.”

Another client reported he’s going to put it in a leather binder and take it everywhere he goes … well, almost everywhere.

We know you want one, so we’re giving away two calendars to our lucky readers. Here’s how to enter:

  • Comment on this post and be sure to leave your email address.
  • For a second or third entry, just blog/tweet about the giveaway linking back to it, then leave a comment here with a link to where it’s posted.
  • The giveaway ends Thursday 12/30/10 at midnight and the winners will be announced on Monday 1/3/11.

Happy Holidays!
2011 Calendar


Top Tips to Maximize Your Investment Part 1

You’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars equipping your branches with signage and brochures, you’ve shipped the collateral for your next campaign and when you walk into the branch, the signs they have up are from six months ago with the new ones still in their tubes in a storage closet. Checking the brochure rack, you find two revisions out of date along with some buckslips from a special promotion that’s long past. Sound familiar? It happens everywhere, so don’t feel alone. Here are a few ideas to clean up your collateral system:

Box it Baby – For key initiatives, like your big promotions, kit all of the material together and send a “Campaign in a Box,” complete with placement instructions (plan-o-gram), sales readiness materials and any supporting education. When materials arrive piecemeal, you’re almost asking for things to get lost! This may require bumping up your production calendar by a week or so, but it will be well worth it. If you use a single source vendor, they will often do this for you.

Make it Obvious – When updating brochures, instead of maintaining the same cover and just making interior changes, redesign the cover (even if only a key color) so it’s immediately obvious to anyone checking if there’s an old straggler in the brochure rack.

Build a Retail Partnership – Too often branch teams view new marketing material as just another task imposed on them by “downtown.” Team up with managers at all levels to involve them in the process. Help them understand you’re goal is to help them meet their sales and service goals. Encourage feedback and have a thick skin, remember not every one of your employees is in the target audience for each piece of material. Thank them for their contributions and incorporate them into future revisions. Always remember marketing’s highest purpose is to provide the tools to help bankers close sales. As a marketer, if you approach your Retail Partnership with this mindset, you’ll definitely be heading in the right direction!

Communication…Communication…Communication – It’s easy for those of us in staff roles to forget that, in BranchLand, they have a ridiculous number of masters … usually in the two-dozen range! Every line of business wants top billing in the branch “share of mind,” audit is always around the corner, they really do have to pay attention to security, and then there’s the customer! Find a simple, direct way to notify bankers of what’s headed down the pike and continually reinforce the benefits of the materials you push their way.

Just in Time – Sending material a month in advance may get it off your plate, but it will be forgotten by launch time. Sending material too late doesn’t give branches time to prepare and can send the message that, at best, you really “don’t get” branch challenges and at worst that marketing doesn’t have it’s act together. Have you heard that before? After many years and hundreds of campaigns, we find the happy medium that gets the best results on both sides of the marketing fence is to ensure materials arrive two weeks prior to campaign launch. This gives managers the first week to prepare. Week two is communication week in preparation for launch the following week.

Go Digital – This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I joined the “place-based marketing” movement in the late 80s and saw first-hand the power of a digital marketing network in a financial services environment. Systems have come a long way since then and today, more and more banks are either replacing or supplementing static marketing with digital monitors. Anywhere you have customers “captive” (behind the teller line, near the banker waiting area or in kiosks in the lobby, even in the drive-thru) you have the opportunity to deliver sales and service messages. These systems allow you, the marketing team, to broadcast directly into the branch.

Finally, if you’re really serious about ensuring branches are up-to-date on the materials they display, look for my next post where I’ll discuss how to implement “Tidy-Up Team.”


The Do-s and Don’t Ever-s of Employee Communication

Employee communication is a key building block in the foundation of any successful business. Any team that excels in communication will probably tell you how it aids to the success of new projects and makes solving even the largest problems a much easier task. Here‘s a list of things to do (and avoid) to help improve employee communication.

… communicate openly with your employees about new projects, programs and goals. Expressing clear individual and team goals to employees keeps everyone on the same page.

… keep your employees fully informed and prepared prior to sending out customer communications.

… provide specific scripting to employees who have direct communication with customers. It’s a great way to get the main points of a new program across and to give your employee a jumping off point.

… encourage employees to expand on these scripting pieces. Be sure to acknowledge what works and what doesn’t, it’s all a part of the learning experience.

… reward those who get great results and coach the ones who need more assistance. Incentives can also be a great way to reach your goals and keep morale high.

… give employees specific timelines and due dates. Make sure these timelines are reasonable and ensure that a specific priority level is noted. (Also note: only label a project’s deadline as “ASAP” if it’s completely necessary. If everything is labeled as a hot priority, it deems the whole system ineffective.)

But think twice before you…
… rely solely on email when an issue needs to be addressed. No one likes receiving an angry faced emoticon. Face-to-face meetings can be a better alternative. ☺

… launch a new program to customers without letting your employees know. There are many great surprises in life, but this isn’t one of them. Keep the communication open and the results will (pleasantly) surprise you.

… raise your voice to a colleague. Losing your cool is no way to solve problems and can be detrimental to doing so. (And you might get an unfortunate new nickname like Hothead).

Contact Sherri May & Company today to expand on your employee communication programs.


5 Modern Muses

Today, the interpretation of a muse is any source of creative inspiration. It can be a certain type of music, location, or artist’s work. In fact, the words amuse, music, and museum all spring from the word muse. And even though designers and artists can find inspiration in nearly anything, they seem to agree they have favorite muses that have had a pivotal role in their creative process. Keep reading to find out which muses are present at Sherri May & Company and find out if they’ll give you the inspiration you need.

Here are 5 modern muses, as explained by the designers here at SMCO:

1. The Past
After speaking with Graphic Designer, Katie Milburn, she explained that her modern muse is actually a thing of the past, “I’ve always been big on the idea that the past influences the present and the future. So a lot of times I look at older items, be it jewelry, dishes, posters, marketing and pull from that and try to make it new.”

2. Your Favorite Pastime
Art Director Jen Noto draws her inspiration from her favorite pastime. She said, “Photography has always influenced my design work. I am constantly taking snapshots of life. Then, I either incorporate those images into the piece I’m working on or draw from their various compositions.” So whether you like photography, fishing, or collecting stamps, try using your favorite hobby as a muse.

3. Music
Music has always been my go-to muse. Even prior to writing this blog I got writer’s block and was staring at a blinking cursor all morning. How did find my inspiration? I flipped on my iPod and listened to Genesis. (It’s embarrassing but true).

4. Your Surroundings
“I love to walk around and make little drawings of buildings or signage. In fact, one of my favorite pastimes has always been visiting museums,” says Katie. When in you’re in need of some creativity, just take a look around with a new perspective.

5. Blogs and more
When I asked Graphic Designer, Aleta Lynch where she gets her inspiration, she said she loves checking creative blogs. She even provided a few of her favorites:


So whether you need to design a logo, write a blog, or even find motivation to write that business proposal, try one of these modern muses and see what happens.

1Source: Wikipedia.org


Doodling isn’t about Boredom

I admit it. I do it all the time. It’s just second nature and I can remember the first time I ever did it. I was seven; saw my mom doing it while on the phone, so I tried it. Doodling. And I can also remember the first time a teacher yelled at me for it. I was 12 and Mrs. Gray said she didn’t appreciate me drawing mountaintops on the top of my notebook instead of writing down the week’s spelling words. But a new study shows those who doodle do.

The study will be published in the Applied Cognitive Psychology journal and shows the results that those who doodle during a meeting or lecture actually can recall more of the information than those who do not. There are many reasons behind this finding, but psychologist Jackie Andrade (who wrote the study) thinks it’s because doodlers don’t daydream. When you doodle, you don’t need as many cognitive resources as when you daydream, thus, you can focus more attention on the information presented. Daydreaming demands a lot of your brainpower, which is the reason you can’t recall as much information as someone who’s sitting there doodling.

Upcoming meeting on Monday? Maybe give everyone some scratch paper and then launch into your presentation. Then collect the doodles and make a doodle board. You’ll spice up those mundane presentations, get your employees to retain your information and create a little fun activity in the office.

Read Time Magazine Study

Blog by Hanna Soltys; Doodle by Aleta Lynch



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