Monday, August 30, 2010

The New Elevator Speech

By: Chad Cohen

The elevator pitch since the dawn of marketing has typically been a one way, rapid-fire exchange of bullet points resulting in a hurried attempt to dig a business card out of your wallet before the un-engaging experience quickly ends. It’s about as much fun as forced conversation with the hefty guy sitting in the middle seat on the red-eye back from the West Coast. It’s uncomfortable, but you feel obliged to half pay attention because your mama raised you to be polite.

Well, times have changed. Enter the smartphone, well iPhone in my case. I started drinking the Apple Kool-Aid a couple years ago. The power is in every small business owners or franchisor’s hands. Imagine taking that lame 2-minute speech about your organization or project and condensing it into an animated, interactive video rich experience that illustrates what you’re really about.

What a smartphone does is take a normally boring conversation and transform it into an immersive, value-added event for both the recipient and the narrator. It’s a quick short burst of information in a format that today’s entrepreneur is comfortable and accustomed to receiving information in.

Critical to success is the ability to take the content of your presentation and quickly email or upload it to whomever you might be talking to. Remember though, your smartphone is not a hard product sell, but a means to reinforce the conversation you might be having. In today’s social-tech world, whipping out your smartphone to prove a point will seem like a natural extension of the conversation and not as forced as dumping a folder or a scrunched up business card into somebody’s lap.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fish Consulting Hires an Intern

By: Amanda Rich

We have a new face around the office these days, Kara, and she is Fish Consulting’s very first intern. Earlier this summer, I asked our CEO Lorne Fisher what he thought about starting an internship program and he was all for the idea!

Kara’s been working for us for about 3 weeks now and she is doing a great job. I remember how hard it was making the transition from college (party!!!) to the working world…not easy to say the least. They don’t call ‘em the”Best 4 Years of Your Life” for nothing. I was lucky enough to have had some really great mentors when starting out in my career and I still call them every now and then for advice.

One day last week, everyone had left the office except Kara and me. We started chatting about random things and I was trying to remember what advice people gave me when I first started working that really stuck. So, here goes nothing. If you have something to add, be sure to leave a comment.

- Find a system to keep organized and stick with it.

- Watch the news.

- Keep your address book updated and backed up.

- Write notes on the back of business cards to remember where and when you first met.

- Stop saying “I’m sorry” so much.

- Save all your e-mails.

- Return phone calls in at least 24 hours.

- Pay attention to details.

- Proofread a document three times – then hand it to a colleague to look over. (Same rule applies to client e-mails).

- Keep an AP Stylebook and thesaurus on hand.

- Try to answer your own question before asking it. (Google it!).

- Attitude is everything.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Don’t Tweet Angry

By: Chad Cohen

Social networks, for many of us, have become essential communication tools. A direct link to customers is a powerful thing, but if used in the wrong way, you could brew up a storm of unwanted attention. A good rule to live by - “Don’t Tweet Angry.”

This sort of thing happens all the time - people and businesses make a Facebook status update or Tweet that they inevitably regret. It happens for a variety of reasons - sometimes we’re angry, defensive, too eager or simply just not thinking clearly.

Of course there are plenty of other screw-ups you can make while using social media, but rest assured we’ve all made them at some point or another. There is no perfect science when it comes to managing social media, but there are some general guidelines that you can follow.

• If you write something inflammatory or insulting in the heat of the moment and end up ultimately regretting it, then apologize. Simply deleting the tweet and burying your head in the sand won’t make it go away. You’ll find that by standing up, admitting your mistake and apologizing; you’ll be able to diffuse the situation quicker than pretending it never happened.

• Don’t impulsively air grievances with customers, partners or competitors in the public forum of social networks. Take some time to think about what you are saying, because search engines could long refer to what you put out there even after you may have deleted it from your account.

• Do make an effort to frequently engage with your friends and followers beyond just hammering them with marketing messages. If fans are engaging you on your networks, make sure to write back. Don’t leave them hanging. There is nothing social about a one-way conversation.

• Watch out when discussing politics. Don’t need to remind you it’s a touchy subject. Engage your audience in political discussions relevant to your industry, but leave your personal views to the side.

• If you do tweet or post something embarrassing by accident, don’t dwell on it. We’ve all had itchy typing fingers for one reason or another and instead of pulling a Lindsay Lohan, just admit your mistake and move on. I think you’ll be surprised by how many people with sympathize with you if you’ve done something humiliating, but owned up to it.

While there are inherent pitfalls when it comes to using social networks to engage your fans, friends and customers; I believe the benefits certainly outweigh the perils. Most importantly, you just need to be engaged. Check us out on Twitter and let us know what you think - @ChadCohen or @FishConsulting.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Keeping Clients Happy

By: Chad Cohen

It’s really the name of the game if you’re in the professional services business. I don’t care if you’re an account, lawyer, a PR professional like me, or heck, even a doctor - if you’re clients aren’t happy, then you are not doing your job.

Let’s face it; if you work in a boutique firm like we do, the relationships you build with your clients are what keep the business moving forward. Tactically, there is not much appreciable difference between the basic services most communications firms provide, but what distinguishes you from the pack is how well you work with your clients and what you do to help build their business.

Publicity is the easy part. Write a press release, craft a pitch, build a media list, distribute and follow up. But how that coverage, social networking or online posting drives a client’s business forward is how you should be measuring success. Publicity for publicity’s sake is not enough anymore.

It’s our philosophy, it’s what we counsel our clients on and it’s the direction I set for our entire staff. I guess it’s become our de facto culture at Fish Consulting. PR and marketing are powerful tools and used the right way, they can have decidedly strong impact on a client’s bottom line. Plus, it certainly keeps them happy and happy clients makes for a profitable business, which always leads to good things.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Conflict Resolution

By: Chad Cohen

We’re certainly an opinionated bunch here at Fish Consulting. Whether we’re brainstorming a new business approach, crafting language about a client product launch or tackling some internal housekeeping - we’re a passionate group who wants to be right. From the top down, we’re not afraid to take a stand and prove a point. But with that enthusiasm sometimes comes conflict.

Conflict of course can completely suck your company dry. However, managed conflict can be a good thing and lead to increased focus and a much more desired result.

For example, I dug my heels in recently on some brand language we were crafting for a new client. I’m the vice president of our boutique PR & marketing firm and I thought I knew better. I wasn’t just egotistically defending my pride to our CEO and my staff, but what I believed to be a genuine idea.

What I ultimately realized was that no matter how much I believed in my position, someone else believed in his or her position just as powerfully. And it wasn’t until I took a step back and focused on what we were actually arguing about, that I understood my work, and also my position, were inherently flawed.

In a small entrepreneurial business, sometimes decisions need to be made with force. Like a head coach, the CEO every now and then needs to make the call. It has to be done. But heavy reliance on this type of management style has its drawbacks. Bruised egos and a it’s only good if the boss does it kind of attitude can eat away at company morale and build a culture un-conducive to growth.

Any smart business, and CEO or manager for that matter, should resolve conflict based on open and honest communication. It’s kindergarten logic, but sometimes vastly under applied in the business world. It worked in my case and it’s how we turn conflict at Fish Consulting into something positive.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, I completely re-tweaked the brand language for that new client and its become the foundation for a whole new suite of marketing and PR tools we’re developing. Sometimes good things come from conflict…

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Location, Location, Location - A Key to Franchise Success

Most seasoned franchisors will have real estate teams established to guide you through the process, but there is plenty toconsider while scouting locations on your own. Read Chad's guest blog on Allbusiness.com to read his thoughts and insights on how location of your franchise can drive success. Enjoy!!