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Archive for the ‘communications’ Category

Listing on Thumbtack

Posted by Vicki Moulton on June 9, 2011

You can now find Movick Marketing on Thumbtack.com here: Creative Concepts for Effective Communication. Check it out and tell your friends! It’s sort of like Yelp, which relies on reviews and traffic to spread the word and get you noticed. If you’re reading this and you’re a former client, I encourage you to give us a rating!

You know, if I hadn’t been cleaning out my suspect email folder this morning, I never would’ve found my invitation to join Thumbtack. (Lesson: Always keep an eye on suspect email… Something really important might be lurking there by mistake!)

Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Time to call a lawyer

Posted by Vicki Moulton on April 26, 2011

As a freelance communications professional, I’ve signed a lot of contracts with clients over the years for provision of services. It’s something I have to do in order to protect myself from potentially unscrupulous companies that could effectively steal my work and not pay me.

Sometimes the contract is enforceable, and sometimes not. There can be times when the contract language is so convoluted that I just want to rip my hair out and scream. (Been there, right?) But before we all start yelling, repeat after me: check with a lawyer before signing ANYthing! The last thing you want is to be stuck in a bad contract AFTER you’ve signed away your rights.

Movick Marketing has permission from the Maryland-based small business lawyer Phil Marcus to repost the following newsletter article on the subject. Thanks, Phil! (Copyright 2011 Philip L. Marcus. All rights reserved. Visit www.smallbizlawyer.us for more information and a huge archive of great articles.)

Check with your lawyer BEFORE you sign a contract.

When you are trying to get out of a bad deal, or to enforce an unenforceable contract, it is too late.

Often someone comes to see me with a contract a retailer had them sign, or they will cobble something together for their own use from bits and pieces off the Web. They either want to force the other side to fulfill their promises, or they are sorry they signed and want to get out. Either way, it is probably too late. What they cobbled up is unenforceable. And a lawyer who knew what they were doing wrote what the retailer had them sign, and it is virtually unbreakable.

“But it was a standard contract.” With a few exceptions, there is no such thing. (The law regulates most contracts of insurance, and Retail Installment Sales Agreements, but little else.) It may be standard for that retailer, but no government regulator has vetted it. Contract signer beware.

There are some legal limits on sales contracts to sell a house, but still plenty of room to favor the buyer or the seller, depending who drafts the contract. I used to almost cry when someone would call and ask me to come with them to settlement to make sure it all goes right. There is little a lawyer can do at that point but hold your hand. The right time was when you as buyer made a written offer, or you as seller got the written offer to buy.

Employment contracts can have all kinds of stuff in them, and when there are significant dollars at stake both employer and employee should have a lawyer involved. Same for a contract, for example, to buy or sell a business, or engage a company to take over maintaining your computer system.

My son got an offer from a big New York company to publish his book. It was thirty pages. He, his agent and I spent three months back and forth with the publisher on the detailed language before he signed. However, many authors sign whatever a publisher hands them, happy to get anything, unhappy in a couple years when the publisher screws them (for example, on the e-book version). The agent, of course, is happy to nail down a commission.

When it comes to contracts, it doesn’t pay to do it yourself. Reality is “Let the buyer and seller beware.” And in a deal of any real importance both of them should get their lawyer involved before they sign.

Posted in communications, MarComm | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fostering creativity

Posted by Vicki Moulton on April 6, 2011

It’s always fun to find a blog that imparts wisdom. Today I found out about a great blog from a company called Talent Grow

For many of my colleagues, the idea of fostering creativity is something completely natural. For some of my clients, it’s completely alien.

One of the Talent Grow blog posts hit home for me today, and I’d like to share. Here is an excerpt from a January 2011 post called “Creativity is for Everyone“:

What can everyday, ordinary people do to become more creative?

  1. Exposure to creativity begets more creativity. The more people are surrounded by or allowed to witness creative thinking, creative ideas, and creative problem-solving, the more likely they will be to model that kind of divergent thinking.
  2. Positive emotions and lowered risk-aversion increase creativity. The more positive and uninhibited they are, the more likely people will be to think more creatively. If they feel like they have to act very seriously and be perfect and error-proof, the less likely they will be to take risks or let down their guard. Their creative thinking will be stifled as a result.
  3. Take yourself outside of your comfort zone. Being in a new and different environment, or using things in ways they weren’t meant to be used, can help creative break-through thinking and spark new ideas.

Posted in communications, MarComm | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Time is money, honey

Posted by Vicki Moulton on March 4, 2011

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend toward rudeness among business contacts, and it’s time to stand up and say something about it.

Would you expect a client to wait more than 30 minutes for you to show up to a meeting? How about a good friend or maybe a member of your family? It’s considered good manners, and good business, to show up on time to your appointments. If you are unavoidably detained–accident on the highway, family emergency, stuck in another meeting–then at least send an email or a text message comunicating the delay. Don’t just leave your client, vendor, or friend twisting in the wind, wondering what the hell happened to you.

I’m not the most punctual person in my personal life, it’s true. If you are one of my friends and we plan to meet for coffee, I am likely to be running about 5 minutes late (or more, now that I have a new baby). But I do not show up late for business appointments or conference calls. I am prompt and professional enough to expect the same from my clients and associates. Making someone wait more than half an hour to hear that you’re running late is just rude. And if you’re the client, and you do this repeatedly, you should expect to be billed for that time.

Just because you run a small business does not make your time any less important or valuable than your client’s or colleague’s time. Be clear about your expectations for professionalism, and your  reputation will reflect that. And if your reputation is solid, that’s great PR for your business.

Posted in communications | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Humanizing your brand

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 22, 2011

Borrowing an idea from a Mashable article I just read about preventing “badvocacy” (which is a new way of describing how certain unhappy campers can badmouth your business through social media channels), I’m thinking today about how brands can and have become completely dehumanized.

It’s easy to think of a huge corporation with a well-known brand as having no soul, as though everything were completely automated and run by robots. When something goes wrong with that company’s product or service, it’s easy to get angry at the machine. It’s not personal; it’s business. (Hey, didn’t Tom Hanks’ cutthroat bookseller character say that in the movie, “You’ve Got Mail”?)

So what happens when it’s your small business that draws the ire of an unhappy customer? And then, when that unhappy customer goes on Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter to complain about your company, how are you supposed to react? It certainly feels personal when you’re the only person behind your brand, like someone is mad at you–not your company, but you personally. It’s really hard to combat a growing chorus of online negativity if you don’t already have a personal association with your brand.

Now think about the positive side. If your business succeeds in making a customer happy enough that she wants to help other customers find out about you by singing your praises on Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter, does that feel like personal praise for you as a person or like good publicity for your brand? Any kind of feedback in this fast-paced online world reflects instantly on your brand, positive or negative. And that also reflects on you, the person behind the brand.

If you want to help your customers feel like they’re either shaking your hand in thanks or slapping your face in anger, put a human face on your brand. Post your photo on your About page, and use it as your avatar when commenting on posts and websites. It’s much harder for the viral feedback machine to go completely negative and out of control if your brand image is personal, warm, smiling, and human–just like everyone else.

Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Blurring the lines

Posted by Vicki Moulton on January 12, 2011

Well hello there! Remember me? No? Well, I can’t blame you for that. It’s not like I’ve been using this bully pulpit regularly.

I’m the first to admit that I’ve neglected this blog over the past several months. Part of my excuse is situational–moving from one coast to the other, getting through a second pregnancy while keeping my business going and making sure my toddler didn’t get into trouble, then having the baby just before Thanksgiving–and part of it is attitudinal, meaning most days I just didn’t put blogging at the top of my priority list.

Now that the baby is giving me longer stretches of sleep at night, I’m starting to see a third reason why I didn’t keep blogging here in 2010: the lines between business and personal have blurred to the point where posting something on Facebook feels kind of like blogging. But that’s a big lie because short, pithy little FB posts are absolutely no match for original thoughts and essays carefully written and purposefully shared on a business blog with a specific goal for a particular audience.

Case in point: I met my fabulously talented logo designer, Jenny Decker, through an online communications networking group. We completed a barter arrangement, meeting once in person, and then kept in touch via email. Then we became “friends” on Facebook, learning more about each other’s personal lives through postings and photos, and comparing notes on parenting babies and toddlers. Then I asked Jenny to join a small women’s entrepreneur group, further blurring the lines between our separate businesses and our personal lives. After that, she recommended me to one of her clients, who then hired me, and pretty soon I was reading her family blog and asking what she remembered about the last months of pregnancy while sharing my own toddler-raising advice and inviting her to read my birthing story on a personal blog after calling to ask how she invoiced a particular type of client.

So is this a personal friendship or a friendly business connection? The answer is both, and it’s the inevitable merging of these worlds that has so many businesses falling behind because they don’t know how to leverage these relationship-savvy social media tools.

If you’d asked me a few years ago whether I would someday have business colleagues in my social media network and actually develop real friendships using tools like Facebook, I would’ve said hell no. In fact, I actively avoided revealing my location, profession, and everything else about myself online in any capacity for many years. (I’m still unlisted in the local phone book–but that’s another story.) But I’m noticing that the people who steer clear of social networks are the ones who aren’t connected in any meaningful way to what’s happening in the business world today.

Yes, social media can be all about personal branding and marketing, especially if you’re using these tools to get more business. But it’s also about knowing where your audience, customers, potential employers, and colleagues (past and present) are spending their time and energy.

Dropping by the social media water cooler once in a while is good for your reputation and keeps you in the loop, at least for as long as those folks are sipping water. It reminds them that you’re still there, still interested, still part of the team.

Whether these people knew you way back when or just met you last week at a networking event, they’re all part of your ever-widening circle–what some might call your sphere of influence. It’s actually smart to keep these folks informed about your activities. Just try to keep the truly personal information (the embarassing stuff you wouldn’t want publicized on the evening news) off Facebook, or else your sphere will shrink before you know it.

So, in the effort to win back some blog readers in this new year, I invite you to visit my Facebook fan page and follow my posts (Twitter account to be revived soon) as I share my thoughts and experiences with clients, colleagues, and friends. We’re all merged into one group now, so let’s have some fun while we’re at it!

Posted in communications, marketing, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

In praise of clever slogans

Posted by Vicki Moulton on September 28, 2010

You see them everywhere, those little taglines designed to bring a company’s purpose to life. Some have even been set to music (remember “plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is”?).

If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably been through the exercise of creating your own slogan. But have you ever stopped to think why some slogans stick with you, even after just one viewing?

The slogan’s job is to raise a question, touch a nerve, or identify a need. The slogan is not your only marketing tool, and therefore it does not need to be all things to everyone.

The slogan IS…

  • memorable
  • an enhancement to the overall brand
  • focused on the customer benefit and/or key differentiator between you and the competition

The slogan IS NOT…

  • a definition/explanation of the company name
  • an explanation of the logo design
  • a literal statement about how the company functions

Think about some memorable brand slogans and how they say a lot with very few words (and remember that all of these companies hired big ad agencies to create these slogans–all trademarked and used here for illustration purposes only):

  • Nike: Just do it
  • Kaiser Permanente: Thrive
  • Avis: We try harder
  • MasterCard: Priceless
  • GE: Imagination at work
  • Allstate: You’re in good hands
  • ING: What’s your number?
  • Weight Watchers: Watch yourself change
  • Capital One: What’s in your wallet?
  • Taco Bell: Think outside the bun

I particularly like that last one. There’s something clever about how it takes an overused business term and turns it on its head while slamming the competition. (Or maybe it’s just time for lunch.)

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Moving west

Posted by Vicki Moulton on August 5, 2010

Hey, still here… Just on the other side of the country. And P.S.: the weather is great!

It’s official: Movick Marketing has moved to the west coast! The family made the move to Oakland, California, and so did the business.

Here is the new office number: 510.530.1580. The blog, Facebook fan page, and Twitter feed have been on summer vacation while we’ve been completing the move and getting set up in the new location. Look for increased activity this month… and continue to keep us in mind for all your marketing communications projects!

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Posted in communications, MarComm, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Open for discussion

Posted by Vicki Moulton on June 20, 2010

I’ve posted a couple of discussion starters on the Movick Marketing FB fan page discussion board, in the hopes that readers would offer an opinion and get a dialogue going.

Topics:

These are hot topics among the marketing communications folks I know, especially one-person shops and small businesses. I’d love to know what you think, so please share your two cents. Thanks!

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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