I had a client once; an incredibly “frugal” client who underpaid us and complained that he paid too much. We had a very plain office in a great part of town and one of the last vestiges of affordable office space a five minute walk to the financial district where we also had clients who didn’t underpay us nor over-pay us. We were compensated fairly and paid on time.
The other client, (let’s call him Dick) would visit our offices for creative review and felt quite comfortable telling employees that he was paying us too much (me in particular) and for that I should have fired him but I didn’t. All the employees knew a Dick when they met one so we all just took it in stride.
One of the few times he said anything insightful was when he mentioned that one of the reasons he liked working with us was because of our floors. They weren’t marble. Forget the creative. We didn’t have marble floors. They were hardwood floors circa who-knows-when and he remarked that when he went into agencies with marble floors he knew exactly who was paying for those floors. I resisted telling him that with the rates he was paying his agencies it would not be him financing marble floors but he was convinced part of the revenue he paid the agency went to lavish embellishments like marble floors. Heaven help you if you had art hanging on the walls.
An account person I once worked with made a very interesting observation. He said, “You can tell a lot about a company by its lobby and its boardroom” and damn if that hasn’t proven to be true more times than not.
Dick was the communication director for a hospital so its lobby was full of people in gurneys and wheel chairs carrying who knows what diseases. The boardroom was shabby and the technology often failed to work. But this is healthcare where dollars are scarce and patients are not. But other hospitals had appealing, human-friendly lobbies and clean efficient boardrooms. To Dick’s hospital’s credit, they were in the process of raising money to build a new hospital so why waste money on the old? But there was an attitude that went with the shabby surrounds and it was incredibly arrogant despite their low ranking on annual hospital report cards as measured by the hospital association and the government.
But the issue of the marble floors has stuck with me. How shiny does an agency have to look to project the validity to handle clients like Coke, Pepsi, P&G. Microsoft, Nike or any other mega-brand? My bet is pretty shiny. And shiny all over the world. The likes of these agencies would likely have suggested Dick check into Intensive Care had he solicited them to work on his account.
We don’t have marble floors. In fact, we have all kinds of floors. Painted wooden floors, tiled floors, parquet floors and an assortment of others. Some floors are here in North America, some are in the EU and some are in Asia.
We handle a variety of clients although no hospitals at the moment. We did handle Ontario’s Ministry Health for five years and the Ontario Hospital Association for even longer.
I doubt I will ever have marble floors again. However I am in the market for a marble statue of St. Hildebrand. She is reputed to be the patron saint of creativity.
IBM (USA) Frito Lay (USA) Pepsico (Canada). I have had the privilege of working on major campaigns achieving major results for major brands. All with the help of major budgets.
Give me $50 million and you will be astounded at what I can do for you.
Then we have Houseboat Holidays, a small, family-owned business in Gananoque, Ontario, boasting a fleet of 23 boats: a company we help more for love than money.
We have been frequent users of their product since 1994.
Houseboat Holidays has a seasonal business needing to make a year’s revenue in a scant six months, with shoulder seasons hard to sell. Like many SME’s, their marketing budget has been small, scattered and without a coordinated plan.
Their limited marketing dollars has been fifty dollars here, five hundred dollars there, a few thousand here and there and there you are: you have loaded your shotgun, hoped for the best and pulled the trigger. Often the ‘advertising’ was for regional guides: the kind you pick up where you arrive to an area. But anyone arriving will already have accommodation planned so a houseboat is irrelevant, as is the advertising in those guides. We took them out of all but free guides. Their marketing dollars are too precious to waste even a dollar.
SME’s are susceptible to shotgun marketing. Rarely do they see any tangible evidence in their ROI. Nor do they have the time to manage it. Most SME owners and managers are busy running their businesses.
It’s the SMEs, more than the blue chip giants, who need innovative, insightful and creative selling plans. Marketing dollars need to be measured and with today’s technology, they can be.
Today, Houseboat Holidays’ promotional life has changed as have the buying habits of their prospective clients. The middle class is shrinking and the choices for vacation destinations is growing, creating incredibly fierce competition.
Renting boats through the months of July and August is not a challenge (although they are experiencing more last-minute bookings than they had in the past.) We re-engineered their website making it an SEO-friendly, information-laden resource and established a social media platform. These have resulted in bookings.
The challenge is renting boats in the shoulder seasons: May, June, September and October.
With a little research we learned that Houseboat Holidays had almost no awareness in Kingston, Ontario, just a twenty minute drive from Gananoque. There was the shoulder season opportunity. Here is the plan:
It is targeted, timely and takes advantage of low-hanging fruit.
From brochures to an online presence, we have dramatically improved their creative product and have provided a money-saving, highly-focused selling plan.
We also went outside conventional thinking and put them on AirBnB, Facebook page, Instagram and Trip Advisor. Used properly, they work. Houseboat Holidays saw rentals from Europeans looking for a unique Canadian experience.
SME’s need blue chip thinking applied to comparatively shoe-string budgets. In fact, SMEs need to work dollar for dollar, much harder than corporate enterprises.
LowerWorks is the ‘go-to’ team for SMEs. Whether it is making a sales presentation stronger, a corporate video (we excel in broadcast) or help identifying new market opportunities, LowerWorks can help.
We understand SMEs and service their communication and marketing needs exceptionally well. We have the people, the experience and the skill sets to bring innovation and results to SMEs’ marketing budgets.
We are an SME engineered to succeed. We welcome the opportunity to help you do the same.
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